TCM: The Five-Figure Acupuncturist
In the world of chiropractors, if you open up their monthly magazine, you will find all sorts of gadgets that are 'guaranteed to increase your OVA and PVA.' Even if you have no idea what OVA or PVA means, it sure sounds like a good thing, no? And for '12 easy payments of $499 per month' what else could a recent graduate with a crap-load of debt ask for?
In the world of acupuncturists, it's not about gadgets or gizmos - it's more about styles. Practitioners selling these different systems of healing often use language like 'higher-level acupuncture' to describe their approach. They tell tales of seeing 60 patients per day. These higher-level beings also, of course, make six figures a year - and you can too, if you sign up for their course.
How does all that make you feel? I'll tell you how it made ME feel: inadequate, like I am a failure for seeing only 30 patients per WEEK, and like a lower, lesser-level being. I used the word 'made' because I honestly felt like a piece of crap until many years into my practice where I discovered what was going on...
Many marketing gurus are preying on our insecurities, not unlike a toothpaste commercial shows us that gleaming, white teeth will get us a hot red sports car (and a hot looking companion to boot).
I can actually recall when it first happened: I was in my last year of college when I was introduced to another style of acupuncture. I hadn't even mastered when to use an LI4 + LV3 combination and here is another student telling me about this amazing style and the amazing results I would get in the clinic.
The next time it happened was when I sat alone in my very first clinic waiting for the phone to ring. Browsing the internet, I stumbled upon another approach to acupuncture which promised to deliver astonishing results so my patients would refer all their friends to me.
I started TCM Graduate TV for a few reasons. The first reason is because I had a very good TCM-style acupuncture and herbal education. I was also mentored heavily in business for the first year-and-a-half - which kept my head screwed on straight when doubt started to creep in (most days). I wanted share the knowledge and confidence I gained. If I could do it - I knew others could too.
The other reason I started mentoring online is due to the fact that every time I ran into a tough clinic case I reverted back to my college-taught TCM-style acupuncture - and got great results. The amount of effort I had put into school and board examinations came flooding out to my patient's aid. Acupoint prescriptions came into my head faster than I could write them down. I decided to stand my ground and draw my line in the sand: I would be, even in fear of being called a lower-level acupuncturist, a TCM-style acupuncturist.
The five-figure acupuncturist.
I have met many six-figure acupuncturists in my ten years of practice - and I must say that a lot of them are nice people and they want to help other achieve the same. I'm going to give some examples of how these people make a living - to bring light to their lifestyle and grind. That way you and I can sleep easier with less self-judgement.
As entrepreneurs, we often ride the unpredictable wave that is the free market. One way to ease the ups and downs is to, gasp, get a job. Many acupuncturists find themselves working a part-time or even full-time job in or outside their respective field. Some professionals have found stability teaching for Chinese medicine colleges or universities. Some work elsewhere. Seeing ten patients per week isn't that stressful on the finances if one has a steady income.
I have also found that many practitioners are not the primary 'bread-winner' in their family. They have a spouse who makes $80-100'000/year and their practice is just a small percentage of the household income.
Lastly, many practitioners who make it to six-figures have partnered with companies and offer courses.
Am I saying that being a six-figure acupuncturist, working at a college and offering courses is the way of the devil? Oh gosh, no! There are many financially successful practitioners who work very long hours and deserve what they have - and these are the people I believe we should listen to.
What I am saying is: don't be so damn hard on yourself. Don't let anyone or any company make you feel inadequate. Don't let any voices of doubt creep into your mind. Don't feel like you have to practice any other style than the one that resonates with your heart.
I am Kenton Sefcik - TCM-style, and five-figure acupuncturist.