If You're Thinking of Applying

If there is such a thing as a "normal" acupuncture school, POCA Tech isn't it.  Most acupuncture schools encourage prospective students to apply. POCA Tech encourages you to think twice and do your research.

Here's a list of things you should think about.

1) Is this education going to be a good investment for you -- of your resources, your time, your energy, your attention?

Here's a beautiful blog post by Pam Chang of Sarana Community Acupuncture about the social dividends of running a community clinic for 10 years. Please read it.

However, community acupuncturists typically don’t make a lot of money.  Please do your homework about what community acupuncturists earn.

Also, we strongly recommend that you do some research on what acupuncturists, any acupuncturists, earn. Understand that most acupuncturists are self-employed small business owners, and this is an uncertain, demanding path. When people quote "salaries" for acupuncturists, this can be very misleading because some 90% of acupuncturists don't have salaries, they have self-employment earnings which are  1) not guaranteed and 2) taxed at twice the rate of regular employment.

2) Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and work hard?

POCA Tech is no place for consumers, and we’ve all been socialized to be consumers. POCA Tech reflects a cooperative mindset, which can be a real shock to your system. Down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, out of the matrix --  however people describe it, it’s different here. Some people love that about the school, some people hate it. If you’re looking for a situation where you can pay your tuition and be a passive consumer of your education, this absolutely isn’t it. If you have some experience with collectives --  anything from cooperatives to volunteering with church groups -- you’ll have a better idea of what you’d be getting into.

3) Are you ready to think about difficult topics?

Many white people who are drawn to the study of acupuncture are unfortunately influenced by Orientalism and a kind of romantic racism, in which a career as an acupuncturist somehow represents a magical escape from ordinary life. We’ve heard people describe going to acupuncture school as the equivalent of “going to Hogwarts” (wizard school). The reality is that the Chinese immigrants who first practiced acupuncture in the West suffered real-world oppression and violence; they weren’t wizards living magical lives, they were people taking care of their own marginalized communities under difficult conditions.

Being an acupuncturist will bring you face to face with all the problems of our society: unequal access to healthcare, the physical and mental effects of oppression, the structural violence of capitalism, your own relative privilege. (If you’re thinking of going to acupuncture school, by definition you have more privilege than a lot of community acupuncture patients do.)  POCA Tech won’t romanticize any of that. If you’re looking for an escape, this isn’t it. On the other hand, if you really can’t be happy without engaging those kinds of problems, this might be the right place for you.

4) Are you ready to make a commitment?

Many people are drawn to the study of acupuncture because it seems to offer a way to keep their options open. It’s alternative; it’s outside the mainstream; it offers the promise of owning your own business, setting your own schedule, etc. These things are true about acupuncture but they’re a long way from the whole story and an even longer way from what POCA Tech is about. We’re looking for people who are ready to make a genuine commitment to a specific job  --and that's not compatible with keeping your options open. A metaphor that we use is that being an acupunk is like running a program on your computer that takes up tons of space on your hard drive. If you’re going to do it, you’ll have to give up other things because there simply isn’t room for them. If you have room in your life for a big, demanding commitment, POCA Tech might be good for you. Please do your research, talk to some acupunks, ask them about what it’s really like.

5) And finally -- the program itself is hard. It’s possible to fail it. It will probably change you.

Still interested? Please watch this video made by instructors and students that explores the POCA Tech mission.