Occasionally, when it’s a little slow and I have time to chat, patients ask me about how this whole community acupuncture clinic thing works. They ask me good questions and here are all the answers. We pride ourselves on being transparent to the staff. We should be just as transparent to our amazing customers who support us and our love of doing acupuncture.
Q: (Patient looks at an empty treatment room) Are you guys doing okay?
A: Sort of. Like most of you, we’re surviving but not thriving. We’re still struggling with a reduction in our business and are at about 65% of our pre-pandemic volume. We are grateful to have made it through the pandemic this far, but we’d like to be as busy as we used to be. You can help us by bringing a friend, telling everyone you know they should come here, following us on our various social media platforms (twitter, instagram, facebook) and, most of all, coming in more often. Our affordable pricing is possible when we’re able to sustain a high volume of patient visits.
Q: Are you a non-profit?
A: NOAP. We are an S-Corp, but one that has in its mission, being a social business, which means, if you’ve read, Nobel Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunus’s book on the subject, that we have an extra bottom line to our accounting measuring our social impact. Our mission is to lift our communities (of all three clinics) through acupuncture and provide meaningful, viable, fair employment to the staff that holds it all together.
Q: Are you funded by the government?
A: (laughing) No. Thank goodness. Can you imagine?! Actually, we can. We support a shift to socialized medicine, but until that happens we are happy to remain on the periphery of the broken health care system. We want to align ourselves with organizations who have similar values, of expanding access to acupuncture and making health care a human right.
Q: How are the prices so low?
A: Volume. When we are treating 5 or 6 people an hour, we are generating enough revenue. When we dip below that, things aren’t quite as lucrative. This is all made possible by you coming to acupuncture frequently and bringing all your friends and family.
Q: You guys have quite a few substitutes and a decent amount of turn over. Why is it so hard for you to find staff?
A: Buckle in because this is kind of a long answer. First of all, the acupuncture profession looks like it’s dying. For real life! Whitney wrote a great blog about this, but, long story short, there are less and less people getting their acupuncture licenses. Community acupuncture historically isn’t something that has been taught in schools (we are trying to change that). We’ve always had a smaller share of the licensees coming out of taking their licensing exam who have the way we do acupuncture on their radar. So, basically, there is nobody out there, who has a pulse, an acupuncture license, and is into the way we do things. We do our best to exert quality control but, if you’ve had a treatment that has been subpar and that person disappears after a few months, now you know why.