Friday, November 9, 2012

POCA Tech!

This week we're taking a look at POCA Tech!

So, what is POCA Tech? It's a nonprofit educational corporation, 501(c)(3) status pending.  And, according to the POCA Tech website:

"The POCA Technical Institute is the educational arm of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, a multi-stakeholder cooperative owned by patients, practitioners, clinics, and supporters of community acupuncture. POCA’s goal is to make acupuncture available and accessible to as many people as possible and to support those providing acupuncture to create stable and sustainable businesses and jobs. POCA Tech’s aim is to provide the cooperative with educational programs that back up its mission. 
Its first goal is to create entry-level training programs for acupuncturists that are affordable to prospective students of ordinary incomes. 

The POCA cooperative urgently needs qualified licensed acupuncturists both to work in existing community acupuncture clinics and to open new clinics in underserved areas. This is one of the most pressing necessities for the cooperative as a whole, and so it is POCA Tech’s highest priority."

From what many community acupuncturists are saying, though there are many existing acupuncture schools, they spend too much time teaching theories and other fluff that, while it’s nice to know, is not truly applicable to everyday people and situations. I think it’s important to note that this school is being created by donation only, and NOT using government funds. Most people have the misconception that government funding makes education more affordable but stats on the pocatech site show otherwise: 

“Since students have been able to access Title IV federal student loans to attend acupuncture school, the cost of acupuncture education in the US has risen precipitously. For example, in 1992, one year’s tuition at a particular acupuncture school in the Pacific Northwest cost about $7,000, and the program was 3 years long. In 2012, one year’s tuition at that same school is about $22,000, and the program is now 4 years long. Unfortunately, most acupuncturists struggle to make a living by practicing acupuncture, and their loans are a heavy financial burden after graduation.”

I think the same can be said for education as a whole! They go on to say that:

“The cost of acupuncture school and student loan debt is similar to that of other healthcare professionals. However, acupuncturists enter the workforce with income projections that 1) do not match similar professions and 2) are substantially more likely to be self-employed, resulting in years of limited income as they build a practice from scratch. This leaves new acupuncturists with soaring debt and little hope of repayment. The problem is so great that many acupuncturists are forced to work in other fields to supplement their income or leave the profession all together.”

“Our aim is to keep tuition and fees for students under $6,000 per year, not including biomedical clinical science prerequisites. 

Most importantly, students at POCA Tech will graduate employment-ready: competent in a clinical setting, comfortable treating different kinds of people for a wide range of conditions, and fully prepared to fulfill the responsibilities of a community acupuncturist.”

I have often considered becoming an acupuncturist myself because it’s about everything I believe in, helping people get well at a truly affordable price in a no-nonsense environment and making an honest and decent living at the same time. There are obstacles that prevent me from doing so, however, such as the cost of going to school and the fact that I can’t just pick up and move to Portland even if I wanted to, my home is here. The lack of guarantee of a job as a post grad also makes me nauseous enough to want to close the book on going back to school whatsoever. 

I think it’s worth noting that POCA Tech acknowledges that there are many like me who can’t just move several states away and they are also working to provide distance learning! I highly support the founding of this school because it will make it truly affordable to become a community acupuncturist WITHOUT the looming mountain of debt and WITH the business aspect to start your own clinic as well as the skills necessary to be a good acupuncturist-no more, no less.

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