Way too many acupuncture courses.

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Way too many acupuncture courses.

Postby mrpin » Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:18 pm

Is it just me or is there far too many universities providing acupuncture degrees. It would appear that at last viewing there are now over 10 Universities offering acupuncture at degree level in Australia alone.
My main concern is the severe lack of statistics supporting the need for so many acupuncture graduates.
Everywhere I look there is overabundant supply of practitioners.
In addition to all the graduates there are other practitioners who do not specialise in the art who just add it on to the list of services.
Quite simply put, from my own observations over 90% of graduates do not have a acupuncture career at the end of their degree that meets the bills. (A very small percentage do quite well too of course).
Even more entertaining is that acupuncture is still on the government imigration skills shortage list for people entering the country.
Yes acupuncture works and works well, but supply and demand!.
How many more gradutes are needed?, for sure there is a severe oversupply already.

Could this be the new arts degree?

In short, I wonder if it would be be a good idea to restrict graduate numbers as done with some uni courses.

(All above personal opinion only).
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Postby Sensei » Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:41 pm

Yes there are alot of institutions offering Acupuncture/TCM degrees.. maybe too many?

Apparently Victoria University will no longer be offering their Bachelor course.

In short, I wonder if it would be be a good idea to restrict graduate numbers as done with some uni courses.

What exactly do you mean when you say that restricting graduate numbers may be a good idea?

There should be minimum OP score requirements for all Acupuncture/TCM degrees.

Job placement statistics and/or job outcomes and expectations should be provided by course providers. These statistics could be obtained through past student feedback/questionnares sent out by the course providers.
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100 places a year by 2020.

Postby mrpin » Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:47 pm

1/ Glut of graduates.

Career paths in the more traditional medical fields ensure their graduates have career prospects by not having too many venues and student places. The number of graduates in theory keeps inline with practitioners retiring from the field, or is carefully adjusted to meet demand.
Examples which spring to mind include Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Chiropractic/ Osteopaths.
These courses are only provided at a few selected unis for Australias 22 mil or so population, and as a result, all graduates are in high demand.
As for acupuncture with its anyone can do it attitude, the only fix I can think of is to enforce a reduction in the number of graduates or practitioner tickets.
As a suggestion, perhaps only offer 100 new workforce places each year, drawn from a ballot for new graduate positions.
Starting from a set year sometime soon,
Grandfathering existing practitioners of course.
This may not be popular but would ensure an adequate number of new practitioners, the uni places would quickly adjust accordingly.
In order for this to happen, an all encompassing single body would have to oversee the introduction of such a system, therefore it would probably have to wait for national registration to enforce it.
...Dont hold your breath....

Perhaps these are radical ideas but something needs to be done.

Student feedback.

Sensei, excellent idea:
Would the course providers please obtain past student feedback to provide some form of real statistical validation of the needs for so many courses.
You would think they should have some sort of duty of care to provide this.
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Postby dreamweaver » Sun Aug 03, 2008 9:38 am

student feedback is definately a good start.. need some official statistics first..
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Postby sparrowfahrenheit » Wed Aug 06, 2008 4:19 am

In the suggestion of restricting who and who cannot study / practice, we are entering into a historically old and dangerous discussion - rife with political violence.

All viewpoints can be broken into two categories.

1. Those who practice acupuncture to enrich themselves.
2. Those who practice acupuncture to enrich their patients / society.

Initially, restricting graduates will superficially help the people in the first group, while damaging the interests of the second group / society. The "establishment politic body" will be able to control the supply of services to adjust their own pay. Ironically, over the long term, restricting supply of acupuncture services will slow the growth of the industry, and prevent movement of the practice into mainstream and rural society - while increasing health care cost to the person on the street (there is a reason why acupuncture is listed on the desired professions for people entering Australia - there is no health care in rural settings). Hence we see "establishment" politics clearly sit in category 1 and often damage the industry they espouse to help (for completely selfish reasons).

In contrast, a larger supply of Chinese medicine will provide more affordable health care to a larger portion of society at a lower cost. Practitioners will have to increase their skill vs. political ability to retain and grow their practice. Further specialization of skills, greater ability and harder work will become necessary Vs. Political manoeuvrings.

Fortunately, there is no short supply of the common cold (Lu7 Co4), or low back ache (BL 23). So if you are half way competent and have any people skills, you should be busy enough to support yourself. Word of mouth is the best advertising - from successfully treated patients. It takes time to establish yourself with first hand success. Growing a business of any kind takes business skill, time had hard work - unless you just want it handed to you by an establishment organization....

If you want an organization of acupuncture strong enough to control "supply", you must be ready to handle an organization that is powerful enough to remove all your rights to practice - or shut practice completely - as has happened repeatedly in the past (when health / political professions fight for their piece of the pie)...

Personally, I think the option of working hard or going to a small town with a growing modality is a much better long term approach. You are responsible for your success vs. an outside organization (you want success handed to you on a silver plate? -nothing is free).

Then again, you are raised in a Western society where the two largest pieces of the economy are: 1. military industrial complex. 2. pharmaceuticals Hence, war and disease are the most profitable ventures our society can undertake. Reaching a conclusion that "restricting graduates" is a "solution" vs. providing better service and harder work to grandma is hardly a stretch for you "group 1" people.

Grow your ability, numbers and power, not your selfish bureaucrats. I don't want to see you historically empty little kitties discussing such foolish ideas anymore! (This ancient debate - control of the industry - typically becomes violent over time - society would suffer with less health care for a few individuals benefit. Why go through all this work when you can just buy pharmaceutical stock?)

Group 1 people suck.
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oooo oooh and I almost forgot!

Postby sparrowfahrenheit » Wed Aug 06, 2008 6:18 am

Do we wish to sew the seeds of our own destruction through building a centralized structure that restricts and oversees our growth? (Historically this has happened many times in the history of China - acupuncture survives because it is hard to regulate people who only need a pin to practice their trade. Remember the history of midwives - burnt as witches.) Restricting and controlling graduates is a step in this direction.

Right now there are six acupuncturists within two kilometers of my house. Their practices are of varying success. One practitioner charges $75 and is booked out. A few of the others charge $30 - $50 and are not as busy. Restricting the number of graduates is a step to putting all these practitioners on the same level - a very bad idea. The $75 dollar practitioner is worth the extra money and has more business. Instead of asking how to restrict graduates, maybe these people should be considering how to do a better job?

Restricting the number of people involved with acupuncture will always be a bad idea. Because TCM is a tertiary health modality (would not be the first line of health care in a war, natural disaster or severe trauma) we will always take a back seat to the emergency medicine profession. If there is more of them than us, and we cut into their profit margin, if our profession is organized into a cohesive whole / target through some empowered, pyramid bureaucratic structure, the whole profession is put into a vulnerable target zone - by those whose profit acupuncture cuts into.

Those who would cut others out of the profession for the sake of their own personal profit -fail to see that they put their whole profession at risk to a larger group (emergency medicine) whose profit all acupuncturists cut into (there is a little bit of "golden rule" in there somewhere).

Consider this argument in a different light. Should establishment / government / mainstream medicine restrict use of acupuncture / alternative medicine (or the number of graduates) to improve their fees? Perhaps pro-regulation people should try a MD degree program and enjoy all the litigation and bureaucracy / restrictions that comes with it? -before they beg for more and destroy a relatively bureaucratic free practice of TCM.

What we need is as many graduates as possible, and as much mainstream use as possible. -All striving to do the best they can to heal patients and bring in business. It is the best solution to long term acceptance of this medicine within Western society.

There is no shortage of sore low backs and common cold. There is enough work for everyone. Society needs more health care and less bureaucrats.

Would you rather your health care be provided by bureaucracy (big brother), or the skill of a trusted and established practitioner?

Now I want to hear you all screaming in unison... "Give us more Acupuncture graduates!!!!"

Re: "is it the new Arts degree..." -Artists starve. Health care people can usually find food. Count your blessings you don't have to compete with sweatshops overseas (non-transferable skill set). Quit whining and get to work!
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Postby mrpin » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:21 pm

With due respect, we dont need 10 university's providing the same thing. There was only 1 -10 years ago and that worked just fine. My point has little to do with graduate and practitoner competency or cost, or marketing ability.
The main point is there is simply no justification for so many courses here when the demand is already more than met.
Unified registration (seeds of destruction?) is here already in some states. So far the only slight anoyance is trying to move between the states which requires significant beurocratic steps and cost. However overall personally I think registration can only benifit the profession.
As for neatly fitting practitioners viewpoints into a catergory, for myself I supose I would fall both into catergory 1 and 2, I like to practice recognising the need to obtain some financial benifit to support the bills, however I also enjoy helping people so I would say probably well balanced between these catergories (yin yang).

Yet strangely I do still hold out major concerns for this profession as I can not see it as being a viable one in years to come for new graduates. The head in the sand approach sadly doesnt work.
Anyhow back to the dart board, patients are a waiting.
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Postby sparrowfahrenheit » Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:02 am

Re: "With due respect, we dont need 10 university's providing the same thing."

Yes we do. It is called "competition" - and in all natural systems - produces the best results.

We have more than ten universities teaching math, science, or English etc - and that is a good thing.

The "categories" of 1. and 2. divide people into their predominant motives. The scale will tip one way or the other for you. You can't sit on the fence. i.e. - like a Meyers Briggs exam - you can't be both extrovert and introvert - although we all have both tenancies... No fence sitting!

Become great at what you do (helping people achieve greater health) -and you will always be busy. This is one field with no shortage of demand.

The more universities teaching T.C.M. - the better!
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Postby sparrowfahrenheit » Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:34 am

Supply and demand is a harsh system, but so is nature. One day an oversupply will give rise to a shortage - as it ALWAYS does.

There is a glut of practitioners in popular areas - and none in outlying towns. Go to Towoomba if wealth is what you seek.

You won't get very far in any industry if you expect all the research and good business plans to be handed to you on a silver plate.

The average Uni grad takes 7 years to find a "career" position (Stark - 1997). Most people change their careers multiple times. Your frustration as an acupuncturist is not unique.

Boom and bust is unavoidable - even in a communist system. Instead, try being thankful for the opportunity you have!
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Postby dragonmonk » Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:44 am

I would have to agree with sparrowfahrenheit. Each course offers something a little different. The degree at UWS offers electives, while the degree at UTS does not.

On top of the points already made is the fact that many of the people who go into a TCM degree don't intend to practice at all. Some will enter research, some will enter into sales of TCM related products, some do it simply for interest, and others do it because it is what their parents want them to do.

Most people I started my degree with did not intend to practice. Some did, and of that group, only some will have the skill level and marketing knowledge to achieve a successful practice.
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Postby mrpin » Mon Nov 24, 2008 10:49 am

Very strange in itself that most people study acupuncure with no intention to practice, yes I remember a few but put them under the catergory of eccentric oddballs with too much cash to waste, perhaps a book on acupuncture or a stamp collection would be better for these individuals. However for many graduates that intend to practice it has become an expensive hobby with little viable financial incentives on offer. Which is why many tcm graduates drive cabs for many years as an unintended "alternative" career path.
50 k to study a uni degree you would want to acheive some sort of return I should imagine.

Sadly I can not share the enthusiasm for acupuncture taught in any of the the course forms as they currently stand.
Most practitioners suffer burnout within 5 years from significant clinical isolation, financial worries and a lack of value added in demand services being available as linked postgraduate courses.
For what its worth my advice to the current near graduates would consist of making sure you have excellent massage skills as this is an area of demand that people actually enjoy and is in demand therefore should provide you with a stable income.
Next spend a lot of time and effort in marketing as this is the only way you may recoup your uni outlay.
Most importantly location loction location of clinic.
Finally consider a tafe course in something that might pay the bills, most of the graduates form my year have put the TCM degree in the shed and moved onto semi related fields such as medical rep work, driving cabs, massage, chiro and of all things working underground in the mining industry.
But you will have to take my word for it as you would not find them in these chat rooms now or I suspect ever.

Sure its not about all about the cash but unfortunately you must make enough to pay the bills in order to support a clinic to help as many clients as you feel able to do so.
Other healthcare modalites do not have this problem, they are on average very well paid.
With an average income not exceeding $20,000, It appears to be mostly unique to TCM (probably due to inherent yin nature of practitioners- except of course for sparrow who seems a little more yang).
I can't help but also ponder how the added cost of national registration and price inflated and usually irrelevant CPE's will further demise the industry.
Personal opinion but I sure would not be recommending this as a career path to any of my friends.
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Postby tripledragon » Mon Nov 24, 2008 8:27 pm

In the same way as when the student is ready - the teacher will appear, so too when the practitioner is ready - the patients will appear. If you are a good practitioner, lack of patients and lack of $$ is a non issue. No need to fear. Fear is a type of prayer that gets answered. What you fear you attract. Be confident of your talents, practice your Qi Gong and meditation, and the patients will miraculously pour through the door. :wink:

The only problem with a high number of courses is ensuring that each institution has quality lecturers. Very few do. RMIT, ACNM Gold Coast, UTS and (becoming less so) UWS are the few that come to mind.
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Postby yinyangthang » Fri Jan 02, 2009 12:38 pm

My major concern is the quality of the courses, not the quantity...the quality of the graduates, not the quantity.

These courses MUST provide sessional lecturers with experience in the field. It is fine to have academic lecturers in the early years of a course to set the groundwork in the theory of TCM. However, in subjects where clinical insight is essential (eg internal med, gyne, dermatology etc), the lecturer should not be a PHd student who has never had a busy clinic because they've been too busy focusing on a very narrow research field. However, this seems to be an increasingly common situation.

In teaching clinics too, there must be an experienced practitioner supervising. And not too many students per supervisor. Once again, this is a weakness of Australian TCM courses which needs to be corrected.

As far as graduates go, I feel that these courses need to assess students very thoroughly rather than "baby" them through the course. Students who are only interested in what will be on the exam rather than what will help them to be exceptional practitioners need to be weeded out.

The best way to protect our profession is to always demand excellence from ourselves and our peers, no matter how many of us there are.

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