Not long ago, most discussions about dysfunction within the acupuncture profession eventually got around to the “we’re a young profession” explanation.
I’ve heard it less frequently recently. Sensible, since our first licenses were issued over forty years ago.
But there are many signs that we are an immature profession.
Among last week’s Facebook posts in various acupuncture groups:
Several posts with questions about what to do in various health and safety situations — needle-stick protocols and procedures, patients fainting, what to do with Sharps, how to handle reports of post-treatment redness, soreness, tingling. Given the extensive and superior education we keep going on about, shouldn’t we know?
Ongoing diatribes about Dry Needling that show a lack of understanding about health care regulation and licensing. These are often accompanied by childish rants about unfairness and calls to action that sound a lot like dirt-bomb-attack playground strategy sessions.
Practitioners expressing anger and bitterness towards patients who discontinue treatment before giving acupuncture a “fair try,” patients who express concern about the cost of a course of treatment, or patients choosing to seek treatment from a different type of provider.
An acupuncturist who has “had it” and is ready to leave the profession because a patient showing a great response to treatment was prescribed harmful and inappropriate medications by an MD. There was no mention of communication with the prescribing physician to clarify the intent of the medical decision-making. The reported prescription was for drugs commonly abused and of questionable safety for the patient. Is the patient being honest? Does the MD need to be reported?
Last, but not least, a post in which a practitioner expressed joy at the “hotness” of their first client of the day. The subsequent huge upset was not, sadly, at this objectifying of a client, but upset that people would take offense at the post and upset that moderators moderated. A significant number of people left the group in a huff, going to a different group where they can objectify in peace, I guess.
(Some participants in that thread mentioned the risk of posting such thoughts online. What I didn’t see (I must admit the thread was too distressing for me to follow closely) was a discussion of what we all lose as caregivers and patients when we indulge in judgement about our clients “appeal”. Imagine wondering whether your MD sees you and thinks, lucky me, s/he’s gorgeous? Or if they think oh, damn, that’s disgusting? What if the patient is your gorgeous 19 year-old child, or your parent with dementia who is struggling with hygiene and acting inappropriately? It may be “only human” to have an emotional response to people’s physical presentation, but as Health Care Professionals we don’t get to indulge in this human response.)
Facebook may not be a representative place to take the pulse of the profession, but it’s the only place we have to see real-time dialogue and reactions from thousands of practitioners.
I believe that most of us are caring, ethical, concerned practitioners most of the time. It isn’t our fault as individual practitioners that we can graduate from multi-year Master’s degree programs without being taught some of the most basic requirements about safe practice.
But Facebook reveals some truth about who we are, what we care about, and how we respond to challenges.
We’ve got a lot of growing up to do.