How I’m Bringing Acupuncture into Patients' Homes & the Mainstream
I first became fascinated with the science of acupuncture out of need. Back in the nineties, while I was in graduate school, I became sick—inexplicably sick—and the medical doctors I turned to were perplexed. When they said there was nothing wrong with me, I turned to alternative, natural medicine to treat what doctors would today diagnose as autoimmune disease. After searching for a solution for so many years, I almost felt indebted to Acupuncture.
The Acupuncturist who treated me happened to also teach Acupuncture and invited me to come out and take a look at her school. At the time, I couldn’t have been in career that was further away: politics. I ran leadership and election campaigns, but something about Acupuncture kept calling me.
Increasing Acupuncture’s Constituency
It isn’t as if my university education and the first leg of my professional journey were for naught. I took a lot of those learnings into my current job. First, grad school honed my ability to do research, and today I use those skills researching my cases before I see the patient. This means I can spend more time treating them than I do chasing symptoms. Additionally, political campaigning helped me deal with and navigate the bureaucracy that I’ve often encountered in hospitals. And finally, my foray into politics also taught me how to provide good customer service and how to get along with all different sorts of constituents.
It is all about applying the sum of my experience to best serve and treat my patients. In real and tangible ways, all of what I bring to the table fits together. I originally got into politics because of its mission—at least ideally—to help people. And that’s the same reason why I moved into Acupuncture.
This same reason for helping people and making a difference is why I’ve signed up to be part of MediSeen—a company looking to bring house calls into the 21st century. I’ve seen the effect that house calls can have on my patients. Where I practice, in Etobicoke, we have one of the largest seniors populations in the country. This means I have a great deal of patients who love that they can receive treatment without travelling to an office—especially in bad weather. By going to their homes, I’m helping people who simply wouldn’t seek treatment otherwise.
I also know that by using MediSeen to more easily bring Acupuncture into people’s homes, I can reach an even broader base of patients than I ever could on my own. But Acupuncture has not yet hit the mainstream, and part of the reason I am excited about MediSeen is that working with them will allow me to be a megaphone for my field. The relationship with MediSeen will give me greater exposure, and this is important because I don’t just want to treat people, I want to educate them. The bulk of the public is not aware of Acupuncture’s benefits. I want to raise its profile. By doing house calls, I will have a platform to show more and more people that there is another answer to pain.
The Road to General Class Status....
Over the close to 20 years that I have been an Acupuncturist, things have changed. The philosophy goes back 5,000 years—back to the New Stone Age—so it isn’t as if the field of Acupuncture has changed, just the policies and politics. In many ways it’s growing, but not always for the betterment of the people who need it. There are more and more people performing Acupuncture out there, but I believe the field is being increasingly watered down just as Registered Acupuncturists are facing more of a regulatory burden. This is a problem, and it’s something that, as a community, we struggle with.
The most glaring quandary is that Ontario government policy has allowed other health care Professionals to perform Acupuncture under their colleges, but they do not have to register and fulfill the requirements of the College for Registered Acupuncturists. In my opinion, every single person performing Acupuncture should have the proper college required hours of Acupuncture training and be registered with that college.
I can’t tell you how often I treat people who have experienced someone who did not complete the full hours of training or rounds of clinical hours. Typically, echoed over and over, is the sentiment, "But yours is working; how come?” To voice a single directive to all people who are considering Acupuncture, it’s this: Hire someone who took the proper training both classroom and clinical. And to those who offer Acupuncture: Do the proper training, and do it to the best of your abilities.
The Long Haul
My decision to work with MediSeen is to treat people who need long-term help—and typically, if someone needs treatment, it’s to manage pain and provide relief. Mediseen shares my vision. I appreciate that it's service- and convenience-driven and that we are both in it for the long haul.
In my work, there’s energy: to my table, to the physical space. I like the idea of sharing this energy, but what really motivates me is that when it comes to making house calls—especially with my senior patients in Etobicoke—is that if I did not make house calls, some people, who are in pain, would not get the treatment they need.
And, if I can help it, it won’t be in my community.