Main Blog Theory Forum Store Clinic Tw Fb G+

What do you think of Working Class Acupuncture


Submitted By: pahner

My first thought was..."that would be really uncomfortable". Now that I have wrapped my brain around the business modeled after the hospitals in China and their effectiveness in offering healthcare that is comfortable, soothing and accessible, I can't see it any other way. It is simple, easy, straight-forward, effective, efficient and everyone benefits! The patient floats out of the office and actually can afford to come back for several treatments or indefinitely on a regular basis without hocking their house.

I love it, am I the only one!


We started a community acupuncture clinic ("working class acupuncture") last year for a few hours out of our week on two different days. I've been pleased with the clinics and the patients seem to enjoy it. Even when they get busy and there is some commotion with everyone moving around, people stay asleep or very, very relaxed as if no one else is in the room. There is something about the collective group energy within this setting that is very interesting to watch.

Due to the sliding scale we offer ($15-$40) we get a range of people that normally cannot afford our private appointments (students, elderly...). From an availability perspective it is a great way to offer acupuncture. As our main system, however, focuses heavily on huatuo needling and tuina it doesn't adapt well to the community style. Because we use comfortable reclining chairs in our community clinic we are limited to certain more standard tcm points and it is interesting for me to watch the differences in response levels for certain conditions. Over time I'm learning which conditions will do just fine in the community clinic and which ones really need our style of private treatments. Because of this, I don't see moving towards all community style treatments anytime soon, but it has been very good for us and well received. I'm happy to be able to offer a choice of treatments and to remove barriers to access to our medicine.


I've ran a regular practice in NYC for 5 years, got bored, went to India where monks ran community acupuncture clinic and stayed there for 6 months. We'd treat up to 80 people a day.

Today is a one-year anniversary since we opened community-style clinic on Maui. We're sliding scale $20-30. I have 5 full beds, no chairs and people get full-on treatments. We now treat 20-30 people a day. It's a lot of work but I love it.

Good luck with your project, it's a wonderful one.



I think it is great that there are community acupuncture clinics out there and I often refer patients to them - we have several in the Philadelphia area. In my opinion, the more people who are able to experience the benefits of our medicine, the better. Community acupuncture clinics certainly make acupuncture affordable for people who might not be able to pay for the typical acupuncture treatment.

Similar to some of what Chad mentioned, my style of treatment relies heavily on needling paraspinal points and also directly stimulating muscles. I also usually include bodywork (tuina, PNF stretching, external herbs) in my treatments and therefore the community acupuncture model does not fit my treatment style well.

Again though, I am very happy that this is an option for patients.


From what I understand CAN or Community Acupuncture Network is an organization as opposed to Working Class Acupuncture (WCA), which is a Community Acupuncture Business in Oregon that provided the model of Community Acupuncture.

CAN is the organization of Community Acupuncture Businesses. I should have referred to Community Acupuncture rather than WCA. Apologies to Lisa, the brains behind the business model...I think I am not the only one that has gotten them confused (or am I??), apparently quite a big faux pas, just passing along what I have discovered for anyone else a little confused. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I definitely appreciate all the hard work and accessible information that was put into the model of Community-Style Acupuncture and wish everyone else working with it the best of luck. Thanks Again!



You said, "Over time I'm learning which conditions will do just fine in the community clinic and which ones really need our style of private treatments."

If you would post your findings, in regards to this, it would be greatly appreciated.


How how large is you staff, to have 5 beds and 20-30 sessions per day?




Well I'm still watching but the most obvious condition so far is thoracic to low back pain. I really feel these conditions need local needling at least and respond fastest with appropriate needling, tuina and, often, cupping. While we do use anterior points for low back pain the response seems to slower in many cases. Certainly we could have a few patients on the tables during the community clinic but so far, except when we run out of chairs, we are trying to keep people in the chairs.

And, I know you weren't asking me, but during the clinics we have up to 15 people at a time and the rest of the day when we have private sessions I also manage 5 private rooms. It's just me with some minor office help. An individual should easily be able to see 20-30 people/day without assistance.

You have to get used to that environment though. Certainly larger community clinics take awhile to get the flow down so you don't feel rushed. And managing 5 rooms is not always easy but proper scheduling and shorter breaks throughout the day make it a non-issue. Before my own clinics I did work in some high volume community style clinics and worked with masters that have days with 50+ private patients - so I am more accustomed to the pace than others may be initially.


I think community style acupuncture is great, and am very excited to hear of new clinics starting. BUT, from my perspective (working in a very, very low SES neighborhood in Brooklyn), it is not the answer to the health care problem in this country. A $15-30 sliding scale fee is affordable acupuncture for many of us, but not the people here, not even if their problems were fixed in one visit. I see too many people that do not have $2 to pay for a treatment, but whose lives would be forever changed if it were covered by Medicaid or some form of universal health care plan. I also see many elderly people who, quite frankly, need to spend the $15 on groceries. I did a few health fairs here in Brooklyn, and it was quite depressing to have to tell patient after patient, 'no we don't take Medicare'. I started doing pro bono work, but of course, I need money to pay rent, etc. I could not afford to continue to spend my time giving away services. There needs to be a way that we can reach the Medicaid and Medicare and homeless population. Any ideas?


Instead of having practitioners (who generally already have very lean margins of profitability as acupuncturists) waiting 6-18 months to get paid from medicare/caid at reduced amounts, public funded community health clinics fill this need very well.

I wouldn't mind acupuncture being covered but I have no interest in spending extra hours of paperwork for each patient and receiving reduced payments months later. For physicians who charge many hundreds of dollars for visits and procedures this may work - for acupuncture I don't think it will. Accessibility is important but not at the expense of not being able to offer a service at all.

There are, however, a number of good examples of facilities which offer acupuncture often for free or very low fees and are subsidized with taxpayer funds. The Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury, MA is a good example of what can be offered.... Acupuncture school clinics are another useful resource, in NY there are more than a few of these.


I don&#39t really provide a true community acupuncture service. What I do is provide second and maybe third treatments in the same week at reduced cost. A second or third treatment for the same problem takes a much shorter examination, and I can often do a similar treatment to the most recent one, if that was effective, or change things quite a bit if it was not.

Ask A Question Start A Discussion
Main Blog Theory Forum Store Clinic Tw Fb G+
Copyright 2000-2018 Yin Yang House - All Rights Reserved
Website Design and Management by the Yin Yang House Media Services Group