I'm glad I found your website, your articles are very informative
and easy to read. I'm currently considering a career in TCM.
I have a few questions about it, that I hope you can answer
if you have time: What do you NOT like about being a TCM practitioner?
Do you ever feel over-stressed or burned out? What is your
MBTI, and which type(s) do you feel is most suited for this
Good questions, Ben.
What don't I like? Self-promotion. It's only a means to an end.
I belong to a networking group, which is perfect for acupuncturists,
because most of us acupuncturists don't want to promote ourselves.
Other network group members promote you by referring friends and
clients to you. Of course, I live in an expensive and surprisingly
conservative city (San Diego), and those are factors that may
not be an issue elsewhere.
Can an acupuncturist get over-stressed and burned out?
This is more about the person than the career. I suppose some
jobs may be boring, but most are stressful. Acupuncturists usually
are their own bosses, so they make their own hours.
I have a medical billing service do insurance verification and
collection, because that's a full-time job and could easily overwhelm.
Most importantly, I have personal commitments that: money is not
my #1 priority (seeking and doing God's will is), and that I should
walk my talk and live moderately and healthfully.
Here is an older Q&A (from February 2003) on this topic from
a fellow acupuncturist:
Q. A while back someone was asking about workload, which
is somethingthat here in Europe we don't get much discussion
on, and my question is mainly for those like Brian Carter, Al
Stone and Bob Flaws, who seem to have so much going on, what
with web sites, businesses, writing books, advising people,
holding clinic, courses, etc. How do you manage to work out
your time? Are you working 24/7?
A. Ha! Don't compare your insides to other people's outsides!
Apples and oranges.
I suppose I do have a lot of projects going on- 3 books in
the works, the Pulse website, our TCMFormulas.com business,
Acupuncture Today column, writing press releases whenever something
comes up, and of course giving our needy kittens all the love
I grew up a type-B personality and I've become so type-A that
it amazes me, but I guess that's just the phase of life I'm
in. Wood or Fire.
To address your question about burn-out...
I just submitted my April
column to Acupuncture Today which is on a topic inspired
by the best-selling business book, "Good to Great."
It tells you how to make sure to only be doing things that fulfill
all three of these very important criteria:
1. What you are passionate about
2. What you could be (or are) the best at
3. What makes you money
If you do that, you will be doing the most efficient, lucrative,
and joy-producing activities. Trying to do things that don't
fulfill all three sucks the life out of you.
I've been reading about William Osler (the father of modern
western medicine), and he, like B. Franklin, had each day tightly
scheduled the same way. I'm not that organized - yet.
Another thing Osler mastered early on was how to reproduce
the effect of everything he did. For example, take your patient
files, write each one up as a case report each day, submit them
occasionally for publishing as case studies, then put them all
in a book later on for re-publishing, then go do seminars on
the strength of that book.
Other than that, I can only suggest "Physician Heal Thyself"-
diet, lifestyle, etc. and taking lots and lots of herbs!
HTH (Hope that helps),
Subsequently, I got a hold of "The Power of Focus,"
which is written by 3 authors, 2 of whom are the Chicken Soup
for the Soul guys. This book helps you organize all the things
you have to do, and dream of doing, make sure it's balanced (work,
fun, learning, family, etc.), and then turn it all into manageable
plans for 3 months, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years.
What is your MBTI, and which type(s) do you feel is most suited
for this career?
Mine is XNFJ- I'm not really extroverted or introverted; it depends
on the situation. It does appear that most people attracted to
CM are NF's. Have you read my article
on personality types? That page has a link to an MBTI quiz
and then a survey for people to respond- I've received a statistically
significant response (more than 33 people times the 16 possible
answers). You can "View Results" with the link under
the vote button. The respondents are lay public and acupuncturists,
I assume, since that is the Pulse's audience. The biggest groups
Based on a Meyers-Briggs personality survey of 692 Pulse readers,
71% are introverts (29% are extroverts), 68.6% are intuitive (31.4%
are sensing), 63.9% are feelers (36.1% are thinkers), and 50.6%
are judgers (49.4% are perceivers).
But, I don't think there is just one type most suited to practicing
Chinese medicine. NF's will do well because of the right brain
pattern identification diagnosis, and the need to spend a lot
of time talking and exploring experiences.
A Journal of the American Board of Family Practice survey
of various medical professionals (pdf) showed that acupuncturists
spend three times as long with each patient as MD's do. So, if
talking to people like that interests you, you'll be turned on.
Otherwise, it may take a lot out of you.
But, NT's could also do well, because it can be a very complicated
system of diagnosis, treatment, etc. There's just as much data,
diagnoses, treatments, and specifics about herbs and points to
learn as in Western medicine. I'm not an MBTI expert, so I confess
I can't fully answer this question.
Acupuncture is a Diverse Profession
As you can see in my article "My
Top 10 Favorite Things about Chinese Medicine," (see
#11) there are many career options with an Masters of Science
in Traditional Oriental Medicine. I'm sure some of these options
would be more suited to one type or another.
All the best!