Career Outlook

Teresa Stevenson

Teresa Stevenson

Clinical Acupuncturist

How did you get your job as an Acupuncturist?

I contacted Beachbox Physiotherapy in Seaford and asked if they had any rooms available. They didn’t at the time but shortly after the current Acupuncturist left a job became available, so I started with half a day a week and started looking for extra work that allowed me to collaborate with other professionals.

I decided to write to 200 GPs who lived in my area, and from that I had one GP clinic contact me wanting to know if I would come in and work for them. I began working another half a day within their clinic however I have recently finished up at both clinics as I am relocating to South Australia.

I have also continued to volunteer at the Sacred Heart Mission at their Hands on Health clinic.

What does a typical day look like for you?

When I am at Sacred Heart I’m treating two people an hour, back to back. When I am there, I don’t have to worry about the business side of things like I did at the GP clinic.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

When I was in clinical practice my focus was treating patients with pain. People with chronic pain would often say to me ‘you are my last resort’ and they were so despondent and fed up, it was very rewarding when they got results from seeing me. I didn’t appreciate how debilitating pain was until I had severe back pain for two weeks in my final year of uni.

Giving the patient the space to be heard is just as important as the treatment. As a practitioner you should be listening just as much as you are speaking.

What are the challenges?

Letting go of outcomes. I came into this profession to help people, and I want them to get better. But not everyone is going to get better, and I recognise a lot of people have seen an array of other practitioners and may have already spent a lot of money. It’s about me having to let go of the idea that everyone will get better.

Another challenge was recognising that student clinic is different to private practice. It takes time to build clientele. If you have a passion for practice, don’t give up, find a way even if it is volunteer work at least you are practicing and keeping your skills up.

In practice people will cancel and won’t show up, it’s important to think about how you are going to deal with that. Are you going to use that time to be studying? Make sure you have policies and procedures in place if someone does cancel. Recognise that it can be part of their diagnosis if they are always late or cancelling.

What did you like about studying at Endeavour?

I got on well with my supervisors and that connection and the knowledge that they brought to the students is precious to me. It is also important to recognise that they will be your peers.

I studied at the Melbourne campus, which was easy to get to as it is opposite Melbourne Central train station. The campus also has a great library and staff, I used to work as a librarian, so it is something I appreciate.

How has your career developed and what are your career ambitions?

This year (2019) it will be three years since I graduated. I’ve stopped private practice for now as I am about to move to South Australia. I lived in England for 20 years where they have the National Health Service, and I think healthcare should be affordable. When I move to South Australia the plan is to open a community acupuncture clinic – the idea is to see a lot of people at an affordable price. I think that is why I love Sacred Heart so much, recognising that not everyone can afford acupuncture. If the model is successful hopefully this will be a place that students can volunteer and get experience. I would like to see in the future a lot of people who graduate become mentors, as this is such a valuable experience for students.

At the start it can be hard, it is good to recognise we are all in the same boat. When I finished a few college friends and I would meet up regularly and talk about clinical practice.

What are your top tips for others wanting to be an Acupuncturist?

  • Don’t stop learning – when you finish graduating, keep studying. It’s about finding a style which suits you.
  • Make sure you know the AHPRA regulations around what you can advertise for your practice, you don’t want to get caught out.
  • Recognise it is going to be hard work to build a practice, but it is very rewarding.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Do volunteering work and observation while you are studying or new in practice. Hands on health clinic have a website, and they are a great organisation.
  • If you have the passion, find a way to make it work.

These are some text books I would recommend all acupuncture students to read!

Community and social enterprise books

  • Rohleder, Lisa. Acupuncture Points are Holes
  • Rohleder, Lisa. Fractal: About Community Acupuncture.
  • Rohleder, Lisa & Van Meter, Skip. The Little Red Book of Community Acupuncture for Practitioners
  • Yunus, Muhammad. Banker to the Poor.
  • Yunus, Muhammad. Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs

Business books

  • Bose, Ruma & Faust, Lou. Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected Principles for Practical Leadership
  • Branson, Richard. Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You Aa Business School
  • Clements, Dan & Gignac, Tara. The Practitioner’s Journey: The Path to Success for Holistic, Alternative & Integrative Health Professionals
  • Brown, Lorne. Missing the Point: Why Acupuncturists Fail… And What They Need to Know to Succeed
  • Hammer, Leon. The Patient-Practitioner Relationship in Acupuncture
  • Hamwee, John. Acupuncture for New Practitioners
  • Price, Les. Awakening the Heart of Business

Volunteer opportunities

Global Balance Foundation: Note that you’re required to undertake Si Yuan training courses first.