Written by Angela Xistris, reposted from 2012

Ah, Spring Break. There are no intensives in session and Class 27, our resident interns, headed for their respective hills last Friday. Their plans ranged from everything to the beach, camping, seeing family, and absolutely nothing but rest. And believe me, they’ve all earned this 10-day break!

In the meantime, back at the Academy, it’s been very quiet. The administration took advantage of the quiet uninterruptedness and addressed the bigger projects that tend to fall by the wayside when students are in session or clinic. The biggest project of all? Cleaning our offices.

I like to think that this blog answers questions as well as provide a window into life at the Academy. But today I want to be the one to pose the question. In the midst of the filing, reorganizing, and dusting, I had plenty of time to contemplate what it is that we do here at the Academy. And as I archived old admissions files, correspondence, and paperwork I had the opportunity to get a greater perspective on both student and administrative progress – greater in the sense of overall picture.  So my question to you is, are you ready for graduate school?

A Master of Acupuncture is not medical school. We don’t ask our interns and residents to work 100 hour weeks and 30 hour shifts with no sleep. And yet the goal of both practitioners is the same: to heal and prevent illness. A Master of Acupuncture is still a graduate degree requiring students to invest themselves in thousands of  hours of didactic and clinical work.  Learning the diagnostic techniques required in Five Element Acupuncture to effectively treat with acupuncture and herbs takes extreme focus. Developing a practitioner’s CSOE skills requires cultivation of one’s senses- practitioners rely on their senses in ways not expected in our highly digital world, and in many cases must relearn trust in sensory perception.

Our catalog lists the courses, hours, and credits that our students must complete for graduation, so I’m not going to throw more numbers out here. In the end, the numbers don’t tell the whole story, because there is more work being done than what students do in the classroom. When I write about “investment” and “commitment to an acupuncture program, there is an underlying expectation of the investment and commitment that a student must make in order to be a successful practitioner (and not just a successful student). It’s about what the investment a practitioner makes in their own health and well-being in addition to the commitment a practitioner makes to their patients’ health and well-being. Patient and practitioner are intimately connected. In order to heal, Five Element acupuncturists must commit, invest, and connect.

So, when you start to envision your life, think about what you want your life’s work to be.