Community Clinic: Preparing Interns for Real-World Practice

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Community Clinic: Preparing Interns for Real-World Practice

PCOM-Chicago's community-based acupuncture-only clinic is grounded in faster-paced treatments based upon a Chinese hospital model. Patients are treated in reclining zero-gravity chairs with others in the room, at very affordable rates, a process that ensures the availability of acupuncture for all and makes it possible for acupuncturists to see several patients at once. Intern observers are also welcome. For dates and times or other information, see the Clinic page.

Thiera Smith, PCOM-Chicago student, on interning in the clinic:
"I would highly recommend taking a shift in PCOM’s Community Clinic. Even if community-style isn't what you want to do when you graduate, you develop skills on this shift that you don’t get a chance to practice on other shifts at PCOM. These are skills that enhance any style of acupuncture you may practice and will prepare you for the real world.

In PCOM’s Community Clinic, you get to practice a few office skills, time management on a new level, and managing more than one patient at a time. Typically patients are waiting for you at the start of your shift and will trickle in, or gush in, throughout the evening. You get to practice your awareness of who is in the waiting room and how long they have had to wait. If you are like me when you graduate, you may not have a person working your front desk, so you will need to be able to keep an eye on the entire office while you are also doing treatments.

To get everyone seen, you have to manage how much time you are spending in assessing the patient, thinking up your treatment plan, presenting to the supervisor, needling, and charting. You practice time management on all your shifts, but in Community Clinic, all of this is now done within 15-20 minutes, maybe less. To work this quickly you learn to rigorously focus your intakes and practice making your best diagnosis with more limited information than you might be able to gather in a 20-minute intake on another shift. You learn to make competent and quick treatment plans and communicate succinctly with your supervisor, so that you can spend more of your allotted time with the patient.  You get the chance to experiment with different point prescriptions, learning to treat all areas of the body using only points on the head, below the elbows, and below the knees. Because you are learning about your patient in 5-10 minute increments over many weeks, and because the nature of Community Clinic leads to all the acupuncturists on a shift sharing patients, quick but precise and legible charting is a skill you master and learn to appreciate in your team. Obviously, in your own practice, time management, efficiency, and being able to work with others in your office will lead to happier patients and the ability for you to see more people and make more money.

After you have the patient resting with their needles in and you have finished charting, you move on to the next patients, but you can’t forget to discharge people as their time is up. This is an opportunity to practice managing more than one patient, as you will most likely do in your own practice.

PCOM’s Community Clinic is a great opportunity for you to apply the theory and clinic skills that you have learned up to this point, in a faster-paced, more true-to-life setting."

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