Thursday, October 11, 2012
One kind of neat thing I got to do in residency was acupuncture. There was an acupuncture clinic once a week and an attending would supervise us in performing acupuncture on patients.
As far as procedures went, it was pretty easy. The attending would point to a spot and we’d stick a needle there. Even if we were doing it “wrong,” we had no idea. And the patients all liked it and were very grateful.
Here’s how you do acupuncture as a resident:
1) Stick needles where attending tells you
2) Turn out lights in room and set timer for fifteen minutes
3) Go back and take out needles
4) Wipe needle sites with gauze “to keep the chi from escaping” and simultaneously roll eyes
At some point, I thought it might be nice to learn acupuncture for real and incorporate it into my practice someday. When I mentioned this to my father, he said, “So you want to be a quack then?” But I don’t believe acupuncture is quackery. At least, not entirely. If it’s done right, I don’t think it is. I have to wonder how many people in this country do it right.
I located a physician in my area who did primarily acupuncture, to learn more about it. She told me about a course for physicians who want to learn acupuncture, which involves several training sessions as well as hours of self-study. She recommended a book to me called The Web That Has No Weaver, about Chinese medicine.
She also told me that acupuncture isn’t “worth it” financially. That the only reason to do acupuncture is because you love it.
I finally decided that I didn’t love it enough or believe in it enough. That’s why I lost interest in acupuncture.
The only way I currently use acupuncture is when I’m doing EMGs. Apparently, the place where you put the needle to assess the first dorsal interosseous muscle is “a powerful acupuncture point” according to one of my former attendings. So I always tell that to patients, although I recognize that any effect my sticking a needle in there has is purely placebo.