Acupuncture

Acupuncture Careers: Working in a Hospital System (Part 2)

Part two: how to prepare for an acupuncture career in a healthcare system

Jason Calva, Ph.D., L.Ac and Sara Bublitz, MAcOM, L.Ac are acupuncturists working at Mayo Clinic. You can read what it’s like to work in a hospital system in part one of this story. “What it’s like to work in a healthcare system.

Jason Calva, Ph.D., L.Ac, graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University in 2014 and went on to get his Ph.D. at Tianjin University in China. He worked in the NWHSU Bloomington Clinic among other places before going to Mayo Clinic full time. 

Sara Bublitz, MAcOM, L.Ac, graduated from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in 2009 and studied in China for three months, doing an externship at Nanjing TCM University and years later trained and worked for a month in a spinal hospital in Seoul, South Korea specializing in spinal stenosis and chuna [Korean tuina]. She then moved back to Minnesota and eventually became a clinic supervisor at NWHSU while also working in private practice in Maple Grove, MN. She joined Mayo Clinic full-time in 2014 where she currently works as not only an acupuncturist but an instructor of Medicine.  

At NWHSU, we believe the future of healthcare is integrative whole-person care. Acupuncturists play a vital role in that vision. We asked Sara and Jason for advice on how to prepare for a career. Specifically, as an acupuncturist working within healthcare systems.

The Future of Acupuncture and Integrative Care  

For Jason, the skills you learn as an acupuncturist are crucial to a future of patient-centered healthcare. “We learned at Northwestern ‘how do you listen to people? Assess people? Be present with people?” he explained. “Going into the future all those skills are going to be hugely invaluable for both our field but also just patient-centered care in general.” 

Integrating into the healthcare system in the US is important. Jason feels the key is learning to speak the language. “The biggest thing is knowing that you can translate what it is we do without making it feel too ‘woo-woo’ but not watering down the medicine either.”  

Something that’s helped him is having a doctorate. “If physicians know you have a doctorate, they’ll refer patients differently. Patients have a different level of trust when they know you have a doctorate.”

How to Prepare Yourself to Work in a Hospital System as an Acupuncturist  

Jason and Sara recommend completing as many relevant clinical rotations as possible during your education. NWHSU offers many hospital opportunities, and taking advantage of them, according to Jason “helps you grow through the awkwardness or the apprehension you might feel about treating certain conditions or in certain environments.”  

Of course, some people don’t want to be in a hospital, and you can learn that through diverse internship experiences as well. “I would say do the ones you might be a little afraid of,” he advised.  

Sara shared:

Hospitals want to know that you can work within the Western structure and that you feel safe treating Western diseases. Trying to get as many different types of internships under your belt would be my biggest advice.

You have to put in the work, stand out from others, and be confident in what you do. So, it’s having that private practice and then maybe becoming a clinic supervisor at Northwestern or another school. It’s going to China. It’s getting your doctorate, finding what you really like treating and what you’re good at treating.

If working in the future of integrative, whole-person healthcare—whether in a hospital, clinic, or private practice—sounds exciting to you, NWHSU is the right place for you. Learn more about our Master of Acupuncture and Doctor of Acupuncture with Chinese Herbal Medicine Specialization, or start your application today.