“If you’d said 10 years ago I’d be an Acupuncturist, I’d have laughed at you”

Ten years ago I was a Metropolitan Police Detective veteran with 25 years police service, leading a team investigating murders in North and West London. If you had said to me, “In 10 years time you will be an Acupuncturist “ I would probably have used some colourful words and laughed at you and the suggestion. How times change.

So, like many of you reading these blogs and thinking of retraining, acupuncture was a second career for me. In fact I would say 90% of all the wonderful people I trained with in Acupuncture were coming to this subject as a second career. So why not as a first career? A good question, that I have pondered over the years. Acupuncture 20 years ago was a comparative rarity; certainly, when I started to train, I knew little or nothing about it and I admit… sorry… I had never had an acupuncture treatment. I think that in life you choose a first career that looks attractive, but over the passage of time, it may become less attractive or lose its excitement. However, by that stage in your life that first career may have put you in a position where you have some choices.

I could have stayed on in the police, but at 30 years service I could draw a full pension. Why not take that and do something far more interesting instead, I thought? I had had enough of death and destruction by then anyway.

So how has it panned out as a second career?  Well my practice is still developing, but within 12 months it was beginning to pay the bills. It’s been very interesting in two ways – dealing with patients and managing a business, both new concepts for me. After 30 years of regular monthly money having to then rely on the phone ringing has been interesting but exciting.   Acupuncture has become much more popular and its popularity will continue to increase as the nation looks for cost effective alternatives to our current health system. In the last three weeks I have seen three people aged over 85, so it’s not just a therapy for youngsters!

As a second career it does not really seem like work – I enjoy it too much! A famous quote attributed to the great Chinese philosopher Confucius says:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”

That sums up my days. I get to meet a cross section of interesting people and really help them in a tangible way. Doctors, rushed and constrained by time, can’t do any real healing (through no fault of their own) but Acupuncture is a tangible hands-on way of working where you can see the results as the days and weeks pass. If you are wondering about the success rate, I can tell you it’s very high: I would estimate I achieve what I wanted to achieve with my patients in 90% of cases. Patients are very much at the center of what happens and are engaged in their own treatment plan.

If you are self-employed, you work what days and what hours suit you. I book patients around the school run and children’s activities; as I write this on a Thursday evening, tomorrow I’m going fishing!! It is also apparent that Acupuncture as a career can make decent money, although it’s not instant and business will build slowly but surely.

So if you are reading this and considering Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine as a second career, I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done, and that includes waving goodbye to murderers at the Old Bailey for life!