Career Tips from Graduating Class

It is the dream of every student to start practising as a qualified acupuncturist upon graduation. Yet it is up to individual student to develop his/her own approach to achieve this goal. The stories from our current graduating class may shed light on this for you. 

Class of 2016
Class of 2016. Front (L to R): Annie Yang, Katherine Cui, Gwen Chi, Angela Liu, Maggie Bergkamp, Stephanie Tame; Back (L to R): Hanke Zhou, Young Kim, Iona Te Patu, Adam Sheng, Henri-Noel Venturini, Hanbit Yeo 

Henri – A Multi-Approach 

KNOWN as a Qigong therapist for years, Henri felt that his previous jobs as massage & Taiji instructor, and counsellor was short of a structure and decided to turn to acupuncture. 

“I am 61 years old now. I want to learn some skills which can facilitate my ability to work longer, even up to the age of 90,” said Henri who felt acupuncture treatment was answer to his dream. 

Three Job Offers 

Deep-rooted in his multitasking abilities, Henri adopted a multi-approach in finding jobs. 

While the first job offer was through responding to graduate recruitment from school, his second offer was a result of proactively approaching an acupuncturist friend who owned a beauty clinic, offering facial, massage and acupuncture treatment to clients to enhance their beauty and health. 

Yet, this was not the end of Henri’s job-hunting journey. He didn’t let go a temporary job opportunity in Fiji posted on website. Now he is ready to go to Fiji in March for one month and another month later in the year. 

Advice to Junior Students 

Henri advised Y3 students to spend more time on clinical practice to build up his/her profile. In his case, accumulating 180 clinical hours in Y3 not only made his final year much easier, but also free him up for seeking jobs. 

Given his background in counselling, qigong and massage, Henri’s goal was to start his own interdisciplinary clinic with services covering mental health, counselling, qigong and acupunc-ture. 

To this end, he highly treasured the “patient-centred” approach as taught by the school. “Focus on patients’ complaints rather than my own reports. Treat their immediate issues. Some may find the treatment helpful. Some may not. Honest in your approach and clients will come back to you,” Henri concluded. 

Katherine – from PT to FT Employment 

A high school graduate from China, Katherine followed her father’s career path and advice to become an acupuncturist though in a different country. 

Begin with Part-time Job 

Starting from Y2, Katherine looked for clinical jobs to gain experience and pave way for her future career. Through the Chinese website, Katherine secured a part-time job in a clinic offering both massage and acupuncture treatments. 

Without a recognised qualification in acupuncture, Katherine worked as a massage therapist two days a week after receiving training from her boss. This turned out to be a tough job for a young girl like Katherine which consumed her a lot of energy. 

The good news was she might be able to work as an acupuncturist under her current employer once she has got registered. 

Working on both Acupuncture and Language Skills 

In her three years of working as a massage therapist dealing with clients from different cultural background, Katherine felt acupuncture and language skills were equally important. 

Speaking in loud and clear English in the school clinic, Katherine left very good impression on the patients. “The ability to communicate with patients in fluent English is important,” said Katherine who managed to score 6.5 in her IELTS years ago. 

Looking back, she said it was not necessary for junior students to start working part-time so soon like her and could wait until year 4. “Study should 

come first,” said Katherine. 

Settling in New Zealand 

With graduation ahead, Katherine is one step closer to her dream of settling in this beautiful country. 

And if possible, Katherine would like to bring her parents here. 

Acupuncture Practice – Margrethe Bergkamp 

IT usually takes a couple of years before acupuncture graduates start their own clinics. But it is just a natural move for Maggie. 

Solid Training from Clinical Practice 

“Through the clinical practice in school, I have learned how to talk to patients, address their complaints, and maintain the clinic in sound hygiene standard. I am ready to start my own clinic,” said Maggie who is very excited about realising her dream soon. 

Yet Maggie is cautious in taking this bold step. “It will be a small home-based clinic in my own house with I myself being the sole acupuncturist to reduce the risk,” said Maggie who will start her clinic back in her home town Utrecht in the Netherlands and eventually in Auckland. 

Not only did Maggie master her diagnostic and acupuncture skills well, she knew the needs of her potential clients. “In the Netherlands, people suffer from insomnia and mental health issues due to work pressure. But in New Zealand, people have less stress-related complaints and visit acupuncturists for muscle problems.”

Formerly a government official back in the Netherlands, Maggie’s adventure in acupuncture began after she herself had experienced the fascinating effect of acupuncture treatment. “Western doctors can’t do that,” said Maggie who later started to read the book “The Web that Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine” written by Ted Kaptchuk, confirming her interest in this field. 

It was a job offer for Maggie’s husband in 2015 brought the couple to Auckland. Both of them felt in love with this beautiful country. Maggie will go back to Utrecht for family reasons in 2020 but is determined to return to Auckland to operate “Acupuncture Practice Margrethe Bergkamp” in Devonport in Auckland. 

Young Kim – Acupuncture as a Business 

DRIVEN by the desire to help people solve their health issues, Young changed his profession from business to acupuncture four years ago. 

Yet, Young’s strong business acumen came into play when he was planning his career in acupuncture sector. 

Find the Right Employer 

Before responding to a recruitment advertisement from the school in early 2019, Young conducted a thorough background check on this Physio Lab in his neighbourhood especially on its business strategies. 

The owner of this Physio Lab who was a physiotherapist hiring two massage therapists was eager to expand into acupuncture sector. More importantly, this Physio Lab has already established good relationships with various sports clubs. 

“While 80% of acupuncture treatments are on musculoskeletal issues, there is growth potential for this Lab given its links to the sports industry,” said Young. 

Good Cover Letter 

To secure this job, Young knew the importance of a good cover letter to go with his resume. 

“I introduced myself and my relevant working experience in the cover letter,” said Young. “Besides, I demonstrated my abilities, my confidence and my mature personality in the letter.” 

Two months after submitting his application, Young was invited for an interview which ended in the offer of Chief Acupuncturist responsible for building an acupuncturist team. 

Though it was initially a part-time offer, Young saw it a good opportunity to get started. “A teacher once advised us that it was not necessary to rush into a full-time job. Just start from where you are.” 

Not only would Young soon embark on a new career, he also found graduation was just the beginning of a life-long learning journey on Chinese Medicine which was a huge subject.

Adam – A Learner’s Approach 

PASSIONATE about traditional Chinese culture, Adam quit his job in school management in China, migrated to New Zealand and turned a new page in life by studying acupuncture back in 2016. 

With his strength in Chinese language, Adam read books in Chinese Medicine including Major Chinese Classics on top of the required readings from school. 

External Clinical Practice Opened Door 

To pave his career path, Adam approached a few clinics back in 2018 for clinical practice during summer break. After satisfactorily passing some tests on his massage and acupuncture skills by a Chinese practitioner, Adam was granted an opportunity to practise in an external clinic for one month on a pro bono basis. His actual performance further impressed his boss leading to the possibility of a job offer upon graduation. 

Furthermore, a Korean schoolmate highly recommended Adam to a clinic owned by a Korean practitioner. This clinic was desperately looking for a Chinese practitioner to serve its Chinese clients. 

Chinese Medicine is the Future 

“While western medicine and treatment is getting more and more expensive, an increasing number of people are turning to Chinese medicine which is much cheaper, simpler and effective,” said Adam who has strong confidence in the future of Chinese medicine in western countries. 

“Market demand for mature and quality acupuncturists is high. My acupuncturist friends asked me for referrals. The critical success factor is to practise more to improve needling technique, and to read more books on Chinese medicine in school,” Adam concluded.