I'll do the next 3 q's.
5. Did your school clear up any doubt you had about the practice? I am mortified that I will end up disliking acupuncture within the first few years. I've read up on accusations of placebo and yet the sheer number means that it works somehow! This is the biggest concern for me, as obviously I do not want to invest 3 years of my life into a sham art! Did you have any concerns similar to mine when you entered school? How did the school help you deal with this fear?
6. How would you rate your job satisfaction? What is your most favorite part of the job? The least favorite?
7. With 50% of acupunturists quitting after a year, how do you feel about the financial prospect in the next few years? Do you feel the field of acupuncture and Chinese medicine will expand? Shrink?
To be honest, my life was a mixed bag of everything in the last couple of years of uni and it took me at least 2 years to fully focus myself into my practice after graduating. I graduated taking the advice of my practice management teacher: I worked part time in an office to gain some capital before using my acupuncture practice as a main source of income. After that, I just had to get over the fear of hurting people or not being able to cure or diminish any presenting ailments in some people (I was only a novice after all). Also, building a practitioner-client rapport is very important. That takes some time to master as well.
Acupuncture works for many people but not for some. If you want to test it out, go and get some treatments off different practitioners who practice different styles of acupuncture. Try to convince someone who is scared of needles or who is skeptical to get treatment as well and see how it affects them. I get people like that coming to me quite often. And often it is the skeptics who come back repeatedly and who provide word-of-mouth marketing for me!
As for fear, I don't remember how my school helped me through it. I don't think I asked! Nevertheless, it's only up to you to confront your fears and overcome them.
I love what I do. I learn something new everyday. I rent space in a multimodal clinic and I have learned many things from the other practitioners there (osteopaths, naturopaths, kinesiologists, to name a few) as well as from my patients. I believe that I am meant to be involved in energetic healing in my life, and acupuncture and TCM is just the beginning of a long journey. Do you believe that about your own life?
My least favourite part of the job is the paperwork (e.g. for insurance companies).
Being a TCM practitioner is one thing, being a self-employed business owner is another. If you can't handle the business, you may not be able to build a practice. If you can't build a practice, then you won't get any financial returns. Talk to as many people as you can. Believe in what you do and believe that you can do it. DO NOT BE AFRAID! And talk to as many people as you can. Understand the fundamentals of running a business and build upon that as well as building upon your professional skills. It's the same rule as for any profession or trade.
Natural therapies, of which acupuncture and TCM are considered a part, are coming to a fore in our society. There are plenty of financial returns out there for those who know how to use the right business skills to harness them. It's up to you how far you want to take it.
All the best,