As well as being a small, friendly college with a first-class reputation for its courses – there are many reasons people choose to study and train at the Northern College of Acupuncture (NCA).
Every year, the College welcomes students from many diverse backgrounds, from across the UK and beyond, and each student has their own unique reason for wanting to become an acupuncturist.
Many people, having had acupuncture themselves and experienced amazing results, are inspired to learn more about this ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Others are guided by an innate desire to help others, to forge a new career, or to add to existing skills. Most often, a combination of these motives is the reason over 30 students every year choose to change their lives by studying at the NCA.
Increasingly the College is seeing a demand from students from a Western healthcare background retraining to become acupuncturists. Amanda Proud, who graduated with a BSc in Acupuncture from the NCA last summer, is a nurse who made this life-changing career change. From the Northeast of England, Amanda worked in nursing for over 10 years before a combination of life and work events motivated her to change careers. After a chance conversation with a friend who was having acupuncture treatment, Amanda attended one of the NCA’s popular ‘Intro Days’ and immediately knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her life!
Here is Amanda’s story:
“Ultimately, work-life balance was my big drive in wanting to become an acupuncturist and, with being a nurse, I wanted to enter another profession where I was still helping people. I also had two young children, just 19 months apart, and having them changed my whole outlook on life. I was trying to juggle 12 hour shifts, 20 miles from where I lived in a Newcastle hospital, on nights, and it was a stressful time. I couldn’t give one hundred per cent as a mum, and I was begrudging being at work. The other thing was, as I got more nursing experience, you very much just looked at how you could help patients physically and I found that many conditions were emotionally driven. Nursing was supposed to be holistic but, in the real world, holistic doesn’t even exist because there isn’t the time or resources. I’ve found that acupuncture is very much the full package, and the time you spend with the patient is very much about them.
“In my first nursing job, I was in a neo-natal ward and there was a fantastic group of staff. No one ever left, the morale was very high and the sister in charge was amazing. Even the surgeons and doctors, we were all one big team. I felt so lucky, irrespective of the hours and the shifts, although I didn’t have my children then. We moved into a new hospital though and everything got shook up; wards got changed, people left, managers changed and it became very different. By then I’d had my first child and was having to leave him for practically 48 hours for two nights a week. So, a mixture of changes in the NHS, in the hospital itself, and having my first baby changed everything.
“It just so happens I went for a meal with a friend who was having IVF and she started talking about acupuncture. She was inspiring and I was sitting there thinking ‘this sounds amazing’. I’d heard of acupuncture but didn’t understand it so I started doing some research. I found the NCA and went along to an intro day with my mum and I honestly just thought ‘I finally know what I want to do with my life’. It sounds corny but I really did get that ‘goose bump’ feeling listening to what acupuncture is, and how the College works. I said to my mum ‘I have to do this’. I knew it meant possibly leaving work, and three years of studying, but I knew I had to do it.
“I’d never lie and say doing the acupuncture course and training wasn’t hard. I had two young children, and the ward I was working on wouldn’t guarantee me the time off. If they needed me for a shift then my study would have to come second, which is why I started doing bank work while studying. During the first year, I was doing two night shifts a week, and commuting to York to go to College, and then there was the online study and the other bits of work. I was also a mum and housewife, and looking back now I think ‘how did I do it’! It was a tough juggling act but I kept the end goal in sight. There were times when I thought ‘this is too tough and I can’t do it’ but the alternative was going back to nursing where I was out of the house for 15 hours a day, and being more stressed. Any degree course is hard, but it was a tough qualification and you have to be determined and want to be an acupuncturist, to change your life and be your own boss.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic since graduating, and not how I thought it was going to be! Setting up a business has been tough because it wasn’t something I’d done before, but I was soon offered a locum job in an established clinic in Durham (http://www.renclinic.co.uk/) from someone who’d been there nine years. Initially this was just going to be for a couple of months but the person decided to leave and I took on all her clients. So, I’m doing that and it’s at the point now where I’m booked up weeks in advance. There’s also a local wellbeing gym who want me to do acupuncture and cupping for people with musculoskeletal problems, so I’m starting that at the end of this month. I also have quite a few home visits that I do for elderly people who don’t find it easy to come along to the clinic. So, I’m currently roughly working four full days, if not five days a week, but I fit it around my family now.
“I would definitely recommend becoming an acupuncturist to anyone who was in my position. When you’ve had enough of nursing, you’ve really had enough! It’s a hard job to drag yourself to every day. Being an acupuncturist is very different to nursing; you have to get out there and make it work for yourself. You will have doubts, but I thought ‘I’m going to do it’, and it’s about taking risks and having confidence.
“Work is great now, I’m busy and making a living from acupuncture. I went through the hard times because I knew the end result would be good. It was like the universe testing me, saying ‘how badly do you want this’ and I’m so pleased that I made the decision and stuck with it.”
Please visit gentle-touch-acupuncture.co.uk to find out more about Amanda’s work.
Recent figures show that, for the first time since 2008, more nurses and midwives are leaving the profession in the UK than joining it.
Are you a nurse, or working in a medical profession, and would like to improve your work/life balance, become your own boss, and continue to help others. The NCA’s BSc and MSc Acupuncture courses lead to practitioner status, and we offer reduced fees and attendance for healthcare practitioners. Call Denise on +44 (0)1904 343309 for more information.