Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine

2010 Alumni Survey


When the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine was founded in 1994, the founders sought to provide a clinically-based program with a deep respect for the inclusive spirit of Oriental Medicine.  By accepting only a small number of students each year, the school could ensure that each student received extensive one-on-one, apprenticeship style training.  To date, SIOM has graduated 119 students.    Over 90% of SIOM graduates are still practicing acupuncture and we have SIOM alumni in 38 cities across the country and beyond.   In 2010, SIOM conducted an online alumni survey to help us gauge how well our graduates are doing in the acupuncture profession. The respondents included recent graduates who have been practicing for just a few months to those who have been practicing for 12 years.  Below are the highlights of the information gathered from the surveys.


Average Income

Most of the respondents indicated that they practice between 3 and 5 days per week, with half of them reporting an average of 15 - 20 patients per week.  The data showed a correlation between the average number of patients and the number of years the person had been practicing.  Income levels varied from $15,000 dollars to over $100,000 per year. The majority of top earners graduated over five years ago. Average charge for first office call is $85 and the average charge for return visits is $70.  Seventy-seven percent of respondents accept insurance.

Clinic Styles

The majority of alumni treat one patient at a time in a private setting.  Twenty percent of SIOM graduates are involved with community clinics and many practitioners do a combination of private practice and community style clinics.

Herbal Medicine and Other Modalities

Most practitioners prescribe herbs, and most report prescribing them to 50% of their patients, with a fairly even mix of raw herbs, patents, and granules being used.  There is a growing use of herbal tinctures as well.  Fifty percent of respondents prepare their own medicinals.
Over 90% of the respondents use other therapies such as lifestyle support, food therapy, tui-na, moxa, meditation and the use of sound, light and other vibrational modalities when treating patients.

Chinese Language

A quarter of the respondents actively use their Chinese language skills in relation to patient care.   Several noted that they are utilizing their Chinese by working on translation projects, reading classical texts, medical articles, and more general reading in the Chinese language.
SIOM is planning to do a follow-up survey to focus on alumni interest in post-graduate doctoral programs and other forms of professional development.

Other Interests and Activities Relating to Chinese Medicine

Fifty percent of the surveyed alumni indicated they do some form of teaching.   In addition practicing Chinese medicine, our alumni translate Chinese texts, grow herbs, prepare their own medicinals, teach classes, work as midwives, volunteer in the U.S. and abroad, publish books and articles on Chinese Medicine and more.
We also requested information from the national certifying exam organization (NCCAOM) about SIOM graduates success on their exams.   The NCCAOM report showed that SIOM graduates regularly scored an average of 8 points above the national mean on the certifying examinations.  All SIOM students passed their national boards.
The data from the alumni surveys indicates that SIOM graduates are generally having success in their profession, and that this increases the longer they are in practice.  This is particularly impressive given the challenges of opening and maintaining a private practice and business in today's economic and health care environments.  It is a testament to our alumni's commitment to this profession and our shared mission to enhance the health of our patients.
We also discovered that there is a continuing need to improve our ability to prepare students for the business of their future work.  To this end we are embedding more practice of the skills it takes to operate a business and operate a successful clinic within our three-year program.  In addition, with the assistance of SIOM graduates who have found creative solutions in operating a health care practice in this country, we are exploring new models involving hybrid forms of practice that utilize community clinics, private practice, and educational components, to better serve the needs of our communities.