Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beginning the Process...

Why become and acupuncturist on a cruise ship? For a long time I saw the ad by Steiner One World Spa to become and acupuncturist at sea in the trade journal Acupuncture Today. And just like many of you I thought why should I.

After all for the past 14 years I’ve had a busy practice, lived in a mountain resort and all my life have had a love of the outdoors. Here in Sun Valley, Idaho there are plenty opportunities to hike, backpack, fish and do photography which are all my passions right outside my front door. So why should I leave?

Well why not? The thought of going back to sea, I was in the Navy years ago, had a certain appeal to it and I love the ocean. But instead of working on jets on the USS Enterprise I’d be treating patients in the spa aboard the cruise ship Carnival Dream.

Having graduated high school in Laguna Beach, California I spent a fair amount of my youth body surfing and laying on the beach soaking up the sun. For a short period of time I lived and crewed on the MV Wild Goose, which was John Wayne’s boat, making runs between the mainland and Catalina Island off the Southern California coast.

I also have a love of Mexico and have spent over 20 years traveling Baja and San Carlos, Mexico camping and fishing the Sea of Cortez for dorado (mahi mahi), yellowfin tuna, wahoo, yellowtail, sierra, roosterfish, sailfish and marlin on my 17 foot boat. I guess the ocean is in my blood.

So how does one become an acupuncturist at sea and get a job on a cruise ship? The first step would be to do exactly what I and everyone does contact Stephanie Kimber at stephaniek@steinerleisure the Manager of Oriental Medical Programs for Steiner.

It was only a few days after I emailed Stephanie that I not only received an email from her but also a phone call. We briefly discussed my qualifications and what Steiner was looking for in an acupuncturist. We also discussed what was expected from me and what I expected in return.

I took about a week to think about the opportunity and decided to contact Stephanie and told her this was something I was interested in and would like to know more about the program. At this point I was invited to the three training seminar that Steiner offers in Los Angeles that was taught by Stephanie.

At the seminar there was a vast amount of information given in a relatively short period of time. Virtually every aspect of your onboard life and duties were discussed from the first day you step aboard until your contract expires in four or seven months.

I was happy to hear that Stephanie did not sugar coat anything. You work a 52-hour week with a guaranteed one full day and one half day off. I know that sounds like a lot but having had a private practice I know how many hours I put into it over the years. And just like in your private practice the more you put into it the more your get out of it including income. At the end of the day Stephanie did a remarkable job covering all the information, making us all feel comfortable and answered every question we could think of.

We covered marketing, treatment protocols, herbal formulas and retail expectations. She told us who to get to know, the chain of command and what to expect. Also you are required to give lectures onboard as part of your marketing strategy. If you think about it many us of do the same in our private practices. I used to give talks at MS and Fibromyalgia groups; I’d network with other physicians in the area and would have a booth at wellness festivals.

With this in mind at the Steiner training seminar you are also required to give a presentation. Before you arrive Stephanie sends you a power point presentation that you use onboard to inform guests of the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. You take the information she has sent you and the guidelines she gives and make the presentation your own. Then during the training seminar one by one we are asked to give a presentation to the class. This has a lot to do with whether you are hired or not which is understandable. If you have a background in public speaking and/or comfortable speaking in front of groups of people this would be to your advantage.

I personally have taught at various massage schools and TCM universities on and off over the years. Still when it is not your words or presentation it can be nerve wracking. What is so great about this is everyone is in the same boat, excuse the pun, and gives you constructive criticism after your talk. Stephanie also does her best to make you feel comfortable and as long as you know the material you should do fine. I remember thinking that the long drive from Idaho to California better pay off as I recited aloud the speech I was about to give and laughed at what others in the next lane must have been thinking seeing me talking to myself.

Now life onboard is not all work and no play. Besides the obvious benefit of traveling the world and meeting people from all cultures the experience you will receive from your practice is invaluable.

Also acupuncturists are considered medical staff and officers. Because of this you have a private cabin, which we were told to expect to be very small. You are guaranteed a bed, desk, tv, internet and a bathroom but what more do you really need. There are crew areas on ship including a crew pool on many ships as well as a crew lounge, dining area etc. and you are also allowed in many of the guest areas.

If you are even remotely thinking this is something you might be interested in it might be to your advantage to contact Stephanie and look over the information.

Once I get on board I’ll post more of what you can expect. Again thank you for your interest in my blog and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.



  1. You are goof ball! But a talented goof ball nonetheless. I'm happy for you and your new adventure and look forward to keeping up with you via this remarkable BLOG. I have no doubt you will have an incredible experience.

  2. Thanks Tim

    Maybe someday I'll cruise Hawaii and come and see you Riley and the kids...