Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Questions From a Follower

From XXX (you know who you are)
"First, I'm wondering if up to this point, if it has been worth it for you, financially, professionally, personally, etc. Second, I'm wondering if any of the negative chatter I hear on the internet is worth worrying about (crazy managers, ungodly hours).

Any thoughts you have on your experience (you know, the stuff you can't necessarily post online) would be helpful in my decision as whether to commit to this or not."

At the beginning of this blog I stated I would post what I found good and bad. My friends will tell you I'm an honest guy plus I'm too damn old to care what the corporate world thinks and too big of a believer in karma.

I personally have found this a great experience. Of course every situation especially your work situation is what you make it. So let me answer your questions one at a time.

1. - "if it has been worth it for you financially"
- I've been very lucky, have worked hard, gotten my rap down and have done pretty good. I'm averaging about $1100 a week, sometime a bit more sometimes a bit less. Not bad when you think that your food, lodging and many shipboard activities are for free.

If you want to save a lot of money it can absolutely be done. Looking back at what I made on shore I was never able to have so much money left after all my bills were paid. Here I essentially live on my tips. Worst week they were $135 and best $492 averaging $334 per week.

2. - "if it has been worth it for you professionally"
- Again an easy yes. I've specialized for the past 15 years in pain and stress management, injury prevention/rehab, sports medicine and weight control. On board 90% of what I see is for pain, 5% for weight and the rest for misc. things such as vertigo, tremors, seasickness etc. I have really enjoyed each patient and what they bring me.

If you are not a public speak you will be. I give 4 seminars a week. Two on pain/arthritis, one on herbs and one of intro to acupuncture. I have taught on and off for years so this wasn't really hard for me but still when it is not your format it is a bit different. Plus the hardest thing for me was to stop educating and bring it to a "you want acupuncture" format.

3. - "if it has been worth it for you personally"
- Absolutely! First I have met some wonderful people and made what I will be some life long friends along the way. The travel has been great and I can't wait for my next ship and the travel to new ports of call.

Right now I am sitting in the local crew hangout The Honky Tonk Bar on a beach in St. Maarten with friends. Everyone is eating, drinking and catching up on emails etc. Shipboard internet is expensive so this is what we do. Yesterday it was hanging out at my favorite place in St. Thomas on top of a mountain overlooking the bay at Paridise Point until sunset having a cocktail, something to eat and of course again doing the internet thing.

Also St. Thomas is a US port in the Virgin Islands so you can make cell phone calls without roaming charges so I usually call family and friends. On that subject I closed my verizon acct as I was not going to pay $100 a month to be able to use it a couple hours while in home port and a few hours in St. Thomas every two weeks. I went to Walmart and bought a pay as you go phone with 400 minutes for $40. Then when I need it I buy another 400 minutes for $25 every couple months and it saves a lot of money. You can also buy ship calling card for $10 and get a little over an hour calling time. I have only done this once for something that could not wait and still have close to an hour left.

A couple nights ago it was a toga party the ship crew office put on. I seldom go to these things but I had the next day off and was called by friends at midnight to join them. I went but no toga for me as I was going to toga parties before most of them were born. I left and the party was still in full swing at 3am.

So there is a lot to do on board and on shore.

4. - "I'm wondering if any of the negative chatter I hear on the internet is worth worrying about (crazy managers, ungodly hours)."
Again it all depends on what YOU make it. Yes the hours are long especially on sea days. I start at 7:45 and end at 8pm except for Fridays which is port cleaning so around 9-10pm. I was told by my manager as long as I do my 52 hours she doesn't care what hours I work. I usually do a little more then that but it is no big deal.

I make sure I am working when I believe most of the guests are onboard so I can maximize my earnings and keep corporate happy. Some are here to travel, which I enjoy also but I am here to work and make money. Plus I take time off in any port I want and have my favorites. I usually do not go to shore in Nassau or Belize for the most part. But I always spend a lot of time off in Roatan, Costa Maya, Cozumel, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. My numbers are good which makes corporate happy and I have a good income.

I also made it very clear I want off at 8pm and to do this I do not take dinners. I eat afterwards, get home and showers and watch a movie or tv to wind down. I'm usually asleep by 11pm.

Also I saw the blog most see about how many hours you have to work, how mean the managers are, that you have to sell yourself and herbs. I wrote there this same thing "welcome to the real world". 

Now this of course only goes for us acupuncturists. When you have your private practice you do the same thing. You work very long hours; you sell yourself, talk to groups in your area, network with other healthcare professionals and sell herbs. That is if you want to be successful. I ran a successful practice for 15 years before this and for years before that I was a professional photojournalist and found the same thing. I don't care what field you are in you can work long hours, have to sell yourself or your product or both and may or may not have a "mean" manager.

Now for my only grips. There was a screw up on my paperwork for my paycheck and it took me 11.5 weeks to get paid. There is also this flack about lab coats on my ship, which I understand has gone all the way to corporate. I won’t mention a name but I think I know where this all started form and if I was sure I'd post it. Anyhow someone somewhere decided that if you are not a "md" you can not wear a lab coat out of the spa area as someone might think your are a doctor. And if they think that the ship can be sued and is liable. What a bunch of crap.

Personally I would much rather call myself an acupuncturist then a doctor (md) and when asked I tell them that acupuncturists are physicians but we are not md's. This is absolutely true as the dictionary definition of a physician is "a person licensed by the state to practice medicine." It does not say western medicine, not eastern medicine...medicine and we are licensed by the state to practice medicine. I'm sure you just like most of us have run into an md or two that frowns on us and believes acupuncture is nothing more then voodoo and is also an egotist about his "doctor" status. So be it...anyone can be a doctor, there are only a few of us in the world that are acupuncturists. Besides you get a lot more questions from people wanting to know about tcm then you would be saying "I'm a doctor".

Pictures will follow in another post....enjoy and I hope you had your questions answered

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