Wally Doggett, owner of South Austin Community Acupuncture and 2004 AOMA alumni moved to Austin in the 80’s from Richmond, Texas to live the musicians’ dream. The seeds for Chinese medicine were planted in his teenage years by an older musician friend but did not bloom till many years later. The two would discuss all types of ideas including Asian philosophies and religion. He began his journey in Austin working at a biotech company running their shipping department during the day and playing drums at honky-tonk bars at night. He was also participating in qigong at the Keishan Institute. A profound shift and deep healing happened when the institute brought Praveeta Rose (also an AOMA alumna) and Ward Tummins to talk about various theories in medicine. As Wally states this lecture spurred him to, “take off after Chinese medicine as if my life depended on it.”
South Austin Community Clinic has been open since 2006 and was developed while Wally was researching “acupuncture marketing” on the internet. Wally says, “When I stumbled upon Working Class Acupuncture about four pages into a Google search …the pieces fell into place.” He immediately booked a trip to Portland to meet Lisa Rohleder, the founder of Working Class Acupuncture, and check out her movement for community acupuncture. Already feeling connected to his neighborhood in South Austin it was apparent to him that Austin could support a much broader market for acupuncture than charging $60+ per treatment. Wally wanted to reach as many people as possible with this medicine and it was clear that this was the model to support his vision. Now he says, “The diversity of people that come though the clinic is one of the most satisfying parts about my work.”
While in school Wally worked at Allen Cline and James Phillip’s clinic Turtle Dragon. It was here that he was able to work with raw herbs and fill herbal prescriptions. He learned a lot from this experience including the confidence to make herbal formulations a large part of his current practice. Wally says, “I value my training at AOMA and my experiences at Turtle Dragon too much not to use Chinese herbal medicine as an integral part of my practice.”
When reflecting on his time at AOMA he remembered the rich experiences he had with professors in conversations between the breaks. He said, “You just never know when or where someone is going to drop an extraordinary pearl of wisdom that will just connect the dots for you in a profound way.” Wally has found that it has worked for him to follow his bliss and create his business based on what was most appealing to him. His advice for current students is to “Follow your heart. Find a way of working that resonates with you, and pour yourself into it.” This philosophy has worked for him for more than five years. He has also expanded to support two other AOMA graduates, Mike Sobin and Erica Chu.
When Wally is not busy with the clinic he is working as the president of Texas Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (TAAOM) as of May 2012. Being in this position, he has been able to make a stronger alliance between the different styles of acupuncture such as community style acupuncture and other more mainstream models. Wally says, “It is an honor to serve as a board member, and just as I enjoy the diversity of my patient population as a practitioner, one of the more satisfying pieces to me about being president of the TAAOM is the diversity of practitioners, and getting to know them all.”