Any parting wisdom, reminders or stories to tell new practitioners of the medicine who hope to make a living doing this medicine that they love?
Study, practice self-cultivation, and as Sun Si-miao said (paraphrased), “treat patients as if they were members of your own family”.
I think any way to share and disperse overhead and work among many is ideal- leads to better profits for all and often better patient care.
Be smart and STUDY BUSINESS AND MARKETING. It gets fun, and the financial benefits of taking the risks are pretty awesome once everything is running. And remind yourself of how people are pretty desperate to hear your words and receive your help. It’s no joke, we have something important to share, so be not shy or falsely humble.
Don’t wait until you feel you are an expert at your medicine to start practicing. Start as soon as you get your license. And get your license as soon as possible.
Also, don’t forget that you can and should incorporate ALL of your education into your practice- not just what you learned at NCNM- but what you studied in under-grad, what you learned while backpacking or traveling, what you learned through your various relationships – draw on EVERYTHING you have learned from all of your life experience. This will make you a unique and valuable practitioner.
Harder than anything I’ve written above is actually treating people. Figuring out illness, figuring out how to treat it, figuring out the person and what they can do, figuring how you can work with that. I feel like the first year and a half I would just collapse after work and go home and watch Grey’s Anatomy for some moral support. Joined a Jungian Dream Group, a Shaman Group, a Book Club. To help fill in the gaps not left educationally, but left after treating people and still coming up short. Being a practitioner is really an inner journey: growing, stretching, sinking.
My trusted osteopath just told me he thinks it takes at least 2 years to stop being so exhausted from being a practitioner, and I am hoping that is true. It is easy to give up, or get lazy, or get really imbalanced. But I truly believe this is a higher path, and if you stick with it you, your patients and the medicine will benefit. Expanding consciousness. Evolving.
Never forget that the way you conduct business is PART of your treatment. From the first phone call (or email) through that initial face-to-face meeting, everything about your space, the way you conduct yourself in treatment, how you do follow up, the quality of your herbal preparations, EVERYTHING. It should reflect you and radiate out health and your unique personal touch.
Trust yourself to figure things out along the way. You won’t have all the answers straight out of the shoot, and it’s okay. People are happy to talk to you and help you. Keep in touch with your classmates and peers (as if you wouldn’t!). They are great people and will be your source for support and ideas and information, about practicing and about business.
Find a mentor. Mine isn’t in my field, but she’s been a great source for information and support. Many times over the first two years I would repeat to myself, “They said it would be hard. They said it would take five years. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t have anyone on the books. If you can get past the first two years, you’ll likely stay in business. Do whatever you have to do to have clinic hours and keep appointments available, and to drag people into your office, even if they aren’t paying, and trust that business will grow. Don’t quit. Don’t quit. Don’t quit.” And that has happened.