I think natural medicine, in particular acupuncture, is accepted very well in the Northwest, with continued room for growth. I practice in a medical community near a hospital on the Eastside. Doctors are willing to refer their patients for acupuncture, but aren't yet aware of all the conditions that acupuncture can treat. So referrals are limited, and tend to focus on pain conditions. It seems to me that patients are leading the market growth for acupuncture. As they get good results, they tell their doctors, family and friends. They are the best referral source!
The more I know, the more there is to know. This is a life commitment of study. Acupuncture can treat such a variety of conditions, acute and chronic. I am driven to learn more about this energetic medicine and how to relate it to Western Medicine conditions. They are so complementary. Also, I love the intimacy of helping people with their deepest issues, so that they can better heal themselves.
Although my previous career was in marketing, I really haven't needed to develop any "marketing strategies" in my practice. Things seem to naturally develop at a pace that I can handle.
My greatest referral source has been my patients. If they get results, they refer friends, family and even strangers. So I guess my marketing strategy is to do the best job I can with my existing patients. As a result, patients tell their doctors who then may refer. The other thing that can help is public speaking and education. I have been involved with the hospital on an Integrative Medicine Task Force. This communication with physicians educates them on what conditions to refer to acupuncture. I also speak occasionally at local schools and community seminars when opportunities present themselves. It's a gradual process.
When I started practicing after graduation, I created a residency type situation for myself where I worked with other acupuncturists in a successful practice. This helped my transition from student to professional, as I had an excellent mentor, and within 6 months, a full patient load. Two years later I was ready to open my own practice. It was very important to me to get as much clinical experience at first, without having to concern myself with the business issues in running a practice. I hope that the future of our training will help to provide this type of residency/mentor situation for graduating students.
Getting out there. Going to conferences, collaborating with other professionals, continuing to study, and helping people to regain their health. I think it is very important to support and be involved with the state and national associations. I have been on the Acupuncture Association of Washington Board of Directors for the past few years. My current studies are the acupuncture classics with Dr. Tran Viet Dzung, and the I Ching with Carol K. Anthony.
Teaching. Research. Continuing to practice. Collaboration with Western medicine.
Bikram yoga, my cat, the I Ching, feng shui, snowboarding, performing, friends and family, and doing nothing!