Getting Started as a Professional

Ten Practice Commandments

This article by Dan Clements and Tara Gignac, ND, of Ontario. Together their goal is to help as many CAM and integrative health professionals as possible find success in their practice.

What’s success? They define success as a combination of wealth, health, work-life balance, and being able to do what you love without burning out.

A wealth of free information is available at their blog, including articles on buying a practice, starting a dispensary, social media, etc.

  • I: Thou Shalt Not Manage Other People’s Money

    Your clients decide what they can afford. If they can’t afford your treatment plan, then there may be other options, but stop deciding on their behalf what’s affordable.

  • II: Thou Shalt Not Trash Talk Thyself

    Yes you can be realistic about where you need to learn and grow. No you may not dwell on stupid sh*t.

  • III: The Shalt Not Ignore the Phone

    Seriously. “They’ll leave a message” is costing you appointments because they’re not always leaving a message. Get a service. Forward your calls. Hire someone. Use online booking. Often one extra booked appointment is enough to pay an admin assistant for a day.

  • IV: Thou Shalt Not Give in to Ultimatums

    Don’t be held hostage to patients, staff, associates and partners who give you ultimatums. There’s no future there, and they poison your daily work.

  • V: Thou Shalt Not Spend Dumb Time at the Office

    Working more doesn’t mean earning more or helping more. Sometimes work expands to fit the time you give it, and working less has great benefits.

  • VI: Thou Shalt Not Ignore That You’re In Business

    You are. It’s not going to go away. But instead of seeing that as scary, wrong, or distasteful, what if you could see things a different way? For a paradigm shift, try our free ebook, The Gift. We wrote it for students, but it’s really for everyone.

  • VII: Thou Shalt Not Try to Be Perfect

    First of all, you’re not going to get there. Second, “perfect” is the enemy of “done”—trying to get everything right is a “perfect” recipe for staying frozen in one spot. And lastly, a little failure is actually how we learn and move forward. Maybe failing more, not less, is what you need.

  • VIII: Thou Shalt Not Play it So Safe All The Time

    The consequences of failure are often not that big (see Commandment seven…). To grow more, sometimes you need to risk more.

  • IX: Thou Shalt Not Overload People With Information

    Patients need insight. Interpretation. Support. Caring. Wisdom. But they don’t need a pile of information–that’s what Google is for. Be wary of giving more information.

  • X: Thou Shalt Not Obsess About Your Competition

    Accept that a little competition has some benefits. Partner with them. Refer to them. But don’t lose sleep over them. Just get on with being awesome.

Have you Tried...

Does your clinic book patients three or four days a week? Only during office hours? Why not consider online booking?

Whether you have staff or not, online booking allows you to generate new and repeat patient visits whether your office is open or closed. There are many ONLINE BOOKING TOOLS available.

The three most common are Schedulicity, Genbook and Appointy. A BCNA member using Genbook writes: “I found it very easy to set up, fairly prompt online support, and affordable. I had it operational in less than two hours after inputting all the relevant details. For doctors without a receptionist it’s a life-saver, and even with one, a lot of people think about booking appointments outside of business hours. I noticed a definite increase in new patient bookings with the online booking. The feedback from patients has been universally positive—they love being able to see exactly what is available and booking what fits for them. For me, the main advantage was not having to play phone and email tag with patients all day to get them booked in. It saved me a lot of time. I put the link everywhere—on my email signature, voicemail message, website and in a newsletter. People adopted it fast.”

Programs like Genbook can be configured to only allow booking on certain days or times, thus avoiding conflict with closures or vacation. Expect to pay about $20 a month for a single practitioner, double that for a clinic with multiple practitioners. In reviews of all three systems, PC World rated Genbook and Schedulicity highest. Their review notes that “Genbook lets customers book online while protecting your business from no-shows and fake appointments, but there’s no way to manage deals or promotions. Its strong analytics tools can help you stay on top of what’s working well for your business and what isn’t.” On Schedulicity they noted that it is “easy to use despite incorporating lots of options, especially in connection with its robust promotional tools.”