What is the worst mistake you made in your first year after graduation?
Not to immediately begin study of medical Chinese language… But then again, it was very hard to find back in 1983…
Not joining insurance panels right away. I was working in a DC’s clinic that was in network with lots of companies, and her patients wouldn’t make the leap to paying out of network rates to see me even though she referred them to me. As such missed a lot of client contact.
Waiting for someone to join me. On my quest to practice the medicine and create a community of natural medicine practitioners, I thought I needed an energetic or at least charismatic NCNM colleague to work shoulder-to-shoulder with. Despite warnings and pointed admonishments from Master Wu (my qigong teacher), I spent nearly a year not pursuing the vision, waiting for someone who had declared their cooperation and commitment until it became clear I needed to go it alone. Since venturing out on my own, I have been blessed with amazing community, help, monetary support and investment, and have in the past months lured/recruited/attracted an ND, a PT and three very talented and committed massage therapists. I should have listened to Master Wu, but to anyone else I would simply say, DO NOT WAIT for anyone if you have the vision and drive!
This is a difficult question. I think that one of the ways I learned the most during my first year of being in practice was through my mistakes. And I made a lot of them. But I think that one of the worst mistakes that I made in my first year after graduation was offering too many discount services. I would have special deals for friends, co-workers, first sessions, birthdays, buying multiple sessions, etc. And while this seemed like a good idea in terms of advertising, I found that the people that were interested in the deal didn’t follow up with me or really appreciate my services. Plus, it made my book-keeping really confusing.
I will say first off that my path after graduation was: graduated in late June 2010, moved back to my home state of Kentucky, got married in the beginning of October and opened The Light Clinic, Inc. at the end of October 2010. So it all happened very fast. Great decisions were: to consult the bazi/Chinese Astrology for when it was best to get married and open the business (this led to the speediness of both, though we gave Master Wu a 2 year period in which to do both. I guess October 2010 was quite the astrological month for us!).
Other great initial decisions were using online scheduling (we use Genboook), and waiting to treat people until we had the appropriate clinic space. Getting the business legally and physically together was a lot of work, but totally manageable with a clear vision of how the clinic would work, and clear “start up business” notes from David Berkshire’s NCNM Business class (which Eric Grey now teaches). I think the hardest things in the first year was book work (we use quickbooks), being diligent and responsible with making call backs, trying to find a right balance of weekly patient hours, and finding the right payment for appointments. I always wished I could have found the right patient-treating hours and payment scale at the beginning, because people hate change. And since we started we have changed our hours and payment scale 3 times. Always searching for balance.
Not getting my bookkeeping set up correctly right out of the gate. I had the right technology and the right idea, but not the right knowledge. I should have had a professional bookkeeper set things up right away. We ended up having to do so much work that first year when time came for tax filing. Things are just effortless now.
The worst mistake I made, I think, wasn’t business, but interpersonal and/or medical. I believe a patient’s conscious awareness (of body, of mind, of health) is important, and I attempted to push patients towards acknowledging things I felt they were denying, and that were impacting their health. In particular, attitudes or belief systems. Trying to push people to grow before they were totally ready didn’t work. At all. I very much see myself in the role of a facilitator now, but subject to the process. I can set the stage, and I can create a direction for the play, a backdrop, a scene. I can invite healing, but what the patient does with that is entirely up to them. I’m happy to talk to them about what I see and think is happening, and if it seems like it’s too much, or the information is too painful, we work on things from another angle.