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Acupuncture Today – November, 2004, Vol. 05, Issue 11

The Fabric of the Duomo

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

What is the fabric of the Duomo? For that matter, what is the Duomo, and what does it have to do with acupuncture? On a recent trip to Italy, I was privileged to see and tour this great old cathedral on the square in Milan.

The Duomo is one of the largest churches in the world. It was originally designed as a Gothic cathedral, but over the centuries, the design of the building has undergone several modifications. The result is a beautiful, tremendous mass of marble and stained glass, with 135 spires and more than 3,000 individual statues, which dominates the center of Milan.

Because of its age (construction of the Duomo began in the 14th century, but the structure wasn't completed until the early 1800s), the cathedral is undergoing constant renovation. The scaffolding around the Duomo seemed to reach the sky both outside and in. The rebuilding process is continual and non-stop both on the interior and exterior of the building. Every part of this magnificent cathedral is being worked on by various craftsmen and artists. In essence, the very fiber of the structure is under a day-to-day renewal process - thus the expression "the fabric of the Duomo," which means an ongoing process that continues day after day, night after night.

I first heard this saying from a medical doctor who practices in Milan. When I heard the saying, I thought that this would be a perfect example to use in the Oriental medicine profession. Our job is to spread the word about Oriental medicine to the public. As a profession, we need to unite, so that we can share our information about Oriental medicine to everyone in the country.

As a provider of Oriental medicine you are primarily a healer, and are recognized for your compassion, honesty and trustworthiness. But just as in any other profession, there are a lot of things that come along with the job of being an acupuncturist. You, as the provider, also act as a spokesperson for both the profession and your own individual practice.

When marketing, in today's health environment, a combination of both internal factors (everything that is done to and with current patients within a practice) and external factors (all of the activities and strategies outside the office with your community) must be taken into consideration. You, the practitioner; must have a dominant impact on your local community. You must learn how to effectively position yourself. You must become part of the "fabric" of your town. Meet people, talk to them, and network with everyone you see and meet. Get involved in some community activities.

When getting started, you'll want to set an annual budget so you can consistently be in front of your community month after month. The average person may need to see or hear about you and your clinic three or four times before they decide to call for an appointment.

When a business, an individual, a family member or friend chooses to refer a friend or acquaintance to you for professional services, three criteria have to be in place. First, the referring party must know you or your reputation. If you are new in practice or are not involved in your community, people may not know you, or you may not have developed a reputation as an outstanding Oriental medicine professional. Second, the referring party must believe that your services will help their friend. The third and most important criteria is that the referring party must trust you. They must trust that you will take proper care of the referral, that you will treat the referral with compassion, honesty and truthfulness, and that you will charge fees that are equitable and fair.

Building your practice is about new patients, but more than that, your practice and its intent are about improving, extending and saving lives of the people in your community. One trip to a local hospital will help you realize that many people in our communities are sick and taking multiple medications. Many of these people could benefit from your form of care but do not know you and are not familiar with your reputation.

You can become the center for a wellness movement in your town. Now is the time to begin to market your practice by talking about a new level of health, a lifetime of wellness, and creating a new lifestyle through acupuncture and Oriental medicine. You are the "fabric of the Duomo" in the Oriental medicine profession.

Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.

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