Where is your practice now? Did you just graduate? Are you thinking about starting your practice? Have you already started your practice? No matter the developmental stage of your practice of traditional medicine, you may need a jump start.What does that mean to you? For the purpose of discussion in this setting, let's use this definition: "To eagerly infuse something new to revitalize the existing."
What does it take to "jump-start" your practice? If your practice needs a jump start, read further. I have found that the best way to get a practice rolling is to present some talks within your community. These are presented as community-service talks, and you are a participant in the "National Acupuncture Outreach Project." These talks present positive images to people, groups or clubs that are looking for a speaker. It also takes the pressure off you, as an individual practitioner, looking for patients.
When you think about presenting a talk to a group, you must ask yourself, "Do I have a fear of public speaking?" If the answer is no, you can get started by booking some community talks about acupuncture. If the answer is yes, there are a number of action steps you can take to help you feel more comfortable and eager about speaking in public. Presenting information about traditional medicine to a group is one of the best ways to contribute to your individual success and, in turn, build the reputation of the profession.
One positive step toward public speaking is to locate a local chapter of Toastmasters. This is a group that helps you improve your public speaking skills in a supportive environment. This is an international group, so you will be able to find a group within your area.
Public speaking is a frightening experience for many. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld said, "People's number-one fear is public speaking." That may be true, but public speaking is the best method of educating the population of the United States about the healing therapeutic value of traditional medicine.
When you are ready to speak, the next question is: "Where do you speak?" The following are a number of suggestions and ideas that have been successfully used by other acupuncturists. These are not necessarily in order.
Call your Chamber of Commerce and ask for a list of service clubs and the person who is in charge of planning the programs. Send out a letter such as this one [see below]. Follow up with one or more telephone calls per day, and results will occur.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our office. As a community service, we provide various health workshops, wellness programs and speakers on health-related subjects. Our most popular subjects are: "Stress Management," "Aging Gracefully," "Acupuncture: What Is It?" "Fitness through Traditional Chinese Medicine" and "Tai Chi." We are in the process of scheduling our summer and fall programs and would like to include you. Someone from our office will call you soon to determine your interest.
Kali Alexander, LAc, a practitioner in Los Angeles, used another idea. She found every newspaper in her area. She looked for every seminar, class or panel that was being presented on health-related subjects and called the person in charge. She offered her services as a speaker or participant on a panel. She is still having people call her for participation and speaking engagements.
Contact all your local elementary- and middle-school principals and offer to conduct a stress-reduction workshop for teachers, administrators and staff. Sometimes private schools are easier to work with than public schools. Offer to conduct a backpack injury-prevention presentation. There is research that will support this program, showing the injuries and long-term effects of backpack usage on children's health.
Do you know a teacher? Find out when the children study the Westward movement and the building of the railroads. Who built the railroads? Yes, the Chinese. The Chinese brought with them their medicine, teas and herbs. The Chinese were less ill because of boiling water for teas. Your presentation could include showing the needles, cups and herbs that comprise this medicine. Take along some red vines and show the herb it relates to; take some gingersnap cookies and then show the herb. Always remember to give some written information to be taken home.
Contact the local hospital and ask for the person who is in charge of scheduling the community events and calendar. Talk to this person about presenting a class about traditional medicine, tai chi or qigong. The hospital will provide the space and the audience.
Ask your patients, family members, friends or just people you know if they belong to an organization or have an employer that would be interested in a community-service health and/or wellness program.
Try your local bookstore and work with them on giving a talk featuring health-related books that they sell. These books could be about exercise, nutrition, mental health, personal fitness, or a positive mental attitude and how it affects health. Buy some books and give them out during the class.
Do you conduct a new-patient health lecture? Encourage all new patients to attend, and have each one bring a guest. This is the time when they can ask questions and spend more time learning about acupuncture and Oriental medicine, so they can pass information along to their family and friends - potential new patients.
Find a company that offers a health fair and ask to be a participant on a panel. Another option would be to provide a talk on general health and traditional medicine, or how acupuncture can help an injured worker. You also could have a booth and hand out information about the medicine and your office.
Contact your local high school and talk to the girls' and boys' athletic coaches. Your talk could include information about caring for injuries, as well as sports enhancement through traditional medicine.
Educating the public is the privilege and responsibility of each and every member and friend of the traditional medicine profession. Public speaking is a very powerful tool for meeting and greeting people who could benefit from receiving energizing acupuncture treatments.
Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.