Today we’re gonna be going over a topic that I get questions about a lot. These really seemingly simple questions that patients ask that sometimes tie us up a little bit.
Click here to download the transcript.
Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors. Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of To The Point. I am Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council. So excited to see everybody here and let’s go to the slides.
Today we’re gonna be going over a topic that I get questions about a lot. These really seemingly simple questions that patients ask that sometimes tie us up a little bit. And I’m gonna go over three today. There are tons more at the end. If you have more, shoot me a message. I would love to hear from you and we can always do more in the future.
Big question though that I get asked is if it’s so easy to answer these questions, then they’re seemingly simple. Why do we get tripped up with this? Why do we have nervousness or fears around it? And a lot of that comes down to not having an actual framework for answering these simple questions and taking a second to dive into that framework before blurting out the answer.
So I wanna start this with just an example for you. Actually last week I was thrilled to be sitting on a panel for Men’s Health at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. This is where I started my practice in Beverly Hills, and it’s been a great community experience. I do a lot of specialization in men’s health, and so this was a panel discussing the needs of high performing men.
And what was so interesting about this is I’m sitting on this panel with these other experts. Other leaders in the healthcare industry, and what the audience wanted to know most about was acupuncture. We had 10 minutes each to do our own talks, and then it was opened up to q and a from the audience, and it was almost as if I had to start tag teaming questions because so many were directed to me about acupuncture.
So it’s a really exciting time to be in a position to answer que questions that patients. To answer questions that the general public has. And so to be excited about this and not intimidated by it, that’s why we’re here today. So we’re gonna go through some of this and you guys are gonna walk away with an actual framework that you can sit back, relax, and think, okay, what do I need to dig into here in order to have this be a successful answer to this question?
So I’ve alluded to this framework a little. and I wanna get right into it because pretty much any question that you get asked should go back to this. And what does that look like? It’s going to come down to remaining confident. Meeting this person where they’re at with the question and borrowing authority if necessary.
And so we’re going to go through three questions that a lot of patients will ask. The last one might be a little surprise one because it’s really something that patients want to ask and sometimes they’re too afraid to. So we’ll go through this framework in the examples so that you guys can have that really hands-on approach to, how would I approach this example?
How does acupuncture work? I am sure anyone who’s watching this who has been in practice for, even if you’re an intern in clinic and not practicing yet, I know you’ve gotten this question. There are. Quite a few variations to the answer to this question that I’ve heard from people. A lot of times when I’m teaching classes, we’ll ask people, how would you answer this question?
And it is never an identical response across the board. But if we look at it from the framework that I brought up, remaining confident, first and foremost, a lot of times this first step in answering questions is actually what trips people up. Oh gosh. How does acupuncture work? We’re thinking about all of the incredible information that we’ve learned in school.
Chi, blood yin, how are these things going to benefit a person’s wellbeing? Whereas the patient who’s sitting across from us has no idea what those things are. In very rare cases they do. Sometimes they’re interested and want to know more. They might be coming from a place of concern. Maybe they’ve had a negative experience with acupuncture before.
Maybe they have heard about the needles and they’re worried about that. Maybe they asked their doctor and their doctor said I don’t know. I don’t know how it works. Maybe it works, maybe does, then I don’t know. So a lot of times that first remaining confident is where people get a little Huang up because they are worried about where that question is coming from, rather than the second piece of your framework, meeting someone where they’re at.
So if someone is asking you how does acupuncture work, meeting them where they’re at looks like this, depending on who’s sitting across from you, you are going to have a slightly different response for them. You can have a very general response for how acupuncture works, but if you are talking to a western medical doctor, This answer’s probably gonna look different than if you are talking to a 75 year old woman who wants to try acupuncture for her arthritis for her knees, and she’s never experienced it before.
None of her friends have had acupuncture before, and so you want to address the answer. Be something that someone can relate to. So if I am talking to a neurologist, I might talk about the nervous system and the map of the nervous system and how there’s significant overlap with the channels when it relates to acupuncture and the map of the nervous system.
If I’m talking to a. patient in LA I often talk about traffic because that’s something that people in LA can relate to. And we talk about this incredible network of channels and acupuncture points that we have. Being able to have them think about a roadmap and blockages rather than using terms like stagnation.
So first and foremost, Confidence, then you’re going to meet them where they’re at. And the last piece of this is key, because what I hear a lot of times from providers are, look, I just got outta school. How am I gonna have the expertise or the authority to be able to answer this question? What I know I’ve been licensed for two months.
You can borrow that authority. What do we mean by borrowing authority? We mean. You can say research has shown. That’s not saying that you have treated thousands of patients. You’re talking about the research which is there. You can say patients experience X, Y, and Z. That doesn’t mean that those are your patients who have experienced those things.
It could mean that these are other people’s patient. People included in research, colleagues, patients, these are still very true statements that put someone at ease. A blanket answer to this question that I like to give, particularly if you’re in California or a state where people are very knowledgeable about health and supplementation in these types of things.
I explain acupuncture as an adaptogenic. meaning that it helps the body adapt to any type of stress that it encounters. So what does that look like? Physiological stress, physical stress, emotional stress. And why is that important? People understand that stress has an effect on the body. So when you can tell them, it helps the body cope with stress.
That helps them understand why their sleep. When they’ve come in for low back pain, it helps you connect the dots for them. So it’s all about meeting them where they’re at. At the core of answering this question, another really common question that you’re going to get when you are, treating patients beyond how does acupuncture work?
Is, does acupuncture hurt? And this could be someone who’s a new patient coming in. This could be someone you run into on the street and is hesitant about coming in. There’s an important way to go about answering this question that A doesn’t discredit any techniques that our medicine has. We’re aware different techniques cause different sensation in the body, and so we wanna be mindful to not alienate any of those particular techniques, which might be more sensitive than others.
Have more stimulation than others. So again, if we go back to that framework remaining, I know my style and my technique, so I know I can speak to that. You can say acupuncture does not have to hurt to be effective. You can speak specifically to the thinness of the needles. You can talk about the safety of the needles.
You can talk about how yes, certain points are gonna be more sensitive than others. Obviously, hands and feet are a little more sensitive than let’s say the back would be. And these are things that people can understand, so you’re meeting them where they’re at, and then again, that borrowing authority you can reference.
Experiences that patients have had oh, other patients we’ll fall asleep on the table even after being nervous on that first session. Or, oh, my colleague was seeing a patient an X, Y, and Z. Or, research shows that people have improved sleep after acupuncture.
So you’re borrowing that authority to help answer that question and help support your answer to that patient so that they feel comfort. . And the last question, and this one I told you might be a surprise one. This is a question that I have had patients nervous to ask. Had patients who, were like I feel like I couldn’t ask this question.
And I’ve also had other providers tell me that this was a concern for patients. What about my other provider? There is sometimes a misconception that because our medicine has been referred to as alternative previously, now you’re hearing more holistic, integrative, comprehensive, personalized, those type of words.
But this verbiage of alternative makes it seem like it’s an either or. So patients might be concerned if I choose to go to acupuncture, does that mean I’m not allowed to see my other providers or, , you as an acupuncturist are going to ask me to not see other providers or say something negative about Western medicine, and so we wanna make sure that not only are we.
Prepared for this question. We wanna make sure that we proactively address this as well, because they might be afraid to ask it. They might be afraid to come to us. Maybe this is someone you’re meeting at an event while you’re networking or meeting on the street or at a coffee shop. You wanna make sure to proactively address.
This and speak to things like the comprehensive care, the collaborative care, being part of a care team. These are really important things to work its way into that equation. So again, that comes down to the confidence. If you are confident as a provider, you are not going to think that you have to be the be all end all for someone.
You are going to know the value that you can bring to the table and what lane you can be in meeting them where they. That’s anticipating this need, knowing that this could be a question that could come up and proactively addressing it, and that confidence factors into that proactive nature to this question as well.
And again, borrowing the authority. You can also talk about providers that you’ve collaborated with knowing that. Hey, I’m not, trying to be the be all end all for anyone. I love working as part of a care team. These are the ways that I’ve been successful in doing that. And so that helps you look more competent as a provider, look more collaborative, referencing the ways that you’ve done that in the past, and that can really put patients at eat.
Now there are so many other questions that patients will typically ask. I’m always happy to dive into any of those, but I want you all, I encourage you all as you go through answering a question, pause for just half a second. Remember this framework of first and foremost remaining confident because there’s actual research that people.
Better to individuals who are perceived as confident they’re more well trusted they’re more likely to follow your treatment plan if you appear more confident meeting the patient where they’re at, because this is a patient focused care. This is a personalized medicine. We never want to forget the intention of that.
And then remember, it’s okay to borrow authority if you are not feeling particularly c. If you’ve only treated a handful of patients with X condition and you know that it can be successful there’s other things you can leverage like research, like colleagues in order to boost that credibility as well.
So if you do have any other questions, please feel free to reach out. I’m here at American Acupuncture Council and I’m excited to help. Thanks for listening today and as you move on through your week, make sure to plan for next week because there will be another episode of To The Point and you don’t wanna miss it.