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Can Advocacy Help Build Your Practice? Nell Smircina



I wanna thank AAC for having me here and letting me talk about advocacy and how it can help build your practice.

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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’m Dr. Nell with the American Acupuncture Council, and I wanna thank AAC for having me here and letting me talk about advocacy and how it can help build your practice. So let’s go to the slides.

For those of you who know me you know that this is actually part of why I got involved with aac. So being trained as a practitioner building my own practice and really my goal was always how are there. Gonna be enough hours in the day so that we can focus on building this profession.

And so I designed my practice in such a way where I could also spend time being an advocate. And what I found through that process was that advocacy can actually help build your business. So some of the things we’re going to get into today, really surprising ways that you can be an advocate. We a lot of times all have certain views when we hear the word advocate or the word advocacy.

Might have certain assumptions around that and might think it has absolutely nothing to do with business building or practice building. And that it’s a very separate thing. But we’re also gonna talk about how you can leverage advocacy to bring more. Into your practice. And then, okay, what are next steps, right?

So are you involved as an advocate? Should you be involved? And what do those things look like? Like I was saying, this is a big reason that I did get involved with AAC because as a solar practitioner, there are certain things that you can do, but there was also this really great organization that was helping to advance the profession in really tangible.

And as one individual, we fit as part of a collective in the profession. So it’s an exciting time. We’re gonna talk about a few of those things today and how you can really get involved. But first let’s get into a little bit of what is advocacy and what are those surprising ways? , this is usually this picture or this previous picture is what people normally think about when they hear the word advocacy.

It’s that, oh, I have to be a public speaker. I have to be out in front of a large crowd, or talking to a lot of people, or. Doing some type of pr I have to be visiting legislators offices, and that can feel a really daunting and b, sometimes just unappealing to your general practitioner who wants to be able to sit there and talk with their patients.

And so really the goal is, all right, let’s understand what are some creative ways to be an advocate, because it doesn’t have to look like this. This is what it looks like for me because I enjoy going and speaking at schools, and I enjoy being a part of the national Association on their board and going out and talking to different legislatures.

But that doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do to really have an impact. So really simple ways that you can have an impact is realize that. You as a licensed acupuncturist, anytime you are talking to someone about this medicine, anytime you’re talking to somebody about acupuncture, traditional medicine, how it can help them the education that you have, you are advocating.

for this profession. And so that could be a one-on-one conversation, that could be a one-on-one conversation with a prospective patient with someone on the street. I always use the example of meeting people in coffee shops. I clearly go to a lot of coffee shops cuz that’s always my default on how people must meet people.

But let’s say you’re talking to somebody in a coffee shop about acupuncture and they’ve never heard of acupuncture. and they come and see you or they come and see one of your colleagues. That person can turn into a person who then goes and tells another person that they should come and benefit from this medicine.

So you are helping to grow efficacy. You are part of an effort. To expand awareness around care, to let people know the value that this profession provides. So it’s not always that you have to then go and talk to someone in Congress or at a state level. , although that is something that we’re gonna talk about as well, if that is something that you’re interested in.

So thinking of yourself as really this term of a professional model, professional modeling. We’re showing people who are coming into the profession, if we are more veteran practitioners, showing people the way, helping to advocate for. Effective business practices for being successful in practice so people know, oh, this is a safe profession to come into.

This is a great profession to come into. And so through those different avenues, whether it’s general public, your patients other practitioners coming into the field, you are helping to be an advocate, even if it is on a one-on-one level, and it’s not going directly to our legislature. , but let’s talk about this because this is sometimes the pushback that we get.

Let’s get past the public speaking and I don’t wanna do that. We can do that with our patients, we can do that, on a one-on-one. But, we’re also trying to build a practice, right? And we need to make a living. We need to be able to support the patients that we do have. We need to be able to bring in more patients than who we currently have.

So how can advocacy. Potentially build our practice. . A foundational concept of being an effective advocate is communication. So we’ve done a couple different Facebook shows around this topic, storytelling your elevator pitch, how are you articulating the value that we provide? One, using those skills in any of those avenues as an advocate, helping to hone those skills is going to make you more effective when it comes to building your practice.

But also, I have to tell you as I got more and more involved in larger skill advocacy work, so I was the president of my state association and now being on the board for asa, which is the National Trade Association, my patients really loved this. , I was a little nervous at first that, oh, I might not be in on this particular Friday because I’m gonna be going to this conference and speaking, or because I’m going to go and do a meeting with my representative.

I’m gonna have to block some time off and let patients know oh, you can see me Monday through Thursday next week because this is what I’m doing. Actually sharing that information with patients is critical in how it can help build your practice. I had more patients when I was practicing in LA who would refer people in and they would say, oh, my friend sees you, and he said, you’re the president of the state association.

That’s so cool. So patients get really excited. You’re knowledgeable about your craft, that you know the industry that you’re part of, that you’re part of a community, and you are, versed in how to leverage that community. Because resources that you have as a provider, that you have as an advocate then trickle down to your patients.

And when it comes to blending those two concepts of how do we get really good with our communication? . And then how do we articulate this information to patients that we are involved in our profession because we love it so much and we wanna see it succeed, and we want this medicine to reach as many people as possible.

When you blend those two things, then you get to the point where, You’re better at articulating that treatment plan and you have more credibility when you’re telling your patient that you are involved. So not only are we practicing the communication not only are we truly involved in our profession and know what’s going on but.

then we can fully articulate that to our patients. Have the credibility to be able to say, I know this medicine. I know other people in this medicine, and if you need an additional referral, I’ve got you. That gives patients a lot more confidence and a confident patient, a trusting patient. An enthusiastic patient.

Those are the patients who are going to help you build your practice. So then you’re not stuck in that one-on-one referral machine. You have people who are then out there advocating for you as a provider for your practice. So last question we wanna answer quickly is, Are you involved and should you be?

And what does that even look like? Like I said, for some of you, your involvement is going to be, I’m gonna get really effective at articulating the value of this medicine to people, and I’m gonna be an advocate on that level so that on a, in a one-on-one conversation, more people are gonna come into acupuncture.

You could take that a step further. You join your state association and there’s so many different levels of involvement there. You can simply be paying dues to help support the mission of the association. And I have to tell you, we’re like the only healthcare profession that makes this optional.

Every other healthcare profession, you get your license and you’re a member of an association and they have very powerful associations for that reason. They’re able to pass more legislation, they’re able to get the attention of representatives in a more effective way because of the strength of those associations.

We’re the only ones who just say, ah, if you wanna be involved. So to make it really easy for you all, you can simply be a dues paying member. What does that. It helps support the mission of the association. It helps advance the medicine, the people who are working on those boards, on those committees who are working so hard.

Those dues help that mission continue. But at the same time, you also get to be kept in the know. So maybe you’re like, I don’t have time to serve on a committee. I don’t have time to serve on a board. I wanna focus on my practice. At least you’re getting that information via email. Webinars that come up where there’s information available you can attend.

And you have the option to get more involved. You could be on a committee for your state association, you could be on the board. And then state associations in turn are members of a national association. So you could get involved with the national Association, through the state association as well, and work on things on a more federal level.

So there are conferences coming up for the asa as the National Association in. I will be there. AAC will be there supporting as always. One of my favorite things about this company is, man, do they show up for these associations and trade shows to make sure that the organizations are well supported.

And then you have. Organizations like the Society for Acupuncture Research, if you’re really into research, that could be a great organization to get involved with, to know what’s going on in an international level. They have a conference coming up too in May and. AAC will be there as well. So I’m hoping that as you’re going through this, you see it’s not just a one size fits all approach.

This is not something where you have to be out there doing public speaking. This can go anywhere from, I’m getting really good at communicating the value that this medicine has to provide to, Hey, I wanna be on the board of a national association. There are so many things in between that. So many ways to start honing your skills so you can help grow this profession, grow this medicine, and help improve the experience for your patients and your practice as well.

As always, if you have any additional questions for me please feel free to reach out. It’s nell@acupuncturecouncil.com. Loved seeing you all, and don’t forget to tune in next week for another episode of To the Point, tons of value to be offered for you guys. Have a great day.