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Are You Practicing in a Vacuum? Nell Smircina



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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 am Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council. Thanks so much for having me, and let’s go to the slides.

Hey, we’re gonna be talking a little bit about this idea of practicing in a vacuum, and we pose this as a question, are you practicing in a vacuum? But I feel pretty confident with the experience that I’ve had in this industry to let you know. You might be. We are mostly sole proprietors. We’re thrust out of school and pushed into being small business owners.

A lot of times the mechanism of practice setup is, all right how do I figure out how to afford to rent one room and then scale to two rooms, and when do I get to a. Point where I could bring on an admin assistant or an office manager or another practitioner, and sometimes we don’t even have the time or the bandwidth to look at strategy around this.

And what often ends up happening with this mechanism of getting into practice. We forget about all of the resources around us. The resources that we could be leveraging outside of the four doors of our treat or the four walls of our treatment room, and really say to ourselves, all right, like, how do I leverage these resources around me to grow my business, to be more successful, to welcome more patience and.

To even have resources available that I don’t have to create on my own, whether it’s marketing collateral education resources for patients or for other providers. And so we’re gonna talk a little bit about those industry resources that we should be leveraging today. So first, we have to address the misconceptions here.

Again, we have our tunnel vision. , we’re focused on patient care. We’re trying to figure out how to afford everything and how to grow and how to scale. So a lot of times this mindset that there’s no infrastructure already set up, can creep in. Maybe we’re only familiar with our school. or the school alumni network, if your program even has a viable alumni network available to you.

And so we don’t think about what’s already there, what’s already set up that we can be leveraging. There’s also a lot of confusion around regulation versus advocacy. So what are these different players in the game and how do we fit into that equation? And this idea of limitations to involvement with that.

So we might see these big groups out there and think, oh, we’re divorced from them. They’re so far away. They’re a regulatory agency, or they deal with advocacy and that feels a little too far from. Me and my practice. And just to tell you that’s not true. There are definitely ways to be involved.

And we actually did another show specifically around leveraging advocacy for your business. And you can tune into that one as well and take a listen. Let’s look at first, who are these main players to get a little oriented to our industry and then we can talk about how we’re leveraging them. So the Council of Colleges actually was the creator of Clean Needle Techniques.

So we all had to do that in order to get into internship to then go ahead and get licensed or get our national board certification. And this is actually a collection of. School leadership. So schools join the Council of Colleges. And so in addition to issuing the Clean Needle Technique certification, they also gather multiple times a year, have different committees, and they’re looking at what are common issues that schools are experiencing.

We have had school closures just in the last few years. We’re probably gonna continue to see some consolidation. . So we wanna make sure we’re really tuned into what’s happening on an education level and what goes hand in hand with that is acom. So the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and herbal medicine, they’re actually linked up with the Department of Education who oversees what they do, and then they go and accredit the different schools, our education and.

Institutions. This allows for things like financial aid to happen so that we have an infrastructure set up where students can come in and get that federal financial aid support. If we didn’t have that accreditation, that wouldn’t be available to us, and that would really stall a lot of things in our industry.

There’s opportunities to be involved with them. You can be a site visitor. You can serve on their board of commissioners as well. Council of Colleges, if you’re involved with the schools, you can be a part of Council of Colleges and serve on one of their committees and help influence how the more minute details of education and school initiatives are happening.

And then everybody’s familiar with N C A O M. . Even in California, people are getting N C O M certified. So this is really those minimum standards. When we’re looking at getting into practice. For most states, they require these N C O M exams for licensure and a lot of states, Also require you to re-certify every four years.

Now, NCCM has a ton of resources. They have a provider directory. You can look on their website for different continuing education for your PDAs. You could be a PDA provider and be marketing yourself and your courses through them. So even though these are more Organizations that develop standards and are more regulatory in nature, there are still opportunities within them and still resources available to you even if you’re just in private practice.

And I wanna briefly note the difference between regulatory and advocacy or associations. . When I was the president of ciso, which is a state association in California we would get calls all the time for people thinking that we were the acupuncture board who issues licenses, who does the exam, who regulates the profession in California.

And so there are different agencies. We talked about standards and more the regulatory, but then you also have these advocacy organizations. And so a regulatory board who’s issuing your license. Their responsibility is to protect the public, not to advocate on behalf of the profession. So it’s important to be knowledgeable about where are our advocacy resources and how do we go ahead and leverage them.

So here are some really exciting big players in the advocacy, and I like to say advocacy slash. Fun stuff and awareness for the profession. Because some of these organizations, their primary initiative is advocacy and some of them, they’re just doing really good work that help elevate our profession.

And then they have great resources for us as well in private practice. The biggest one we wanna think about is American Society of Acupuncturists. That’s our National Trade Association. You have states like state associations like Selma, like the North Carolina Association, the DC Association, they are all members.

Of asa. So it’s a federation style organization. So states get voting rights and everybody’s an equal player, and that council of states is really powerful and they get to decide different initiatives that happen from a national level. I do have the pleasure of serving on the board for asa. We just had an awesome conference.

We were just on Capitol Hill talking about. Garnering support for our Medicare bill so that we can direct bill Medicare as providers. So there’s a lot of good work that’s being done at a federal level. And if you go on as a’s website, if you join a committee, if you are involved in your state association, who’s a member of asa, you get a ton of benefits.

There are one pagers that you can send to other medical providers explaining acupuncture. There are templates for advocacy in your state. So if you’re interested in going and speaking to your representatives, looking at a one pager and saying, Hey, how do I need to prepare? How do I find my representatives?

These types of things. These are resources that are available to you as well as like deals, discounts for different vendors in the industry. And then you have the Society for Acupuncture Research. I was also just at their conference last weekend, and this is an international organization, however really strong in the state.

So they had the conference in New York and they’re another organization that has. Tons of resources for you. You can go on their website, you can become a member. You can have access to different databases. See the incredible amount of research that our profession is involved in and how that works and the resources here for you and your practice.

You can easily have access to that research. Sometimes patients are gonna wanna know that information. Sometimes other providers wanna know that information. And seeing how this is done on a global level, it is a little bit different in the states than how other countries practice. And that global and cultural awareness is really important, especially today.

And I did throw on here e b a evidence-based acupuncture. I recently at the SAR conference met one of their board members and I was asking him, what’s the difference here? Because there seems to be a lot of overlap with the research and the good work that’s. Being done. Evidence-based acupuncture is like a little more a little more patient friendly, a little more lay person friendly.

So if you want like quick fact sheets that you can give to anyone, that’ll speak to people in a way that they can understand. Stand, even if they’re not familiar with research or acupuncture, they’re a great resource for you. And so a lot of these things are going to make your practice life easier because you’ll have resources to pull from so you’re not reinventing the wheel.

You don’t have to create a one pager for yourself about how acupuncture works for other medical providers. You get to download it from one of these organizations who’s already done it in a really easy and professional way. And I also like to put APA on here, American Herbal Products Association.

This is an organization that is a lot bigger than just our profession. They do have a Chinese medicine, like a Chinese herbs committee. But as a broader aspect, they’re really involved staying on top of what’s going on with F D A regulations how would this trickle down effect impact our profession?

And so even just getting on their mailing list and seeing what they’re up to, a lot of these quick updates will come out through them. When something around herbal medicine happens. So if there’s a press release that comes out or an adverse event they’ll probably have knowledge about it and be sharing that information in a really tangible way so that you get the entire story.

So let’s talk about, again, back to that vacuum effect. Is that what’s happening? Did. Maybe coming into this conversation you thought, oh no, I’m aware, , I’m not practicing in a vacuum. Were you aware of all these organizations? Are you aware of the resources available to you? Are you reinventing the wheel when you don’t need to be?

I hope that after this really brief 11 minutes that you’ve had a little bit more of an introduction to not only the resources available to you, but the ways that you can get involved. All of these organizations that I’ve mentioned have additional opportunities and some of them. Are revenue generating opportunities, ways that you could go and implement your skillset beyond private practice to help some of these organizations.

some of them are volunteer based, some of them are putting out resources for you. But regardless of that situation, please take the time to look into them, research them, see that they can help you with your marketing, with your collateral, with things that you would be spending your time and energy doing.

And also the networking that you get through this, going to these different conferences, hopping on their different. Portals, seeing the discounts and deals that are available to you. You’re not alone in practice. There are plenty of organizations here for you. We do have an infrastructure built in this industry that we need to strengthen and get more involved in.

And of course, I like to put AAC as this last resource for you. A lot of the opportunities that I’ve been introduced to were introduced to me through AAC. And so whether it’s your following on Facebook, Book you’re calling us up and saying, oh hey, like I have this issue. We’re always here to help. I’m always here to help and so please feel free to reach out with any additional questions.

Thank you all so much for being here, and do not forget to tune in next week for another episode of To The Point.