Tag Archives: nell Smircina

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Top 3 Things to Never Say When Networking



Today we’re going to be diving into one of my favorite topics because it’s the most heavily asked thing that people come to me about is networking.

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.

I am Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council, and welcome to another episode of To The Point. Let’s go to the slides. Today we’re going to be diving into one of my favorite topics because it’s the most heavily asked thing that people come to me about is networking. And we’re gonna go specifically over things that you do not want to say when you’re networking.

Things that could be damaging could prevent you from accomplishing what you wanna accomplish when you’re either . Networking with other providers, trying to get referrals, trying to build more people in your community. And so we wanna make sure that we’re not doing these three things that we’re gonna go over today to get the most value out of that experience.

First, let’s just address something real quick. Why do we get this wrong? Those harsh truths when it comes to why are we saying potentially the wrong things when we’re engaging in something like networking? First of all, we’re human, so let’s acknowledge that we’re not gonna get things right every single time.

But a lot of times when it comes to networking in general, the issue is we’re so focused on our needs and not about providing value for the person that we’re talking to. So we can be selfish by nature. A lot of times when people think about going to a networking event, they’re thinking, oh I’m going here so I can get more patients or, so I can find more referrals or, so I can meet somebody who’s gonna be part of my care team.

. A lot of times we’re focused on, yeah, what is the bottom line for us, rather than what is the value that we can provide? And then of course there’s a fear component, right? Again, that goes back to we’re all human. Fear of, I don’t know exactly what to say if I’m too forthcoming with why I’m going to this networking event, how is that gonna come off?

Am I ? Going to feel confident enough to accomplish my goals when it comes to talking to complete strangers, that’s not an easy thing to do by any means, and it’s something that does require a little bit of practice. So what I wanted to do with this presentation really nice and quick today and value driven is just go over.

The commonly heard things that don’t provide a lot of value for people. The biggest one that I hear, and I’m gonna put it first, is people say, I want to pick your brain. This is one of the most. Common things that will come out of somebody’s mouth when they go to an event. When they call up somebody as a follow-up.

I get this all the time, people I know a lot or don’t know very well. Now granted, if you know somebody really well, you have an established relationship with them. Let’s say you’re a former student of mine that I’ve met several times, I don’t mind someone saying, I wanna pick your brain. The mistake that gets made however, is, we are excited to meet someone.

We admire that person. We feel like they would provide a lot of value for us, and then we shoot them an email to try to set up a meeting and we say, I wanna pick your brain. The reason that this is problematic is, First of all, there’s an assumption here that person values their ego more than their time, right?

So you’re telling them, oh, they have something to offer, and just assuming that they’re gonna give up their time in order to share that with you. So it’s not a value driven statement to make. So we wanna do something else. We wanna shift the focus so it’s more value driven for them, something that we can provide, something that we wanna share.

Being more specific about what we wanna talk about, saying to them. You know that they’re the person who could answer X question for you and you’re going to do X, Y, and Z. That doesn’t mean that everything has to be transactional. Really, though, we just wanna make sure that we’re providing value anytime we speak to somebody.

And so you never wanna say to a perfect stranger, oh hey, I wanna pick your brain, and just assume that they’re going to be able to make time for that or want to make time for that. The second thing that I hear a lot is whenever you have time, This goes a little bit into that third piece, that fear component that someone would say no to us.

Not wanna hop on a call with us, not wanna have a follow-up conversation to one that we had when we are unspecific like this and say whenever you have time Everybody feels like they’re busy and they don’t have time. So we wanna shift this a little bit to say when you can make time, when it’s convenient for you give them specific times in the next week or so.

I’m available Tuesday through Thursday at these times. People do need guidance and you wanna make this process as . Easy for someone as possible. So if I get an email from someone and they say, Hey, I wanna pick your brain whenever you have time. To me that ends up being a lower value email. It’s one of the last things I’m gonna get back to because I have all of these more specific requests from people.

I think generally people do wanna help. They do wanna engage, they want to cultivate community and cultivate relationships. But it can be really difficult in the society that we live in the day and age that we live in where people are generally very busy and they need a little bit more specificity and a little more guidance as to what that ask is.

And this one I put in very specific for our industry because as much as . I love the acupuncture community. I love our profession. We have a tendency to engage in medical jargon. And when I say medical jargon, part of that tradition that we hold so dear in our medicine, things like. Chi Blood Yin.

We’re so eager to talk about how we can help people. We’re so eager to educate about how incredible and effective our medicine is that sometimes we tend to. Overwhelm people with information and overwhelm people with information that is not particularly valuable to them or relevant to them at face value.

So if I’m someone who’s never heard of this medicine before and you’re talking to me about chi or blood, I might have an idea of what I think blood is. And that’s very different than what we mean about blood from a clinical perspective. So when we’re trying to . Cultivate a relationship with someone or provide value to someone.

We wanna make sure that we’re meeting them where they’re at. So if someone is a very busy, stressed out business person and we’re talking about how we can provide them value rather than talking about cheese stagnation that they may be having, we wanna talk about stress relief better sleep, things that are gonna be a little bit more relatable to them.

So at the end of the day, the things we wanna remember, ’cause we’re going back to the don’ts. Why we don’t do this right all the time. Yes, we’re all human. So that is the truth. Whether, we’re saying something like, I wanna pick your brain. Just think if you would wanna hear something like that.

Or whenever you have time. . Not specific enough for me or the person that I’m talking to. So you wanna remember that? Yes, we’re all human, but you wanna first and foremost focus on the needs of the person that you’re trying to reach, that you want to take time out of their day to have a conversation with you, to network with you, to build a relationship with you and.

Let’s get rid of the fears because if you are coming from a good wholehearted place, if you’re coming from a place of wanting to provide value, there is never any reason to fear that connection with someone, that conversation, or that desire to build your network. So again, I told you it was gonna be nice and quick and value driven.

If you have any questions for me, you can always reach out. I’m at the American Acupuncture Council and be sure to tune in next week for another episode of To the Point. .


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3 Things to Keep Your Practice on Track



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’m Dr. Nell with American Acupuncture Council. Thanks everybody for being here, and let’s go to the slides today. We are going to go over . Three really simple, effective, very quick things that you can be doing to keep your practice on track. Played with the title a little bit of this because I wanted to tell you they can be done in less than five minutes.

So I think we go through a lot of misconceptions when we’re running a business. It’s hard to stay on track with things we think that. We have to analyze everything that we have to, have this whole system in place that’s gonna take us way too long, every day. And so what ends up happening is we end up having reasons that are silly, that we don’t keep our practice on track.

And it doesn’t have to be that complicated. But the reasons we’re not doing this, it really is that paralysis by analysis. We don’t know what we need to look at. We’re looking at too many things, trying to make this way too complicated of a. Or we’re not prioritizing. One of my coaches once told me that if you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any priorities.

So we have a hard time narrowing that down sometimes, and sometimes there’s a very real reality to this of capacity. So we’re focused on our day to day. Sole proprietor, small corporation, trying to make sure that the absolute necessities get done in our business. And so if we’re not focused on some of these just anchor practices that don’t take us very long, but can be really helpful, really effective for staying on track with growth, we don’t get to the point where we can enjoy scaling or enjoy taking some admin off of our plate.

And so today we’re looking at three really simple things that you can do. They take less than five minutes each, so we’re looking at less than 15 minutes a day to make sure that we stay on track with this. So the first one is highs and lows. Sometimes you may have heard this referred to as roses and thorns of your day.

Pros and cons of your day. You can take less than five minutes a day, and sometimes you’re gonna have to search for something because we have a tendency to overgeneralize when it comes to our day or when it comes to themes that we had throughout the day in our practice with patients. So we might say, oh, it was a really challenging day, or, wow, I killed it today.

But to really drill. Scroll down into that in a short period of time and just say what was really one high of the day and one low of the day. And that’s going to allow us to then take data from that and say, all right, if my high from the day was I stayed on track with timing, then we can look at what things did I do differently?

To stay on track with timing that made that really successful, or if the lowest today was like I was always running behind. Are there ways that we could have accountability in that and could tweak that a little bit? So it can be something just as simple as what’s one really positive one area of improvement that we can make, but just a quick check-in with that on your highs and lows every single day that you’re practicing.

And then you can implement this weekly as well, right? You’re gonna create two lists as your second thing so fine. Two can have an A and a B. So maybe this ends up being four things total, but you’re gonna have two lists that are gonna help keep you really on track. And this says, who owes me and who I owe.

This is not favors or anything like that. This is your task list. Things that you said you would get to people. Maybe it’s a list of therapeutic exercises that you were supposed to get to a patient. Maybe it’s that a patient was supposed to send you lab work and they didn’t, so you’re gonna have two running lists at all times.

That’s going to be who owes me something that I need to check in with, and who do I owe something to? And so this keeps you accountable every single day for that quick check-in. And with the who owes me something that could be as simple as shooting something through your patient portal. Oh, I wanted to check in, make sure nothing fell through the cracks on this end, because I’m seeing that your labs didn’t come through.

That quick check-in with a patient does so much. It allows them to know that you’re thinking about them, that they’re still a priority in your mind, even though they’re not in the office at that moment. That can have a huge ripple effect. Just that quick check-in and it helps you keep on track because you were probably needing to do something.

When you get that, who owes me something? The who I owe. Same thing. Go through your list and what can you knock out at end of day or first thing in the morning, however you choose to implement these three things throughout your day, whether it’s at the very beginning or at close of day. I like doing both.

You’ll get to that point taking that five minutes on either side, but this helps you have that running list so you know really what your priorities are for the day. And you can look in order of magnitude, who do I need to reach out to first? Who’s owed a status update from me? Who do I need to send things to?

This really helps you stay on track and allows things to not fall through the cracks. And the last thing is one person to outreach to. And I wanna challenge you to make this a different person from someone who was on those two previous lists. So if it’s someone that you were owing something to, or they were owing something to you, I want you to try to think outside of that.

I want you to try to think about someone who you can add value to, someone who could be a good . person to add to your care plan for a patient, another provider that you wanna keep in better contact with a colleague that you could send a quick article to. So again, thinking about it in these five minute brackets, one person you’re gonna outreach to help in that day.

And that might be by sending them content. It might be just checking in with them and see how they’re doing. . It might be, you can have a running list for this too. One of my leadership instructors calls it a drip list. So people that you wanna continuously keep in contact with and make sure that you stay updated with them.

So really, those are the three things that are going to, in less than 15 minutes a day, allow you to stay on track. It’s nothing complicated whatsoever, and it’s simply. What are my highs and lows for the day? Not thinking in general terms. Get really specific with this, and then you can take action items from that for improvement or things that you wanna keep doing because they’re going really well.

The second thing, being those two lists, who do I need to get things to and who needs to get things to me? And make sure that we’re constantly working those lists every day. So things. Don’t fall through the cracks. And that last thing being who am I adding value to today? Who am I staying in contact with today?

Who am I continuously cultivating a relationship with? And pick that one person to outreach to that is not gonna fall into one of those other lists that you needed to keep track of those three things. Help you stay on track in less than 15 minutes a day If you have further questions. You all know I love efficiency hacks, simple and effective ways to keep practice on track.

I hope this has been enjoyable for you. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions at a c and don’t forget to tune in next week for another episode of To the Point. .


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The Do’s and Don’ts of House Calls



We’re gonna be talking about house calls, do’s and don’ts bringing this straight from my private practice, my extensive experience with house calls, and also other practitioners that I’ve worked with as well.

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 have you here. We’re gonna be talking about house calls, do’s and don’ts bringing this straight from my private practice, my extensive experience with house calls, and also other practitioners that I’ve worked with as well.

So let’s go to the slides.

So when we think about house calls there’s a few misconceptions that come up and things that we wanna address straight out the gate. And I first wanna tell you a little bit about my experience with house calls in general. I built my practice treating primarily post-surgical patients. So house calls or being on location were really a necessity for the patient demographic that I was working with.

And as my practice continued to build and as I continued to network directly with surgeons and gain referrals directly from. Surgical practices it really grew and grew. And so then when Covid happened a few different things shifted, and I started looking at, all right, how are we gonna continue to build our business?

How do we safely continue to treat patients? Things had shifted quite a bit and started looking at the numbers. Because my lease in Beverly Hills was up for renewal. And a lot of you who have brick and mortars, you’ve looked at medical leases, sometimes they’re a little bit longer trying to make these really big decisions around what to do next when it comes to your practice.

And when we looked at the numbers, we realized that over 80% of our revenue was from house calls. And granted, this was definitely a situation where it was very much based on our business model, treating post-surgical patients, but at the same time, house calls can be incorporated into most practices.

We are gonna go through these misconceptions, but also just know. Having primarily house call patients is not for every practice. Some people are gonna do this about 20% of the time, 10% of the time, and we’ll go through some of those different options. But first, let’s talk about the misconceptions.

There is an idea that house calls are not safe. That they’re not cost effective. You’re gonna be leaving your office and running over to a patient’s house or that they can be cumbersome. You’re lugging equipment, you’re not able to do everything that you would normally do in office, and there is some truth.

To actually all three of these. And so they’re really good and bad ways right and wrong ways. And then with the little bit of ambiguity that’s gonna be around what your business model is what area you’re in. So is it really feasible to be running back and forth? How does that work? So we’re gonna center this around these three different areas and look at some good do’s and don’ts for each one so that.

These misconceptions are not your reality if you wanna do house calls in your practice. So first, let’s look at the safety issue. We have personal safety and then we have the professional or practice safety, thinking about things like malpractice issues, but what we’re thinking first and foremost about our own personal safety.

We’re talking about going to a person’s home, right? So someone that maybe you don’t know very well. Or maybe you’ve seen an office once before who was a referral or maybe even a cold call, and that can be a little intimidating and that can certainly be an unsafe situation. So are there certain safeguards that we can put in place to stay HIPAA compliant in this situation?

But also allow ourselves to be able to safely navigate into someone’s home. And some of that will have some overlap with talking about logistics at the end and how we safeguard some of those safety issues. But first and foremost, we wanna just acknowledge that this is a different environment.

It’s not exactly the same thing as when you’re in the comfort of your office, the comfort of your practice. You don’t get to have everything set up exactly how you want to, you’re not gonna have cabinets at. Someone’s home probably have things at an arm’s reach. So we’re really thinking about what things are we going to bring with us so that we can keep safety paramount.

What we wear to a house call is particularly impactful in this case. So if we were in office and we like to dress. Business casual. Or we like to wear business casual with a lab coat. Might be easier to wear scrubs. I had always worn scrubs for house calls, and then when I was in office I was a little bit more dressed.

And then during C O V I D I was wearing scrubs the entire time for both in-office. And on location. So that’s something to think about, like what you’re physically wearing to someone’s home. Also what are you bringing with you and how far are you traveling safety-wise? So I do house calls where I have to get on a plane and fly to patients.

Now, because I’m between a few different states where I’m licensed. And so when I do that, you’re thinking, okay, safety-wise, like what am I bringing on a flight with me? There are certain things that you might take locally that you’re not gonna be able to safely carry on an airplane. I will tell you I have never had an issue with acupuncture needles, microneedling devices even eim units on a flight for a carry-on.

So just as an aside for those of you who are thinking about doing that but we wanna think about like things like batteries, like being safe when we do that and going to someone’s home I will tell you from my practice, we don’t do just. Direct cold calls. We are primarily referral based, so when a patient calls, they’ve been referred directly from a surgeon.

And this can be a really safe way to do this process because you at least know the referral source. Someone who is Requesting that this person see you, this person is like, Hey, my friend or my doctor told me that I should come to your practice and that you do house calls. So I know providers who don’t even advertise online that they do house calls.

They have their regular practice structure, and they do the house calls on an as needed basis for us, because we were primarily referral based, it was really easy. We always involved the surgeon in that care and in that visit, so that patient knew that someone was going to be reported back to, they were signing paperwork that said, Hey, my information can be shared with my surgeon.

And so we were saying, Hey, like we’re gonna let your doctor know when we’re on the way to your house and let them know how that went. So at least then they know there’s another party involved in that and that gives you a little bit more of that safety. When I was doing this on my own as a sole proprietor and I didn’t have an office staff I was still very referral based, so there was still that communication, but I would always let someone know that, Hey, I’m going to a house call and I would listen.

Someone know Hey, I’m done with that house call, and that doesn’t mean I need to share the patient information. All of that information would be in my E H R, which is HIPAA compliant. But just to be able to let another party know that’s that was happening and that makes you feel a little bit safer.

When we talk about cost I will tell you industry standard from practitioners I’ve worked with and talked two throughout the industry is just doubling the cost of your in-office visit from a cash perspective. I would say that there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to cost.

However, you really have to think about where you are and what it’s going to take for you to get to that patient. For example, me being in Los Angeles, it takes a lot to leave a practice, get in a car. Drive somewhere. It’s very different if you’re in a more accessible city that maybe has public transit or that allows you to pop in and out of the office or, maybe you have a very densely populated area where you’re treating people in super local confined area so you’re not traveling that much.

That’s gonna be different time taken out of your office. So you have to consider when you’re constructing your costs, okay, how is this really gonna work? If I’m normally running three rooms at a time, what am I actually losing by walking out of my practice, the time that is spent away? How many patient visits is that truly?

And as long as you are in compliance with ADA and like people can easily access your office. It’s fine to give people a choice. I would keep my pricing exactly the same for in-office and going to location, and I would charge separately for a travel rate, and that was a way that I was able to safeguard to just.

Be able to say to people, Hey, you’re welcome to come into my practice if you would like me to come to you. This is the travel fee. And so that way you’re keeping your fees the same. And so it’s really a conversation about your time and the money that’s spent with that. So that’s one option and one way to go about it.

But the most important thing when you’re considering cost is what does it cost me to leave? And does that make sense? It might not make sense for your business model when you are looking at. What that is going to cost you leaving your office and going to someone’s home. And then the last thing is logistics.

And the reason that I say this has a big overlap with safety is because look at the picture that we have here, cupping, right? When I do house calls, I don’t do fire cupping. I just don’t I love doing fire cupping in office, but I use suction cups when I go to someone’s home. They are easier to transport.

There’s less of a safety issue there. Logistically it’s a little bit easier to navigate one simple suction cup and maybe an oil or ment rather than having to worry about. Am I going to have a tray accessible? Am I going to be able to deal with fire in this person’s home? Are they going to feel safe?

When it comes to that? We wanna think about things like linens. Really, when you’re thinking about the logistics, you wanna think about that entire experience. What is that gonna look like from you getting in your vehicle or getting in the transportation that it’s going to require? Are you lugging a treatment table?

We’ve. Purchase treatment tables for patients before, when we have a post-surgical patient who’s committing to say 24 visits after a surgery, that is not a big deal for us to then have a treatment table to keep at their home so that our providers are not then lugging that treatment table every single time.

And it’s something that’s a huge value add for patients usually that they really appreciate as. Part of something that is going to make life easier for you but be a value add for them. So it’s set up, it’s easy when you get there. You wanna think about things like sheets. I used to always bring linens to house calls.

And then when C D happened and people were a lot more careful, we started having patients providing their own linen for treatment tables. And it’s about the way you frame that, you frame it, that it’s for their comfort, their safety they know it’s not being reused. They don’t have to trust that you’re washing it properly or disposing of things and reusing, or not reusing.

There’s no guesswork involved there. So that’s another thing that can be done. But really, if you’re thinking about that process from start to finish, how do we make this logistically sound? I like to expect the unexpected anything that has come up in a previous house caller that we could anticipate we do.

So everything from knowing what the gate code is. Do you prefer the provider to stay with you next to the treatment table or would you like them to wait, outside? Do you allow shoes in your home? Cuz you have to think about that from a clean needle technique perspective. Not wanting to walk around completely barefoot.

Things like that. Is there, are there gonna be pets there? If you’re having yourself or a provider go to a home and you’re allergic to dogs or cats, that’s probably something that you wanna be aware of. Some people are very, free with their animals. They let them jump around. You wouldn’t want that to be, become a safety issue, and it’s something to anticipate logistically on the front end that makes that process a lot more simple.

So obviously if it’s just. You can ask a lot of these questions on the front end. It gets even more critical to be clear about these logistics when you have other providers that you’re employing going to someone’s home. So knowing all of those variables upfront can be really impactful and just make for a very simple experience, even knowing if someone, let’s say a post-surgical patient.

I’ve had post-surgical patients that can’t get out of bed, or they’re in a hospital type bed at their home, so there’s no reason to bring a treatment table. Knowing those things on the front end not only help you deliver a better patient experience, but it makes the patient so much more comfortable with what that is going to look like, and it helps manage those expectations.

So as we briefly recap these are the three things you really wanna be thinking about when it comes to house calls. First and foremost, it’s always gonna be safety, your personal safety your professional safety. Protecting yourself against anything that could potentially happen. You wanna think about costs.

Does this logistically make sense as well? Is it cost effective for me to be leaving my business to be doing house calls? And then the logistics of not only that actual house call, but how are you setting that up? How are you framing that? How are you going to fit that in logistically to the way that you practice even considering things like scheduling?

Do you want to. Devote, certain hours of the day to house calls, which is something I used to do. So that you aren’t bouncing back and forth oh, my Monday afternoons and my Thursday afternoons are going to be my house call days. So logistically, how do we make this a sound process? So if you keep those three things in mind, and of course come from a personalized perspective like we do with anything in this medicine looking at your individual practice and how this makes sense for you.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have more questions about this. I love looking at the safety aspects. Obviously working with American Acupuncture Council safety and that protection is paramount in my mind. But really how could you make this work from a business perspective?

So thank you so much for your time. And don’t forget next week to tune in for another episode of, To The Point.


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Are You Practicing in a Vacuum? Nell Smircina



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. 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.


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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.

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’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.


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3 Things Your Missing for Consistent Revenue Growth



So we’re gonna talk about what you’re missing for consistent revenue growth in your practice today.

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. Welcome to another episode of To The Point. I’m Dr. Nell. I wanna thank American Acupuncture Council for having me today, and let’s go right into the slide.

So we’re gonna talk about what you’re missing for consistent revenue growth in your practice today. What’s happened to a lot of us before, I’m speaking from experience, we get started in practice. Maybe things are going well, maybe we have this misconception that growth is just going to be linear, and that trend is going to continue the entire time.

But don’t often take a second to check in on what are the things that are working, what are the things that are not, is it time to scale? And so we’re gonna talk a little bit about the things that you might not be thinking about when it comes to revenue growth today. . Let’s see. So this is what I thought when I was first getting into practice that, oh, okay.

I’m starting out, I’m at the beginning, so obviously I’m not gonna be making a ton of money right away. Acupuncture is a relatively low startup cost considering what other industries look like. So a lot of us come right into practice, not taking out loans, not having a ton of capital, getting right into it.

And Pros and cons to that. But we think, oh, hey, we have a few patients. We’re already making money. This is great. And okay, maybe six months later it’s gonna be a little bit different, a little bit different. And what I’ve noticed when I’m working with other practitioners or students who are gonna be getting started in practice, Because we don’t have a ton of business training when it comes to our schooling.

And this is, not a ton of fault to the schools. They have to get us prepared for boards, right? But with 95% of acupuncturists being sole proprietors small business owners, we’re not really taught these things that we have to consider when it comes to growing our practice. And a lot of times it ends up.

Very reactive and we think, oh great, we’re not losing money this month. So wonderful. Like I said, that growth is not necessarily going to be exactly linear, but what we wanna see in our businesses is a constant trend of growth. So even if there are weeks that might fluctuate a little bit, months, that might fluctuate.

You work primarily with teachers and. People go away during the summer, they’re not working, they’re off their schedules. These are all things we need to factor into our equation when it comes to having that consistent revenue growth. So the first thing that we might not be thinking about when it comes to our consistent revenue growth is mindset.

Now, I think that term often gets overused at times, but we do need to address what’s the mindset of our industry and then how does that affect us in practice? How does it affect our patients? How do we let Our ethics, our values, our beliefs bleed into our practice. And so there can be a little bit of a scarcity mindset when it comes to this medicine, when it comes to our industry.

And so that’s okay. It’s just an important trend to note so that we can fix it on our end. Just having that awareness that this is something that we need to be considering as we are trying to champion growth in our businesses is important. That lack of business training that also could go into our mindset.

It could affect our confidence when it comes to the next steps. And what I see a lot of times, and I’ve been guilty of this too, is we jump right into executing right into strategy without even checking in. Is my mind, right? Is this really what I want to be doing? Do I have the right tools in place?

Does this make sense at this time? And so mindset is really key when it comes to having that consistent growth, because you don’t have to be in a perfectly positive mood every day. You don’t have to be a hundred percent every day. That’s complet. Unrealistic to think that we would be able to but we need to be more on than we’re not, and we need to be just really clear about the type of mindset that we need to have for that consistent growth.

So mindset is the first of these three things that might not be on our radar as we’re trying to jump right into executing on getting more patients in the door. The second thing is clarity. , what do we even mean by clarity? It’s another word that I think if any of us heard it, we might have a different definition as to what that means to us.

When I talk about clarity, when it comes to consistent revenue growth in your practice, the strategy that you’re going to have, how you’re gonna execute on that, how do we keep things consistently? Trending forward. I’m talking about your why your clarity around do you even want to scale your business?

Are you someone who’s very happy being a solo provider and you don’t want other providers in your space? That’s okay. There’s a financial reality that goes. With that, we might need to think about additional revenue streams when it comes to building. If it’s just going to be us, there is a set number of patients that we are gonna be able to see as an individual, and that obviously becomes exponential when you bring in another provider, when you bring in staff.

But that clarity around why we’re doing what we’re doing and what that vision for our practice truly looks like is incredibly important. When you’re talking about. Keeping patients coming in the door. If I know that I need to get to a certain number of patient visits before I can bring on another provider, if I know that’s something that I really want, that is going to allow the next steps in scaling my business to be all the more simple, because I’m very clear on what I want that to look like for my business.

We talked in a previous show about having a business. , and it can be very simple, very easy if you miss that one. It’s something you can do in one hour to make sure that you stay on track. And it really does fit into this clarity piece on how you’re going to continue to have consistent patients coming in the door, —-consistent growth for your business.

So very clear on why I am doing what I’m doing, what I want the future to look like. And we’re not just talking about practice, we’re talking about. Because your practice is going to have to fit into your life. And so those goals need to be really realistic within that. And then the last piece, now we can finally get to the strategy.

And this was the three things that you might not be considering for that growth. I think a lot of us. Think about strategy a lot, but a lot of times it’s jumping right into execution. Strategy has a lot of these different pieces to it. So you’ll see the puzzle piece theme that we went through today.

But it’s not just about your customer. It’s not just about how your business is now. It’s how you want your business to be. And are we working through that analysis? So looking. What are all these pieces? What has the past trend look like? What do I want the future to look like? Do you have additional products?

Is your service offering your only product? What’s your vision? And that should have been thought about in the mindset and clarity pieces, but now we get to actually have a framework and make some decisions around that. How do we. That, how do we work towards it with our marketing? Do we have a team? Is this team gonna play an integral part?

If you are planning to continue to scale and you have one provider and other than yourself and two office staff. . Okay. What comes next? Are you bringing on another office staff? Where’s the bottleneck in the capacity for your business? And a lot of times we might shy away from some of these conversations.

A lot of times it can be really difficult. That goes back to that mindset piece that we often don’t really dive into. We’re trained as clinicians. We’re trained as providers. A lot of people get into this medicine because they care about people, because they want to see people improve with their health, and not necessarily because they wanted to own a business, but that doesn’t mean.

There aren’t certain realities when it comes to growing our business or that, we need to make a living. And so to be able to do that and still stay true to that clarity, that vision that we had, we have to think about all these different puzzle pieces. How are we gonna develop different things and.

That gnarly budget. I remember being in school and having Marilyn Allen as my teacher in practice management, and it just felt like a fire hose. All of that information when it came to budgeting around each of these steps. So what happens sometimes is we get really fixated on one of these little puzzle pieces around strategy, and we completely forget that all of these things fit together and that you cannot even begin to develop a strategy.

First, having clarity on what you’re doing. And then prior to that, are you in the right state of mind? And how do you get there to make sure that you can consistently grow? So we have to keep our mind so that we can effectively help our patients. . So those are the three. I want you guys to just keep that in mind.

And what’s also really important about these three is that you do them at each level of growth. This is not something that, okay, I opened my practice doors for the first time and I’ve thought about mindset. I am clear on what I’m going to do and I have a strategy of what I want to accomplish. This is a constant check-in.

This is something that you can do monthly and make sure you’re on point. I like to set up little wellness checks for myself, mentally as well as physically to make sure that everything is on point when you’re growing your business. And so this is a constant check-in, just like checking in with your business plan.

Again, don’t miss that show that we did as well. And you’re gonna go through these things every time you decide to grow, not just checking in on a regular basis. Anytime you wanna bring on an additional team member, anytime you wanna bring in a new product or a new offering, or you wanna make changes to your fee schedule, these are three things that you wanna check in so that you can have that very consistent growth when it comes to your practice.

So we got through that nice and quick, I like to keep it efficient for you all. If you have any more questions, always feel free to reach out. We do these shows quite often, and don’t forget that next week there’ll be another episode of To the Point. Tune in and don’t miss it.