My CA clinic will be four years old in January, and we are
That is a hard sentence to write, and for a long time I
couldn’t write it, as I had too much judgment about myself, and the level at
which I might be “to blame”, if you will, for this reality.But I am OK with it now.Besides, the CAN website, and all of you,
have meant too much to me for too long for me not to share the truth of my
experience with you.
So here’s a little background.We live and work on a long, skinny
peninsula.This means that rather than
drawing patients from four directions of the compass, we draw from two.Put another way, a smallish # of people live
within a ten or fifteen minute drive of my clinic, and even that # changes
significantly from one season to the next.
We got humongously good publicity from our daily paper in
Jan of 2007…we grew a lot, really quickly, as a result, and added staff.The paper will follow this by shunning you
for years, to avoid “favoring” you, and there are really no other big media to
get any publicity from.
This spring, two more CA clinics started up on my peninsula.Each are “one town over”…ie, in each of the
two directions there is the town my clinic is in, one other town, and then the
town with the new CA clinic.
Then the songwriting and performing “bug” which first bit me
around age nine, got its teeth in a little tighter, and for 14 months I was
content to give the clinic only the attention it demanded and no more, while
filling evenings and weekends with open mics, concerts, jam sessions, and
finally, a CD with 12 original songs that I completed earlier this month.This was a welcome respite from the first 2
years of live, sleep, eat and breathe community acupuncture, but it is possible
I went a teeny bit too far in the other direction.
As a result of all of these forces, and perhaps others that
I’ve not named (the economy, for example), we find our clinic numbers at about
2/3 of what they were a year ago…in other words, enough work for me to do just
fine, with some part time receptionist help, but not enough to employ other
acupunks or office managers unless I am prepared to take a sizeable pay cut ( I’m
I know CAN dogma says more CA clinics = more patients for
everyone, but my experience suggests that in small, non-urban settings the words
“maybe” and “eventually” need to be
added to this concept.I have definitely
seen a drop in patients from one town over since the new clinics got going.I think maybe this will reverse, as the new
acupuncture fans from these clinics gab to friends in my town about how great
community acupuncture is…eventually.
So, I went thru some grief, and anger, and blame….I was
pissed that getting our numbers up to 125/week in 2007 hadn’t just generated enough of
a wave of patient referrals to keep us on the upward trajectory forever
more.I was sad that my clinic was shrinking,
rather than growing, almost four years in.I recriminated myself for having too much fun with music and perhaps not
“taking care of business”, as in continually feeding the clinic marketing
But at this point, I actually feel pretty peaceful with
it.After all, a micro business has to
ebb and flow with the tides.When the
tide comes back in, we can add more staff.
And I have a rockin’ good CD that I love.You hear a few songs from it at :www.myspace.com/outlatemusic