In March of 2007 I attended a workshop at WCA in Portland on community acupuncture, it was the missing piece in the puzzle for me, I returned home and began the work of creating Victoria’s first community acupuncture clinic. We opened on October 20th. Since that time I have become very comfortable in my role as community clinician – each day feels like a working holiday, as I don my uniform of jeans and t-shirt, select a favorite CD, and greet my customers. When I’m on, I feel so at ease, so grateful. To me community acupuncture is largely devoid of politics, it is simply a personal preference as a way to practice my trade – it is a win-win. One area though that I was not as well prepared for, is that of an employer.
I have taken some joy in knowing that I am actually creating jobs for acupuncturists, especially given the large percentage of unemployed ones here in Victoria. Yet, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to actually managing those colleagues! During the late fall I took on two other practitioners and began to expand our operating hours. The business grew slow at first, though steadily, until finally at least one of my colleagues was as busy as I. Then came the dreaded day when they informed me of their plans to leave, that was followed by my second employee announcing that they were pregnant and would be leaving in the fall for maternity leave!
I hired a great replacement, which by the way is a real art, so it seems. Choosing the right person to work in community acupuncture is really important to the success of the clinic. He or she really needs to be committed to the model and at the same time comfortable with the pace and flow of community acupuncture. Years of experience do not seem to matter as much as ones presence and way with patients.
This new replacement was going great gangbusters, quickly filling her days, when she was abruptly called away on a family emergency that left me without an acupuncturist indefinitely! Sigh…
So now I am nearly back to square one, plugging along with my shifts and plotting my next move. The summer months seem to be a bit slower anyway – the sunshine providing some of the best therapy. Still I look forward to the fall when things begin to pick up again and I have 2 or 3 fellow practitioners humming in the hallways.
Part of the learning for me is in the selection process – getting crystal clear on what I want in an employee/colleague, and seeing the great gifts that I am able to offer to a potential candidate
Note: If anyone is interested in filling the position, drop me a line! I am now accepting applications!
On another note, the province of British Columbia has decided to recognize acupuncture as a viable method of health care and is now offering $230 dollars in annual compensation to low-income residents, or $23 per visit, for a total of 10 visits per year. Canadian citizens are all covered under a provincially administrated universal health care system regardless of their ability to pay, and now, those on a low fixed income will be eligible for these benefits. $23 bucks doesn’t help much when you’re seeing someone in private practice at an average cost of $60 an hour, but with community acupuncture it means that you get at least 10 treatments covered. I have decided to participate in the program, as it is relatively simple as far as insurance compensation goes, I fill out a special receipt, which the patient sends in to get reimbursed for their treatment costs.
So all-in-all life is good, and as always, there are lots of lessons to learn!