**Warning most of all below is intended to be taken with a sense of humor. Please don’t take it too seriously**
You know there’s rumors going around about how CA owner burn out. If you think of the numbers it is pretty scary. People get tired seeing 8 patients a day, how do you not get tired seeing 30 to 40.
I think it’s time to address it head on. What is burn out and how can we avoid it as CA owners?
First, we fight against the workaholic tendencies of our culture. I was reading a book by Gabor Mate (all his books are awesome! Read them. Thanks Lumiel) and it said if you were to choose guilt over resentment. Always choose guilt. Guilt is you doing something for yourself. Resentment is soul suicide. You need staff. You can’t see high numbers without it. Or rather you can see high numbers, but you can’t without really taxing yourself.
This took a little for me to admit to myself. I mean I’d like to be proud and workaholic and say I saw 140 patients a week by myself. Or somehow there’s rumors of that. But that is simply untrue. I saw 140 a week with staff helping.
And for a while, I really didn’t want to admit it. I really didn’t want staff around. I am quite an introvert. It takes me a while to get comfortable with people. And…..also…..umm….I don’t like having someone watching me, it makes me feel like I should be on good performance. If I am just by myself I like to do tai chi movements randomly in the back (which really helps me), or eat, or ………….(deep dark secret) read comic books. And well…it’s just kind of embarrassing to have someone else doing “work” while you’re reading comic books…
But really! Why do we have to accept our workaholic culture that demands us be BUSY all the time so mindlessly?! If I can see *$*@X*!!ing 30 or 40 patients a day, why can’t I just do acupuncture and read comics? My mom’s not staring over my shoulder judging me.
And there’s the key. Why do we burn out? Because we can’t sit still. Because we can’t let other people do things. Because we have to do it all, ourselves. Or think we can.
What my clinic needs, what my community needs, and what I need is for me to read comic books during the day. 😉 Because if I have staff and don’t have to answer the phone, book appointments, make change, do filing, send out postcards, sweep, make new files, enter checks, and etc.etc. I am not going to burn out. I will have a more sustainable practice, a more sustainable life, and I will be able to do this for much longer. My clinic will not fall apart if I feel a little tired, have a fight with my boyfriend, decide to fix up a foreclosed house, decide to plan a wedding, have a kid, or stay up all night reading comic books, because I can read comic books during the day. Get it?
Second, we allow ourselves the humanity to not love the clinic 100% of the time. I think I have mentioned this before in the forum posts. There’s a natural high when you open up a clinic. It’s like making a leap of faith off a cliff. You take lots of risks and make lots of decisions. There’s a lot of adrenaline. But at some point, you start growing out of the infatuation stage.
I know so sad. Ahh, the first date, the first time you held hands, the first kiss you feel like you can never get enough of each other. You’ve found your true soul mate who will love you and accept you forever including all your faults. Ahh, the first day I opened my clinic, the first patient, the first 4 patients an hour, the first 6 patients an hour, their first 60 patients a week, the first free day, the first 80 patient week, the first 100 patient week. We have had a lot to celebrate.
But what happens after you get married or cohabitate for a few years. What happened to all that magic? Then you have to deal with all the little annoying habits like snoring, not squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom, the not putting dishes in dishwasher, the always ordering of meat lovers pizza, the always leaving the socks in the shoes, the always not unrolling the socks before tossing it in the laundry. My clinic is the same way… 😉
Then it’s just putting files away, getting new files out, new patients, crazy patients, vacuuming, more vacuuming, dusting, patients getting better slowly, more dusting clinic starts to seem a lot like work.
Am I burning out because I just don’t love my lover the same anymore after a couple years? Really…I hope that’s not the word you use for it. I think there’s developmental stages. And after you lose the flame you develop techniques to keep the embers burning forever. I think it’s the same thing for the clinic.
Keep on celebrating. Just because you have treated 100 patients before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate this week. Just because you have had a free day before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate. Keep the fire burning!
And yes you can hate your clinic on the days it’s inconsiderate of your feelings and orders that meat lovers pizza again for dinner without asking you. You don’t have to love it 100% of the time. And you can lose interest for a little while and take up belly dancing and rock climbing, but don’t forget about it forever.
P.S. The next time someone ask me to tell them all my secrets and rock their clinic I will say:
You begin by whispering sweet nothings in their ear, then run your finger down their neck, while planting sweet kisses on their jawline.
Third, we get out of Hydrogen mode into Tungsten mode. I think Lisa’s opening speech about Breaking the 100 Patient Barrier is someone all CA people should be required to read. Especially, the ones by themselves or struggling with burn out. And Jessica’s post on her free day.
We don’t burn out doing 30-40 patients a day, because you know what? We’re in tungsten mode. We have systems for handling 6+ patients an hour. We treat patients by letting the acupuncture work without having to spend a half hour deciding our treatment plans. We don’t spend all our time and energy trying to be gurus that do everything for our patients. We are just acupuncturists.
This is how you make sweet sweet love to your clinic.