If I had the time, I’d make it a point to get treated at every community acupuncture clinic listed on CAN! Getting hundreds of treatments would be wonderful in and of itself, but that wouldn’t be the only benefit; by being a patient in other clinics, I’d gain more ideas to bring back to my own clinic.
I was reminded of the importance of being treated in other community acupuncture clinics while receiving a treatment at WCA in Portland, OR a few weeks ago (which was truly blissful, I might add!), and while being treated in my own clinic among my own patients recently. Prior to opening my own clinic, I visited and was treated while on what I like to call the “2007-2008 CAN New England Tour” at the following clinics: Community Acupuncture on Cape Cod (Diana DiGioia); Providence Community Acupuncture (Cris Monteiro); Manchester Acupuncture Studio (Andy Wegman); Metrowest Whole Health (Della Lawhon); Acupuncture for Everyone (Anne Drogin); South County Community Acupuncture (Grayson Wood) and New England Community Acupuncture (Matt Prouty). Those were all of the New England clinics that existed at the time.
Today there are many more throughout New England, and I would love to get to most of those at some point (although I realize if I don’t hurry up, I’ll never catch up, since new ones keep popping up all the time!). The rewards of visiting a CAN clinic and receiving a treatment are numerous. When you visit a clinic, you see it through the eyes of a patient (except that you know more about acupuncture than they do, and therefore may have differing expectations) as well as from a clinic owner or worker standpoint. For example:
-When you walk into the reception area, you immediately get ideas about how you might decide to arrange (or not arrange) your front desk and waiting area and what you would have (or not have) available there: items for sale, a CAP map, literature, tea, etc. Is there an herbal pharmacy? Does the waiting area double as a space for intakes, or does that happen privately in an office or other space? What does the filing system look like? Some clinics I saw were really simple, others more elaborate. One thing in common was that each one had a warm and inviting feel as soon as I stepped in.
-When you enter the treatment space, what does it feel like and sound like? How big or small is it, how close are the chairs to one another, are there tables as well as chairs, etc? Is it bright or dark, what type of lighting is used, etc.? Is it quiet, is there music and if so, is it at an appropriate level for relaxing or sleeping? Can you hear others talking around you or not? Is there white noise? Does the acupuncturist speak quietly enough to keep others from hearing your discussion and you from hearing others’ discussions? How are supplies arranged? Is it warm enough – if you aren’t warm enough are you offered a blanket, heat lamp or scarves or towels to put over exposed areas of your body?
-During your treatment, what is the acupuncturist’s style like? We wildly vary here, with acupuncture being so much an art. I personally love to experience different treatments just to observe and feel different point combinations, needling techniques, needle types, etc. I’ve experienced and observed Tan style, Master Tung points, electro-acupuncture, cupping, bloodletting, presstacks and magnets. Do they needle very gently or use a lot of manipulation? Of course these are things we could experience in any clinic, but I think it’s neat to receive it in a community clinic and see how it is done especially when it needs to be done relatively quickly.
-How long did you have to wait to be treated and wait to have your needles removed at the end of your treatment? Did you have any control over the treatment length – were you woken up at a certain time due to constrictions or did you have as long as you’d like? Were you left alone in the treatment room waiting for the acupuncturist to return without any idea of when they’d return, and if this occurred, how long did you wait for? Were you given a call button if they weren’t around so you could let you know you were ready to go?
I can think of so many more details that I can’t even list them all, which is why it’s so great to visit so many individual clinics. My memories of visits to some of the clinics several years ago are a little foggy right now, but some particular details still stick out because I thought they were so clever or useful. My most recent visit to WCA was really helpful because it helped me to see where we had commonalities and where we had differences and how those differences may be keeping my clinic from reaching its potential. In my opinion there is certainly value in visiting clinics while you are already doing the work because it’s always good to make improvements and strive for ways to better your services. Every clinic left me feeling more inspired when I walked out the door – and I don’t think it was just because I’d been needled!