Still Searching for Office Staff

I am curious which clinics out there presently have some form of office office staff, administrators, front desk volunteers or any sort of real live people helping the acupuncturists pull off this thing called CA?

If you don’t already have some sort of staff I highly suggest you consider it as one real easy way to make life at the clinc more enjoyable! There are just so many things we can do to support the efforts of the clinic but today I’ll just name a few:

We can make the all natural hand sanitizer (thanks Lumiel for the recipe) and keep it filled, we can get some artwork on the walls, we can answer the phone, return the calls, book the appointments, get some plants in here and water them. We can empty dehumidifiers, make tea for folks waiting in the hall, tell folks where the bathroom is, answer the tricky questions like ‘does it hurt?’, we can flyer the town with promotional material on our way to work (knowing that you must bring your own tape or push pins cause to recyle the gunk on the wall is gross and to consider stealing another’s push pin is very embarrassing) and then we can pick up the laundered blankets and get here on time to unlock the place, turn on the heat, unwrap some needles and be ready for the acupuncturist and the patients to arrive meanwhile answering the phone and booking patients. We can train volunteers, receive the delivery of needles and herbs form the UPS guy, sort them, put them away and keep booking people. We can have conversations with patients, welcome folks in with a smile and clarity of how things work here, send the new patient packets to those without email, we can answer the phone and book more people. We can have those ‘uncomfortable somewhat challenging conversations’ regarding the financial policy, boundaries, late cancels, and we can remain kind but clear. We can listen to the stories of the patients, laugh at good jokes, and when a new patient says ‘this isn’t working- i quit’ we can check their chart and say ‘Well, you’ve only come 3 times. Sometimes it takes much longer than that to see results.’ and then we can put a sticky note on their chart alerting the acupuncturist that this patient needs another brief conversation about expectations and the treatment plan. We can send thank you notes to all the people who have referred a patient to us, we can send birthday cards to regulars, and we can send a card to a patient whose partner just died and we can answer the phone and book more patients. We can type up receipts for taxes, insurance or records, we can attend to the trash, the toilet paper and the hand soap, we can establish a bulletin board culture at the clinic by posting interesting things, we can invite folks to share some of their offerings or needs on the board, we can introduce people to each other, get conversations going, create a welcoming atmosphere, and continue to answer the phone and book more people. We can become great advocates of CA and weave it into just about every conversation we have with people out the in big world, and when in the midst of dense and depressing political dialogues with leftist intellectuals who have soured a bit in a pesimistic stew, we can say ‘Hey, have you heard of Community Acupuncture- this very cool, affordable, accessible health care option that is happening just around the corner from here…’? We can expand the movement and give it some more depth and texture!

The list goes on and on, really. I work 12-14 hours per week here and my official title is so long and bizarre that I can’t remember what it is at the moment. I consider myself office staff. We also have one more office staff, Sandy, who works here and together we cover it- we back up, we support, we assist, we attend to, and take care of what we can.

P.S. If you do have an office staff person working with you, could you please send them to this website so we can get some other conversations going? Or if you are an office staff person would you please introduce youyrself? I am still searching for people who can and will speak the office staff story.

May all your clinics be full, healthy and happy,


office staff @ commuity acupuncture on cape cod

Author: deer

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  1. Deer, you are such a

    Deer, you are such a gem.  Fred & I are driving-up to PCA next weekend to get a handle on their volunteer program, and we will be adding helpers next month when he comes over to the clinic.  I’ll send all my prospective volunteers over to this blog to help them get an idea of what it is we’re looking for.  Thank you so much for your perspective…

    “Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” –Rumi

  2. absolutely essential

    Beautifully said, and it’s literally impossible to do what we’re doing without our team of front desk people. One part of what you wrote really hit me as one particularly invaluable role you play:

    We can have those ‘uncomfortable somewhat challenging conversations’
    regarding the financial policy, boundaries, late cancels, and we can
    remain kind but clear. We can listen to the stories of the patients,
    laugh at good jokes, and when a new patient says ‘this isn’t working- i
    quit’ we can check their chart and say ‘Well, you’ve only come 3 times.
    Sometimes it takes much longer than that to see results.’ and then we
    can put a sticky note on their chart alerting the acupuncturist that
    this patient needs another brief conversation about expectations and
    the treatment plan.


    Thanks, deer!

    Korben Perry

    Philadelphia Community Acupuncture

  3. thanks deer!

    …for this awesome post!  I love all the detailed examples you give – it’s no wonder that (despite having two one-day-a-week volunteers extraordinaires) I’m a little tired!  My volunteers actually have the energy and willingness to do more…sometimes it’s hard to ask for help/hand stuff over/give up a little (largely illusory) control, but it’s so essential, and I feel that.  I especially like what you say here:

    “We can expand the movement and give it some more depth and texture”

    Amen to that!  Thanks for the encouragement and great example and support.

  4. WOW Deer – thanks so much!

    It’s no wonder you are so loved and you love your work – you really do so much!  It really is a lot for any acupunk to to have to handle all these things on our own in addition to the treatments… you have so many ideas and I can’t thank you enough for all your thoughts and experiences.  I feel fortunate to have some great helpers at my clinic, but you do shed light on some issues that I haven’t had as much help with as I’d like to have, ideally… and you put it so nicely.  Thanks for being an awesome asset to our blog and community!

    Justine Deutsch, Lic. Ac., Acupuncture Together

  5. Another thank you, Deer…

    I have a spectacular helper who has volunteered tremendous amounts of time and talent, and coordinated other helpers as well, but I haven’t taken the time to really sit down with her and flesh out the possibilities. Your post was a wonderful wake-up call to all the other things we could be doing. I’m going to send her here to graze a little bit in your pasture!

  6. what a great post — what a great staff!

    deer, this is a beautiful telling of what you do in the front office, all of it so much more appreciated than I could ever say (or ever afford to reflect in your paycheck!)

    There is so much more, including helping me find the faith when this thing called CA is kicking my butt, making yummy foods for the open houses, calling the payroll company with everyone’s weekly hours, sussing out when a patient’s phone call needs to be returned by the acupuncturist because of some real or perceived odd reaction, helping me trust community and circles and including all voices in what we create, letting me know when something between us does not feel right, and generally bringing your whole heart and soul in to the clinic with you every day you’re there.

    Many, many thanks for all that you do to weave, bind and hold things together for our clinic.



  7. praise for the front desk folk

    PCA went from having 5 different volunteers last summer to having 2 paid desk folk who cover about 40 hrs per week.  I loved the volunteers but struggled with having to spend lots of energy communicating the same details to so many.  With just 2 people working the desk now we have been able to put more energy towards other marketing, business, patient care, etc. matters, and the desk folk get to really feel their own particular energy as part of the clinic.  I hope they know how much they are appreciated by the patients and the punks.

    I think of the front desk people as the backbone of the clinic.  They’re the structure around which the acupuncture flows, and they are the clinic’s Spleen qi keeping the patients flowing within the structures of the clinc… reminding people to shut their cell phones and remove shoes and socks. I love the unified separation of clinical and business energies.   

     Our front desk folk are psychic too– I stopped by the office on Friday to pick-up master copies of our intake form and before I could even ask Ellen to hand me the folder that lives in her desk, she did.  SHE READ MY MIND!  Karyl has reminded me to eat, when she can see I am becoming ungrounded.

    I am so thankful for our front desk people, and for all of our volunteers of the past.  THough we no longer have volunteers at the desk, they have all asked to be included in any big events, like our upcoming May Day Free Day, or our pending move….

    Our desk folk are also pivots that the punks revolve around since all of the punks work with one of the desk folk, but rarely do we work together.  Some patients  see more than one punk but only encounter one front desk person.  Our patients have relationships with the FDF as well as the punks.

     A couple of months ago our clinic experienced the shock and loss of the sudden death of our front desk person, Maryanne.  I was a gift to be able to share our grief with our community of patients as well as the reality check that the only moment we have is now.  

    I’ll be sure to ask our desk folk to stop by and say hi… thanks for bringing it around again deer.



  8. Volunteer feedback

    I am enjoying my volunteership at Sarana in Albany. There is so much love put into their clinic and I sense the support and work of all of you at CAN the way they are set up. The clients do not have to be perfect or happy. It is there for them to sink in those recliners and walk out in a good chill mood. I like that it is still a personal thing of addressing health problems and there is something shared by coming for services. Our health problems can potentially be a way of feeling isolated.

    I am an acupuncturist observing this type of setting for my potential clinic in the future. I have worked in typical offices for acupuncturists and my experience is an asset while I volunteer. Maybe this just suits me more, the down to earth connection I have in this type of clinic. That CAN has built a network of support should be something to notice where I did not have this when I graduated from school with hot license in hand. I blew a lot of money renting spaces in offices bleeding my finances. My joy in this practice kept me going and getting back on my feet volunteering, being a member of CAN, just you wait!

  9. Front desk staff in manchester, NH

    I cannot even imagine what our clinic would be like without all the wonderful front desk staff. We are very fortunate in having several, and up until recently, things have gone very smoothly. I believe all of us were patients and are still. This makes it quite valuable when we receive new patients who seem nervous and become anxious about the “unknown”. Same is true if they seem to want to give up because it’s not working for them. We fill their heads with our wonderful own stories. We are the living proof. I certainly believe that the more time the acupuncturist spends with patients, the better it becomes for the patient. That is what makes our clinic work so well. People have that personal feeling of being cared about. Word like that spreads fast.
    So the more we can do to save our acupuncturists time, the better off our clinic will be. We take on all the responsibilities that they allow us, which in turn make us feel more valuable.
    The one key to all this, so that the desk will run efficiently, is communication. and MAS has a monthly bulletin ( newsletter ) for all front desk staff to read over. This keeps us aware of all changes and procedures.
    Your best bet is to ask a few of your most grateful patients if they would want to man the desk for a few hours, and you’ll be surprised at how many are willing.