Walk-ins Welcome!

Just a short blog post about the nature of different clinics.

In my old BA practice I had a schedule that had 10 blanks for every day I worked.  At the beginning of the week I always panicked because less than half of those blanks were usually filled.  At the end of the week I usually filled over 75%.  I used a lot of the unbooked slots to do insurance paperwork and accounts receivables.  I was in an office with no windows, no walk-by or drive-by traffic and little signage.  Happy Happy Joy Joy!

In my new incarnation as Summerville Community Acupuncture, I have a  huge storefront window on Main Street where I placed what I call my “big ass” desk and counter.  When I have no patients I do origami and wave to the passers-by whether I know them or not.  I keep the water hot for tea and ask for donations for tea with a huge piggy bank painted by my mom.  I have advertised far and wide that “Walk-ins are always welcome”.

So, on many days I have a couple of patients listed on my schedule.  I get out my origami paper and start making lucky cranes, AKA peace cranes.  (Apparently you actually have to make 1000 for them to be considered lucky, so many of you can expect to get some in the mail.)

But back to my story.  I fold and wave, fold and drink tea and wave, and pretty soon, people start coming in.  Example, last Thursday I had 1 patient scheduled at 1pm and 8 came in during that hour.  Many days are like that.  My husband asks me every day before I go to work how the schedule looks, and I say, “I have two booked but you know what happens.”  And very often when he asks me at the end of the day how it went, I am able to say, “Two booked, but 13 showed.”

Even a lot of the “regular” patients seem to prefer walking in, and like having the option to do so.  So much so, that if I have patients with appointments, the walk-ins want to know “why those people cut in line”.  When I explain that they had reserved the time, there are always a few harrumphs, but they still don’t make appointments for the next time.

I guess what I’m saying here, after rambling all over, is that I am so happy with the “organic” way the clinic is growing.  I like not knowing what each day will bring, but knowing that it almost always expands. 

I am sure that at some point in the not-too-far future, appointments will be more the norm and walk-ins will be less numerous, but for now it’s nice to be surprised each day and I hope more of you will welcome walk-ins to your clinics.  I’m buying more chairs so there is always room for walk-ins.

Author: MMDobson

POCA Membership Coordinator and retired punk from Summerville Community Acupuncture, now living in St Petersburg, FL I have 4 Miniature Pinschers, a John Deere tractor, and a big family that lives throughout the South. Life is good.

Related Articles

Conference Keynote: Breaking the Ceiling

The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


  1. .

    nice blog mm. i bet as you get even busier, people will be more likely to schedule when they see that if they dont they have to wait longer sometimes…and with some subtle reminders:)  glad you take walk ins though. at TCA its part of what people love having the option of doing when they just happen to be in the neighborhood. AND it often wil turn a 15 peeps on the schedule at the begining of a shift, in to a pretty awesome(20+++) peeps day.


    i love origami too! its actually one of the best skills i learned in acupuncture school. sitting in the back of a total filler class and teaching myself how to do something useful. cranes, t-shirts, flowers, and my favorite, dollar bill bow ties!


  2. Love this blog and I also

    Love this blog and I also love Chaitime’s spin off

    “Best things I learned in Acupuncture school”

    I did not learn oragami but I can make a marcobiotic vegan “jello” mold and I learned to read the I-Ching.

    Anyone else?