How Are Acupuncturists Like Writers?

How are acupuncturists like writers?  They’re both artists.  Writers create worlds with their words and acupuncturists create health with their needles.  Both tend to love doing their art. Both tend to struggle to make ends meet.  There are always those out there who manage a business that feeds them, but in both professions, there are more who struggle to make ends meet.  I have always written so I follow some blogs on professional writing.  I’m intrigued by Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s work on the Business Rusch.  She’s writing for writers and there are a few common things writers tend to do that acupuncturists also tend to do.

Writers want to think that all they have to do to be a professional writer is write.  They want to leave publishing, marketing and getting paid to someone else.  Writers have the advantage here because there are systems in place that let them do this (although there are downsides to this, so don’t be too jealous).  Acupuncturists want to think they are professional if all they do is treat patients and do it well.  In both cases, they need to understand the business side of their art.

Kris has a great list for what writer’s don’t do, which I’m quoting here,

  • Writers strive for survival, not wealth
  • Writers don’t have financial goals
  • Writers don’t know their worth
  • Writers don’t get rich because they don’t envision themselves rich
  • Writers refuse to learn when and where they have power
  • Writers lack a sense of entitlement
Now substitute acupuncturist for writer.
While entitlement and the idea of Playing to Win (which is part of the conversation in the full article) may make people uncomfortable, note that Kris isn’t saying you must have a winner take all mentality.  You do, however, have to consider that you want to do your best work in all aspects of your business.  I can see a lot of practitioners saying they don’t care about getting rich.  You don’t have to get rich,  but care about taking care of yourself and asking for enough. Enough might be more than you think it is.
In order to be professional, you need to figure out the answers to a lot of those questions. It’s not bad to take care of yourself first.  How else do you have a way to care for others? How much better is your healing when you know that your rent is paid and you have enough for food?
The business side of the practice is not the most glamorous but it is the part that puts food on the table and keeps the roof over your head so you can keep doing what you love, which is healing people.  You have to be willing to know how to do both.  There are tons of great coaches out there to help.  There are books on the topic. Lisa Hanfileti even has the Acupuncture Business Academy. Learn what you need to learn. It’s important.  If you can’t learn it for yourself, learn it for the patient who will need you ten years from now. If you don’t, you may not be practicing in ten years.


Review of the Practitioner’s Journey

When I was thinking about burn out and acupuncturists, I started asking around about what different people thought.   I was referred to Dan Clements who wrote The Practitioner’s Journey: The Path to Success for Alternative, Holistic and Integrative Health Professionals  I’m familiar with Dan’s work having read his blog for quite some time.     I knew he and Tara Gignac had written a book but I hadn’t yet read it.   I really wanted the burn out post to get published while it was fresh in my mind and I was still thinking about the things other people had said.

Asking for a quote quickly, Dan sent me a copy of the e-book at no charge, so I read through the entire book.   I’m not a big ebook fan (unless I can download it to my Kindle–my computer desk and chair just aren’t that comfortable!) but this was worth the read and I can’t argue with the price.  I will argue with Dan about making sure the next book that he’s working on gets into Kindle format though.

I think any practitioner who needs a bit of insight into the business side of their practice needs to read this book.  It’s reader friendly and Dan and Tara clearly speak the language of alternative care practitioners.   The journey described is literally a journey and Dan uses the journey metaphor as you move through the book to describe various phases of being a practitioner and business person.   It’s very helpful for any practitioner who has struggled with success and what might need to happen next in their practice.    The information is practical and informative as well as easily readable.

Most practitioners can get useful information out of this book. If there aren’t any current problems in the practice, then it’s a good reference to have the next time you find yourself worrying because there are more holes in the schedule than you’d like. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did. Also, consider heading over to The Practitioner’s Journey blog and subscribing. It’s not updated as often as I’d like but the information there is very useful.