Your Professional Team


Many successful business people admit they aren’t skilled in all areas of business – no one can be. But they focus on doing what they do well, and surround themselves with experts in the other areas. The same principle applies to healing arts practice. If you’re like me, you didn’t come into this field with a strong business background. I was a full-time musician. While it’s important to develop good practice management skills, and be well-versed in the many aspects of your business, you can’t master everything. “Many hands make light work.” It’s essential to gather around yourself those who can advise you in key areas. They will make up for your gaps, and provide the business and clinical support that a well-rounded practitioner relies on. They can be broken down into two teams:

Your Professional Team:
for consultation and referral.
This team can be divided into two groups – those that are essential and those that are helpful but not necessary:

Essential:
Mentor: All practitioners need a connection with someone more experienced than they are in their field. No one ever outgrows the need for a mentor. You consult with this person on tough cases, and refer to them patients who are beyond your level of skill.

Psychologist or Psychotherapist: All chronic health conditions have a mental/emotional component. While all healing arts practitioners should learn basic counseling skills, it is not our job to be a client’s psychotherapist. For patients whose mental/emotional difficulties are beyond what our empathic listening and support can encompass, we have an ethical responsibility to refer them to a good counselor. I don’t recommend referral to a psychiatrist (MD); they tend to rely more on pharmaceutical intervention than on counseling. And a trained psychologist (PhD) or psychotherapist (MSW/CSW) can accurately assess the need for drug therapy.

Medical Doctor:
Mrs. Compatello came in asking if I could help her with her hypertension. I replied that I would likely be able to help, and took her blood pressure. It was 210/150. She asked again, “Can you help me?” I told that that I’d be glad to help her, once she returned from the hospital. I asked her son, who was with her, to take her to the ER, explaining what would likely happen. She called the next day; her blood pressure was now managed with a new drug. She made a follow-up appointment, and we began to address the underlying energic imbalance. As a complementary/alternative healthcare professional, when you see a condition that requires medical attention, you need to refer the patient to a good physician. Finding a general/family practice doctor is a good place to start. Specialists can come later. Look for someone that you would go to, who also supports OBT and complementary therapies in general. Patients frequently ask me for the name of an MD who will support, not ridicule, their decision to work with me.

Helpful
These are modalities that complement OBT treatment. Acupuncturist, Nutritionist, Herbalist, Chiropractor

Take your time and choose your professional team carefully. To a patient, how good these clinicians are will reflect on you as much as on them. Also, referring a patient to a practitioner often results in referrals back to you. Developing a team of practitioners in other fields is in keeping with the principles of wholism. It allows you to draw on the vast combined knowledge of many other health professionals, and develops an often-lacking sense of community among individual clinicians.


This article appeared in the Meridian Times magazine of the Acupuncture Society of New York.

Copyright © 2002 Michael C. Gaeta. All rights reserved.

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