Getting patients can be a headache or it can be painless. I have experienced both situations. When I first started clinic, I remember sitting in the intern room thinking, “How am I ever going to get 300 patients?” Now looking back, I have realized what caused the headaches and what made it painless. As professionals, I believe we need to learn and help each other with these things. Building a successful practice is a challenge that we are all going to face at one time or another. So building up a patient base as interns is our training ground for building a successful practice outside of AAAOM.
Instead of completely depending on my own experiences, I thought it would be best to ask others how they got their patients. Some said they solely depended on the front desk to place patients with them, while others seemed to have connections through work outside of AAAOM. And yet others are still not sure just how to get patients. I also asked potential new patients what would entice them into coming to see an intern. When I mentioned that we were using coupons as an incentive for a first visit, they thought a coupon was a good idea but needed more information on what acupuncture could do for them. Another suggestion was to give educational demonstrations in the community. These are all good ideas, and here are a few of my own:
- Keep a positive attitude and be passionate about what we do.
- Make a list of all the people you know and contact them, letting them know what you are doing and be able to explain what it is. Ask for referrals, or if they themselves want to come in.
- Figure out what your strengths are and figure out how to target that population.
- For a sort of business card, take the Faculty/Student clinic business card and place an Avery return address sticker on the back with your name and email address. If you feel comfortable you can also put your phone number on it.
- Be ready to talk about TCM with anyone and everyone you meet. Know what we can successfully treat. Find out what each individual’s needs are (or what his/her friends’ needs are) and find a way to connect with them.
- Be prepared if you don’t have a coupon on you, take down the potential patient’s number and get a coupon to him/her.
These are just a few ideas, but remember to trust yourself and the gift you’ve been given.