Growing Your Practice Holistically
Table of Contents
How to Start Developing A Clientele
Quick Facts about the TCM Industry
Getting Started as a Practitioner: An Interview with
Helping Practitioners to Reach the Poor
Dear Practitioners and Students...
Welcome to the first issue of The Practitioner
Monthly. This is a free monthly magazine for new
practitioners and graduating students who want to
learn how to reach clients, become better at
treating existing clients, and reconnect with
We will write about what successful practitioners
have done to make their clinic run well so that you
gain insight into what exactly it is about Chinese
Medicine that attracts people to seek it out, and
most importantly, learn how to harness your
existing Chinese Medicine skills to run your clinic
like a business without being a business.
I am not suggesting that health practitioners
should become business people. In fact I believe
that Chinese Medicine practitioners should have
the opportunity to devote as much time as possible
practicing and to helping people to improve their
After all, most people spend four years studying
Chinese Medicine because they want to be
practitioners, not businesspeople.
When I was in my final year of Chinese Medicine
studies in Sydney, I had a part time job at a well
known Chinese Medicine bookstore. One of our
regular customers came in to the store one day and
asked me if I was studying Chinese Medicine. When
I replied “Yes I’m in my final year of studying”, he
told me something which continues to serve as a
huge inspiration for me to develop this magazine.
He told me that Chinese Medicine had been his
dream for a long time, but that it is so hard to run a
clinic and sometimes it’s not worth it.
That someone might give up on their dream was
the trigger point for me.
Ever since then I have been thinking about how I
can help Chinese Medicine practitioners to keep on
going and realize their dreams.
I studied Chinese Medicine and International
Studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. I
then spent a year studying Chinese language at
Shanghai University in between traveling around
In my final year I decided I did not want to practice
Chinese Medicine because I thought I didn't know
enough about business - how to set up, where to set
up, how to get customers, etc. I decided that I
needed to learn about business, but I didn't want to
go back to uni or pay for an expensive and short
course upfront, so I moved to China and started
learning about business on the job. I have been very
lucky to have found mentors who have been
generous enough to share their experience and
kind enough to share their knowledge with me. I
started in hospitality and events management -
seemingly a world away from Chinese Medicine -
and learnt how to understand what clients really
want, what is viable for the operations team, and
how to balance the two.
Things came full circle for me when I found work in
the wellness industry, developing wellness
solutions based on Chinese Medicine philosophies.
The truth is I was scared that my skills as a
practitioner were not good enough and that instead
of helping people, I would make mistakes and hurt
people. I was scared of setting up and running my
own clinic. I was scared that I did not learn enough
about business, issues at uni. I figured I had already
spent four years studying Chinese Medicine, so I
decided I would learn business.
Harnessing Chinese Medicine skills
I have had to learn very quickly about marketing
on the job. I came to the realization that as Chinese
Medicine practitioners you do already have a
wealth of market research at your fingertips (client
files contain almost everything you ever need to
know about your clients as customers). In addition,
as Chinese Medicine practitioners you have spent
at least four years at uni learning and practicing
diagnostic skills - observing, listening and smelling,
asking and palpating. Most market researchers
probably cannot use palpation, but this diagnostic
process can be adapted for market research so with
some basic understanding of marketing, Chinese
Medicine practitioners would actually be some of
the best 'market researchers'. Not only Chinese
Medicine practitioners would actually be some of
the best 'market researchers'. Not only that, you
have a better chance to gain more useful and
accurate information due to your special skills in
developing practitioner-client rapport. I want to
share with you how you can help people better by
harnessing your existing Chinese Medicine skills
and knowledge to develop strategies for reaching
and connecting with more clients.
What it means for you
Many new practitioners are concerned about how
to start developing a clientele. Some new
practitioners have trouble coming up with the right
pricing system, marketing tools, advertising
material and promotional campaigns. The
Practitioner Monthly will help you to assess how
your clinic is running and identify areas for
improvement, so that you can take steps to
improve. For example if you have a small but loyal
clientele and you want to see more clients, identify
strategies you can use to encourage your current
clients to refer your clinic to others. The best case
outcome is that they rave about you to everyone
they know. The worst case outcome is that they
rant about you to everyone they know. Identify
everything you can do to make the first scenario
happen, and everything you can do to avoid the
second scenario from happening. It's about
establishing a balance between achieving the best
outcome and avoiding the worst outcome.
Chinese Medicine is all about improving health and
preventing disease by establishing a balance
between yin and yang. These energies exist in a
Chinese Medicine practitioner and Chinese
Medicine clinic just like everything else. This
magazine will hopefully give some tips on how to
reach this balance so that you can be successful at
doing what you love.
-- Weijin Vun
How to Start Developing a Clientele
How to Start Developing a Clientele
Many new practitioners trouble developing a
clientele. Some have trouble figuring out the right
pricing model, marketing materials, advertising
and promotional strategies. Most of the challenges
that new practitioners are facing in their early
months of practice can be overcome by applying
three simple principles:
1. Understanding the patient's needs and values
as a customer
2. Understanding the areas of strength and areas
for improvement of yourself as a practitioner
3. Understanding the areas of strength and areas
for improvement of other practitioners
If you can learn how to apply these principles -
especially the first one - you will find success
wherever your clinic may be, because you know
who is going to your clinic and why.
The 'why' is crucial and is the most difficult to
understand. But it is not impossible. Remember:
patient files contain almost everything you ever
need to know about your patients as customers.
We'll start with the first principle. Understanding
the patient's needs and values means that you can
reach more people and help more people.
There are three ways that this helps to grow your
1. Word of mouth referrals are generated by
helping your current patients better.
Prioritize this in your first six months of
practice - every aspect of the patient's
experience with you and in your clinic should
help to generate loyalty.
2. Reconnecting with dormant patients.
Prioritize this after about 12 months of
practice when your clientele base is more
3. Reach more patients by connecting with new
people. Prioritize this in your first year of
In this first issue we'll cover the first way of
growing your clientele. The other two ways will be
covered in the next two issues.
Helping existing patients better
Everyone who is currently visiting your clinic is an
active patient. Active patients are satisfied with
you and your clinic - they would not keep coming
back if they did not see the value in your service.
Over time and with some conscious effort on the
practitioner's part, satisfaction grows into loyalty.
Loyal patients will become one of your most
important sources of referrals. Word of mouth
referral is one of the most powerful marketing tools
once you have established a small but loyal
Practitioner-patient rapport leads to
Since you are in the profession of caring for people,
you are at an advantage when it comes to
generating loyalty - in order for patients to get the
most improvement to their health, everything that
you do as a Chinese Medicine practitioner should
show the patient that you care about them. Smart
businesses generate loyalty by showing their
customers that they care about them. So
everything that you do to generate loyalty will also
as a Chinese Medicine practitioner, and may
enhance the outcome of your treatment. For
Chinese Medicine practitioners, developing
practitioner-patient rapport and generating patient
loyalty go hand in hand.
Patient files are market research
The reason why your patient files contain almost
everything you ever need to know about your
patients as customers is that the Chinese Medicine
diagnostic process is comprehensive and holistic.
In your initial consultation with patients you spend
half an hour to one hour, talking and listening to
your patient, asking questions and learning about
their eating habits, state of stress, sleeping
patterns, and other behaviors and attitudes that
affect their health. All of this information is
necessary for differential pattern diagnosis and to
formulate a treatment plan that will help them to
resolve their presenting problem. gaining an
insight into patients' needs and values.
A Guide to turning patient files into
1. Once a week, set aside two hours to go
through your patient files, and read over the
notes that you took during the consultation.
Highlight any information about what is
important to them, things that they value,
and things that make them react emotionally.
2. Compile the highlighted information into a
list of needs and values of individual
3. Compare the lists and find the ones that are
common to the majority of your patients.
Matching needs and values with your
Keep in mind that needs and values of people are
not things like "the patient has chronic shoulder
pain that needs relieving, therefore values pain
Human needs and values are things like "I need to
relieve my shoulder pain because I work at a desk
job, which I need in order to earn money to pay for
my children's education, which I want them to have
the best of, because it will help them to make a
living for themselves in the future" - someone who
says this probably values self sufficiency, not pain
However, having studied Chinese Medicine, we
know that in order to have the best result this
person does need to have acupuncture, probably
with strong stimulation and cupping since it is
chronic. But in the context of generating loyalty, it
is important to remember that it is their shoulder
that needs acupuncture, not the 'person'.
The person who values self sufficiency probably
prefers to spend more time talking to you to learn
about how they can use Chinese Medicine
principles to improve their life, and have a shorter
or more gentle treatment. We know that in this
scenario, a gentle treatment might mean more
treatments are necessary to heal the shoulder, but
the person might not mind if this means that they
have more opportunities to ask you questions and
learn about how to become more self sufficient.
Once you identify this need, you can increase the
value of your services to this person by offering
them patient education - perhaps you could compile
fact sheets, or organize patient seminars, or simply
spend more of the appointment time talking about
the Chinese Medicine approach to a healthy life.
In contrast, a person who values results might
prefer to have 45 minutes of strong acupuncture
with lots of needle stimulation and spend only 15
minutes talking to you. You can increase the value
of your services to this person by offering them
electro-acupuncture, moxa, cupping, guasha, or a
Most people do not spell out their needs and values,
so you need to read between the lines and collect all
the clues to piece it all together. A really simple
method that you can use when you are in a
consultation with a patient is to make a note of
anything that s/he mentions more than once. Often
when people rephrase the same message multiple
times, it means that the same thought has been
g e n e r a t e d m u l t i p l e t i m e s , s o i t i s
probablysomething that is important to them,
either consciously or subconsciously.
As Chinese Medicine practitioners, you know that
acupuncture, herbal medicine and tuina are going
to help people's problems in a holistic way. But
people who seek out Chinese Medicine, do not seek
it out because they value having needles inserted
into them and then electrified or heated up. Or
because they have a need for drinking herbal
decoctions that take a long time to boil and smell
and taste unusual.
Somebody who values convenience will probably
prefer herbs in granulated or pill form. Somebody
who values quick results might prefer decocting
raw herbs. So you need to make sure that you are
'speaking the same language' as your patients so
that they know that you understand their true
needs and values, which lets them know that you
care about them. Which leads to loyalty. Which
leads to word of mouth referrals. Which leads you
to helping more people better".
Quick Facts About the TCM Industry
Quick Facts About the TCM Industry
How many clients do you see a year as
a n av e r a g e C h i n e s e M e d i c i n e
Australians spend more than $4 billion on
complementary and alternative health services
including Chinese Medicine every year.
75% of Australians would have sought or will
seek complementary and alternative health
services in their lifetime
The Guangdong Provincial Hospital of
Traditional Chinese Medicine in China sees
almost 6 million patients a year.
Chinese Medicine Practitioners in the USA see
than 1 million clients each year. The Chinese
Medicine industry is worth over $45 billion.
How much do you earn as a Chinese
Practitioners in the UK can expect to earn
£12,000 per year as an entry level salary.
With greater experience salaries will often be
paid at considerably higher levels.
Practitioners in the USA can expect to earn $US
30,000 - 45,000 per year.
H o w m a n y C h i n e s e M e d i c i n e
Practitioners do you know?
➡ in Australia there are more than 2,000
➡ 929 are listed on Natural Therapy
Pages as of April 2012.
➡ more than 334,000 in China
➡ more than 10,000 in the USA
➡ more than 700 in the UK
➡ more than 1,000 in Europe
*All dollar amounts are Australian dollars unless otherwise specified.
How Chinese Medicine Practitioners
s t a c k s u p a g a i n s t o t h e r
complementary and alternative
therapists in Australia
➡ 42% of Practitioners are women, compared to
79% of naturopaths.
➡ 74% of Practitioners are born overseas,
compared to 35% of naturopaths.
➡ 72% of Chinese Medicine Practitioners hold a
bachelor or equivalent qualification in any field
of study, compared to 43% of naturopaths.
➡ 85% of Chinese Medicine Practitioners are
business owners, slightly more than average for
all complementary and alternative therapists.
While part time work is common amongst
complementary and alternative therapists,
Chinese Medicine Practitioners are the least
likely to work part time (40%), compared to
75% of homeopaths.
Where do you work as a Chinese
Australia's first hospital that integrates
Western and Chinese Medicine is due to open in
North Sydney later this year. This $75 million
venture is supported by the NSW government,
Chinese government and University of Western
A Chinese Medicine hospital near Munich,
Germany was established in March 1991 by the
Beijing University of TCM and German
entrepreneur Mr. Anton Staudinger.
Quick Facts About the TCM Industry
Getting Started as a Practitioner
An Interview with Cherie Lawrence
Cherie Lawrence is in her third
year of practicing Traditional
Chinese Medicine. She runs a
private General Health practice
in Glebe and also contracts out
to specialist Women’s Health
clinics. In her spare time she is
busy working on her Chinese
Medicine not for profit projects to reduce maternal
and child morbidity in humanitarian emergencies of
Her website is at: www.cherieacupuncture.com
WEIJIN: Hi Cherie! How did you decide to become
a Chinese Medicine practitioner?
CHERIE: Through martial arts. I practiced a very
external style, and the internal benefits I could feel
and see in myself and others but I didn't
understand it. It was baffling to understand how
100% physical training, not only contributed to
physical strengthening and endurance, but also
had such a profound effect on people’s mental
health stamina, focus, concentration and most
importantly how character building it was. I was
lucky enough to see transformations from timid
shy and bullied children to confident courteous,
respectful, strong young adults. And so I thought to
myself, if this is what Martial Arts can do, work on
a physical, mental, and emotional level imagine
what a holistic medicine can do for others.
WEIJIN: Where are you practicing now and how
did you choose the location?
CHERIE: Glebe. I love the area. Its beautiful feng
shui resonates with the type of clients I want to
attract - those that care about the environment and
are interested in health and balance. I lived in the
area through uni and worked in the area too, I also
did external TCM practice hours with an
experienced mentor so I already knew a lot of
people there to build up my clientele. My
suggestion to new graduates is while you’re
studying definitely do external TCM practice hours,
find a clinic you’d like to work in and start building
up your reputation so you have clinic experience
and a client base already established when you
graduated. Another method is, once you’ve finished
your Tuina hours get insurance and start
massaging, so by the time you graduate you
already have a solid client base you can introduce
WEIJIN: What was the easiest part of starting
CHERIE: I did the NEIS course. So doing a business
c o u r s e w i t h u n l i m i t e d m e n t o r s h i p f r o m
experienced businessmen was invaluable. They
also paid for the first year of clinic rent so I highly
recommend it to all. Please look up New Enterprise
Incentive Scheme on the internet, there's one in
WEIJIN: What's the one piece of advice you wish
someone had given you when you first started
CHERIE: Don't be stubborn like me and want to do
everything yourself, let go of your ego! It's much,
much easier to go and practice in a multimodality
clinic or with an experienced practitioner that
gives you clients and cross refer rather than hiring
an empty room and starting everything yourself.
Take a pay cut, pay the commission in the first two
years of practice, then when your reputation has
built up, move on to your own clinic.
WEIJIN: What can a new Chinese Medicine
practitioner expect to earn in revenue in their 1st
year of practice?
CHERIE: It really depends on your area and what
business structure. Generally speaking if you open
up your own clinic expect to breakeven in 6
months. If you practice in an area where there
aren't many competitors you can turnover 100k
easy. If you take an entry level year graduate
position about $50K.
WEIJIN: What about in the 2nd and 3rd years?
CHERIE: Depends on how much you can handle
without burning out. Some practitioners
see 1 client an hour which equals $2500/week
gross. Others see 3-4 an hour so there is potential
to make lots of money. However it is quite variable,
some days you might have 10 clients a day, the
next day only 2, the next day 17. It begins to
stabilize in your 3 rd year.
WEIJIN: What's been the most successful method
you've found of recruiting patients?
CHERIE: Initially as nobody knows you it's
through a website, natural therapies pages,
After the first year its all word of mouth. People
come to you because their daughter, or brother, or
work colleague got good results from the
WEIJIN: How many patients do you need to see in
order to cover the costs of running your clinic?
CHERIE: Around 2-3 patients a day.
WEIJIN: How long has it taken you to get to a
place where you were starting to feel happy with
how your clinic is running?
CHERIE: I've practice in about 5 clinics and seen
lots of different styles of management and Chinese
Medicine schools of thought. Ultimately you have to
choose one that your personality suits. So in the
first couple of years try lots of different styles of
clinics because then and only then when you've
worked in it you'll know what you love and what
WEIJIN: What advice can you give new
practitioners about striking the balance practicing
Chinese Medicine and the business needs?
CHERIE: Chinese Medicine is a life long journey
the first couple of years you are just finding your
feet so it's hard. After the first two years it's really
flexible, you have the confidence to practice
wherever and whenever you want. So be an
example to your clients, live the TCM way of life,
eat healthy, exercise regularly, and stop to
rejuvenate and if you find yourself with a boss who
overworks you tell them its not the Chinese
Medicine way of life, so stick it up your yin yang
and move on!
WEIJIN: Can students or new graduates get in
touch with you for an internship or mentoring?
CHERIE:: Yes, no problem at all. I would
recommend students go with more experience
practitioners with 30, 40, or even 50 years
experience, but I will be happy to help new
graduates as much as I can.
Contact Cherie at her website cherieacupuncture.com
Helping Practitioners Reach the Poor
Helping Practitioners Reach the Poor
The Practitioner Monthly is partnering with
Traditional Healthcare to help Chinese Medicine
reach people in disadvantaged communities.
Traditional Healthcare was established in 2008 by
two Chinese medical practitioners, Tom Connor and
Natasja Sproat from Melbourne, and is a not-forprofit
organization that aims to establish
sustainable integrated health care clinics in
Traditional Healthcare's first sustainable health
clinic, in Datom, India, is in the final stages of
completion, thanks to the help of volunteers from
Australia and local residents. The project helps to
improve the lives ofmany, as people not only from
Datom but also from nearby villages come to
receive medical care.
Their remarkable voluntary work has been
providing holistic healthcare to people who would
otherwise have no access to care due to isolation,
poverty, and desolation. Traditional Healthcare
participated in the United Nations' health summit
in 2009 alongside its partner organization, One
Health Organization, as the only two NGOs that use
holistic therapies in aid work as part of meeting the
Millennium Health Development Goals.
Traditional Healthcare's principles are based on
the Chinese Medical five elemental cycle:
1) Integrated healthcare
2) Renewable energy
4) Sustainable architecture
5) Water management
The principals are held together with two way
learning and right livelihood as these help build a
solid and fair relationship between locals and
volunteers. The key to the whole system is
education. Without sharing and building of
knowledge, there is no ability for an individual - let
alone a community - to become self sufficient.
Each principle is dependent on the others to
function. The balance helps rural communities
become independent and educating the people to
use natural resources as a way of sustaining
themselves. The combination of these principles
creates health clinics that enables individuals in
the communities to run independently, using local
resources. Using a permaculture plan to create a
sustainable garden means that, in time, products
used in the clinic will derive from the immediate
area, reducing carbon footprints. This cuts costs,
waste, and keeps the clinic in tune with the local
Community education and practitioner training is
the core focus for TH as this ensures the future
success and sustainability of the project.
If you like what Traditional Healthcare does and
would like to fundraise for us or fundraise for your
airplane ticket over to the clinics in Jharkhand we
are happy to help you with this. Traditional
Healthcare's projects are completely funded by
events and donations, grants, and sponsorships.
All money raised goes towards the projects. If you
would like to make a donation visit our website
TH is looking for people to volunteer at the center
in Jharkhand who are professionals or students of:
healthcare providers, laborers, teachers, farmers,
renewable energy technicians, water management
specialist, vets, electricians, and stone masons.
There are many more practices and skills needed in
the village, if you think yours would be valuable,
please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Issue: 18th May 2012
➡ Reconnecting with Dormant Patients
➡ Client perspective - my first experience with
➡ Interview with a yet undisclosed practitioner
➡ A bridge between practitioners and the billion people
Feel free to contact us at :
Or visit our website:
We’re always happy about feedback,
Or just drop us a line and say “hi”!
Meet Our Team
Weijin studied Traditional
Chinese Medicine at UTS in
Australia, and now works in the
wellness industry in China.
Her mission is to empower TCM
practitioners to make a living
as practitioners without having
to rely on other jobs.
Daniel Paul Ternes
D a n i e l i s a G e r m a n
entrepreneur, designer, &
He met Weijin in early 2012
during his trip to Beijing and
immediately got interested in
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