TCM: Numbers

A common thing that fellow acupuncturists talk about when they get together is numbers - or rather, how many patients are seen in a week.

Comparison to others is a common mental affliction, and in the field of holistic healing it is no different. We have all heard that we should instead compare ourselves to who we were yesterday, or last month, or a year ago - but it’s hard.

It took me one-and-a-half years to see decent numbers. It took me eight years to really excel. However, I have asked myself time and time again what it really means to do really well. Clinic numbers fluctuate constantly. Patients get sick, stuck at work, and all of our practices take a hit when inclement weather (or summertime) strikes. Riding the rollercoaster of the clinic is not a fun ride.

Attitudes and perceptions morph and change over time, often due to wisdom. These days I find myself ignoring numbers and concentrating on how successful I am with treating patient conditions. These days I find myself ignoring dollar values and concentrating on the feedback I get in clinic and online.

If patients get better, and students pass examinations, the bills will be paid in my heart.

Paying the bills in your heart is a great feeling. It takes the focus off of numbers. However, very practically, being behind on the phone, electrical or mortgage bills is not a great feeling. No matter how one’s heart feels, other bills can start to eat away at the head.

There may be times in all our careers, whether the beginning, middle, or even near the end, when we must use our Chinese medicine skills to zoom out and see the bigger picture. This bigger picture includes both the head and the heart.

The ego might take a hit if some of us were to get a part-time job (or a full-time job) during transitions or economic downturns. Those of us that do, however, might survive to treat another day.

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Being tough isn’t always about being stubborn and staying the path. Wu Wei teaches us to flow with the go. Keep our ears to the ground. Follow opportunities that, although they might cause us to branch off, propel us ultimately forward with ease.

If you are seeing the number of patients you need to pay ALL your bills, you are winning.

If you are seeing some of your required patient load and working a part-time gig to support your full-time gig, you are winning.

If you have a couple of patients per week you can put all your time and energy into and you’re working a full-time gig, you are winning.

“Hey, Kenton! How many patients do you see a week?”

Enough that you can call me an Acupuncturist.

Pleased to meet you, fellow Acupuncturist.

Kenton Sefcik