How Do I Find a Good Practitioner?
I’m often asked by people who are moving, or who live too far away from the Center for regular visits, “what should I look for in an acupuncturist?” My answer is usually along the lines of: you look for the same things that you would in a good mechanic, personal trainer, doctor and almost anything else. A good practitioner is communicative, responsible and effective. Sure, you have to make sure that they’re licensed, and hopefully they have some experience with the health conditions that you are dealing with, but that is the bare minimum.
It Is About the Relationship
I’ll always remember what our founder Dr. Ron Stram told me when I was a new practitioner many years ago. “People expect us to be good at our job. That’s just the baseline. It’s about the relationship.” And what makes a good relationship? Open and clear communication working in two directions, attentiveness to someone’s needs and the taking of steps to show that you are actively engaged in meeting those needs. A good practitioner is responsive, actively listens to you and makes clear effort to help you achieve your goals. Like any other relationship, it has to be a good match as well- find the provider that you “click” with.
Best of Both Worlds
Numerous times in my life I have heard people saying that if they had to make a choice, they would pick a doctor who was exceedingly skilled over one who was kind and pleasant to work with. Especially in the field of Integrative Health, where practitioners must understand and address the entire person- there is no such distinction. The care giver who is exceedingly skilled is the care giver that is attentive, comfortable to work with and reliable. To understand a client well, an acupuncturist has to be more than just technically skilled. They have to be actively interested in their client, who they are, what they are going through, and how, whether by well-placed needle, by herb or by compassionate gesture they can be supported and cared for.
Yes, But is it Covered by my Insurance?
Means, motive and opportunity. The great majority of healthcare providers want to give the attentive and compassionate care that we all try to embody. Clients want attentive and reliable care, and providers want to have the relationship and time spent with clients that help ensure the best and most appropriate care. So why so much discontent, and why so many stories of sloppy care because an health concern wasn’t given it’s due time and consideration?
We find ourselves in this position because you are no longer the consumer for your own healthcare! Your insurance company is the healthcare consumer. The consumer demands to the healthcare industry are less time and less care (i.e. less money paid out). Since no business survives without listening to its customers, healthcare providers must bend to the demands of their consumers- the insurance companies- in order to survive.
My practice exists outside of this system. There is no mediator between myself, and my client. The only demands, needs, wants and hopes I listen to are those of my client, and that allows me to be the responsive and active practitioner that I strive to be. I bring this up just to suggest the fact that maybe “is it covered by my insurance” isn’t the first question to ask when seeking out the right practitioner for you. Just food for thought.