Matters That Concern Us Deeply

The state of our industry concerns me at times. And I am forever interested to see if that’s the case with my colleagues as well. And it is! Presently, topics floating around our industry that come in the discussions vary depending on where the practitioners are at in their journey. How long have they been practicing?  How many patients do they see in a week? Where do they practice and to some extend – how they practice.

A common goal for us is to help our patients as best as we can. And a lot of us feel the pressure of sometimes being the last resort and hence the pressure and responsibility that comes with that. If we fail, then our industry fails? And there it is – the deep-rooted fear of hurting a patient, making someone sicker, putting them into hospital or worse. It keeps us awake at night.

A topic that is very high on the list – and perhaps closely related to the the above – is low in confidence. This is particular apparent with practitioners starting out or practicing in isolation. I hear that in multi-modality practices, Chinese medicine (acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines) constantly has to be ‘sold’ as a legitimate therapy.

There is uncertainty, certainly in my world on how to marry the expectations of evidence based versus tradition. Having lost real connection to tradition leaves us without a solid ground to base our intrinsic knowledge on. The pressure of having to fit into a system and bring forth scientific papers to proof our points is not only tiring but also misses the point of our medicine.

Every day, we use ‘our language’ with patients that almost always need a translation. How can we explain our medicine better to our patients? Make them understand that the body doesn’t work in parts but as a whole? How an herbal formula is designed to work on the whole mechanism rather than on a symptom. And often enough, we do get lost in translation.

Other areas that causes concerns are fragmentation. The word fragmentation not only means the breakdown but also the collapse of norm of thoughts, behaviour or relationships. If our small community of about 5,000 practitioners is going to fragment, what’s left? The call for unification has not been a recent one but a very urgent one.

Connection is essential not only with colleagues (particularly the ones we know and like), but also with other members around us that might be less popular or famous but work close by or are struggling. Making friends with suppliers, the regulatory authorities, students or teachers is as important. Why? Because we all have common interest: making a living from our profession and helping people to feel or become better.

It’s important that every single member of our community works against disintegration and tries – however how hard it might be – to connect and collaborate. If we are not going to take steps towards it – however uncomfortable it may feel, union is not going to happen. Because collaboration between practitioners is not in the hands of the professional associations, AHPRA, the educational institutions, insurance companies, seminar convenors suppliers or anyone else it’s up to us.

Professionalism is the competence or skill expected of a professional. As a trained practitioner, we are a professional (Chinese medicine practitioner). And, a professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified professional activity. At the same time, we are therapists.  There is nothing wrong with being and acting as a professional therapist.

What can we improve from our end to become attuned professionals. Other than running a tight schedule, be organised in our clinics, use professional manners with every single interaction that we have with both current and prospective patients. How do we dress? How do we style? How do we present?

Are our actions conducive to a profession such as ours? Rather than complaining to each other, would it be better to identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, plan the action and implement our findings? Why are we expecting the changes for us from others even though we know, that change must come from within.

Could our own conducts have something to do with our profession being below capacity?

Frustration is not inspiration, in fact, it causes the opposite to expansion. We have high expectations of ourselves as practitioners and many hurdles to overcome with patients. The financial side of treatments, no support from the Government. We speak a language that is different to mainstream medicine and unusual to patients. To continue in our profession requires energy, focus and willingness to continue despite the feeling of occasional unhappiness or lack of flow.

This is the point that we are at and to change the whole, we need to change individual fragments. We can no longer expect to survive after our undergraduate degrees, in fact, it’s rather difficult. But as humans, we grow so much with our training. Now it’s the time to apply everything that we learnt, it’s the time to connect and remain allied with the industry. There is no time to waste on winching and bitching about each other or our profession.

Change must come from within. Everything that you want to happen for yourself needs to come from you towards others as well. This is the way to build – step by step – trust and confidence, camaraderie and fellowship. Have no expectations of others to do it for you but be prepared to make the first steps yourself towards a better future.

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