Wow, it's only three weeks into the trimester, but I've been to
a weekend seminar each week! This weekend I went to an advanced
insurance seminar given by the American Acupuncture Council (ACC).
When I signed up to be an acupuncturist, I guess I didn't think
about all the work that goes on behind the scenes to actually make
a successful practice. As I have said in past blogs, my husband and
I are planning to open our own practice and as you can see we are
trying to gather as much information as we can so we can be as
successful as some of our counterparts.
I have to give props to National and Dr. Hodges, our business
planning professor, for giving us a firm foundation on how to
start, manage and market a business. However, there was a
lack of billing and insurance information given to us. I suppose
the lack is because in the state of Illinois, we as acupuncturists
cannot bill many health care insurance plans and expect a refund.
However, each state is different because they each have different
Scope of Practice Acts for acupuncture and therefore may have
better reimbursement. Also, if the health reform act is passed, we
will have more benefits such as equality in patient visits, but
don't quote me on that. That's how I understood it coming from the
presenter of the seminar. The presenter Sam Collins gave a great
presentation. He is a chiropractor and on staff of the AAC. He is
knowledgeable of our medicine and wants us to succeed.
As Sam said, many of the attendees will go home after the
seminar and re-bill many of their rejected claims because they now
have the correct codes and when to use them. As it was explained,
the insurance companies may reject a claim only because a
four-digit code should have been a five-digit one, or a date or
signature was missing. As a student, I was aware that
acupuncturists cannot give a diagnosis, but what I learned was I
needed a diagnosis code to bill. Therefore, the patient must have a
previous diagnosis, which in Illinois would be from their PCP,
before I can bill.
The seminar also clarified subjects such as worker's
compensation and personal injury cases, and when and how we should
expect to be reimbursed without being taken advantage of by
lawyers, patients or insurance companies. Sam also made us aware of
free websites and other tools to receive the proper
Well, I don't want to bore you with all things insurance, but as
I have said before, as a student we should be going to as many
seminars as we can and often we receive a discounted fee. Oh, and
it's a great meet-and-greet venue to exchange business
Knowledge is power!
The much needed winter break has ended, and as always I still
feel like I need another week - but then again who doesn't. Our
winter breaks are usually three weeks long and spring and summer
breaks last two weeks.
Three weeks was long enough for my husband and I to do some
business shopping. We had the chance to visit an acupuncturist in
Oak Park and a chiropractor. Each practitioner gave us different
advice but all very helpful. The office atmospheres were completely
The acupuncture office was more exotic and peaceful but
professional, which I really liked. I think when a patient walks in
the door they should breathe a breath of relaxation, which I felt
was accomplished in that office. The chiropractic office was very
professional and big with lots of light. It was a typical medical
office environment and in my opinion not very relaxing.
After listening to both practitioners, it seemed they tailored
their environment to their patients' needs and expectations. For my
husband and I, it gave us a big clue as to what kind of environment
we should strive for.
We also got a jump on the business ball by stopping into the
local Chamber of Commerce, which offered us much help, as well as
steered us in the direction of a reputable commercial real estate
agent. Even though we are looking a little early, I think it shows
our dedication and ambition as business owners to these individuals
(who could possibly be future patients). We also interviewed an
accountant who offered us loads of information free of
My advice to you, future students and possible business owners,
is to check out all of your business opportunities way in advance
of graduation. Talk to as many practitioners in the area in which
you are thinking of practicing because they can each give you
valuable information as well as warn you of any mistakes they have
On another note, the Fall 2010 graduating class was the largest
so far for the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Program. Cherlyn,
one of our Oriental Medicine grads will be traveling to China in a
month or so. She will be attending the program set up by our
Hui Yan Dr. Cai. Cherlyn will be teaching English to students in
exchange for room and board as well as attending grand rounds in a
University Hospital in Xi'an. We have had two graduates enter the
program so far. I plan to stay in touch with Cherlyn to give
everyone details on her year-long trip.
Stay tuned for upcoming weeks in which I will be sharing details
of my lunch with a former graduate and the infertility seminar I
Happy New Year!
Week seven has come and gone and now I am studying for midterms.
I am also working on my business plan which is due in a couple
weeks. Hopefully, Dr. Hodges our business professor is able to find
someone from the Acupuncture field to talk about the ups and downs
of going into business.
Speaking of business…On Wednesday, I helped my friend Jennifer
present at the Lenore Cox Foundation Group. The group was set up to
keep women and men informed on ways to keep the body young, healthy
and mobile. Jennifer and I gave a presentation of ways to stay
healthy in the fall and winter using food and qigong exercises.
We kept the presentation fun and interactive which kept the
group wanting more. The group of mostly women seemed very
appreciative to learn ways to combat the common cold, digestive
disorders and insomnia. This was a great way to experience
what it will be like when I start to market my practice and the
field of acupuncture. It was also a great way to fine-tune my
public speaking skills. The one thing I did learn was that I must
learn how to interpret the lingo of TCM. Words such as wind
heat or constitution have no significance to the public.
The school is also abuzz regarding the upcoming visit from the
NCCAOM accrediting team. National's AOM programs, since they
are new, have been working through the various steps toward full
accreditation. The accreditation team's visit will take place
on December 1-3, 2010.
Well enough talk, I have to get back to studying for my two herb
exams. The picture is of my Herbal Formula 2 class with Dr.
Gary Xie our instructor.
This week was better than the past two weeks. For one thing, I
wasn't ill this week and my husband was feeling better, too.
Acupuncture and herbs can and will speed up the progress. It seemed
a lot of people in clinic were also sick, whether it was students
or patients, so I also was able to help them feel better. I love
being in this medicine because I always have my needles or a stock
of herbs I can turn to when others or I start feeling ill.
To celebrate the fall season and our good health, Eric and I
went to Long Grove for their Apple Fest. We especially bundled up
because it was quite windy and we didn't want another Wind Cold
invasion. We enjoyed apple donuts and apple cider while listening
to the local bands. We finished up our fun morning with studying at
a local Starbucks in Park Ridge. It was nice to just hang out and
have fun before we had to go back to schoolwork.
Eric's first chiro class on Friday started with a quick
announcement from two fellow acupuncture students. Greg and Noel
gave a brief announcement to the chiropractic students about the
benefits of acupuncture and all of the pathologies we treat.
Believe it or not, but even being in the same university some
students are unaware of what the other programs are all about and
what they treat. So I can imagine how the public perceives
Some people I have talked to have no clue what acupuncture is or
what we treat. This is unfortunate but it also gives us students a
chance to educate the public and get the word out. It gives us the
opportunity to "practice" our public speaking skills in preparation
for marketing our business. In fact, I will be helping a fellow
acupuncture student and friend with a presentation to a group of
folks in a few weeks. We are going to keep it light and fun. We
want to address insomnia, seasonal colds, easy food cures, and
qigong practices to help with relaxation and longevity. I look
forward to this opportunity to spread the word about acupuncture
and fine tune my public speaking skills. I will let you know how it
Have a great week!
This week seemed to be all about business. Dr. Yurasek, our
program's assistant dean, invited Honora Lee Wolfe, marketing
director of Blue Poppy Enterprises and author of Points for Profit:
The Essential Guide to Practice Success for Acupuncturists, to
speak at National. She presented information from her book about
things students can do to build a practice while still in school.
Many students want to be a health care professional and help their
patients but don't know the first thing about business, opening a
practice or associating.
National also has a business planning class that is required for
all students and is taught by Dr. Hodges. It was scheduled this
weekend for the AOM students, and having Honora speak was a bonus
because she has an acupuncture background and can relate to us a
little more than chiropractors. Chiropractic business laws and
practice codes are different from acupuncture.
Since my husband, a chiro student, and I have a year before we
open our practice, this is the crucial time to start building a
business plan and figuring out where we want to practice. Number
one on Honora's list of things to do to build a practice is to
decide what state and city to practice in. This alone is a tough
decision. Laws are different from state to state. A good idea is to
check on the NCCAOM website for links to state laws and
Once a state is chosen, one must explore the demographics of
different towns to decide if it will be a good fit for the
practitioner. Dr. Hodges recommends picking a town one not only
wants to practice in but also live in because it affords more
opportunities for business relationships and meeting the public
during non-business hours.
We are required to write a business and marketing plan,
curriculum vitae, and a narrative report for our Business class.
The business plan is crucial not only to keep one on schedule but
it is also required by banks when requesting a loan. The bank
scrutinizes every detail of your business plan. Unfortunately, with
the current economy it seems to be harder to obtain loan money, but
Dr. Hodges suggests working with the Small Business Association
often found at the local community college. They will help with the
business plan and obtaining funds to open a business.
The business plan is a hefty project but it gets the ball
rolling and open's our eyes to a world beyond school and studying.
I look forward to this project and I have already started some of
my research and I will keep you updated with any fun facts I learn!
• Clinic Success
• Rainy Saturday
• Business Planning
• Bee Venom Therapy
• Kinesio Taping
• SACA Seminar
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