A letter from one Natural Medicine Practitioner to another

Written by practicing Naturopath + Business Mentor Bianca Potenta

Recently I was asked to be keynote speaker at Endeavour Colleges Melbourne Graduation. I was honored and without thinking immediately said YES, and about a week out from the graduation I thought, OH GOD what have I done.

You see when I was pacing my house talking to myself, which is my crazy way of trying to nut out what I am going to say and get myself into a creative authentic zone, naturally I was immediately drawn back to 7 years ago when I graduated.

I remember feeling excited and yet nervous to get up and collect my degree, hoping that I wouldn’t trip up on the stage. I remember feeling a sense of achievement, proud that I had finally finished this epic degree that at times felt like would never end. I felt relief that for as long as I choose, I won’t have to submit another assignment or sit another exam. And I couldn’t not wait to have a celebratory drink, so I promise this speech isn’t going to go to long.

But I also remember there was another feeling shadowing they day.

When I was lining up with all my fellow peers to collect my gown and cap and when waiting in line to enter the hall as all our loved ones arrived. I remember catching up with everyone and hearing what they had been up to since they had finished.

If they had taken break, gone on a holiday, had they gotten a job? where were they working? how many clients they were seeing…… and whilst I was happy for them, it was THAT bit of information…. How many clients they were seeing, that instantly made me start to compare myself.

How is it possible that they seeing so many clients that quickly?

You see I had left full time sales role that I had gotten straight out of uni, WHICH HAD AN ACTUAL SALARY, something that seems as rare as a unicorn when you are a full-time student.

And I threw myself into a sink a swim situation.

I rented out an empty room at $350 a week. I borrowed money from my dad to buy furniture, clinic and office equipment, EVEN a laptop, because my trusty 2am study companion who had served me honorably throughout the years, had decided to retire 2 weeks before the end of my final semester. And I lashed out on a dispensary.

And yet 3 months later my client base was the exact number of 2, TOTAL. And one of those 2 clients was a friend, which didn’t count right?

I remember sitting listening to the keynote speaker in awe and slight intimidation, seeing all he had achieved, Masters, PHD, he was a lecturer, was a part of numerous research committees and worked along-side some the rock start of our profession, he had written a book that I had used throughout studies.

And I remember thinking to myself, how does one get there? How do they achieve all that? He must be so smart, talented and have such confidence and guts to do what he has done. I don’t think I can do that and I can only wish that one day that could be me standing up there, but I didn’t think it was possible.

And so came the thoughts of self-doubt and sense of deflation. Cue the worlds smallest violin please….

And yet I was honored to stand there that exact spot 7 years later, and I want you to know there is no reason why this cant be you.

On a side note, I googled him out of curiosity when I was writing this speech, the man now has Wikipedia page dedicated to him. #madeit

It wasn’t until 2-3 years ago, when I felt confident enough to speak openly about the times in my career when I have had these feelings, did I realise that everyone at some point had experienced the same thing. MANY OF YOU may have felt it since finishing college.

It took me nearly 5 years to realise I wasn’t alone in this. So, I want you to know that any thoughts or feeling you have had with regard to starting your career, I can say confidently that everyone who is in our profession has experienced the same thing.

And whilst the transition from student to practitioner, practicing out in the world, can be intimidating, challenging and sometimes lonely and scary. We have all been there.

I didn’t realise at the time, but when reflecting, this next step that you are taking is a journey of personal growth. It cannot be studied or learnt; it can only be walked.

So with your knowledge, passion and drive to set out and achieve your goals, your next step is a calculated leap of faith.

Faith because you don’t know what the future brings. Calculated because know that your grit, resilience, passion and drive to help others. Along with the fact that you are going to promise me, and yourself, right now that you won’t say “No” to opportunities, no matter how scary they may seem…Everyone promise me , yes? Good!

That it is these attributes that are going to help you forge your career.

Some tips I wish that I had known starting out. Surround yourself with people in the profession who you trust, who challenge you and who you feel you can be open and honest with.

If you are setting out to start practicing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Find and invest in a clinic mentor AND a business a mentor who you feel aligns with your principles. We are lucky to now have some amazing mentors out there sharing their experience with us including our very own Anne Howard, along with Tammy Guest, Rachel Arthur, Jeff Shearer, Carla Wrenn to name a few and I am always there for a friendly ear and helping hand.

Reach out to technical teams provided by the various supplement companies and pick their brains about cases, products and research. These practitioners are paid to read research, review cases and provide support, that what they are there for.

Invest in tools to help you develop a high level of clinical care, don’t recreate the wheel. And calve time out of your diary to educate yourself on how to create systems to set the foundations or a smooth-running clinic from the very start.

For those who aren’t sure about practicing, I truly believe that, now more than ever, there are job opportunities out there for those with a complimentary health degree. Writing, social media, research, sales, marketing, product development, academia, online resource development and the list goes on.

Anyone who says or believes that you can’t make a comfortable life for yourself working in our profession is robbing themselves of the opportunity.

Just to through some stats out there to emphasis what I am talking about. As of 2018 the Australian Complementary Medicine Industry reached a revenue $4.9 billion, experiencing $2 billion growth over the last 5 years.

In 2016, our industry was estimated to have supported over 29 thousand jobs.

There are 82 product manufacturers, paying $170 mil in wages at an average of $65,500 per annum

AND 1/3 Australians use some form of complimentary therapy, that is over 8 million people seeking our services.

All you need is a very small piece of that pie and there is no reason why you can’t have it.

My practitioners at the clinic are a testament to this, they have worked building their business doing what they love full time. They have gone on holidays, purchased houses, upgraded cars and are now at point where they can employ locums to provide a passive income whilst they take maternity/paternity leave. It is possible.

Your studies has equipped you with more than just the understanding of biology, anatomy, chemistry, pathology and disease. You graduate knowing the empirical knowledge, science, philosophy and principals that has made your chosen modality what it has been throughout history.

You have learnt how to research, delve deeper, put the pieces together and find answers to health-related questions.

You have learned how to hold a profoundly personal space with your patients where they share with you the intricate details of what makes them, them, whilst having respect and empathy.

And the most important thing you have learnt , is how to educate and empower others about their own health.

Don’t underestimate what you have achieved, you did this, you learned of all of this.

Combine this with your passion and grit and there is no reason you can’t be successful practicing it.

The next steps are exciting, rewarding and one of the biggest thrills you will experience in life. Congratulations for following you heart into a career in Natural Medicine. Yes, I did just use the Endeavour marketing slogan, corny but I thought it fit being I was at an Endeavour Graduation.

On behalf of our profession I extend a big warm welcome to you all. Congratulations my fellow colleagues. Please stand up and give YOURSELF a big round of applause.

In good health, happiness & business success,

Bianca

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