How an acupuncturist uses her love of community to build meaningful connections and grow her business.
Stacey Whitcomb is an acupuncturist and master’s graduate of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. She has worked at and owned several practices over the past two decades, initially working as a massage therapist for 17 years before specializing in acupuncture and oriental medicine.
Stacey recently moved to Boise, Idaho, where she opened her new practice, Shift Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine. She also hosts Acusprout, a podcast which shares insightful and uplifting conversations about streamlining your practice, growing your support network, and creating comfortable marketing.
Tell us about your background
I originally went to school to get a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and business. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to be a nurturer, so I ended up going into massage. I had a massage career for over 20 years and learned a lot about business, how to market myself, and run a practice. I worked mostly with competitive athletes like our Olympic gold medalists and NFL athletes.
I knew even back then that massage was a time-limited career because of the toll it takes on our bodies, but I still wanted to help people even if it wasn’t through massage. I moved to Portland and went to a Chinese medical school. Once I graduated, I moved to Bellingham, Washington, and started my acupuncture practice in 2018. That year, and in 2019, I spent getting the fundamentals of the practice in line. I could pay myself, which is always an exciting day after opening up your own business.
Why did you choose this career path?
I think some of us are built to want to heal and help people when we’re born. We’re shaped by our upbringing. Events in our formative years have been studied and linked to health in later life, how long you live, and how you build relationships. I believe growing up through adversity really cemented how much I hate seeing people suffer. It has given me my purpose to help share my knowledge to help other people.
How are you feeling about moving your practice?
I’m so excited to be moving to Boise. I can’t get my electronic health records up fast enough for people. They are so excited to see me setting up here. That is why I tell people to find their people, their community, and their ideal clients. I have been afforded so many opportunities in so many ways because of the connections and community I’ve fostered.
On top of starting my practice here in Boise, I’ve also been hired to do acupuncture at a highly specialized medical clinic that serves emergency responders. As soon as I moved, my podcasting career also took off and I was hired by the UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) Navy Seal Association to create and produce a podcast helping Veterans navigate the system and access their disability benefits. All facets of my career seem to be taking flight right now.
What advice would you give new graduates that often feel overwhelmed when they leave school?
I completely understand their apprehension when starting out after school. They have loans, bills, and constant worry about filling their schedule. Leaving school is such a large transition. I think one of the most important things to do straight out of school is to talk with a close friend or friends about three words that describe you. That can give you a clue about your strengths. Let that create your runway to develop your path in practice.
Start taking those steps to decide who you want to treat. Is that athletes, or people who live rurally? Define yourself. This will help you find your voice in promoting yourself. Be that in building your website to reflect yourself, or marketing yourself. Being sure of yourself is going to inform the way you talk about yourself and help people decide that you are the right person for them to connect with.
“If you yell into a megaphone in a crowd, nobody will listen to you. You need to speak directly to the people you want to treat.”
What I’ve seen new practitioners do on their websites is write about themselves and their services vaguely in the hope of treating everybody and filling up their books. What ultimately happens is that the majority of people don’t find that personal connection they’re hoping to find when searching for a provider.
What financial tips would you give to new graduates?
Be really meaningful and mindful of your money and savings. Be very aware of what you’re going to do with that money every single day. Break it down. It’s not just a number to look at near the end of the month. I suggest three months at least of your overheads saved in the bank.
If this is your business, you need to know what percentage of your income is going to go to overheads, products, and taxes. A great thing that I’ve set up with my bank is that when income hits it, it gets split into the areas of business it needs to go to.
Aside from financial tips, what is the most important thing you’d encourage practitioners and business owners to focus on?
The number one thing that I coach people on is creating community and why it is so important. Community is the reason why my new clinic is blowing up for me now. I came back to my community. I’m in a place where people professionally respect me. I have fostered my reputation and the work I do for the people I surround myself with.
📣 Jane shout out: Ali, the co-CEO of Jane, recently joined Stacey on her podcast to talk about building a business everybody loves. You can listen to that episode by clicking on the image below.
What are some simple ways practitioners and business owners can start building their communities?
First, start listening to people. Find out who they are and what makes them tick in their personal lives. Even introverts can build a community. You don’t have to force yourself to do a bunch of things that you’re not comfortable doing. Building a community does not mean that you need to be an extrovert.
Ask them about the other providers they go to see. How’s their relationship with that chiropractor or physiotherapist? Talk about yourself, and open up about your discipline. In my case, people are fascinated by acupuncture and Chinese medicine when I bring it up in conversation. You don’t have to be cheesy, you just need to immerse yourself in these conversations when they happen. Be genuine, be yourself, and meet these conversations in a way that fills your bucket and gets you excited. Don’t go to work like it’s your regular day-to-day. You want to meet each interaction with enthusiasm. That’s the next step forward to building meaningful relationships and communities.
How has your experience with Jane been so far?
I actually just signed up for Jane a few months ago. The great part about Jane was I could set up my account within a few hours and build out the functionality in my account in layers. I can set up the basics, practice, and expand into everything Jane offers as I grow.
I had a patient come to see me before I had set up my Jane account. I needed to create a secure chart so I logged into Jane there and then. Everything was so intuitive that I was able to create a chart, sign their notes, take their payment, and store their credit card at the end of their first visit. It was epic.
When I started, all I needed to do was click through the setup. Jane takes you step by step through the basic setup. There are great videos on the Jane Guide to follow along with too.
With my previous software, I had to make phone calls and ask for help constantly. Often I couldn’t replicate what was being explained to me. With Jane, I just feel so much more supported.
I know I can call the Jane Team and get someone lovely to talk to, or I can get someone through the chat feature. Just yesterday I went online and asked the Jane Community a question. I love that forum, everybody helps answer each other’s questions.
I’d love to hear about your podcast, Acusprout
Acusprout is a biweekly community-driven acupuncture podcast designed to help new acupuncturists feel supported, informed, and confident during the transition from school to practice. We talk about streamlining systems, making decisions from an empowered place, and cultivating an efficient practice. As well as healing more people and making great money in their first couple of years of practice too.
The podcast has four pillars or types of episodes. We have Mindset Mondays. That’s for new practitioners. We go over mindset tips in dealing with topics like impostor syndrome, perfectionism, and things that might get in your own way as you’re starting out. Then there are “New Acupuncturist” interviews where I chat with new practitioners about their challenges and victories in those first couple of years. Then there is a series called “Case Studies” where I have a more senior practitioner on and we review a clinical case that they have treated. And lastly, I produce “Business” episodes where we talk about everything from patient retention to content marketing.
Tell us about your plans to grow Acusprout
I’ve created the Acusprout in layers, much like how I set up my Jane account. Originally there was the podcast, and I was not making any money. Now I’ve started to layer in sponsorships and to create these new relationships. I’m in the process now of learning and creating an online course and community for people to join and learn about powerful tools of the trade for growing your practice.
I’m looking forward to creating a mentorship program and creating more ways for me to connect with the community and creating a group for practitioners to connect together and gain the resources they need to succeed. I would love for anyone in the Jane community that likes that idea to join my newsletter. I’ll be creating this in hand with the Acusprout community, so if you want to help shape the community I’m building, sign up for my newsletter or connect with me through my socials.
What do you count as your greatest success to date?
My greatest success in practice and life has been surrounding myself with the people who are supportive, kind and knowledgeable. I think that is the key to creating a successful business and a successful life. I’ve found the people I want to treat and help, and they have defined my practice. They recommend me to like-minded individuals and bring everything back to growing a community inside and outside of practice. I think that’s what has made my practice life so joyful.
I’ve also surrounded myself with people I’m excited to work with and that lights me up. I love working with Jane. I love having that ally in business.
How would you sum up your mission statement?
My mission is to create a supportive network for new practitioners. I’m a creator of magical networks. I love connecting people together and creating these meaningful relationships and making the world a nicer place to be in.
That’s also why I love Jane as a company. I think the people working there are amazing. I get to connect new practitioners with the Jane Team and create a growing network of people I love being around. It just feels magical.
If you’re not already part of the Jane community, welcome! We’re so glad you found us. If you’re in search of Practice Management software to help run your clinic, we’d love for you to meet Jane. Book a demo with one of our lovely support staff, or sign up here!