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Graduate Profile of Rebecca Groebner, M.Ac., L.Ac.

  1. Date of graduation: July 2011
  2. Full-time or part-time practice: Full time practice, 40-50 hours a week
  3. Current practice setting: Two person acupuncture clinic in Northeast Portland where we share the building with two chiropractors and a massage therapist as well as a popular kungfu and yoga program.
  4. Areas of practice specialization:
    • Type of patients: Women and children
    • Type of therapy: Acupuncture, herbal medicines, Chinese medicine dietetics, Taiji instruction, cupping, guasha
    • Principal conditions treated: Orthopedics, gynecology, pediatric and dermatological
  5. Postgraduate Education/Activity:
    • Third-World Medicine Immersion Program with The Acupuncture Relief Project.
    • Team lead and educator for Third World Medicine Program with the Acupuncture Relief Project.
    • Volunteer with the State Emergency Reserve Pool of (Healthcare) Volunteers in Oregon (SERV-OR).
    • Board of Directors for the Oregon Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
    • Taiji Instructor training with Sifu PikShan Ko, Portland, OR
  6. Most rewarding aspect of practice: There are so many, it would be hard to choose one. At this moment, I feel most rewarded with the work that I do for the Acupuncture Relief Project (ARP) in Bajra Barahi, Nepal. This organization utilizes licensed Chinese medicine providers to offer primary care and acupuncture services in villages in rural Nepal. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and diarrhea, gastrointestinal disorders, parasites, leprosy, and tuberculosis are still leading causes of death. The first time I was there, I worked six days a week, providing primary care and acupuncture treatment for 15-22 patients per day. The five of us there were able to care and provide treatment for over 100 people each day. These people would have no access to care if it were not for our clinics. We diligently monitor and measure each patient so that we can clearly chart the changes that acupuncture is making in the cases we see. This work with ARP has shown me when we listen to our patients, meet them with the utmost compassion, and follow through with their cases so that we are working as team players with all of the entities involved, we can progress some of the most complicated and distressing cases.
  7. Most essential tips for other graduates desiring to establish a successful practice: I have three main tips for other graduates:
    • Remember what you are about. It can be very hard to take the idealism and passion that I have for the medicine and try to translate that into a capitalistic world. For myself, I have to constantly remember why I am doing this work. The majority of my patients are using health insurance. It can be easy to get caught up in the business end of things, the billing, the bookkeeping and all of the other little struggles that come along with doing this work. It can be easy to get resentful and overworked. The way that the insurance companies process everything can really lure my mind into thinking about each little service I am providing and what that is worth. Even though I work five days a week, my practice is booked out by 3-4 weeks. I cannot keep up with the number of patients that want to come in and when they tell me why, they say it is because I am "different." I spend time with them and I follow up with them the next day. I communicate their treatment plan and my expectations on Day 1. I do acupuncture but I also practice Chinese medicine within its full breadth - using the bodywork that they love, giving them herbal medicines, and helping them with their diet and lifestyle choices. I always communicate with their other healthcare providers to make sure we are on the same page. My patients come to me for healthcare, not just for quick acupuncture, and this makes a huge difference in the success of my practice.
    • Ask for help. If you are starting out as a new business owner, I think it is really important to do your own billing at first and get an idea of how that works. Eventually, when you pass that job on, you will know how to communicate and work well with your biller because you have done the job (and so many of the electronic systems now make this so easy for us!). Even so, with billing and all of the other pieces that go into making a practice run, it is important that we know when to ask for help. I have so many people on my team that help make my practice work. These folks range from my husband to my women's group to other acupuncturists to my business coach. I utilize the complimentary financial counselors at my credit union and my accountant. Through the MercyCorp I found small business classes locally that I took. In terms of the practice itself, make sure you have a team of mentors and healthcare providers you can talk to. I have teachers in the Chinese medicine world, but I have also spent time networking with chiropractors, allopathic physicians, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc., so that I have a team that I can call with any questions. I want to make sure that I am never missing a red flag and that I am really providing the most excellent care I can.
    • Self-care is the most ethical thing you can do. I recently took a CEU class on ethics in Chinese medicine and was reminded by the beautiful instructor how important our self-care is. In fact, he said that our lack of self-care is the biggest ethics violation that we can make as acupuncturists. We are constantly telling other people that they need to slow down, rest, get introspective, and really put their own health first. Yet, trying to run a busy practice can wear me down quickly! It can be hard to say no to patients and use that time to get an acupuncture treatment myself, or go out into the woods, or spend some time in my journal, or garden. It has made a bit of a shift in my head to think of this in terms of one of the biggest pieces in my code of ethics as an acupuncturist: Love and care for thyself. Your patients will feel it when you do.

Rebecca Groebner is a 2011 graduate of the National University of Natural Medicine, a CCAOM member institution. For a list of all CCAOM member colleges see state list.