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(3 pages total)

Page 3 - Is Your Clinic Scaring Patients Away?

Asian Waiting Room photo

Small Spaces

Small spaces produce special challenges but the basic premise is the same as the corporate workspace. “The ultimate planning objective is not an easy balance to achieve,” writes Julie K. Rayfield in "The Office Interior Design Guide: An Introduction for Facility and Design Professionals". You must develop “a strategic facilities plan sufficiently specific in its approach to be effective but adequately flexible to respond to continual organizational changes.”* On our small scale, that may mean buying ottomans and setting trays of literature on them instead of buying a coffee table: additional seating can then be created as needed, without adding furniture. If your landlord allows it, you may want to sink shallow, recessed cabinets into the walls to display herbal supplements. The generous use of mirrors is also an antidote for cramped spaces. No matter what size your office and what theme you decide on, you’ll want to apply the basics of feng shui.

Once the potential patient has settled comfortably in your waiting room (now appropriately called the reception area), you must present yourself appropriately. This, of course, is an entirely separate subject, but there is one jarring violation that must be mentioned: tattoos.

Tattoos, despite the wearer’s belief that they express a maverick sensibility, are just a desperate attempt to belong. In an acupuncture office, they also suggest a disregard for pain. If you absolutely must get a tattoo, then have it installed in a place nobody with any taste or morals will ever look. Take a lesson from an acupuncturist friend of mine who wanted a tasteful little tattoo applied on her ankle. Being a sophisticate, she chose the name of her favorite French ballet, “Les Sylphides,” as her design. She then brought the musical CD to a tattoo artist, to copy the spelling. As he went to work on her ankle, she drifted off to sleep, having downed a full bottle of Anmian Pian to settle her nerves. When she awoke four hours later, she discovered he had printed “Les Sylphides, with Vladimir Ouspensky conducting the Budapest State Orchestra, Natasha Telechev guest soloist, a Deutsche-Gramophone Recording,” halfway up her thigh. “My God,” she told me later, “it’s a good thing I woke up when I did! Who knows where the copyright notice might have landed?” As a fully trained acupuncturist, you deserve the most appreciative patients and the best compensation possible. I’m constantly humbled by the intelligence and compassion of acupuncturists whom I meet; they are unusually original thinkers with intuitive, well-disciplined minds. At their best, they provide encouragement and relief, guiding their patients up the unending pathway to ever increasing wellness. Shouldn’t that pathway be well-furnished?


*Rayfield, Julie K. (1994). "The Office Interior Design Guide: An Introduction for Facility and Design Professionals", Wiley Professional Pub.

Charles Christopher is an acupuncturist in the Los Angeles area.

© Qi Journal (Summer 2005)

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