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How to Transition from Health Care Provider to Wellness Entrepreneur

cash based physical therapist
Cash based physical therapist

How to Transition from Health Care Provider to Wellness Entrepreneur


In this blog, I’m talking a little bit more to the healthcare provider who wishes to bring more wellness
coach and add cash-based physical therapy and wellness services into their practice. This blog is all about
transitioning from Western Medicine and being a health care provider to starting a wellness business. So,
if you are also a health coach, or a yoga teacher, continue reading, stick with me, because you will gain


Find your wellness business niche by filling gaps in Western Medicine.


What I really talk about is the benefits of Western Medicine. I’m super grateful for Western Medicine
and there’s some wonderful practitioners practicing in the Western Medicine Model and they’re doing
great and they’re thriving. And at the same time, there are some gaps in the Western Medicine Model.
There are some holes that need plugging to help more people thrive. And that’s where you come in – the
healthcare provider that’s feeling a little lost in the Western Medicine Model, maybe feeling burnt out in
the Western Medicine Model or feeling like they’re inspired to do more – to do more with their practice.
This blog is for you.


It’s also for the health coach and the yoga teacher that is looking to help plug the holes in the Western
Medicine Model because there is no one right right.


How to use your niche to make money as a Wellness Entrepreneur


Eastern Medicine Models and alternative medicine practices are thousands or hundreds of years older
than Western Medicine. So western medicine still has room to grow, and at the same time we can still be
grateful for the Western Medicine Model and all that it is currently doing. This is not putting anything
down as this is just an opportunity as a society to grow and thrive and help each other more and
specifically, as a wellness business owner, as a wellness practitioner, or as a wellness entrepreneur,
where you can find gaps that your wellness business niche can plug or can fill.

make money as a yoga teacher
Make money as a yoga teacher


There’s a saying that goes, “Creating your own blue ocean.” Another way to look at it is, instead of being
a small fish in a large pond and swimming upstream, competing against big industry, big corporate, big
models already out there marketing, is be the larger fish in a small path. Create your own path. Create
your own marketing message. Create your own stream where there’s not already fish swimming in.
What do I mean specifically or tactically? As a healthcare provider have this desire to want to do more in
your business. You don’t want to have your treatment sessions based or dictated by insurance. You want
to spend the amount of time that you desire to spend time with your patients. And maybe, you want to
have a cash-based model so you’re not even in the insurance model at all.

Now, this does not mean that you’re just going to tack wellness on the end of your clinic’s name and
have a Medicare opt-out form, and call it a day. That’s not filling a hole, that’s not filling a gap. There’s so
many clinics already doing this and truthfully they are not embodying the whole meaning of the word
wellness because it’s so much more than just the physical. For example, just adding “yoga” to a physical
therapy clinic or adding stretching to a physical therapy clinic. Wellness can embody so much more in
terms of diet, emotional and mental wellbeing, working with a variety of different practitioners and
utilizing your own experience and your own certifications and trainings that possibly went through but
you’re afraid to speak up and tell people for example, “I’m a physical therapist and I’m a Reiki
practitioner” because that might seem too out there. The time has come that these services are needed.
People are looking for more beyond the Western Medicine Model.


Wellness as a Compliment to Western Medicine


People might still utilize the Western Medicine Model, they might go to their primary care practitioner,
get a referral to a specialist, or go to their cardiologist. For me, I go to my oncologist and I team up and
brainstorm at times, and I love to utilize all his knowledge and recommendations for screening. If I’m
going through something, of course all his recommendations for his specialty in oncology. I am so
grateful for those.


However, at times, where there are some leaks in this Western Medicine Model is when someone’s
symptoms do not clearly fit into a diagnosis box, or diagnosis label. Especially now, with the viruses going
on in the world, long-haul COVID symptoms, an increase in autoimmune diseases, auto-immune diseases
with varying symptoms and varying unique presentations person to person, physical pain and maladies
that are showing up different now, it’s harder to put people into a box and really, we should have never
put people in the box and just label them as a diagnosis to begin with.
Your wellness business can compliment the work of western medicine to help your clients feel better
faster.


Developing a Marketing Plan for the Wellness Entrepreneur


I was a massage therapist, I got certified in 2001 and started massaging at first for a chiropractor, and
then I went and worked in a spa, and did my own thing for a number of years. And, I survived. I had a
Bachelor’s in Health and Exercise Science, personal training certification, and a massage certification. I
was able to make a living in my twenties doing this work – cash-based service. And you know who walked
in my door? People seeking “wellness services” such as a relaxing massage, a day to themselves, they
would have a massage coordinated with a facial, and maybe getting their hair done and their nails done
– that’s wonderful!

I also had a large percentage of people walking into my door complaining of consistent headache,
complaining of low back pain, upper back pain, neck and shoulder pain, foot pain, and they had never
even considered seeking out Western Medicine practitioner’s help for a variety of reasons.
So at that time, depending on a client’s need when they walk in my door, I might refer them, “Hey I can
still work with you but maybe head to your primary care provider,” or “You might need a referral to
physical therapy,” or “You might need a referral to a chiropractor,” or “Maybe you need acupuncture
help.” And this is for all health coaches, yoga teachers, and massage therapists, it is learning how to stay
in your lane, stay in your scope of practice, but at the same time, there is a ton that you can do working
with people that don’t have a desire to go into the Western-based model because of bad experiences.
As a wellness practitioner realize people are out there seeking your services, you just have to develop a
solid marketing plan to reach them.


How to Get Your Wellness Clients Results


I’ll explain some of these bad experiences that I’ve heard from some of my own clients, some of my own
patients, just to give you an idea of more leaks that need plugging. If you are a health care provider and
you are in the Western-based model, with what my clients shared to me, may you have an
understanding of what people are experiencing when they are coming into your world so you can help
coach and guide them through.


I know when you’re working in the Western-based model, your time is limited. You see a high volume of
people and I know that a lot of practitioners in this model are truthfully doing their best with the time
they have at hand. When I worked in a traditional physical therapy clinic, part of the reason that led to
my burnt out there was because I was seeing so many patients all at one time – sometimes three people
at one time, sometimes five people at one time. I’d always try to sneak away with the patients into one
of the rooms closed doors so they could get some nervous system compression time and I could do more
manual body work without their nervous system being on guard because they’re in this large gym.
A lot of the times, I just didn’t have the luxury of time to do that. Or there were just so many people in
the clinic that those rooms were not available. For many health care providers, you’re doing a world of
good for our society by staying in this model because some people don’t have extra cash on hand to
utilize cash-based services right now and they have to utilize their insurance. To have a knowledgeable
practitioner in Western medicine who does still take insurance is what these patients will get, so keep
going.


The experiences that I’ve heard however from some of my own patients that are health care providers in
the Western Medicine Model or doing their own thing is that they want to utilize Western Medicine
because they believe in Western Medicine. However, they’ve had horrible experiences themselves.
They’ve gone to other practitioners and have gotten cookie cutter exercises, or cookie cutter approaches
without even listening to where they’ve started. The knowledge they’ve gained so far, what they tried in
the past that hasn’t worked. The other thing I’ve heard so frequently is that they’ve told their symptoms,
they’ve told the practitioner what they have tried in the past, and they were made to feel like they’re
crazy, that it is in their head.


I can’t tell you the number of people who have come to me, either healthcare providers themselves or
not, and just have come to me deflated, have come to me almost in a depressed state because they feel
like they’re not being heard. They felt like what was implied to them was that their symptoms don’t
correlate to any diagnoses in Western medicine and so they must be making it up. They probably have
some secondary gain from having these symptoms, from complaining about their pain or complaining
about what’s not making them feel well. So they come to me and they’re so upset because they tell me,
“I’m not making it up. These symptoms are real. I really am experiencing this. But Western Medicine tells
me that there’s no such thing.”


Some primary care physician or physical therapist or even chiropractor, has quickly given me bridge
exercises, knees to chest, giving myself a hug, some basic core strengthener and stretch that truthfully,
they can get from you too. So they’re depressed and they feel like the end of their wits.
This is the leak. This is the holes that as wellness-based practitioners, we can fill because we know so
much more. We have the luxury of spending more time with our people so you can really get down to
the root of what is going on.


What Questions to Ask in Wellness Coaching Sessions


Sometimes, I ask my patients, my clients, their birth story. I ask them if their mom told them any stories
of them getting hurt as toddlers, or when they were in middle school, or younger. Do they remember
falling off their bike? Do they remember any horrific car accident? Do they remember being stressed a
lot as a youth, as a child. I ask them if they’re very sensitive, if they take on the burdens of others. I ask
them what’s going on in their life. What have they experienced so far?


You have the ability to do this as well. For me, this is truthfully embodying the wellness model which I
don’t think exists quite yet and I’m on a mission to continue to spread the word. In fact, I continue to
develop the radiant being wellness and yoga teacher training mentorship to help really start to create a
process for this model where we’re utilizing all our clients’ history, their symptoms, with their
experiences, what they are experiencing, their goals, their desires, their fears, what they’ve tried in the
past, intuitively what they think is going on. Primary care physicians, a lot of the times, are quick to put
this down. I can’t tell you the number of patients that have come to me, thinking “I know this is what my
body needs, but so and so practitioners have poo-pooed it,” or told me that, “No, that can’t be so.” And
yet when I go to talk with them and listen to them, I’m like “Yeah. That is the truth.”


There’s this other side as well. Usually it’s the side that the person might not be aware of just because
they haven’t gone through the trainings that I have gone through. Or, as a coach, your ability to be the
mirror, to help create an awareness of what your client might be doing day-to-day with regard to their
health that’s not serving them. You can be the mirror of helping them to become more aware of their
thoughts, of what they’re thinking that’s leading to certain actions that they’re taking or not taking. All
these are not being done currently in the Western Medicine Model.


Continue Learning as a Wellness Practitioner, No Matter Your Current Degree


Back when I was massaging, I realized the limits of my scope of knowledge which is why several years
into massaging, I think it was five or seven years, I decided to go back to school for physical therapy. It
was a really hard decision because the large debt and large time investment – in fact that had to make a
five-year plan. And, I’m still paying off the debt from physical therapy school. However, I desired to go so
badly because I knew the limits of my education. I knew that when people were coming to me for a lowback
issue, I didn’t know what was going on. I knew what I was feeling under my fingers, but I didn’t
know why and I wanted to learn more. So, I went to physical therapy school with this different
perspective I’ve set at that time.


Some of my other peers in school have gone from high school to a bachelor’s degree right into physical
therapy school. They didn’t have the same length of experiences of actually working with people. So I
brought some different perspective and questions to my teachers. And, I didn’t get a lot of them
answered.


It blew my mind when I went into physical therapy, like actually practicing in my first traditional physical
therapy job, and they were doing “marketing.” They were marketing to the doctors. It was this long
drawn-out thing that just didn’t make sense to me of buying the doctors chocolates, or teas, going on a
lunch break or bringing lunch to doctors and trying to eat lunch yourself and come up to these doctors,
and tell them why we’re the best physical therapy clinic to send their patients to, all while we’re talking
with food in our mouth, and then rushing back to the clinic and treating patients. It’s just burning me
out. And when I say treat patients, run back to the clinic, I’d already have three patients in the waiting
room waiting for me, ready to go jump on in the bike. I never really ate lunch or take a break for myself
for a moment and it was awful.

health care provider to wellness coach
Health care provider to wellness coach


It didn’t make sense to me at all because I knew as a massage therapist, that people were coming in off
the streets. Meaning, they didn’t even go to their doctors. The people that I wanted to help with lowback
pain, moms with the migraine and the headaches, people that were working at the desk with neck
pain and shoulder pain or wrist and forearm pain, I knew those people existed and they weren’t even
going to their doctors complaining of their almonds because of their bad experiences in the past, or just
no desire to go in the Western Medicine Model. So I knew those were the people that I wanted to talk
to. It felt like this roundabout way to gain clients because it was all done in the insurance model. At the
time, California didn’t have direct access to physical therapy which again was so backwards for me. None
of it made sense and for that time, I had to work within it. Fortunately now, California has gotten direct
access so there’s a lot more freedom for the physical therapists, which there should be, because if a
person can come off the street and work with a yoga teacher or a massage therapist, then they should
be able to work with a physical therapist with a doctorate degree.


People Need Your Help Right Now As They Come Off The Pandemic


So if you are a healthcare provider, you see all the potential that is available for you. People need help
right now. They’re coming out of the pandemic feeling out of balance from working from home, or
having to work weird hours when their children were out of school, they’re feeling weak, a little bit
overweight than normal, exhausted, and they’re trying to get their life back on track.
All of these are impacting their productivity and their jobs. I know so many people whose relationships
were impacted and going to strive with their significant other, or even their children and they’re not able
to manage all their stress which is really compounding a lot of their health and physical issues even
more.


And you have the solutions no matter what service you are offering. You just have to approach your
wellness business from their eyes. They’re not going to you because Medicare doesn’t cover their
services. They don’t even understand what Medicare covers most of the time. So, it’s clearly articulating
to them, why you do not take insurance, what services do you cover, make sure you know the laws of
your state if you are a healthcare provider, and what you can do in terms of cash-based services.
There are some states that have restrictions when it comes to physical therapists. Personally, as a
physical therapist, I might not even move to other places or states because of such restrictions. Now, if
you are living in those states and you are a healthcare provider, good for you for working within that
Western Medicine Model, for working within the laws of that state, because people need your help. Just
know, that do the best that you can. Working with what people complain with, working with the time
allowed – there’s so much that you can do. So instead of thinking, “Oh I’ll just add wellness-based
services to my model,” – embody the wellness model, which is all encompassing.


How can you help your person? How can you meet them where they’re at? By examining what is truly
going on in their life. Maybe know what patterns have been handed down from their caregivers or from
their own parents. Ask what experiences they went through as children. Look deeper, explore other
options, add alternative methods such as Reiki, cranial sacral energy work – and other things beyond just
the physical because it’s not so out there anymore. In fact, it’s needed. People need your help, it’s not
just a want. They are looking for help and they’re not finding some of their answers sometimes in the
Western Based Model only.


Combining Western Medicine and Wellness


What I tell a lot of my people – the clients that I help coach who are growing their wellness business and
some of the patients I do currently see – is to use both models. Help your people use both models. You
be the practitioner for what you specialize in based upon your experience and trainings and you talk to
your ideal client.


If there’s a gap that you can’t help them meet, it’s okay! Refer out. I refer all the time. To my naturopath,
to my oncologist all the time, I refer to my primary care provider all the time. I love my primary care
doctor! She’s amazing. I refer her to people all the time. Also, I’m always asking questions to my
physicians’ assistants’ friends.


There’s no practice or modality in my mind that is better than the other. We just stay in our lane, believe
in our own work, know what is outside our scope of knowledge, or practice or law. With a humble
nature, we have the ability to work as a team with other providers to get the best results for our people.
Just like for me, I go to my oncologist for my own health, I have an acupuncturist, I go to a naturopath,
and more. I have certain people that I know I can go to for a certain need and I don’t go to them all at
the same time. Sometimes not all on the same week, only if I’m going through something. And I spread it
out as needed based upon what my body or my health might be calling for. But together, they work in a
very complimentary way and it’s how I’ve gotten through so many surgeries, so many crazy health real
issues and health scares, and come out on the other side and I’m able to do this work.
That’s how I know it’s so beneficial. That’s how I know some of the gaps, leaks, and holes, in the Western
Medicine Model because I’ve experienced them myself as well. And, that’s how I know that this work
can change people’s lives, can help people to heal because I’ve healed myself as well. I’ve healed
through a lot so it is possible.


The World Needs You, So Show Up!


Trust your intuitions. Work within what’s available to you. Listen to your people. Listen to your heart –
who your heart wants to serve and help.


Because the world needs all of these. The world needs the health coaches. The world needs yoga
therapists and yoga teachers that want to teach Vinyasa flow and lead retreats. The world needs
healthcare providers, general medicine doctors. The world needs all of you. And we just have to keep
going and we have to believe in ourselves.


So, if you are called, you feel called to do more, then look outside the current model that you are doing.
Be brave enough. Be courageous to do something different. That’s why, when I first started my physical
therapy clinic, you probably heard me say this before, I didn’t even have the word physical therapy in the
title as it was called Ignite Wellness. I talked a lot about healing, wellness, and thriving and going
forward, and yoga, and embodying a healthy lifestyle to feel better, to live your best, and you can do that
for your people as well. It’s possible for you.


I know some of you have different ideas, working more with nutrition, or functional medicine, or Pilates,
it’s endless all that a practitioner can do. And that really is the way to grow your wellness business – to
think outside the box. But you have to be courageous because it is outside the box.
But most importantly, it’s from the perspective or from the lense of what your patients’ or clients’ are
needing, what they are looking for, what they’re desiring where they’re feeling stuck, where they’re
really struggling. Not from your perspective.


I hear of many healthcare providers that are feeling burnt out in their traditional Western Medicine
Model. So then they’ll think, “Ok, I’ll just bring on and add in this wellness program of some sort to help
feel more inspired.” The mistake of that is two-fold: It’s putting pressure on your business to change your
emotions and it’s putting pressure on your business to cause your own internal transformations, your
own internals shift.


You know who is really responsible for that? You. Your thoughts. You have the ability to create inspiration
every day no matter which model you’re in, but by what you’re thinking. Do not put a lot of pressure on
a wellness program, or a wellness adjunct, or facet to create that inspiration for you. Because then, all
the marketing is about you.


If you’re adding something to your existing service that is another thing that you have to believe in, you
have to market, you have to sell. You have to make sure people coming through that program are getting
the results they desire. It is the way to be successful.


Instead of embodying the wellness business model as an entity, and working underneath that entity,
believing in your capability and having one program that you dial in, get your beliefs so strong you know
exactly what your marketing message is, you know exactly who you’re talking to, you know how to
compel people to want to buy it so they feel that they need this program to make their lives better. And,
you know how to deliver in your promise and your results.


Truthfully, that is the way to having a successful wellness business without adding more to your plate,
without doing more. It’s embodying that.


So, listen to your people. Find out where they’re struggling. Listen to what they’re saying is not working
for them when they are entering the Western Medicine Model or what they’ve tried in the past with
other practitioners. Because even outside the Western Medicine Model, there are practitioners doing
cookie cutter approaches. Not listening to their clients and patients. And you can fill the gap there as
well just by listening.


Conclusion


There are so many roads to just helping people. So many roads to getting there. And if you feel stuck,
you have a lot of ideas, you have a lot of inspiration but you’re not really sure how to make it work for
you or if you just feel a little fearful in going off in this new and different path, other colleagues and peers
that you know aren’t doing it this way, then reach out to me. I’ve probably done it or been there. Or for
sure I can coach you on how to make a profitable and get more revenue without burn out, without
feeling like you have to do more. Trust me here – it’s not about doing more to create more. That is
outdated.

Follow your heart. Follow your intuitions. Write it down – what’s speaking to you. Write down what
you’re people are saying and requesting. And that is the direction to go. You can keep it as simple as
that!

Learn more about Alison’s 1:1 Coaching Program to Grow Your Wellness Business

Connect with Alison to learn how to create more money and time

Author

Alison McLean

"I help the Entrepreneur reduce stress and live a more fulfilled and balanced life."