011: 7 Ways to Continue Learning and Better Serve Your Patients
As clinicians, after we finish medical school, we think we’re ready to help and serve people. Then your first real patient walks in the door – and you discover that you don’t yet know anything. [Cue the reality check!] This is why continuing education is so important.
If you want to serve people and better meet their needs, you always need to be learning. Life has a tendency of getting in the way, so it’s especially important to schedule time for continuing education, read from proven reference books, and truly get to know the products you recommend to your patients. And having a community of like-minded people to learn and grow with is key to success!
Today, I want to give you a proven framework – and seven simple, actionable steps – you can do to up your game and keep learning.
- How my very first patient revealed just how little I really knew
- Why you should schedule time to learn, just like you would any other appointment.
- How to find great references and learn more about products and supplements you may want to recommend.
- How to build relationships, stay in community, and collaborate with other clinicians, even in the era of COVID-19.
- My favorite digital tools for finding great research and valuable information.
There's a tremendous value in relationships. Because when we’re in community and we connect with one another, there is so much learning that takes place.” –@DrRondaNelson Click To Tweet
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Welcome to The Clinical Entrepreneur, a business podcast that’s dedicated to health care practitioners just like you who are hustling every day to build a business and a life you’re proud of. Join me, Ronda Nelson, as I share my own experiences and extract actionable advice from industry experts about what it takes to build and scale a profitable wellness practice.
Well, hello, my friend. Welcome back to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Ronda Nelson. I’m so glad you’re here. I especially am glad you’re here today because I want to talk about something pretty near and dear to my heart. It is our ongoing education. Now, we all know that we go to school, we’re going to be a clinician, we’re going to help people, and we’re going to serve people. However, do you know what happens next? We get out of school and we think we know everything and what do we really know? Nothing, because we don’t have any real-world experience with a real patient. We have the big picture, but it’s that granular stuff that we often miss because that’s the stuff we learn on the streets, so to speak. I’ll never forget the first patient that I had. My dear wonderful father met this woman who had a husband who was very ill. Her husband couldn’t get any resolution or any kind of help with his condition from his medical doctor, and my dad very kindly said, “You know, you should go see my daughter. She just graduated, she just opened a practice, and you should go see her.”
I was not prepared for what I saw. My dad couldn’t even tell me what this man had or what his problem was, but I quickly found out that I wasn’t sure either. I was taken aback because the person that walked in my office had severe silver poisoning and he fit the criteria of what you would call the blue man syndrome. He was a white male and his skin was a gray-blue color. There was no flesh color on him anywhere. I was so taken aback by his visual appearance that I just really wasn’t even sure what to do. I thought, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.” I realized then that I didn’t have enough information and I needed to continue learning. Part of the learning comes as we’re in the clinic and we’re getting the street smarts. But, the other side of learning is the stuff that other people and practitioners have to share about their kind of street learning, or what they’ve found over the years to be especially effective clinically.
I want to talk to you today about the seven ways I have found that you and I can continue learning so that we can better serve our patients and better meet their needs. I want to give you a little bit of a framework today about the seven things that you can do that will help you “up your game” and keep your learning going, going, going.
The first thing I want to share is to make a plan for learning. In other words, put it in your schedule, put it in your appointment book, put it in your planner, and schedule time for it. We’re all busy, but we all know if it doesn’t get on the calendar, it doesn’t happen. This is similar to saying to a friend, “Oh, hey, let’s go hang out. Do you want to have dinner? Sure. We’ll have dinner. We’ll be in touch. We’ll be in touch,” and then you know that never happens. It’s the same thing. You might go to a seminar or you might be on an online webinar and you think, “Oh my gosh, this was so great. I really need to…” and then life starts to happen and you don’t review the notes, or you don’t go in and get the resources you need. Or in my case, when I teach online seminars, we leave the video recordings up for a couple of weeks afterward and every single time when the videos expire, we get emails from people saying, “Oh, I didn’t have time. I didn’t get this. Can you please leave them up a little longer?” and we’re not able to do that. Part of the breakdown happens when we don’t schedule the time, so you must schedule it like an appointment. Now, it doesn’t have to be much more than maybe 15 or 30 minutes. You could easily lose 30 minutes inside the Facebook or Instagram black hole. Then before you know it, you’ve been on there 45 minutes and you are not any smarter, wiser, or better off than you were when you started. So, planning 30 minutes, you could use it as your “Facebook time”, but just schedule it to learn. Now that you have your first of the seven strategies, what are you going to use in that time?
Number two is to find credible resources. Look for credible reference books. I love, love reading the old textbooks, things that were printed in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. It is kind of when things started to get a little slippery, and we know now that we can’t believe half of what’s being put out there. Even the research that’s coming out now, a lot of it is skewed so we have to be very careful. My recommendation is when you’re looking for credible resources and reference books, try and find the older ones. One of my favorites is anything written by Dr. Royal Lee, and those were in the 1930s. That’s when this field of nutrition, health, and the way that the body works were being discovered, so to speak. Go find those reference books and credible resources that you know you can trust the information. Another great source of research or learning would be a medical textbook. If you love physiology of the endocrine system, then find a thyroid textbook, ovarian textbook, or fertility textbook that’s actually going to dive into the physiology. The better we know how it works, the better we’re going to be able to explain it to a patient. That’s number two, find and use credible resources and reference books, preferably the older the better.
Number three, if you use nutritional supplements in your practice, find one or two supplements and learn about that one every week. Then by the end of the month, you’re going to have four of them under your belt. And in a quarter, you’re going to have 12 of them under your belt, and in a year, you are going to have 52 of them under your belt. So start with one supplement. I love using herbs. One of my favorite books is by Kerry Bone, anything written by Professor Kerry Bone. Let’s say I’m studying the thyroid, I may want to go read about bladderwrack because it is a sea vegetable that has good amounts of iodine in it. Since I’m looking at the thyroid, the physiology, I may want to study about that herb or maybe coleus, but I try and pair what I’m learning with a product or a supplement that I may want to use with a patient. So that’s number three. Find a supplement and learn that one supplement every week.
Number four is to always look for ways that you can be in a community and collaborate with other clinicians. Because when we are in a community and we connect with one another, there is so much learning that takes place. There’s a tremendous amount of value in a relationship, especially today in the middle of this COVID mess, it is a mess, my friend. We’re in the middle of this situation where everyone’s being forced to isolate and stay away from one another. But what we want to do is bring the community together and to connect, share, and interact with each other. Finding other clinicians, learning what they know, and asking questions like “how do you handle X condition? What have you used for this or that?” And that’s why I started The Clinical Mastery Social Group. We started on Facebook and we moved over to Mighty Networks, because when clinicians can come together and say, “Hey, I have this really tough patient. What do you think? What would you do?” that, my friend, is how we learn the street smarts, right? That’s how we get the street-savvy knowledge going on. We can then say, “Wow, I wouldn’t have thought of that. I didn’t know how to do that or I didn’t think to address that particular situation or symptom.” Being in collaboration with a community and connecting with other like-minded clinicians is so important. So that’s number four. I work with lots of chiropractors, and I never understand competition. You as a clinician have your own passions, your own knowledge, your own training, your own experience, and your own delivery. There’s only one of you. You can’t be like the other guy down the road and that other guy cannot be like you. Now, you might both be chiropractors, but that doesn’t mean that you can both see all the people because in a town of 500,000 people, how many chiropractors, acupuncturists, or whatever your discipline is, you can’t see all the people. We need more than one. Everyone’s going to have a different delivery so competition is not an issue. We are so much better together, learning together, supporting one another together than we ever would be apart. That’s where that community is so, so important.
Now, number five is we want to always have a place where we can ask questions and on top of that. We want to be able to contribute to the whole. As humans, we are wired to be part of a bigger collection, connection, or tribe. We are tribal people. We’re meant to be together. When we have to be separated and we can’t contribute to the greater good of the whole, we don’t do well with that. We really need and want to connect with each other. When you find that community or you can collaborate, you have to be as much a part of that collaboration. You can’t just be a fly on the wall, take in all the information, and be stingy with it. You want to contribute back. You want to make sure that you comment if you’re in an online group, contribute to the community, ask questions, collaborate, encourage somebody else, because we’re all in this together, especially now during these COVID months. That is number five.
Number six, don’t be afraid to try something new. Now this one, it’s not a way to learn, but it somewhat is because if you are always sticking with the same old, same old, same old, same old, you’ll miss something because our bodies are changing. We change with the introduction of more toxicity and we’ve seen changes in our children with the increased number of vaccines that have been added to the schedule. When I first started in practice, it was pretty easy to fix a fertility case, fairly easy. Three or four months, we’d have things working and they often got pregnant. Now, fertility rates, they’re skyrocketing and I believe it’s because of the increased toxic burden. We are just walking around a toxic bag of stuff. If you stick with the same thing that you’ve always done, it may not work anymore. Don’t be afraid to try something new because we’re going to have to learn how to adapt. The only way that we’re going to be able to help our patients is if we’re willing to try something new and look outside the box.
Lastly, number seven is to have access to a wide variety of resources. We talked about like credible resources, reference books, and items similar, but I have found that where there’s a community and where there’s access to a large library of resources, practitioners are much more successful. If I have to go back through and look in my Evernote account, my OneNote account, or flip through a binder of notes from a seminar, that’s going to take me forever. I just need to know that one product or that one dose of one particular thing that was used for whatever condition, I need to find it quick. That’s where we need to have access to a library. Now, there are some online tools that you can use and one of them that I really enjoy is called Study.com. Another one that I have enjoyed is Dr. Najeeb (The link to both of these is in the show notes). The third one that I’m a bit partial to and that’s because I created it, but I created it for this reason, is an online community called Clinical Academy. Clinical Academy was created because I was frustrated at not having information that I needed quickly. So Clinical Academy is a library of resources that can help practitioners search and find what they’re looking for with a few keystrokes and a touch on the enter key. If you’re searching for PCOS, everything’s going to come up about PCOS. If you’re searching for digestion or an herb, anything that is in the Clinical Academy library will come up. So, whether you use Clinical Academy or Study.com or Dr. Najeeb Lectures, find a place where you can have a library of resources that makes it easy for you to grab, search, find, and get what you’re looking for without much difficulty. That’s the best thing that you can do to make sure that you have the right information available for you whenever it is that you need it.
All right, now let’s wrap this up. If you want to have continual learning to serve your patients better, there are seven key steps that you need to think about to expand your learning and have a bigger impact on your patients. Number one, schedule time to learn. Number two, use credible resources and references. Number three, pick a supplement and learn everything you can about that herb, supplement, or nutrient every single week. Number four, stay in community with other clinicians. Keep those relationships alive. Number five is to ask questions and contribute. Don’t be a lurker. Don’t get in a group or go to a meetup where there are other practitioners and you just sit idly by. Contribute to the whole. Number six, don’t be afraid to try something new. Be sure that you step out of your box, even if you’re not sure. I guess that’s where the value of community is as well because you can ask in your community, “Hey, has anybody ever tried X? What did you think about it? Did it work? Did it not work? Do you think it would work with this type of patient?” That’s what the value of community is. And then lastly, number seven is to find a library or a place where you have resources that you can access quickly without having to go pilfer through notes and this and that. You want to get to the information that you need right now. Get it quickly, easily, and make sure that you’ve got it.
Dr. Ronda Nelson: So, there you go, my friend. That’s The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast for this week. I’m really loving doing these podcasts for you. I’ve had so many docs email me and say they’re loving it. So, wherever you listen, all you have to do is hit that subscribe button and you’ll be able to have the episodes automatically downloaded to your device every single week. If you love the podcast, please take a minute and go leave a review. It really helps me know that I am helping you be a better clinician and serve your patients better. And lastly, if there’s anything that I can do to help you, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can visit me on my website, RondaNelson.com. I’d love to see you there. Take care, my friend. I’ll see you next week.
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