When first starting as a clinician, you feel excited and ready to tackle any health challenge your patients bring forth. After all, that’s why you got into alternative medicine. To help people get healthy!
Your education and experience have made you a brilliant clinician, trained and able to treat varying health concerns from thyroid to digestion to diabetes. You’re skilled at helping patients live their healthiest lives. And because of this, you may feel tempted to keep your practice broad and help anyone who comes to your door.
Although the passion for helping everyone is altruistic, it is doing a disservice to your practice’s success. Being a jack of all trades robs you of ever calling yourself a specialist.
Unfortunately, many clinicians fall into this trap.
They may offer so many vast services that they’ve unconsciously designed their practice like Walmart – where people can get everything they want in one spot, but they’re not so sure it’s the best quality every time. While one-stop-shops are great if you want to grab batteries and butter on the same trip, patients may want something different when it comes to healthcare.
What Does It Mean to Have a Walmart Mindset With Your Practice?
You probably didn’t expect to hear the phrase “Walmart mentality” when thinking of alternative medicine practices. But the reality is there. It’s something that happens over and over again with well-intentioned clinicians.
Think of the last time you went to your local Walmart. What was on your list? A wide variety of items, right? Walmart is great for this. It’s a place where you can find toenail clippers, oil for your car, a nice pumpkin-scented candle, and a gallon of milk – all in one spot.
But now, think about when you bought your last car. What was your approach? This is a big-ticket purchase, so you probably searched online, looking at different models and pouring over reviews and safety ratings. Eventually, you decided it was time to take a look in-person. Where did you go? Probably a dealership that you knew sold the exact car you want, right? When you want quality, you look for a place that will give you the best – with help from professionals that know what they’re talking about.
The same is true in healthcare. By offering to treat everything, you’re also sending a message that you specialize in nothing.
This can lead new patients to assume your care approach may not be the best quality option for them – which is certainly not the case. Nevertheless, this perception can cause them to glaze right past you in their search for a practitioner.
Patients and Specialized Care
Let’s say a patient has a specific issue they’re dealing with, such as digestive issues. When they’re looking for a practitioner to help them, they’re searching for someone who knows the digestive system really well. They aren’t looking for a general practitioner – a one-stop-shop Walmart approach. They’re looking for a specialist.
So, if they find your website, and it’s talking about how you treat thyroid issues and cognitive health and nutrition and offer chiropractic care, the patient is likely going to feel overwhelmed. When they see a long list of everything you’re an expert in, it doesn’t reassure them that you know how to fix their specific digestion problem.
Patients with specific health issues want to see expert practitioners who specialize in that problem.
How can patients tell what you specialize in? It starts with the content on your website. Using the digestion example, the patient notices that you refer to the digestive system multiple times on your website. It’s mentioned in your services, blogs, articles you share, and so on.
I bet you’re thinking, “I’m worried that if I niche down into a specialty, I’m not going to have anybody come into my door.”
This is a valid fear, but it is merely that – a fear. Figuring out what you love to do and the types of patients you genuinely enjoy working with is a game-changer for your practice.
Identify what you love, get really good at it, and then allow word of mouth marketing and your specialty expertise to spread into your community so that people know who you are and what you do best.
So let me ask you, what is the one thing that lights you up?
How to Identify Your Niche
Knowing what you want to specialize in can feel like a huge undertaking. If the thought of having a niche causes your chest to tighten and your shoulders to tense up, it’s okay. Take a deep breath, and let’s start with these seven questions:
1. What are you naturally super good at? In other words, what’s your superpower – what comes so naturally to you that you don’t even have to think about it? Maybe you’re a great communicator, or you come alive when working with the thyroid. Think through and pinpoint what you love helping patients with.
2. What do patients see you for that you’re naturally drawn to? When you look at your patient schedule, there are probably some that excite you while others may fill you with dread. Pay attention to which appointments give you an extra pep in your step.
3. What personal health challenges have you overcome that you’re now super knowledgeable about? Maybe you’ve had a family member who had cancer, or you’re going through menopause. Think about the challenges you’ve successfully overcome or have experienced with friends or family.
4. What are your passions and interests when it comes to alternative medicine? This question isn’t so much about skill – it’s about what piques your interest. Look at what blogs excite you or what social media accounts you follow. What are these folks talking about?
5. What is the dominant topic or theme of the books on your bookshelf? Go in and take a look at your books or thumb through your e-reader. What are some common topic themes?
6. What are the most common questions you get in your practice? Think about what people come to you and ask. Of those questions, think through which ones irritate you and which ones you could talk about for hours.
7. What’s your niche based on all six of these questions? Bring all your answers together and look for commonalities. Start to narrow it down and see what emerges based on your passion, superpower, skills, experiences, and also what repels you.
Niching Is a Necessity – But It Isn’t The End of the Road
It’s perfectly normal for it to feel scary. But take some comfort – know that just because you’re focusing on one area doesn’t mean you can’t offer other services. As healthcare clinicians, we know that everything in the body is interrelated. You can’t treat one area solely without considering others. However, your prospective patients don’t need to know this right off the bat! Once you attract the types of patients you absolutely love working with, you can then introduce them to the other wonderful services you have to offer.
The art of niching down is ultimately designed to help you build a practice centered around the patients you love. And all while becoming a stronger authority in your field.
Finding a niche will help you attract the patients that feed your heart and soul and let you be the superstar practitioner you are.