Tara just returned from a great seminar in Arizona. Awesome trip, great lectures, helpful stuff. And, Arizona versus a cold, rainy October weekend in Ontario? No contest. :)

Part of a great CE experience, though, is not feeling guilty the whole time for investing in yourself. If you’re like many practitioners, you may stress over whether you can justify the cost of travel, seminar fees, and time away from work.

For this seminar, Tara paid for the entire trip–flight, hotel, course, etc.–with ten minutes of work using the strategies below. Here’s how you can do the same.

STEP 1: Choose Wisely

It’s hard to leverage CE if you don’t pick the right stuff. I’m all in favor of learning for the sake of learning. But if you want to translate your continuing education into dollars, you need to be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is this a topic, technique or tool that I will actually use?
  • Will it appeal to my existing practice clientele?
  • Will it bring new clients to my practice that I might not have found otherwise?
  • How will I get the word out to clients, both new and prospective?
  • How many NEW visits/treatments/appointments do I need to generate to pay for the cost of the CE?
  • How long will that take?
  • Can I start immediately?

There are many CE opportunities out there, and we’ve found that these questions are very helpful in narrowing the field down to what will pay for itself many times over.

STEP 2: Take Smart Notes

Stop being a human photocopier. No, really.

Your job is not to write down everything the presenter says – most of the time they give you the notes or slides anyway. Your job is to capture two things during your lecture or workshop:

  1. Insights that will allow you to provide better care.
  2. The actual names of real honest-to-goodness clients in your practice that you can help with your new knowledge.

You know what I mean. Stop writing down stuff you’ll never look at. Write down the names of real people. Jot down real action items that you can do when you get home to start growing your practice. And just listen.

STEP 3: Block Off Extra Time

Yes it’s expensive to go to seminars and conventions. Yes it’s expensive to take time away from the office. And so the temptation is to leap into work the moment you get back to make up for lost time and money.

Don’t. You need to create some time to leverage this new learning (see below) so that it will continue to pay for itself every day. Create some time when you first get back so you can do the most important part of learning: putting it to use. The first day or two after your workshop or retreat are critical in terms of recouping your investment. It’s worth the time. A full day should give you more than enough time. A half-day is probably sufficient to get a lot done.

STEP 4: Leverage Your New Knowledge

  • Strike while the iron is hot. If you’re flying to a seminar, then work on the plane. Once you return to the reality of practice, the odds of leveraging your new knowledge decrease with each passing day. Get it done soon, or it’s not going to happen.
  • Don’t try to do everything. If you’ve learned 150 new tips and techniques, or 75 new conditions you can treat, don’t try to tackle them all. Pick a handful with the biggest impact, and focus on those.
  • Get the word out. Post to your blog. Send out a newsletter. Update your website. Post to Facebook. Tweet. Call or email the clients who’s names you jotted down. If you have an established practice, then your existing client base is the low hanging fruit. Let them know what you have to offer!

That last point is an instant cash generator. After this course, Tara gave the front desk a short list of a few existing patients whose names she had noted during the seminar. A few phone calls later, those people had booked appointments, and were delighted that Tara had thought to go the extra mile and bring something new to their case. And the CE was paid for.

Just the one strategy of jotting down patient names and calling them after the seminar paid for the entire trip. That’s ten minutes of work. And that’s just the beginning.

CE is fun. But it’s even more fun when you feel like you’re getting paid to do it!

Practitioner’s Journey workshop in Hawaii, anyone? :)

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2 Responses to “How To Turn Your CE Into Practice Revenue”

  1. Bonnie says:

    I know that many alternative health practitioner’s don’t always like technology but I find that our netbook (alternatively an ipad) typically has enough battery power to last a full day for note taking at seminars. You can type a lot faster than you can write. Also, this means you won’t be looking at your notes trying to figure out what you wrote because your hand cramped. It’s very easy to edit out (or in) patient names as you take notes. At a couple of seminars I had friends who couldn’t make it but were very interested in the topic so I sent them my notes. This required that I go back and re-read them as I edited them to make sure I had full sentences and such. I found this enormously helpful because I was going over the notes while the information was still fresh. I found I got more out of the seminar by requiring I do this. I have my notes online in google docs. Do I re-read them? Not often but they take up no space in the office and I know if I need that information it’s just a mouse click away (and the ink won’t fade and everything is in complete sentences!)

  2. I also record my courses. If they are really valuable, I have my interns transcribe the notes and then we use them for training materials for our new associates. The interns love doing it because they get the chance to really learn something new outside of the material they are learning in acupuncture school and we get traing materials.

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