I get a lot of emails from new graduates and budding practitioners on how to build a successful practice.
And I love sharing my own experiences and challenges in my homeopathic journey.
I also love sharing the journeys of my own mentors and incredible practitioners in the homeopathic world..
But today I have something awesome to share with you.
Lee went from being a nervous student with no confidence, no patients and no business skills to building
a thriving full time practice running two homeopathic clinics ( and she is still growing!)
And here’s how she did it...
( I invited her on a webcall for this chat and this is the audio recording. I have also added a transcript just in case the recording is not too clear)
SHILPA: Hi, it’s Shilpa Bhouraskar here. I’ve got Lee Formica with me today. One of the things that I have passionately talked about over the years - one of the best ways to start your practice and grow your homeopathic business is to simply make that start, and then keep growing your homeopathic toolkit across the Stages spectrum so you have choices and a repertory of tools to suit your patients’ needs.
Lee Formica’s own homeopathic journey will illustrate this point in a dramatic fashion, and I thought you will find this very interesting. I’ve known Lee right since she took those baby steps in my student clinic, to then as a mentee in Argentum Mentoring, and now as a full-time successful practitioner running two clinics.
Recently she has been invited to train new students at Endeavour College of Natural Health, where she is impacting budding homeopaths with her experience and knowledge. So for me, it’s like completing a full circle to see my student becoming a teacher herself. Hence, I’ve invited her to share with you her story of transformation and the obstacles she faced, the challenges she had, and how she overcame those to build her dream practice.
Lee, thanks for coming in today. I’ve known you right since you were a student, grow from there, evolve; and I see you as a successful practitioner. So, tell us a bit just about your homeopathic journey. Start from when you were in your last year, because that’s where I remember you still. So talk about what was it to be a student and then start thinking about - yes, this is when I want to practice. How did that happen?
LEE: Well, I was a very nervous student in that last year when I started student clinic. Yes, there was just no doubt in my mind that I wanted to practise, so I was very committed to it. But I have a lot of performance anxiety, I guess you would say; or that whole transition - you know, you finish college and then you’re out in the world - but I was very determined to start practising.
So, I rented a room in Enmore one day a week. I put my hand up to get into Argentum. I took every opportunity I could to continue to learn about practice, and to I guess step up to any opportunities I had to start practising. You know, I was definitely not very confident about it, but I was very committed to doing that. So, I just started.
SHILPA: So the best part is you were very committed, you knew you wanted to practice right from day one since you started learning homeopathy.
SHILPA: Now in those first few months, I would say, what was the most difficult part when you actually started?
LEE: I think the most difficult part was getting over the doubt. Certainly for myself, you have this impression that you’re going to find this fantastic remedy in the first consult, and that somehow you’re going to bring everything together and be competent or good straight off. I think that was a bit of a barrier, or could really very easily stop me from doing anything.
So instead, I just tried to take small steps at a time. I just tried to put myself in a situation or to say yes or answer a phone call and have a conversation to just be proactive, to just do it - yes, just to really just get started. I made use of whatever resources I had - including I was doing some group supervision then as well; as well as starting in Argentum; I got offered to be a locum in Debbie Rayfield’s clinic at Balgowlah, and I said I’d do that even though that was quite daunting for a couple of weeks.
I just forced myself, in a way, to start and to take advantage or make use of the support that I had. I was listening to more experienced practitioners talk about when they first started. Like I found that quite inspiring because invariably, they would be saying that they might have had some doubts or that it was quite difficult, but they just got started. That was quite good to hear particularly when you could see the practice now, 10-20, however many years down the track. Yes, I listened to that quite closely and took that on too.
SHILPA: So in your clinic, when you started, how did you get your first patients? What was it that you did to actually attract your first group of patients?
LEE: Well, I made the decision to work outside of home or to rent space. I think that provided a connection or community in terms of those practices. One was in Enmore, which didn’t really have a lot of people; but I just tried to talk about homeopathy with as many people as I came into contact with, I guess. Once after that first year when I moved to a multi-modality clinic here on the Northern Beaches, it just encouraged me to talk to other practitioners about what homeopathy was, perhaps how I could help their clients.
I just said ‘yes’ - like I think being proactive and saying yes to any opportunity that I had to talk about it and to practise. Yes, I kind of really had to put myself out there with that to start to build that client base, I guess; to start to see patients and learn more; and to really get myself going; and have that mentality I’m a homeopath - this is what I do.
SHILPA: Great. So you were happy to go out there and start speaking about being a homeopath and what it was, and to people - whoever, wherever - so networking was a very important part of that. Is that correct?
LEE: Yes. Communicating that and talking about it just continued to help me step into that job, I guess, as well. It just continued to give me confidence in terms of what I could do - talking the talk, yes, walking the talk.
SHILPA: Perfect. So if you remember with your first few clients - like there are so many practitioners that I see or beginner students I see, they’re very daunted by the task of being able to see the patient and take that interview and prescribe remedies - talk about that. Do you remember any time at that particular point? While you were with patients, what was the most challenging aspect for you?
LEE: Well in that early time, I think the most challenging was dealing with the internal thoughts in my head regarding taking the case, what remedy I was going to prescribe, my own kind of doubts or insecurities about it rather than actually being present in the consultation and really being able to connect with the client - because, you know, there was so much else going.
So it was definitely a process of becoming more confident in the tools and the skills I had so that it comes to a point down the track where really I can just wholly be there in terms of taking the case, rather than in those early days - I’m thinking about in student clinic particularly - of being much more consumed with my own kind of dialogue about what to do. Just the interpersonal sort of aspect of being a practitioner. So that was the most challenging thing at the beginning, yes, taking myself out of the picture and just actually being present.
SHILPA: Being present with your client.
LEE: You know, have the confidence or the trust that you can actually know what you’re doing, and that you can bring that together.
SHILPA: Right. How did you work on that?
LEE: Well, definitely by studying a lot or becoming clearer about what I was doing, and having confidence all round, and a groundedness in the practice, you know, sort of took that nervousness out. So I guess I overcame it not really consciously, but actually focussing on learning more and practising more. In a way, just without even thinking about it, that kind of faded away as I became much more solid, I guess, in the process. The more I was doing it, the clearer I got. The more I learned, then that kind of showed that up quite a lot.
SHILPA: Talk about the learning and the studying, Lee. What was it that you did to actually grow at that point?
LEE: Because I loved what I was doing, I just kind of studied it a lot. I definitely took advantage of, you know, I did my Bachelor and then I studied with Olga, in the Primal Baneerji Advanced Homeopathy Course, and then with Argentum (Mentoring). You know, it’s a fantastic structure to really test cases, to learn different types of analysis, and I guess expose yourself in a sense - where you’re as a practitioner. But I really wanted to be better, to learn more and to develop a strong practice. You have to put yourself out there a little bit to practise, to learn; there’s no other way I don’t think.
SHILPA: Absolutely. So, that was very important. So, you put yourself out there. You made that jump and that was huge, but also you were growing your toolkit in a way. It wasn’t just one particular way you were doing. You were sort of Baneerji would be sort of like Stage 1 or 2; and then in Argentum, obviously you were learning different approaches. Talk about your toolkit. Talk about what was the expansion like; or when you started, the approaches you used and how were you expanding.
LEE: So I think that when I first graduated, definitely I probably had more education in a Kentian maybe Stage 3 kind of work.
LEE: Look the thing with the Stages concept, it was massive for me - I remember when you first started talking about that - because even though I had a lot of fantastic teachers and differing styles of practice, differing analyses, but I was really conscious of this culture of some judgement in terms of or some criticism of particular ways to practice.
That just kind of sand dumped me, and I was very committed to being a practitioner that could treat anybody that walked into my clinic. I wanted to have the competency to treat Stage 1 with tissue salts or homeoprophylaxis or using mother tinctures; and definitely Stage 2 Boenninghausen, that was something that I really learned solidly after graduating.
So the whole Stages Framework has been very important, I think, in terms of that confidence of practice and in terms of being a practitioner that I wanted to be, that was flexible in prescribing. That takes the doubt or fear out of a lot of my practice because I realised that I could - and I feel this way now - there’s a surety in terms of how I can take a case and it’s so kind of client-centred or patient-centred.
Yes, I can really -- I’ve got a framework in my mind that allows me to be confident that I can treat at different levels. I mean that was really important and it remains important in terms of the confidence in practice. For me, it’s really been very important.
SHILPA: Perfect. So the thing was you started off as something where you were basically trained with Kentian approaches, but then you made up and you grew that, and that was what kept you going.
LEE: Yes, I guess I mean I was trained in others -- in the Boenninghausen as well. But I guess the synthesis or the integration of those practices was the crucial thing for me. To be able to have a concept or a framework that integrated those, that made sense to me - that was really important in terms of practice, as well as that stuff about communicating homeopathy, or what I could do or what the scope was, that kind of clarity, that framework really very strongly grounded me, I think.
SHILPA: Correct. The other important thing I realised is you didn’t wait to learn it all, to know it all before you started. You started, and you grew on the job. Is that correct?
LEE: Yes. I think yes. You know, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I think it’s a common feeling to graduate and feel like you don’t know enough. I mean, it’s true isn’t it? There’s constant development and learning, so yes, I think that can be a real trap in terms of not starting. Yes, it’ s a trap to stop action because you sort of wait and even if it’s quite stumbling or even if it’s not really that -- you know, you’re learning. It’s a whole new story, isn’t it, being in practice compared to as a student?
SHILPA: Absolutely, great. So, go further now. People start - there are so many practitioners or students who make that start, but so many of them give up. Those first four or five years is such a critical time. Talk about what was it to go beyond the five year crucial period.
LEE: I knew I was getting better and better or that there was a progression. I had really strong -- in my clinic life, I was renting a couple of days in a multi-modality clinic, that the culture in that place was very much about growing as a practitioner, about sort of stepping up, having to give presentations at practitioner meetings. I had a kind of dedicated workspace and work life going on, you know, with Argentum and other sort of study or definitely with that kind of programme of just this continual development, it was different.
So learning new tools or strategies or things about practice, but also in terms of seeing that practitioner story as, you know, just authenticating your development. The more success I got, I guess, or the more my practice grew, or the more confident I became in what I was doing, it just kept me going.
I kept moving along. I just got stronger and stronger in terms of what I was doing. I kept going. I know many people that talked about this five year period as being crucial, “Oh, you’re on the other side of this five years. Congratulations, you’ve done it, made it”. That kind of surprised me, but I think that’s -- yes, I just kept going.
SHILPA: Perfect. So, it’s important. What I realised is you surrounded yourself with communities and groups of practitioners who kept on inspiring you, who were growing and who were doing it; and that’s the type of community that you were building around yourself, and it made a huge difference. Is that right?
LEE: Yes, definitely, and encouraging me to keep going. The thing about the mentoring programme or Argentum I think is over that time, I became much less critical of my own practice or making mistakes, the nature of that process. So in the beginning, I guess that’s what’s daunting about putting out where you’re at because you think - oh, it’s kind of exposing.
On reflection, I’ve become a lot more compassionate and kinder to myself as a practitioner within that process. That can only help you along, I think, soak up that encouragement and put those efforts to keep you moving along that track and not be so critical of yourself and your practice, and to actually value what you’re doing out there. I think it’s very important because then that just feeds into it, doesn’t it? It just kind of nurtures the whole story along.
SHILPA: Right. So, you learned to nurture yourself and not be very hard on yourself - because that’s what we do as practitioners, we are too hard on our own selves. Is that correct?
LEE: Yes. Recognising your strengths and recognising what you’re doing well, and I mean even recognising the good intention in terms of becoming a better practitioner. Celebrating your successes, that kind of stuff is really crucial in developing yourself as a practitioner. Like the tools or resources and proficiency in prescribing is all one thing, a huge thing, but also just that development personally as a practitioner, continuing to grow on that level.
SHILPA: So not just professionally but personally as well, there was a huge change happening with learning to appreciate your own strengths and the confidence which you grow with because you appreciate what you’re doing and how good you are, and knowing that you are really getting better at it.
LEE: It’s complicated being a homeopath isn’t it? Or setting up as a sole practitioner as well, like wow, it’s a big job. So definitely, I’m a big fan of supervision and support, mentoring and support. That’s the other thing. So in those early years if I was quite stuck with the case - I have it on my intake form about if I get stuck - to have permission to be able to take that person’s story or case to get supervision, it’s fantastic. I mean clients love it. I think it’s a really valuable part of the service I can provide someone too; and as well as doing better work individually for a client, but also just nurturing my whole practice and my growth as a practitioner.
SHILPA: It’s amazing, Lee. So, tell us about your practice right now. Where are you in terms of your practice? Talk about where you are right now. You’ve come a long way. How many years now you have been practising?
LEE: Seven years now.
SHILPA: Seven years, wonderful. Tell us where you are right now.
LEE: Where I am ... well at the moment, I’m in Sydney. I’m working from a home clinic now. I’m here for a few months. I also have a practice in Bellingen where my home is. Basically, I’m still very keen to be a - what’s the word you use - multi-dimensional practitioner. But basically, I just feel open to just helping as many people as I can and introducing homeopathy to all sorts of areas of practice. I just started teaching again. So I started off learning; so learning and teaching are kind of two sides of the one coin. It’s really fantastic to be doing that.
SHILPA: So you work in two clinics, and plus you are teaching. So you are like a full-time homeopath, is that correct?
LEE: Yes, full-time on the job.
SHILPA: Talk about the experience of being a full-time homeopath. What is it like? What does it do to you? So for people who are working to go to a level where they can practice full-time - you know, you’re running two clinics, you’re teaching - tell us about that step. It’s a big huge step from being a student, being a successful practitioner, and now taking up that role of being a teacher. How was that transition? What made you do that?
LEE: I was offered the opportunity. Like I said, I’ve had wonderful teachers, including yourself. I was just thrilled to be able to have that opportunity, kind of have the shoe on the other foot, to keep learning more, to go back to the basics; also to I guess challenge myself being able to communicate what I’ve learned.
Because it’s not that long a time that I’m still very -- well, I still am a student - to be involved in that dynamic on either side of the fence, if there’s a fence, is wonderful. It’s just deepening the love of what I’m doing really. It’s fantastic.
SHILPA: So, it’s amazing. Thank you for sharing - because to be able to deliver what you’ve learned and what you’ve collected to the future generation of new practitioners and new homeopaths coming, it’s such an amazing aspect of being a homeopath. If I have to ask you what are those words of wisdom that you would give a final year student in homeopathy, what would you say?
LEE: Just throw yourself into it, like just to keep going. Really the rewards of all that study and practice and the fantastic experience it is to really help somebody move. My last follow up before I left Bellingen, you know, someone that’s in a really debilitating state of ill health, and to be able to see them - a month or two or at least follow up six months down the track - really amazingly transformed in terms of their ability to live life to the fullest or that Aphorism 9 - freedom to be able to express in feeling and function, to really be able to be in the world in a much healthier and happier state. What a fantastic job - how beautiful is that?
I mean it’s normal, I think it’s normal - maybe not everyone’s like that - to have doubts or to have this concept about being competent or knowing it all as a practitioner. But that’s just a fallacy really. The learning and the doing is, I think, the most important thing and kind of trusting what you’re bringing to it as well - keep going.
SHILPA: That’s wonderful. It really summarised it - that just get on, make that jump and you will learn, it will happen. At the other end, it’s highly highly rewarding. That’s the whole beauty of being a practitioner, isn’t it?
SHILPA: So, amazing. Thank you so much, Lee. That was really inspirational, and I’m sure so many of the practitioners in the network would really benefit from your story. It’s awesome. So if you’re watching, I want you to scroll down below in the discussion forum and give Lee a thumbs up on this page. Leave a comment for her and let her know what you think - because it’s not easy to come out there and share your story, and I just think she’s doing such an amazing job. So, I would love you to let her know what you think.
This took courage to share… please don’t forget to leave a comment below and let Lee know what you think of her story!