August 7, 2013

When I was first starting out, I struggled to find a visit schedule that felt right for my practice. I’d heard vastly different opinions. Some experts recommend weekly or biweekly visits, others say monthly is  a bare minimum, and still others do one-off visits.

In student clinic, we were urged to schedule follow ups  2-3 weeks after the first visit.  Out on my own, working primarily with women’s health and fertility, that schedule felt weird. Two weeks usually wasn’t enough time for any herbal recommendations to “kick in” and of course clients had not completed a full menstrual cycle.

A lot of practitioners like to see clients again relatively quickly to provide added support & motivation, and to make adjustments if things aren’t going well.   I can totally see that, and for me 2 weeks was too often. I didn’t have a lot to say and felt like it wasn’t a great use of time (and the client’s $).

I resorted to vague statements like “Come on back in when you run out of herbs” or “Let’s meet again in a few weeks.” Leaving it up to the client wasn’t my greatest idea ever. Sometimes she would get in touch to make a follow up appointment; other times she wouldn’t.  I didn’t have a good system in place to remind people to schedule appointments, and many of my clients slipped through the cracks.

After many years of trial and error, I finally found a balance that worked for me. When I got clarity around my optimal schedule, I immediately noticed that more clients scheduled and kept follow up appointments. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Be clear with yourself about how often you prefer to see clients – I like to see most clients about a month after their first visit. There are exceptions, and those are rare. You may prefer weekly or biweekly visits. Whatever it is, have a target follow up date in your head.
  1. Give the client clear instructions – should she schedule the appointment now? Call you, email you or schedule online? Can she come in sooner if she needs to? I’ve found that scheduling a month in advance leads to cancellation in this area  – plans change, meetings get scheduled, etc. I often say, “Amanda, I’d like to see you again in about a month. Please email me to schedule an appointment for the first week of January.” If you’re scheduling an appointment on the spot, you could say “Amanda, let’s meet again in a month. Which days would work for you the week of January 15th?”
  1. Follow up with your client – Remind her! If you schedule an appointment, send a reminder email a day or two before. If you asked the client to contact you to schedule, shoot her an email if you have not heard from her in 3 weeks (note, FollowUp is the only way I ever remember to do this)

How often do you see clients? Did it take you a while to find a schedule that felt good? Please share below  🙂

About Camille Freeman, LDN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for highly-trained herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating.

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