We were lucky to catch up with Dr. Chantal Davis recently and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Chantal , thanks for joining us today. How did you get your first job in the field that you practice in today?
I graduated from Acupuncture school in 2009. At the time, there were very few jobs in the field. I knew that I was going to have to pave my own way and build my practice from the ground up. Today there are more jobs popping up in the field of Chinese Medicine but the salary does not reflect our education or qualifications.
Fortunately I had the drive and confidence to build my own practice despite some who tried to dissuade me. I was told the area was saturated. True, however, despite the number of acupuncturists here, there are still many people who have never had acupuncture. I also knew that those who needed me would come to me.
I left my job teaching English as a second language at a private language school to start acupuncture school full time. While I was in school, I got trained as a massage therapist and started my own massage practice. I worked out of my home, at a pilates studio and I did outcalls. This was my first time being my own boss and I really loved the flexibility and not having to answer to anyone. My career as a massage therapist gave me a lot of experience in terms of how to gain more clients and how to take care of some of the administrative tasks such as client reach out and follow up. It helped me greatly with understanding the body and different body types and allowed me to realize my gift of touch. To this day, I will find any source of tension in the body within seconds. I owe my Acupuncture skills to my experience as a massage therapist.
What my massage practice did not prepare me for was all that goes into running an acupuncture practice. This is a very different ball game that requires a lot more administrative work and efficiency in record keeping. I had to get credentialed with insurance companies, learn how to verify benefits, bill insurance companies, maintain my license by taking 50 continuing education units every 2 years, maintain malpractice insurance, market myself, chart all of my treatments and maintain my books. Acupuncture school did not prepare me for all of the hats I had to wear in anyway. Back then, they trained you in Chinese Medicine and that was it. At the same time, I was pregnant with my first child. You can say I birthed 2 babies in 2010, my practice and my son.
The past decade has been a roller coaster. Most of the time I am so happy to run my own practice and be my own boss. Other times, I dream of going to a job, giving treatments and going home without having to think about marketing and maintaining my own practice. I have since delegated a lot of the administrative tasks that I did not enjoy doing myself such as billing and bookkeeping. In the past few years, the new nuisance is keeping up with social media. At the moment, I manage all of my instagram posts, newsletters and blogs. I see myself delegating that in the near future as well, of course under my direction. I enjoy writing, educating and sharing tips but with social media you need consistency. Sometimes you just do not feel like putting out any content. I’d love to just focus on what I do best, practicing Chinese Medicine.
I am very happy to say I have made it past a decade as an Acupuncturist in private practice and a single mom living in the very expensive city of San Diego. I must be doing something right.
Dr. Chantal , love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I received my Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2009 and my Doctorate in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in 2017. While finishing up acupuncture school I became pregnant with my first son Jason and had my second son Elias 2 years later. My practice was initially focused on pain management and orthopedic acupuncture. My pregnancies attracted a lot of fertility and pregnancy patients to me and I began to dive deep into the world of Women’s Health and its relationship to Traditional Chinese Medicine along with Western Medicine.
My practice seems to evolve along with me as I move through each phase of life as a woman. I still treat fertility and pregnancy, however, as I move into the peri-menopause phase of my life, I find myself more interested in helping other women who are transitioning into this same phase in their lives.
I focus a lot on nutrition in my practice because I believe it is one of the best ways we can take care of ourselves. It is my goal to educate and emphasize the importance of listening to your body and letting it guide you to what feels good overall as opposed to in the moment. Intuitive eating is something that seems to be missing in our culture. We don’t need a specific type of diet. We need to eat what and how much feels right for us. By that I mean, you are left feeling nourished, light and energetic as opposed to heavy, bloated and fatigued. Food is medicine or poison. I also love to use Chinese herbs in my practice and find they make a huge difference when used in conjunction with acupuncture.
I have created a course for women called In The Flow that helps women understand how their cycles work and how to live in harmony with them. It teaches them how to manage menstrual pain, eat with their cycles and plan activities and exercise with each different phase as well as stress management tools, sleep hygiene, sexual health and breast health. I am working on creating a similar course for peri-menopause/menopause and young girls just starting their cycles. What I would have given for this information right from the start.
My well rounded background as a free spirited, nature loving traveler, the stage I find myself in life as well as the journey I have taken to get here sets me apart from other practitioners in my industry. I feel I have an ability to relate to people in various stages of their lives and their struggles and provide a safe space to let themselves go so they can move into healing.
Do you think you’d choose a different profession or specialty if you were starting now?
If I could go back, I would likely not choose Acupuncture as my profession. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love what I do, believe in what I do and am great at what I do. The issue I have is the lack of jobs in my chosen career. I have had no choice but to create my own practice and keep it going over a decade now. Sometimes it is completely exhausting. The amount of education, continuing education, licensing fees and students loans for a career that doesn’t offer jobs or if it does, not very well paid jobs, is absurd. I hope this will change and it seem it is as far as more jobs beginning to pop up in the industry. However, the pay vs. education, investment and qualifications is still no where near equal. We are Doctors and have the same amount of education and loans to pay back, yet, we are not treated as such. Especially in hospital settings. I was so excited to have gotten an interview in the labor and delivery unit at a local hospital. When they described the position to me, per diem, sell yourself, quite low pay, etc…, I found myself talking them out of hiring me. It was no where near as prestigious as I had thought it would be. Regardless, I know that this is exactly what I am meant to be doing and I love it!
What’s a lesson you had to unlearn and what’s the backstory?
If I could back in time to the day I received my notification of passing my boards, I would have hired a business coach right away. I did get business coaching over the years and it did help with my mindset but never strategy. I have recently started coaching with a fellow acupuncturist who has been in the business for a very long time and has had quite a bit of success. I have made many bad decisions over the years that have wasted a lot of money. I will never again make a big decision without first consulting my business coach. Lesson learned the hard way.
- Website: www.freeflowhealth.com
- Instagram: @free_flowhealth
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/FreeFlowHealthAcupuncture
- Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/dr-chantal-davis-l-ac-dipl-o-m-b365095b
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/free-flow-health-acupuncture-san-diego-5?start=40
- Other: In The Flow – Women’s Embodiment Program https://freeflowhealth.podia.com/