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Australian College of Phytotherapy


The Business of Healing

2nd Edition – 9 new chapters

Robert Medhurst B Nat
The Business of Healing

Now in its second edition, this book has been written by a naturopath who has operated several successful clinical practices, has tertiary qualifications in management and has lectured on this subject around Australia since 1996. The first edition of The Business of Healing became widely regarded as the best book of its type in Australia and has become the set text for this subject in most institutions teaching non-medical health care since 2003. The book covers the requirements for setting up, operating and marketing a successful non-medical healthcare practice. It provides information on everything from selecting your clinic location and getting started in business, through to exit and succession planning, from the author’s own personal experience and that of some of Australia’s most successful practitioners. This book is essential reading for anyone contemplating setting up a non-medical healthcare practice, or those who have a desire to increase the impact of their existing practice.

ISBN 978 0 958079 81 5                     263 pages               Robert Medhurst

Book Review by Kim Hunter in the, Aust J Med Herbalism 20(1) 2008

This second edition includes 9 new chapters and 101 new pages of updated and revised material.

Practice management is often found as a short intensive course that is offered to natural medicine students at the end of their study. About-to-be graduates frequently realise at this point that their hard won healing knowledge and skills are only half of what it takes to be a successful practitioner. On top of being an effective therapist they also need a range of business skills and unless they have previous experience, the size of this hurdle can put many into overwhelm.

Enter The Business of Healing, a text that covers all, if not more than the material usually presented in the courses mentioned above. It can help new practitioners prepare for and negotiate many of the pitfalls and hurdles inherent in setting up and running a practice. For those with previous business experience it introduces aspects particular to the industry such as ethics and Government regulatory requirements.

The first few chapters briefly discuss the various ‘how’ and ‘where’ options of practice as well as clinic layout. The text then moves on to insurance, business structures and a discussion of the costs involved in setting up a practice. The business of daily practice is delved into including how much to charge, what types of forms you will need (including examples), what software is useful, thoughts on reception, a brief but very useful section on policies and procedures, and a dispensary management section. For the future or those with enough initial capital, there is also a very useful chapter on the considerations and responsibilities of employing staff.

There is a large and detailed chapter on marketing that will be useful to both new practitioners and those who think they need to put some more effort into this part of their business but don’t know where to start. The raft of Government regulations that apply to practitioners is covered briefly but thoroughly and includes everything from music licenses to poisons schedules, trademarks, safety and hygiene and, of course, taxation. Ethics around client information and malpractice and negligence issues are discussed, with the obvious proviso that individual and professional advice should always be sought.

The book finishes with an overview of financial and business management (including the often not considered topic of how to successfully get out when you wish to) and a great summation chapter on getting started and staying in business. There is a resources section of mostly Government departments, as well as useful texts.

Overall an excellent book that I believe will be very useful for all new practitioners as well as for those who wish to revitalise or increase the effectiveness of their clinic.