Does referring out make us look like less competent therapists? The short answer is “no,” although I think the process makes a lot of therapists feel like that is the client’s perception. I promise it’s not. Knowing your skill level and not risking your client’s health by trying to “figure it out as you go” will make that client appreciate your service and expertise much more.
If we are members of the healthcare profession, then we must act like health care providers. A general practitioner isn’t doing surgery, radiologists don’t deliver babies, and every massage therapist cannot give every massage to every client. In fact, if we try, we aren’t being professional. We are risking our clients, we are risking our personal reputations, and we are jeopardizing the perception of massage therapists across the country.
Your clients don’t expect you to have all the answers, and they won’t respect you if you act like you do. If you can quickly find the answer, do it! But if you know that the best lymphatic practitioner in the area works across town, and that your client would benefit from working with them, by all means make that suggestion. If you attempt to BS your way through an MLD service when you don’t know what’s going on, your client will be able to tell. Then, suppose your client hears about this great MLD practitioner from her doctor and asks you why you didn’t refer out, what are you going to say? “My pocket book is more important than your progress?” “I didn’t want to risk losing you, so I hoped you wouldn’t find out about them?” No. Honesty is the best policy.
Do you know how many people that disgruntled client is going to tell about her experiences with you? Do you think she’ll tell her doctor? Do you think she’ll tell the nurses in that practice? I bet she will, and I bet they will remember your name. Not in a good way. And that will certainly not benefit your practice.
Now what if you DO recommended that practitioner to her, and then her doctor does the same the following week? Wouldn’t you like her to tell the doctor, “That’s the same person my regular therapist suggested I see for MLD! Beth is such a great therapist, she really has my wellness in mind!” What do you think the nurse who hears that conversation is going to say?
The best outcome for our clients should always be foremost in our mind if we want to build a long-lasting business. Clients will come and go, but they will remember you. Even if a client leaves your practice for this reason or that, they will remember how you treated them and how knowledgeable you were; not just in your work, but in how well you helped them find the correct solutions.