Mary Wong is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner based in Toronto, Canada. She owns a private practice at ALIVE Holistic Health Clinic and has recently published a book, Pathways to Pregnancy: Personal Stories and Practical Advice for Your Fertility Journey. In this interview, Mary explains how she came to become a Chinese Medicine practitioner, how she built her business, and some of the challenges of introducing eastern medicine to western health care professionals.
[1:46] Mary explains how she came to Chinese medicine. She intended to study western medicine, but while she was in college, her grandmother fell ill and was given 2 weeks to live. Mary took her grandmother to a Chinese healer—in three months her grandmother was completely well and lived for eight more years. Mary finished her degree in biological science, and then went straight into school for Chinese medicine. She’s been practicing for more than 20 years.
[4:08] Early in her career Mary treated a Western physician, who then asked her to join his practice. They opened one of the first eastern-western medical clinics in Toronto. She opened her own practice sometime after this, and now owns a clinic in downtown Toronto with three other practitioners.
[5:33] Mary’s practice was busy when she first started, as she was the only Chinese medicine practitioner in her area. This prompted her to join with other health care professionals. Mary talks about trying to combine her own fertility treatments with work, which is also described in her book. She tried to conceive at age 38, but discovered she was unable to do so naturally.
[8:40] Mary had to have fertility treatments every day. She had to figure out how to have the treatments and not lose her practice. The solution was to bring in other practitioners.
[10:28] Allowing the clinic to grow—there are now three other practitioners—has been very good for the business. Many more patients can be seen now.
[11:45] When she was the sole practitioner, Mary worked 10 hours a day, six days a week. She has a 4-year-old daughter now, so she’s only working 30 hours a week now. Writing the book took some time too.
[13:42] Mary describes herself as a fireball. Now she’s an older mom, so she’s slowing down a little. She still gets inspired to write late at night.
[14:49] Mary says writing a book is just the first part of being an author. After the book comes out, you have to market it on social media. Mary is now spending a lot of time on social media networking, and working with her publishers.
16:00 Mary did a hybrid publish with her recent book, Pathways to Pregnancy: Personal Stories and Practical Advice for Your Fertility Journey. Her book is in small bookstores locally, and bigger chains in the US, and also through Amazon.
[17:04] Mary has done podcasts and radio interviews about her book. She was written up in the Toronto Star and in other Canadian newspapers. She also did a TV interview on a morning show.
[18:45] One in six couples have trouble conceiving a child. Mary wanted to break the silence around infertility with her book. She says there’s no one right way for increasing fertility—eastern and western medicine can work together.
[20:18] Mary talks about a study of eastern medicine—acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and yoga—after IVF. The study found eastern medicine positively impacts the rate of healthy babies born.
[22:55] Mary sees a lot of different patients besides fertility patients. Pain is the most well known complaint—headaches, muscle aches, migraines, etc. [24:10] Mary says the way for holistic healers to get known by western health care professionals is to speak their language. She refers patients to western doctors from her practice, and vice versa. When Mary visits western health care workers, she leaves brochures, and talks with nurses and administrative staff.
[24:10] Mary says the way for holistic healers to get known by western health care professionals is to speak their language. She refers patients to western doctors from her practice, and vice versa. When Mary visits western health care workers, she leaves brochures, and talks with nurses and administrative staff.
[24:10] Mary says the way for holistic healers to get known by western health care professionals is to speak their language. She refers patients to western doctors from her practice, and they also refer to her. When Mary visits western health care workers, she leaves brochures and talks with nurses and administrative staff.
[25:56] Mary has been invited to speak at “Lunch and Learn” events at hospitals, which also increases her visibility.
[26:24] Mary explains how she builds her business. Most importantly, she spends a lot of time with patients, and empathizes with them. She has her patients’ back, and they spread the word.
[29:00] The biggest business challenge for Mary is administrative work. She defers most of the decisions to her admin staff, but still has to participate. She’s hired good people to handle the admin side. Her practice is open 7 days a week.
[30:46] Having multiple practitioners and staying open on the weekends supports patients better, because health problems don’t go away on weekends. At all times there are two practitioners working in her clinic.
[32:18] Mary’s business advice to newbies: it takes a lot of patience and persistence to build, develop, and grow a business. Do what you love, love what you do. Education around your practice will keep your fire burning. And create support around the practice.
[33:40] Mary is going to speak to Google staff in NYC, on workplace support for preconception health and treatment. She’ll be talking to Google staff, and it will be video recorded (so it may be available to people outside of Google).
[36:15] Preconception health in women is impacted by the diet before ovulation, physical toxicity, emotional stress—the four months before conception are most important. The same is true for men, but 72 days is the window there.
Bio – Mary Wong – Toronto, Canada
Mary Wong, B.Sc., R.TCMP, R.Ac, is the founder of ALIVE Holistic Health Clinic based in downtown Toronto, Canada. A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, Mary has been in practice for more than 20 years. She treats each patient as an individual – not just their diagnosis. She has made it her life’s mission to bring about change and improve people’s health by bridging the gap between Eastern and Western medicine. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter. Her new book, Pathways to Pregnancy, launched on September 17, 2016. Mary’s clinic website can be found at www.aliveholistichealth.ca
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