Bioceutical Interview For Maedy
Maedy Colenso with humility would like to thank Bioceutical's for writing this article for the FX Medicine magazine
Written by Jennifer Joseph
When the student becomes the master
Naturopath Maedy Jane Colenso believes when you are healthy you feel truly alive in every sense, and her personal health journey has inspired an outstanding practice in Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic.
Maedy Jane Colenso consults people with a variety of chronic conditions including epilespy, multiple sclerosis, heart health and diabetes.
|“If you work on your own health, mind, body and soul we then have first hand knowledge on how to help others and share wisdom. Personal experience is underestimated.”|
"I still see some of my clients from 24 years ago,"says established clinic owner Maedy Jane Colenso.
" Some Babies i treated are now seeing me for conception care. It is beautiful and i feel very humble about this"
With more than two decades of cliinical practice experience under her belt, Maedy has built up Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic as a unique healing environment with a "sensational " group of practitioners including chiropractiors, osteopaths, massage and neauro structural technique (NST) therapists.
However it is arguably her p[ersonal journey with health that has lead to her passion for complementary medicine and in turn her profit turning clinic outside of Melbourne's eastern suburbs.
At 12 years old , Maedy fractured her skull and only a year later was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy known now as tonic -clonic seizures. " At my worst i was having one seizure every week, " explains Maedy . " i had seizures on roads, trams, swimming pools, showers, and as a bride’s maid in the middle of the bridal waltz to name a few.” In testing medication and treatment, Maedy
was given an overdose of Epilm at 17 years and became very sick. She was not seizure free at all and felt more and more disillusioned with – what she felt was – being used as a guinea pig. She decided to try and take control of her health.
“My doctor said I would be lucky to be alive by 30. I went to a naturopath at 16 and this gave me the first taste of gaining back some control and lead me on the path of learning about my health and the medications I was prescribed, my diet choices and my water intake. From then on all I wanted to do was learn and help other people.”
At the time, naturopathy was not a well known career choice but to Maedy, it was her destiny. Enrolling at the Southern School of Natural Therapies, she graduated in 1990 with an Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy as well as a remedial massage therapy qualification.
“I think I had $4000 to my name when
I graduated. I started working in five places including working out of my unit, a health food shop and other clinics. I paid commission instead of rent for where I practiced. In the health food shop, I just served and spoke to customers but that was not the path for me. When I was not busy, I walked the streets with advertising papers – this kept me fit and busy. I still believe the best advertising is word of mouth. However, I was not going to sit around and wait for patients to come to me; I wanted to be proactive.
“I went to every course I could go to and learnt from seeing practitioners myself what type of practitioner I wanted to be. We can never
stop learning from clients but it also helps to find mentors and practitioners to teach us on our journey as practitioners. If you work on your own health, mind, body and soul we then have first hand knowledge on how to help others and share wisdom. Personal experience is underestimated,” says Maedy.
In her first few years as a qualified healthcare practitioner, Maedy did not focus too much on the future or goals due to her uncertain health.
“My main challenge in the early years was to keep seizure free so I could drive my car. From a business perspective, I got excited when I saw two clients a week, then I got excited when I was averaging 10 clients a week.
“I tried to be friendly and professional and would go out of my way to help. The first five years, I would have a made-up Christmas party with friends just so I felt like I was in a normal working environment. With what money I earned, I gradually collected the remedies. I started with basic vitamins, minerals and herbs; you do not need to do it all at once. Naturopathy is a career where you have to find the remedies that you feel confident with and resonate with. Some practitioners are more into homeopathics, some herbs and some nutrition. It is very individual. I never seemed to stress about money or work for it was just exciting.”
Gradually realising her energy was split, Maedy decided to consolidate and work in Warrandyte. She started practising at the Yoga School then moved to a shop, and in 1999 she finally built her clinic – Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic.
“I started to see a profit within the first few months. When I am at work, I am completely present. I am consistent. I do not move people’s appointments or muck them around. I keep myself well. I sit up at night and research cases until I get the answers I need to help someone.
I really care about people,” says Maedy.
Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic is welcoming, colourful and clean. It has a tree in the middle of it and animals painted by a local artist on the walls. A waterfall and a rock desk feature in the centre of the reception area, contributing
to a healing environment as well as a professional
yet friendly feel. As the clinic has grown, Maedy has passed on the business management to her husband so she can focus on her passion for treating patients.
With her dedication to complementary and alternative healthcare, Maedy says the majority of her business and client base has been generated through word of mouth. She is very careful and “fussy” about who she employs, and for that she is rewarded by consistent good feedback.
“Three years ago I launched a website as one of our younger practitioners came to me and said ‘businesses that do not have websites are not trustworthy’. I was quite insulted as I thought I was very trustworthy. So I took this advise on board and put together the website. But I still think it is word of mouth that gets the new clients to come to the clinic or visit the website. When people come in as a referral and have a story of how well their friend is doing you already feel they trust in you.”
Maedy says it takes a solid five years of commitment to build your own practice. At Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic, new
clients usually consult with the clinic’s newer practitioners which helps build the practitioner’s own clientele. “If you move on from your first clinic at 4.5 years or earlier, you never see the rewards of your hard work. Think about where you want to
live, how you will incorporate family life, and what sort of practice you want before you start in this career. Bigger is not always better. If you do not want the business side of it, you may be better working in another practice.
If you want to have your own practice, start from the beginning. Choose the location and people you are with carefully and give it the time to build.”
Politics and honesty also play a part in building the relationship with your employees. “When you are dealing with sick people you do not need office politics. You can have an amazing practitioner, but if they are on some ego trip and are nasty to our receptionist, they are not worth having in your work space. Choosing where and who you work with is very important; I am so lucky I love who I work with. The clinic was built in 1999 and I still love working there.”
As for integrative medicine, Maedy believes in the concept of networking, referring and working with other healthcare professionals for the benefit of each client.
“I like to think that the future of healthcare is using the best of naturopathy and the best of medicine for the benefit of the client.
“Without natural medicine, I would not be here and I would not have three beautiful children. What challenges and inspires me the most is seeing and aiding miracles. I know we see some hard cases and hear some emotional stories but when people come in smiling and have never felt better or happier or have dropped in weight or been seizure free or pregnant or still alive when they were told they would be dead years ago – that is what I love about my work,” says Maedy.
For more information on Maedy Jane Colenso and her team visit www.possumhollow.com.au
Top three business tips
- Practice what you teach.
- Word of mouth is the best advertising.
- Learn – keep learning from every client, every practitioner. Be humble enough to ask for help when you need it.