During your personal training career, you will no doubt have clients that need to see another health practitioner for treatment or advice of some kind. Whether it’s to treat an injury or receive tailored advice regarding their diet, it’s important that you have a network of trusted professionals in which you feel confident referring your clients.
Because of how much time we spend with our clients compared to other health professionals, clients often see us as the ‘go-to’ for health advice.
Having a list of trusted health professionals that you’re confident about referring your clients to for advice or treatment demonstrates that you’re proactive, a true professional and—most importantly—that you care.
You never know when you might need to refer your client to another health professional, and you certainly don’t want to be caught blindsided without an answer when your client asks for your personal recommendation. Telling your client, ‘I don’t know, I’ll get back to you,’ doesn’t instil much confidence.
Here are 6 simple steps you can take to create a network of health professionals that you can count on.
1. Compile a list of respected professionals that you would like to include in your network
I’ve listed five categories of health professionals below which should satisfy most of your client’s needs:
- Doctor (GP)
- Registered dietician
- Remedial massage therapist
The practitioners listed above should cater to most of your client’s needs, but there are many other allied health practitioners you could consider creating a professional network with, including podiatrists, naturopaths, osteopaths, psychologists and clinics that specialize in testing body fat levels using specialized equipment (e.g., DEXA scans).
2. Ask others for information on their referral network
Have a conversation with other personal trainers that you know and trust to find out where they refer their clients. Make sure to ask about the specific practitioners and clinics others refer to and find out how many clients they have referred. Also ask about the treatment these clients received and whether their clients were happy with the treatment.
3. Prioritise personal recommendations over search engines
Always favour recommendations from fellow trainers and clients over names you find when searching online. Unfortunately, search engine ranking has little correlation with patient care or outcomes. Remember, we want to build a network of the best practitioners within our immediate area, not just who appears on the first page of your search results.
4. Be the guinea-pig
Another way to find out if a practitioner is worth referring your clients to is to seek treatment from them yourself. You probably have a niggling injury here or there, or maybe you wouldn’t mind developing your knowledge in nutrition to further your own training and physique. This can be a great way to get to know the philosophy and style of a practitioner as well as their communication style.
5. Ask questions
Even if you aren’t a patient yourself, don’t be afraid to ask a practitioner about their treatment philosophy and how they might manage a patient referred by a personal trainer. Much like how a prospective client expects to be able to ask you about your own approach to training, any medical professional should be capable of sharing their own approach and giving you a sense of whether they have experience working with patients on the issues for which you’d likely make referrals
6. Be mindful of client sensitivities
Keep in mind that some clients may have some sensitivities. For example, female clients may be uncomfortable seeing a male massage therapist and vice-versa. Avoid this concern by asking your client if they would prefer to see a male or a female and be ready with recommendations for both.
Having a trusted network of health practitioners in your corner that you’re able to refer your clients to is essential. Having a network of trusted practitioners not only demonstrates that you’re a professional, it shows that you’re someone who truly cares about your client’s health and wellbeing.
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