Camille Freeman on Mentoring Others

May 27, 2021

We spoke with Camille Freeman, a registered herbalist and licensed nutritionist with a specialty in fertility and reproductive health. Practicing since 2003, Camille has been working virtually since 2011. Over the past few years, she’s focused on mentoring other practitioners who need help with complicated cases and growing/running a sustainable clinical practice.

Camille is also a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Herbal Medicine at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where she teaches physiology and pathophysiology.

Let’s dive in and hear more from Camille on mentoring others to help grow their business!

What drew you to your niche of fertility and reproductive health through herbalism and nutrition?

I’ve always been interested in the menstrual cycle and the rhythms of our bodies. Many of us aren’t taught what is “normal” or “healthy” when it comes to menstruation, conception, pregnancy, postpartum, or the perimenopausal transition. There are so many ways to support folks who are running into health issues related to these processes, and I enjoy helping people find out how to best understand and navigate these cycles.

Also, focusing on peri-conceptual health means that we have an opportunity to affect health over a lifetime as well as intergenerational patterns. There are windows of opportunity before conception, during pregnancy, and in the first year of life that can be critical to future health. Working with people in these stages of life means that we’re making a difference beyond just one lifetime.

Throughout the duration of your career, you’ve transitioned to mentoring others. What inspired this transition in your career?

After having my second child, I wanted to take some time away from my practice. I was looking for other clinicians who could take on some of my clients during my break and was dismayed to find that there really weren’t that many who were in practice and “findable” via Google. I knew there were amazing practitioners who had come through the programs/courses I had taught, but where were they?

After asking around, I realized that people were struggling to keep their practices afloat. The biggest issues people reported were not feeling ready to take on challenging cases and being overwhelmed by the work of running a practice and finding clients. When I realized that these were the biggest stumbling blocks, I set out to help newer practitioners so that we can have more highly-trained practitioners out here helping people in their communities.

What advice would you give to someone looking to find a business mentor? What signs would indicate someone would benefit from mentorship?

Essentially anyone who is running a private clinical practice could benefit from a mentor. I’ve tried to do this without a mentor personally, and I find that everything works better in my practice if I commit to working with someone who can guide me through the next stages. We generally aren’t taught business skills in school, and it can also feel lonely and overwhelming to deal with the intricacies by ourselves. Having an outside set of eyes to provide perspective and guidance makes all the difference.

My biggest piece of advice for people looking for a mentor is to dip your toe in the water first. Get to know the practitioner before you sign up for anything long-term, and listen to your heart/gut/intuition about any red flags – or even pink flags. If the person’s work doesn’t resonate with you, keep looking! There are so many fantastic folks out there to learn from. Look for someone who is in clinical practice and who practices in a way that aligns with the work you’d like to do.

Some particular times when I’d advise seeking out mentorship include:

  • When you’re just getting started and need help figuring out what to offer, who you work with, and how to explain what you offer to your clients
  • If you need help finding more clients
  • When working with complicated clients
  • If you’ve been in practice for a year or two and still are not able to comfortably support yourself
  • If you feel stuck and aren’t sure how to move your work/practice forward
  • Before making a big change to your practice or work

You do private mentoring and also offer community-based group mentoring. Can you explain the difference between each?

Group or community-based mentoring may sound less desirable at first glance, and it can be even more powerful than private mentoring. There’s something special about working in groups – as long as they are facilitated well! A truly well-run group mentoring model means that everyone in the group brings something to the table. We can each learn from one another’s cases, questions, and experiences. In a collaborative group model, you are both contributing to and learning from a community, which is a different energy than a one-on-one model. Being part of a community calls on you to both give and receive help.

For example, my Monday Mentoring is a community of practice for highly-trained nutritionists and herbalists. According to Etienne Wagner, communities of practice “are groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” This format is an excellent fit for almost anyone who’s in practice and who wants to learn with and from others who are also doing similar work. In Monday Mentoring, we ask people to dedicate an hour per week to grow as a practitioner. When you surround yourself with others who are consciously engaged in the same type of work, you evolve in ways that aren’t possible on your own.

Private mentoring is better for people who are looking for individual support around a specific issue or concern. For example, if someone needs advice/feedback on their pricing model, why a sales page isn’t working well, or designing a specific plan for finding more clients, then private mentoring may be a better choice. Those who aren’t able to consistently devote time and energy to a community model may also find that private mentoring is a better fit.

How has being a mentor improved your own skillset as a Practitioner?

I find that my mentoring work has made me a better practitioner. I learn about new resources, see things from different perspectives, and continually adjust my own practice model because of my work with people in my mentoring programs. In the past 6 months, I’ve updated my intake form to use more inclusive language, added several new-to-me herbs to my repertoire, and expanded my list of apothecaries who do custom-formulating based on what I’ve learned from mentoring.

It also deepens my connection with the herbal/nutrition community in general. I have a stronger referral list, more awareness of issues that affect the community, and a better sense of where people are struggling and what we do well now that I work closely with so many others. I’m incredibly grateful to work with a diverse and talented group of people every week.

How do you use the PB platform to work with mentees?

One of my favorite ways to use PB is in my monthly herbal observation groups. During these sessions, I interview a client while a small group of other practitioners observes. We then meet a few days later without the client to discuss the case and to design recommendations for the client collaboratively. I use Practice Better Programs to host these, which allows me to share the client’s intake form, host the sessions via Zoom, and moderate a group chat where we can discuss goals, assessment, and herbal/dietary/lifestyle recommendations within a HIPAA-secure environment. I also use the PB group program to share the final recommendations for the client and any updates from the client. Anyone who would like to learn more about how I set these up in PB is welcome to contact me!

My Roots course for new practitioners, which helps people get ready to open their doors by setting up insurance, forms, scheduling, etc, is also run through PB. I love that I can drip out the course content, set up tasks for participants to complete/check off each week, send reminders, accept payment, and host live Q&A sessions all through PB. Having a group forum for people to use for questions and to share progress/resources is incredibly helpful.

Do you have anything coming up that you’d like to share with the PB community? Where can our community go to learn more about you?

I’d love to invite any herbalists and nutritionists to attend my next group observation session. I have at least one per month, and this is a great way to experience collaborative clinical work. I’ve also just opened up a new section of Monday Mentoring, which meets on Mondays at noon ET.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Camille!

You can learn more about Camille by visiting her website.

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