By Ann Marschel
Have you ever wondered or thought about how you could teach the Billings Ovulation Method full-time? Maybe you are currently teaching and unsure of the steps to continue to teach the Method and make a profit doing so.
Anna Saucier, one of our webinar speakers, gave great insight on how to start and grow a business. Setting goals, making a plan, and using strategies that have been outlined below can and will help you in getting your BOM business to grow.
First, you have to brainstorm some goals for your business. Then you have to figure out what challenges you’ll face. Finally, start a 90-day plan.
Here is an outline to follow:
Tools, Techniques, and Technology
Once you have completed the questions and planning above, the items below will help you to reduce feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Now take your 90-day plan and do this:
Marketing and Sales
In order to have a successful business, it’s important to have a scheduling system and some way to keep track of your finances. When it comes to a scheduling system, Anna spoke about a calendar, one that gives you automatic reminders once you have the information in it. Anna uses one called Acuity Scheduling. She also recommended having a bookkeeper. You can do this yourself as long as it’s consistent. She uses YNAB because it keeps everything in one place and organizes her finances for her once she inputs that data.
Being a BOM instructor and growing your business can be done. Helping clients and enabling others with the knowledge of how their body works in regards to fertility is life-changing. With the guidance from Anna, building your business hopefully is not as intimidating anymore. Instead, it can be looked at as a wonderful opportunity to help people while earning income to support yourself.
By Mike Gaskins
When we think of Billings Ovulation Method and Natural Family Planning, we should never discount the importance of that word “natural,” especially when considered as an alternative to birth control. In business terms, it’s a selling point that can never be overstated. In social terms, it’s a tenet of the Method that’s easily underestimated.
It is the inherent un-naturalness of hormonal birth control and its subsequent complications that accentuate this important point. I’m grateful not only for what you offer as BOM instructors, but for what you may prevent.
Nelson Pill Hearings
Nearly 50 years ago, Senator Gaylord Nelson chaired congressional hearings that focused exclusively on hormonal birth control. His goal was to address two principle concerns:
Sen. Nelson opened the hearings with the stated objective: “to present for the general public’s benefit the best and most objective information available.” In the process, they covered a shockingly diverse list of side effects and complications that sent the nation into a panic. Women across the country began calling their doctors asking to be taken off The Pill.
When Pill proponents criticized Sen. Nelson for creating a panic, he shot back that if women had been warned about the dangers before being prescribed, they wouldn’t be alarmed hearing about them now.
As a result of the hearings, The Pill became the first drug in history required to contain a patient information booklet in the package. Otherwise, not a lot has changed since those days on Capitol Hill in 1970.
I cover the Nelson Pill Hearings in greater detail in my book In the Name of The Pill, but for the sake of brevity, I’d like to look at just four of the side effects discussed at the hearings and make a case for why I think it’s time to bring The Pill back to the Hill.
Then - The hearings discussed a groundbreaking British study that uncovered a 7.5-fold increased risk of death from stroke.
Now - In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that some current formulations of combination oral contraceptives can double a woman’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke
[ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1111840?query=featured_home]. It’s also worth noting that in 2016, Bayer, the maker of today’s most popular brands, Yaz/Yasmin, paid out $2.04 billion to settle over 10,000 blood clot-related lawsuits. [https://www.drugwatch.com/yaz/settlements/].
Then - The first major headlines of the hearings came when Dr. Roy Hertz proclaimed, “[Estrogens] are to breast cancer what fertilizer is to the wheat crop.”
Dr. Max Cutler testified that 1 out of every 20 women will develop breast cancer sometime during her life. Dr. Hugh Davis added, “Now, there are some 75 to 80,000 women in this country per year who are developing diagnosed carcinoma of the breast. If the chronic taking of steroid hormones eventually increased this by only 10 percent, we would have a very, very hazardous situation on our hands…”
Now - We have witnessed a 210% increase! 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in her life. Over 268,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year [https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics].
Then - Dr. Giles Bole Jr. described a rare disease called lupus to the senators. He was beginning to see this older person’s disease among young women who recently started on birth control. Dr. Herbert Ratner later testified that an estimated 1 out of every 2,000 birth control users developed lupus.
Now - In 1999, Arthritis and Rheumatology published a report that concluded the incidence of lupus had tripled in the past 40 years, and 90% of the diagnoses are women [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/epidemiology-and-pathogenesis-of-systemic-lupus-erythematosus].
A decade later, in 2009, scientists from McGill University in Montreal released the results of a massive population study. They collected data on 1.7 million women and found that women on oral contraceptives were 50% more likely to develop lupus [https://www.webmd.com/lupus/news/20090413/birth-control-pills-may-raise-lupus-risk#1].
Depression & Suicide
Then – Barbara Seaman warned that many doctors believed “that suicide, not blood clots, may, in fact, be the leading cause of Pill deaths.” Dr. Francis Kane testified at the hearings that 1 out of every 3 Pill users showed depressive personality changes, and a little more than 1 out of every 20 became suicidal. He added that women on birth control had “distinctly higher scores,” meaning not only were more of them getting depressed, but they were also experiencing greater depression.
Now - Fast forward to 2016, Danish researchers conducted a cohort study of 1 million young women, and discovered that women taking hormonal birth control were 70% more likely to develop depression. One year later, a continuation of the same study revealed that women on birth control more than tripled their risk of committing suicide [http://time.com/5030447/birth-control-side-effects-suicide/]!
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Nelson Pill Hearings. These four side effects represent only a small sample of what was discussed at the hearings, but I think they alone should be sufficient for us to demand that they bring The Pill back to the Hill. It’s time for new hearings focused on answering the same two questions:
I’m sure many of you have already heard about the side effects of hormonal contraceptives from your patients, and here is something you can do now to make a difference. A group of physicians and women’s health advocates have petitioned the FDA to include new black box warnings on these contraceptives. This petition is open for public comment until November 2019. Please add your comment and encourage your patients who have had negative side effects to add theirs by clicking on this link: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2019-P-2289-0001&fbclid=IwAR3B0ox9-SOcOKbQASz2v4yB37HS7yvPJ04VBaVVrapffSxUCwSTwTUw9bQ
Mike works as a writer/producer in all forms of media. His recently published book, In the Name of The Pill, examines the powerful forces that gave us birth control before it was proven safe, exposes the deceptive tactics used to keep patients in the dark, and explores the numerous ways women’s health has been sacrificed in the name of The Pill.
Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.
While Universities are creating an army of doctors and nurses trained to administer pharmaceuticals and perform invasive procedures on women, how can we hope to combat this and make an impact in our society? We believe we are a force for good, but are we relevant against the current culture? As you ponder these questions, it becomes clear that our effectiveness is determined by our resources.
Donations to BOMA are what have allowed us to continue our mission of providing the simplest and most personalized care in fertility education. BOMA supporters give generously of their time and talent, making them the lifeblood of the organization, but without financial support, we would not exist. Currently and historically, BOMA does not cover its operating costs through the services it provides. Furthermore, there are many wonderful ideas and ambitious goals that the organization simply cannot pursue due to a lack of resources. Any organization, for-profit or non-profit, must use a laser-like focus in order to succeed and grow. Therefore, it was important that we identify which goals would have the greatest impact while leveraging our strengths and experience. This self-reflection has led to the pursuit of our 2019 capital campaign with the goal of training 250 medical and nursing students on the Billings Ovulation Method®. Before explaining the campaign, I want to share a personal story that demonstrates the problem so many NFP-trained women and couples experience when seeking medical care.
I had the privilege of teaching my daughter Alexa NFP when she was 15. Years later, after being married, her charting was able to elucidate a form of PCOS that conventional methods would not have diagnosed. Her NFP-trained physician was able to read her charts and improve her irregular cycles, and within a few months of treatment, Alexa conceived. Unfortunately, my daughter relocated shortly afterwards and started seeing a non-NFP-trained Ob-Gyn for maternity care. Although Alexa was showing signs of luteal insufficiency, the conventionally trained physician wanted to wait to treat her for this until she started bleeding. Not comfortable with this “wait and see” approach, my daughter consulted her NFP physician by phone who immediately prescribed progesterone supplementation. The two physicians’ opposing views would not permit them to work together, so she continued to consult the NFP-trained physician for progesterone monitoring remotely and the other Ob-Gyn for her maternity care. She had a normal pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. During one of her postpartum appointments, the non-NFP-trained Ob-Gyn told my daughter that NFP was not going to work for her after having the baby and recommended that she start using some other form of birth control. Alexa fortunately said, “no thank you” and went on using NFP successfully during lactation, while transitioning back to fertility, and afterwards.
This is just one example of how women must navigate through their medical care after they have made the decision to use NFP. I am sure most teachers of the Billings Ovulation Method® have similar stories. Imagine how it is for women who don’t have access to an NFP-trained physician or don’t even know that NFP is an option because their physician doesn’t offer it. The next generation of physicians, nurses, PAs, and other allied health professionals are the ones who can create change for our future. Arming them with the knowledge of the Billings Ovulation Method® while they are in school and before they start practicing will give them confidence to persevere through the current culture in reproductive medicine.
Experienced fund-raisers will tell you that donors like to know what their contribution will accomplish. Our campaign gives us a strong story to tell. Since a typical medical practice will see about 92 patients a week, one medical professional can have over 4000 appointments a year and 90,000 during their career. The health professional’s position gives them credibility, so the potential impact to women’s health is enormous! When you add the additional benefits using the Billings Ovulation Method® has on the husband and family, the result of training one healthcare provider is overwhelmingly powerful!
To achieve our goal, we need to raise $255,000 over the next 12-18 months. This budgets for 250 student trainings and will add some funds for helping established physicians implement fertility awareness-based methods into their practices. Most of this budget will be used to pay for the trainers and deliver the education to the students in remote and in-person training sessions. It also covers the administrative costs of implementing the program and the ongoing revenue development activities needed to fund it. This will cause BOMA to thrive and grow, allowing us to pursue the goals we all want our organization to achieve.
Many of you reading this are already donors, therefore I want to challenge you to consider who you know in your own network who might have the desire to help us. If you are not currently a donor, please consider making a tax-deductible donation towards our campaign. We are in the networking and prospecting stage, using small grassroots meetings and one-to-one discussion to sell the BOMA brand. Please email Craig@BOMA-USA.org if you have leads or contacts, and I will contact you to carefully consider how they can be approached. We also humbly ask for your prayers as we proceed.
Thank you for being BOMA supporters.
God’s blessings to you and your loved ones.
Craig Turczynski, Ph.D.
Q. Tell us about your family.
Well, I have 3 sons and 9 grandchildren. I have 2 brothers and 2 sisters. We had very strong parents, and our family is very close. When my husband left, my parents and my siblings did everything they could to help me raise my boys, and I am eternally grateful to them. My sons are all married with children. They are all still in the Church, and I'm very proud of them.
Q. You’re one of the old-timers in the Billings arena. How long ago did you first get involved, and how did things evolve into you being the first NFP director for the Diocese of Memphis?
I love being an old-timer too. I learned the Billings Method in 1976. I didn't actually learn it very well, but I was so grateful for the knowledge that there really was a way to know about our fertility. I just knew I had to tell people about it. I thought, "Everyone needs to know about mucus!" I never intended to be a teacher, but God had other plans for my life. My idea of birth control was self-control while trying to use the Rhythm Method. I always knew God would give me the children He wanted me to have, and of course He did.
I sort of got hooked into becoming a teacher because back then, if you learned the Method, you could be a teacher. I can't say I did a great job in the beginning either! Once I saw that we really needed some kind of structure, three of us tried to put together a program offering Billings classes 4 times a year. I wrote up an outline so we would have something to follow, and we did that for several years. In 1982 St. Joseph Hospital here in Memphis wanted to open a Center for Life and include and NFP Center in it. I was asked if I wanted to be in charge there. I said no. God said yes, and so I did for 6 years. When the hospital closed and the property was sold to St. Jude Hospital, St. Francis Hospital gave me a room and we had classes there. Later in 1988, the Diocese of Memphis took on me and the NFP Center, and that's how I became the director.
Q. Your program became well-known as being strongly Billings. In fact, didn’t you have the Drs. Billings speak in Memphis? Tell us about that experience.
We were so blessed to have John and Lyn Billings come to Memphis in 1985. There were some wonderful benefactors here, Paul and Joan Mahoney, who wanted to bring them to Memphis to speak to all the doctors in the city along with all the priests. Paul always told me I was doing the most important work in the Church. J. Francis Stafford was our bishop then, and he was so happy to have the Drs. Billings come here. I made sure they were booked the entire time they were here, from TV and radio interviews, talks at the Catholic high schools, a doctors' dinner, a priests' luncheon, and talks at a parish and nursing school. I wore them completely out, but I wanted everyone in the city to hear about their wonderful work. When I picked them up at the airport, I told them I had done all I knew to promote their visit, but I had no idea how many people would come. In his great humility, John Billings said to me, "Mary Pat, if only one person comes, that person is the reason we came to Memphis." That really put me at ease, and we had wonderful crowds at every event.
Dr. Hanna Klaus also had them here in Memphis during a BOMA conference in 1994. I have so many wonderful memories of being with them during that time too.
Q. What was it like being a founding member of the board for what used to be known as the Diocesan Development Program for NFP (of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). Was there any particular initiative that the board took on that had lasting effects to this day?
The DDP was established earlier, but in 1986, I was asked to be on a committee to look at ways to help the dioceses improve their programs for teaching NFP. That committee became the National NFP Advisory Board, and we ended up writing the National Standards for Diocesan NFP Programs for the USCCB.
Q. As a trainer and supervisor of Billings teachers over many years, if you could sit down with each teacher both new and old, what advice would you give them?
Wow, I wish I really could do that! I guess the main thing I would say is always teach with love and make sure you are teaching the authentic Billings Ovulation Method without variations or alterations. Use the BOMA materials, the BOMA slides Parts 1 and 2 and the BOMA Review booklet. Make sure you do the proper follow-up with your clients every 2 weeks when they are learning. Know that you are doing a wonderful ministry to teach people about the marvelous way their bodies are designed by God and that their fertility is a great gift that can be understood and managed without harmful chemicals.
And of course, as Lyn Billings always taught us, KEEP IT SIMPLE! You don't have to teach everything you know. Give your clients the information that they need to learn to pay attention to their sensation at the vulva and the appearance of any discharge they might happen to see each day. Teach them how to chart their observations accurately each evening and teach them the 4 Rules. Teach the 3 requirements for Peak and the definition of Peak clearly and repeat those important things over and over. This is all new to most people, so be patient with your clients and help them gain confidence in themselves and their ability to know and love their fertility. And remember, you are doing the most important work in the Church!!
Q. Your work with our Education Committee has been tremendous! The newly designed PowerPoints and matching Review booklets have been a great help to our teachers. What inspired the creation of them?
It is my understanding that the last set of BOMA slides was needing an update so the new slides resulted from that update project. All BOMA teachers should be using the new slides Parts 1 and 2 when teaching the Billings Method now so we can know that the Billings Method™ is being taught accurately and consistently in the U.S. without variation.
Q. We also know you as the founder of the Mother/Daughter, Father/Son Program that started in Memphis but has been used in other dioceses. How did that come about, what does it entail, and is it still available for Billings teachers who might be interested in presenting it?
In 1986, our little group of NFP teachers wanted to find a way to share the knowledge we had learned, and we thought we could help mothers talk to their daughters about growing up and the changes of early adolescence with regards to their emerging fertility. We just sort of made up the program and hoped people would come. We thought if 20 people came, we would call it a success. Well, we filled up the auditorium at St. Joseph Hospital and had to schedule another one that first year. Mothers have been grateful ever since. They wanted another program for older girls and they wanted one for their sons, so I put together a very rough manual at the request of Fr. Paul Marx of Human Life International. The word spread, and NFP teachers around the country were presenting our Mother/Daughter and Father/Son Fertility Appreciation and Chastity Programs. They were such a great gift from God.
It is very important that only NFP teachers and users present the programs because they believe the truth and live it. The manual was put on the Diocese of Memphis website, but it's not there anymore. If anyone wants to look at it, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to send the file to you. It's nothing fancy and it's really old, but the information is there to help anyone who wants to present the programs.
Q. You’re a relatively new retiree. When did you retire from the Memphis diocese, and what are you doing with all of your time?
I wish I could tell you I have a lot of free time, but I really don't. I retired almost 2 years ago, but I am still very involved with BOMA as a trainer and supervisor and member of the Education Committee. I totally love to train new teachers, and I am a stickler for teaching it right. But once they learn, they will have it forever, and that makes me very happy. I also love to go on a cruise any time I can afford it, and I love spending time with my family and my grandchildren. I am also a huge Elvis fan, so I have to have some Elvis fun at least twice a year doing Elvis Week and the Tupelo Elvis Festival.
I try to go to noon Mass every day, and that is always my strength.
BOMA-USA provides education and training for The Billings Ovulation Method® which is a natural method of fertility management that teaches you to recognize the body's natural signs of fertility.