3X4’s new Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight series features interviews with practitioners, consultants and functional medicine thought leaders to explore everything functional medicine practitioners need to know about successfully building, managing, and growing their private practice.
The following is an interview we recently had with Jennifer Clemente MS, CNS, Clinical Functional Nutritionist, Body Bliss Nutrition
What can you tell us about your practice?
Jennifer Clemente: I am a clinical nutritionist practicing functional medicine and functional nutrition. I got into this because I was once a very sick patient myself. It was surprisingly difficult to find someone who listened and put the time and effort into figuring out what was going wrong with my health. I decided this is what I would do for others.
I specialize in intestinal conditions and chronic inflammatory cases like autoimmunity, chronic lyme etc. My practice is located in NY. Until Covid I had an office in lower Manhattan in the financial center. Since quarantine etc, I have mainly been practicing remotely from my home office with some in-person consultations as well. I went into private practice in September of 2017 and found that my business grew quite a bit since going remote. Social media has also become an integral part of my practice. I give away tons of free content, do free weekly office hours LIVE open to the public on Instagram and also have a social media interview show that features inspirational people. As practitioners working with those suffering I find it important to spotlight what’s possible to give people hope and the determination to make changes in their own lives.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
JC: I left a very large practice with a huge staff, services, lab etc to go into private practice. I wasn’t sure I would be able to survive on my own without the backing of a large organization and I was very surprised and happy to see that it went better than I expected. I was very surprised by the impact social media had on my business.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
JC: Working as a solo practitioner, I did not have any staff or support when I started so the biggest hurdle was figuring out what systems and automations I needed to make things work more smoothly. It was important to me to focus on patient care rather than spending all of my time on scheduling, filing, answering phones etc. I found a great practice management tool called Practice Better which really fills my needs and allows me the freedom from office work. My first office was also in a co-working space where I had a receptionist built in to my rent who answered phones, greeted clients, dealt with messengers etc. I later was able to hire a medical VA (virtual assistant) who is quite amazing and handles all administrative inquiries and work for clients. I also stopped carrying supplements in house and switched to an online dispensary which has saved me a lot of money. When I worked in the large practice, thousands of dollars worth of supplements were routinely thrown out because they had expired.I find it’s much more cost effective (and space saving) to work with something like Fullscript or Emerson. It also allows me to easily work with clients in other countries by setting up dispensaries abroad.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
JC: Set it up so that you can make a profit from the day you open your doors. Getting things streamlined without a huge overhead is very possible and doable and it’s easy enough to bring things in-house as you grow. Alleviating the pressure of large overhead makes it easier to focus on what you love. Also if you are in a particular niche, partner with someone you think is amazing and does something different than you. My second year in practice I joined forces with a Nurse Practitioner friend who specializes in hormones and women’s health. Not only was it wonderful to move into a lovely space with her, we’ve partnered on countless numbers of complex cases. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and work through a case with is a huge help and it makes it more fun.
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
JC: I’m a science nerd and I love putting the puzzle pieces together using different forms of testing. It’s really fun and interesting and sometimes I feel like a detective. Nothing is better than watching it all come together when a client turns a corner and regains their health or has improved quality of life. It’s pretty magical.
Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?
JC: I imagine I will have a hybrid of my past practice and current one. I would like to see clients in person part of the week and continue to do virtual visits the rest of the time. I have been happily surprised by how well virtual visits work and how nice it’s been to work from home. I plan to continue to offer more and more free content, interviews, talks and information to help educate people on how they can change their health trajectory.