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 Michelle McElroy, DO, Founder of Aging Gracefully
What can you tell us about your practice?
MM: Aging Gracefully is located in Jenks, OK. I started it in 2018. I am a board certified OB/Gyn by training. I am certified in bio-identical hormone replacement. That is my first love. I work with both men and women with hormonal issues. Not just sex hormones. I also work with people with thyroid issues and people who are on the metabolic syndrome spectrum. I help to improve every member’s gut health.
Hormones cannot work properly if the gut isn’t working properly.
Currently I see the majority of my patients in person but do have the capability to do virtual visits if the patient desires.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
MM: Several things surprised me when I started my practice. First I loved being able to spend time with patients. My initial consult is an hour long. It was so nice to not be rushed and to actually have a conversation with a patient. I get to really know what their issues are and the struggle they have had prior to seeing me. I feel like I have a true relationship with my patients and they feel the same way. I get to make sure that all of their questions are answered.
I was also surprised by how hard I had to work to get patients.
I came from traditional medicine. I wasn’t used to having to do my own marketing which can be very time consuming and expensive.
I really had no idea how to do it. Learning about that was challenging.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
MM: I had to learn to get out of my own way. There was so much that needed to be done that sometimes I would be paralyzed. I had to learn to prioritize. I also had to learn to not strive for perfection all of the time.
I joined a mentorship group. This helped me tremendously. I got advice from someone who had already done it, made the mistakes and learned from them.
I also had access to all of the other mentees. It was so nice to know I wasn’t the only one going through the challenges I was having. It was awesome to hear how other people were dealing with them.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
MM: I would highly recommend finding a mentor or mentorship group. I wouldn’t have been able to start my practice without it. Next, you really need to figure out who your avatar is. Who is it that you are wanting to help. Be as specific as possible. That is who you are going to be marketing too. You also need to dial in on your message. Why are you doing functional medicine? What wrong are you trying to right? This needs to be part of all of your marketing. How can you help the people you are trying to serve? What service do you offer that will make their lives better? That needs to be part of your marketing also.
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
MM: I am excited about functional medicine because I know that I am truly helping my patients and my community.
I knew when I went into medicine that I never wanted to treat symptoms. That is what I did as an OB/Gyn. When I realized that I wasn’t really getting my patients better, I knew I had to find something that would.
That is functional medicine. I believe functional medicine is getting better all of the time. We as a community are learning more and sharing it with others. We are getting better at helping more people. I think more people are realizing that they are sick. Traditional medicine is not getting better and probably never will. It isn’t designed to do so.
Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?
MM: Five years from now I see my practice as a hybrid of group virtual visits and in person visits for those who want and need more personalized care. Group visits are great because you can reach more people and get the same great results. It can help make functional medicine more accessible to more people.