Categories Expert Series, Functional Medicine

Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight: Miiko Rowley, MD

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 Miiko Rowley, MD, Board-Certified Family Medicine, Functional Medicine Physician and Co-Owner, The Center For Health and Healing

What can you tell us about your practice?

MR: I’m with The Center for Health and Healing in Houston, TX. In 1983, Dr. Nellie Grose started the practice after working in the conventional system and not seeing patients improve from chronic illness. In 2020, we merged Kale Functional Medicine with The Center for Health and Healing and together we are embracing new technology and new services. In addition to Functional Medicine for the entire family, as we are both MDs trained in Family Medicine, our practice has also grown to include various other health professionals that have the same philosophy and heart for true health and wellness.  The team includes Health Coaches, a Doctor of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and a Massage Therapist. Together we create individualized treatment plans to optimize health in each of our patients. Typical patients come to us for gut issues, fatigue, brain fog, thyroid issues, hormonal imbalance, weight loss, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and much more. 

What surprised you the most when you started your practice? 

MR: If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. I had to work at getting the word out that I am practicing and make sure that patients easily understand what I offer. It’s different from the conventional model that most people are used to. Also, because we do not take insurance, we are not listed in insurance directories which is a huge way to let patients know you’re out there. It took longer than I expected to fill my clinic.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it? 

MR: Having the funds needed to operate in a hole for a while while starting up was the biggest challenge. I saved aggressively in the years leading up to starting my practice so I started with a reasonable amount of capital but then COVID hit. The patients dried up, and I was depleting my savings far faster than I was building the practice. Luckily, I was able to create a strong business plan and secure a small business loan which allowed me to overcome that challenge.

What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice? 

If you don’t have business experience or training, then find someone who does to help you. Doctors aren’t trained to run businesses and typically don’t think in a way conducive to running a successful business. Having someone advising you who is experienced in this area can help you avoid unforeseen issues that ultimately take your time away from patient care which is where you are most effective. 

What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?

MR: About one month before medical school, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis so I started medical school determined to seek out how to prevent disease and disease progression. I found what I was looking for in Functional Medicine. Using the Function Medicine approach for myself, I have never had symptoms of MS since I was diagnosed, 14 years ago. The markers of disease in my labs and imaging are decreasing or almost non-existent. I feel great and I am passionate about passing on what I know to my patients. I love seeing patients heal and thrive. When they follow the treatment plans, sometimes having to make major lifestyle shifts, then turn a corner and feel great, I feel like all the hard work is worth it! 

Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?

MR: I see us growing to include more providers and additional locations. Functional Medicine is becoming the new mainstream medicine and I strongly believe in it as a path to true health so I want to spread it as far as I can.