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 Paige Lynch, NP., Owner of Functional Health and Wellness, PLLC
What can you tell us about your practice?
PL: I am a functional medicine nurse practitioner and own a 100% telemedicine practice serving women in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Colorado and Oregon. The women I serve are struggling with the physical effects of chronic physical, mental and emotional stressors. I serve women who are struggling with gut and hormone issues that seemingly come out of nowhere.
I noticed during my time in the conventional medicine space that so many people were struggling with health issues and no one was looking at the root causes.
When women spend years in a hypervigilant state, constantly taking care of others, eventually her body breaks down.
Our culture does not encourage a woman to care for her body, mind and spirit. Instead of helping women identify the stressors in her life that she could modify, we supply her with medications to cover up the messages the body is sending.
After my own health crisis shortly after my 7-year-old son was born, I found functional medicine and learned how treating the root cause of illness will actually halt disease and create wellness in the body.
I started my practice in early 2020 while I was working in trauma surgery. I had previously healed from many of my personal health struggles, but began to notice small things creeping back in. I did not want to accept that maybe the 24-hour shifts and high stress of death and destruction was affecting my health. I started having conversations with other women with similar struggles, and knew I needed to start a practice to serve women in exactly where they were. I wanted to eliminate the need to find a babysitter, take off work, drive to an office, wait an hour, just to spend 10-15 minutes with a provider.
I created the exact practice I wanted when I was a patient, but did not have access to.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
PL: The thing that surprised me the most when I started my practice was how desperate a large part of the population was to understand and learn about their bodies. In conventional medicine, we often joke that people just want the quick fix to their problems. When I started my functional medicine practice, this was the exact opposite of what I was seeing.
The women that join my practice love learning why I order the labs I order and what the results mean. They love the weekly group session where I educate on different topics from insulin resistance, to thyroid functioning, to eliminating household toxins, etc. These women have helped me grow as a practitioner by finding unique ways of explaining high level biology and physiology in a way that they can truly understand. They walk away from these meetings making better decisions for their health based on what they learn. I have found that when a woman truly understands what is happening in her body when she eats certain foods it is extremely empowering to make more healthful choices.
I honestly believe that we as healthcare providers do not give the average person enough credit. I believe that people do want to be healthy and do want to make better decisions.
There is just so much bad information for fad diets, quick fixes and random pharmaceuticals, that it is very difficult for the average person to know what to do.
The medical community as a whole doesn’t do a great job encouraging people to learn and become educated. There is this paradigm of the “all knowing doctor” who people are expected to just turn their bodies over to. This is not the way I practice and I think this model creates a lot of the illness in our country. When people are encouraged to read, research and become educated, they will automatically begin to make different choices for their health.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
PL: The biggest challenge I had to overcome when starting my practice was finding ways to market myself and my practice. I created my practice during the height of the pandemic. I was not able to do all of the community events and networking that I had originally anticipated. I was forced to use social media as my primary means of marketing.
Social media, specifically Instagram and TikTok, ended up being a blessing in disguise. These platforms gave me the opportunity to start educating women and sharing my message way before they ever joined my practice. I had the opportunity to show up and be exactly who I was as a provider. When women schedule their first consultation with me, they have already been watching my videos, messaging me in the DMs and following my posts. I create different weekly topics to share about the exact struggles my patients have. This has been so empowering for the community of women I work with.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
The advice I would give to other practitioners is to just go for it.
There are more people in need of functional and integrative medicine than there are practitioners to provide the care. If you are someone who knows that there is a better way to treat patients, I encourage you to be brave and get your message out there. Failure is always an option, but I am confident that more and more people are realizing that pills and surgery are not always the best option. I know there is a group of people in your community who would love to learn from you and would love to have you guide them back to health. Go for it!!
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
PL: Oh my goodness, I could go on forever about this one. Functional medicine is the future. There is no question about that. Finding the root cause of our health struggles and reversing that is what will save us all. We have to get away from putting band aids on bullet holes.
I am just so grateful that I found functional medicine when my health was failing. I had no idea that the stress of childbirth, my changing identity, childhood trauma, lack of sleep, poor nutrition and hypervigilance could create disease in my body. I was in nurse practitioner school at the time and had no idea!! At that time, I was forced to be a patient and see from the point of view of the patient. It was awful. I wanted to know why my thyroid was failing! I wanted to know why I had crippling anxiety and could not sleep! I wanted to know why my skin was so dry I was scratching it off! No one would explain that to me and I could not find it in my text books.