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 Sarika Arora, MD, Founder of Aum Healing Center
What can you tell us about your practice?
SA: My name is Sarika Arora, and my patients call me the Healthy Living Doctor. I founded Aum Healing Center in July 2012 in Boston, MA.
We are currently in Back Bay on Newbury St. next to Aum Training Center founded by my husband. At our wellness center, we offer Functional Medicine to help our patients understand the root cause of their symptoms and take a deeper dive into natural treatment options for them to feel their best.
Using Functional Medicine, I help women regain their vitality, balance their hormones, and reclaim their life.
My passion is eliminating the confusion and frustration of making healthy lifestyle changes by designing personalized health plans that help my patients look and feel their best.
The Aum Healing signature program stands for Accountability (from both the patient and myself), Uncover and Understand the root causes of their symptoms and Mastering the Functional Medicine tools. We incorporate holistic nutrition coaching, GI microbiome testing followed by the 4R GI healing plan, comprehensive hormone tests, stress management, body composition analysis, infrared light therapy and personal training to ensure our patients experience life-changing results.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
SA: I was most surprised to hear from my patients on a daily basis that their doctors were not listening to them nor addressing their concerns because their labs fell within “normal” ranges.
Fortunately, IFM teaches us to look deeper, and the labs have optimal ranges, not just “normal” ranges. I also learned that positive antibodies indicate that there are triggers in one’s environment and that there are many things we can do to help normalize these antibodies. Including starting an anti-inflammatory food plan and testing the gut microbiome and hormones (cortisol, thyroid and sex hormones.)
Patients in my practice say that Functional Medicine is “a breath of fresh air” and they are very appreciative to finally have answers that conventional medicine was not able to provide.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
SA: The biggest challenge was the lack of time with patients. For the first 8 years of running my practice, we accepted insurance and the issue I ran into was feeling rushed in providing my patients with the level of attention and care they needed and deserved. This was especially true in many of the complex conditions I was treating that required extensive care in order to get to the root cause.
I discovered that, in order to help people make the lifestyle changes necessary to become well, it requires deep coaching that is difficult to offer in the time constraints of an insurance-based practice.
Because my passion and focus is designing personalized plans that meet the needs and lifestyle of my patients, I wanted to dive deeper with them and I realized that the only way this would happen is by leaving the conventional insurance model. It was challenging but I am grateful that I made the transition because it’s enabled me to spend the time needed to provide my patients with the coaching and comprehensive care they need to optimize their health.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
SA: Listen to podcasts by people that are doing the things you aspire to accomplish. I recommend the book Attracting Perfect Customers: The Power of Strategic Synchronicity by Jan Brogniez and Stacey Hall. I appreciate the guidance they provide in helping you design your ideal practice. Reading these types of books has played a pivotal role in helping me gain the clarity needed to best serve my patients.
Surround yourself with like minded positive practitioners whose values are in alignment with yours. Join a formal FM group that meets regularly and learn together. The mentorship that I’ve received has been incredibly valuable and accelerated my growth as a functional medicine practitioner.
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
SA: There are many exciting parts of FM! The most exciting thing for me is being able to support my community using natural treatments and tools to optimize daily life.
I believe that people are craving more personalized care and they are looking for the collaborative approach that functional medicine offers. It is exciting seeing how empowered my patients feel when they take back control of their health.
I am excited to be on the patient’s team as their detective, analyzing each layer of their health including food, environment, stress, spirituality, gut, immune, hormones, nutrients, detoxification pathways and genes.
I have also learned that the most successful practices have partnered with a FM Health Coach to achieve better outcomes. I believe every medical practice will benefit from having a FM Health Coach for their patients.
Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?
SA: I would like to have a hybrid model of 1:1 appointments and small group appointments.
My belief is that community is medicine and it is important to bring people together to support each other on their wellness journey. I love when my patients are able to share their knowledge with their friends and family.
Medicine is going to become more and more personalized. With this in mind I plan on utilizing genetic testing to enable my patients to pinpoint the specific lifestyle changes they need to optimize health.
Because stress management is a common challenge, I would like to provide more heart-centered programs that bring more balance into my patients lives.