with Sandy Root, Owner and AP of Acupuncture Root in Miami Beach, FL
What led to your career as an acupuncturist? Did you always want to be in this field?
I actually originally wanted to go to school for music. I ended up getting my undergrad in Psychology, then waitressed and bartended for a few years. Then I worked in corporate offices for a few years. After finding myself extremely bored with this kind of work, I asked myself what do I really want to do now? I knew I was interested in helping people in some way. At the time I was getting into spirituality and food as medicine. There was a natural health food store I would always visit to check out supplements and holistic health-related things, and get my shot of wheatgrass.
One day I opened a magazine there and acupuncture popped out at me. I thought hmmm what is it? I ended up buying a couple books about it, and every cell in my body said do this do this! It felt like I was sort of choosing it on a whim. I applied to school and within two months quit my job and was starting the intense four-year Master’s in Traditional Oriental Medicine. One of the best decisions I ever made; I love what I do!
When did you decide to open your own practice? What has that been like?
After graduating from the program in NYC, I worked for a clinic and then a holistic center. When things were falling through with the holistic center, I decided I wanted to be my own boss, and started working on my own. When I moved to Miami Beach 6 years ago, I really went full force with building my practice here.
What is a day in your work life like? How many hours a week do you work?
Since I’m on my own, I feel like I’m working most of the time, because I need to take care of the calls/emails, administrative tasks, marketing, and of course the best part, giving acupuncture. Every day is different depending on my acupuncture schedule. And I enjoy having the freedom to take days and time off as I need, which is a great aspect of running my own business.
How do you promote your holistic services? What is the most effective marketing strategy that you use?
I promote mostly through Instagram, and I was surprised to find Instagram has become one of the top 3 ways new patients find me.
How do you find new patients? How do you maintain relationships with your patients?
Besides Instagram, Google, word of mouth & networking with colleagues are the other top ways. I always check in with new patients after their first treatment, and keep in touch with patients via my newsletter, and send them email reminders with a personal touch if they’ve fallen off the treatment plan.
Are there any specific conditions you find yourself treating most?
Pain would definitely be #1. But I also get a lot for insomnia, stress/anxiety, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances.
Do you find your clients more attracted to full body acupuncture or cosmetic acupuncture? How has the world of cosmetic acupuncture changed since you started your practice?
I’d say there’s a good mix of both, and often patients who have come for full body treatments and had their symptoms improved, then move on to receive cosmetic acupuncture treatments. There has definitely been more awareness in the past couple years about cosmetic acupuncture and its amazing benefits for the face and body from the inside out. I love to spread the knowledge about it, because a lot of people haven’t heard of it yet.
What do you think are qualities of a great acupuncturist? What separates a great practitioner from an average one?
I think really caring about each patient beyond the treatment room; going the extra mile to help them. For example, if someone is having trouble between their appts, I may send an acupressure video with some points to press. Or, I check in with them personally if I know they’re going through a difficult process. It’s like how I am with my close friends and family, I care about them, and want them to know I am here for them.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in a career in acupuncture?
I would take a look at if they want to go part time while working, or full time. I would also recommend avoiding student loans if possible! And when looking at schools, take a good look at the curriculums and professors. Also, know that it’s a rigorous program so be prepared for that.
What advice would you give to someone who aspires to run their own business?
If you have that entrepreneurial spirit, go for it! Of course, it’s full of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s been an amazing journey. I’d say one of the best pieces of advice is to connect with other business owners and practitioners in your community, especially if you are a one-person show. Having a small group to meet and brainstorm and share tips with has been very helpful for me.
What kind of products do you offer to your clients? Can you tell us a little bit about the ear seeds you offer?
Herbal medicine is one of the biggest and best ways to support patients between their treatments. And yes, I often put ear seeds on patients before they leave so the effects can keep going even longer. They are little seeds we place on points on the ear that stimulate nerves there and send signals to the brain and different areas of the body that need healing.
What do you see in the future for your practice or business?
I like how my practice is, the location, just me, and keeping it this way is how I envision it going forward.
Soon I hope to be offering more stocked products in the office such as herbs, which right now are only shipped as needed. And just being an integral known part of my community’s healthcare going forward. Oh, and now that my practice is built to up to a place I like, someone to take care of the administrative part soon would be something that I think will help to have more time to open up my hours for more patients!