Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight: Ugne Aleknaite
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 Ugne Aleknaite, Nurse Practitioner, WH-BC, AGPC-BC, Lavender Farm Wellness
What can you tell us about your practice?
UA: Lavender Farm Wellness is located on the island of Nantucket, MA cofounded by Brandon Jellison and I. We both have taken the concept of “structure dictates function” to our heart, practice and life and developed a wellness center that focuses on supporting people in being the best version of themselves. Using the tools of functional medicine and functional movement assessment patients at Lavender Farm people have the opportunity to co-create a road map to better health and lasting well being. At our wellness center, we believe that connectedness of our mind body is fundamental to our well being and practice of meditation, gyrotonics and massage allow patients to strengthen their capacity for health.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
UA: The aspect of practice that we had to come back to again and again is resisting the desire to compartmentalize personal and professional life. The more we applied the principles of functional medicine in our own lives the more smoothly our professional life flowed. The cleaner our diet was at home the more naturally our patients followed our guidance. The better we were able to structure our lives to support self care and to nurture our own ability to heal and grow, the easier it was to appreciate our patient’s struggles and what tools and services to offer to better support our patients. The stronger our practice of mindfulness was the easier it was for our patients to see the best version of themselves.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
UA: Desire to understand the human body and what leads to lasting health can offer immense opportunities for learning. This desire for knowledge is what led me to study functional medicine as I felt that it provided the framework that included the science of underlying biochemical pathways to inform my clinical decision making to create healing and not just treat symptoms. It has also presented a tremendous challenge that doesn’t matter how many courses I took and how many books I read, I have felt that it was not enough. It took me a while to realize that I was suffering from the “imposter syndrome” as a way to sabotage myself from taking the leap into the practice of functional medicine. Starting my functional medicine practice by offering paid services to the few people I knew and trusted and watching them heal and create lasting changes in their lives is what allowed me to build confidence in my knowledge base and help recognize that my services are of value and people are willing to pay for them. I can now proudly say that I am no longer an “imposter”.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
UA: I would urge you to ask yourself what are the reasons you have not started your own practice yet. Examine those answers carefully and be honest with yourself. Are the reasons that are holding you back practical challenges that you can overcome with planning and collaboration with other individuals? Are the reasons that are holding you back personal and require you to grow as a human? Personal growth opportunities can often desky themselves as practical issues and we can get wrapped up in the details. But once you know which one is which you can grow personally and professionally.
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
UA: Watching my patients discover the sense of control over their health and well being is absolutely the most thrilling part of my work. Understanding why you feel better when you exercise, eat clean food and move your body in a way that supports you I believe is a game changer for many folks. When I sit with my patients and we look at their lab results, their genetic information, their history and they understand that their health is not what just happened to them by pure chance. Teaching patients on how they can draw on their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses and have the ability to choose health is what brings me so much joy in the practice of functional medicine.
Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?
UA: I am excited to grow Lavender Farm Wellness to become a healing destination on Nantucket. A place where people can come to heal from their daily life. A place where you can come and get a mapguide to your health. A place that can provide you with a break when you need one and allow you to rest your body and remember what your strengths are and what you need in your life to nourish you so you can be the best version of yourself.