Andrea Russell

Seattle, Washington, United States

Acupuncturist

Sound View Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, Inc.

Every day my job as an acupuncturist is exciting and inspiring. Chinese medicine is fascinating, and treating patients allows me to use both my hands and my mind. It is at once very scientific and also very creative. Being able to ease suffering and improve lives is gratifying. I make a good living doing what I love and have a great work/life balance.

I started treating patients in 2002 and opened my own practice, Sound View Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, in 2006. I have a family practice and specialize in treating menopause, gastrointestinal issues, pain, inflammatory diseases and skin conditions. While I have experience having employees, I have chosen to keep my business small enough for me to handle without the overhead of adding staff. In a tight market, I have a thriving practice. I also teach a practice management class at the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine and sit on their admissions committee.

Here’s a bit of what we can cover in our PivotPlanet session(s):
• How to assess whether Chinese medicine is a good career for you and which schools would be most appropriate.
• How to decide if you should open your own clinic or work for someone else.
• How to find and use the right tools to build and manage your practice.
• How to strike a good balance between treating patients and running a business.
• How to feel empowered and excited by all aspects of your career – the medicine, business and everything in between.

I can address all aspects of starting and running a practice, as well as things to consider before even starting an acupuncture graduate program. Not only do I do my own insurance billing, but I also teach insurance billing so I can address that important aspect of running an acupuncture business. I can also talk about practicing an Eastern medicine in a Western world, as I was an EMT prior to becoming an acupuncturist.

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Other than a handful of odd and wonderful jobs in college, this has always been my career. When I started college, I had thoughts of becoming a surgeon, so I took premed classes and began to consider what my life would be like as a doctor. While in college, I started getting treatment from an acupuncturist, and it opened my mind to a different way medicine could be practiced. I found a career that would still allow me to practice medicine with my hands, but I would get to spend time getting to know my patients and treating them holistically.

The dark secret of the practice of Chinese medicine in the United States is, for the most part, you have to run your own business. Having a passion for the medicine isn’t enough. You need to be able to market your business, pay your bills, comply with regulations, navigate complex issues of taxation and business structure and more. Treating patients is not the same as running a business. Graduate programs in traditional Chinese medicine prepare you to be a practitioner, but don’t prepare you for being a small business owner. People go into this field to be healers, not business people or marketers or insurance billers, but you really have to be everything if you want to start a clinic.