Women as Healers: An Interview with Michele Smith

Michele Smith incorporates her fun sense of humor to the acupuncture table.

Michele brings her fun sense of humor to the acupuncture table.

Michele Smith is a licensed acupuncture therapist who practices in Tucson, Arizona. Michele’s clinic is called The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture. Her bright personality and interest in her patients helps set a peaceful tone for a healing environment at the clinic. Many people are afraid to get poked, but Michele’s positive energy helps ease that worry.

Michele has been my acupuncturist since 2011. In addition to seeing Michele for acupuncture myself, I volunteer at The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture one day a week. I enjoy working with her, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about her work.

1. What motivated you to become an acupuncture therapist?

I was motivated to become an acupuncturist because my previous career in the music industry was becoming obsolete and I wanted my next career to be in something that would help people, both physically and mentally. While music is also healing, the corporate world that the music industry had become was not, and is not, healing. My last job in the music industry was at a music venue which was at a great locally owned venue owned and operated by a really nice man, but not the kind of work I could see myself doing ten or so years down the line as I got older. My first thought was to study homeopathy, but it is illegal in the state of Georgia, where I am from, so I decided to study acupuncture with the thought that down the line I could always add homeopathy if I still desired.

2. How does the community acupuncture setting differ from other acupuncture methods?

Community acupuncture is different from a one-on-one acupuncture clinic in that it allows both the patient and the acupuncturist a way to survive financially. Affordable healthcare is not easy to find. At an acupuncture clinic you put needles in and the person rests; there is not a need for it to be one-on-one. Community clinics can charge less but see more people and it works out financially for all. It is more work for the acupuncturist to do it this way, but I feel like I learn more and more every time I treat someone, so I don’t mind the work. Another great thing and difference about community acupuncture is that friends, families, co-workers can come together, lay in beds in a community room next to each other, and it can make the experience more fun.

3. Why should people use acupuncture?

Acupuncture can help so many things. The main things I treat seem to be pain and anxiety. Acupuncture can treat pain anywhere on the body. I mostly treat low backs and shoulders, but sometimes feet, hands, headaches. Anxiety is another thing that is greatly helped by acupuncture. It reroutes the way your body handles the stresses of everyday life. There are points that go directly to the chest to help with heart palpitations. Besides these, acupuncture is also really good for anything digestive, respiratory, hormonal and for diabetes, too.

4. How have you marketed your business?

I have mostly marketed my business with flyers around town and with Groupon. When I first opened I tried advertising in a local magazine. I also used Living Social, but neither brought me much business. Although Living Social and Groupon are kind of the same, Groupon works with me to make sure that I am running deals that bring customers back. I have a Facebook page for my business, and Serena is good about making sure my website and my Facebook page have regular updates to engage people.

5. What advice to you have for other women who want to start their own business?

I don’t know that I think of myself as a “woman” who started my own business so much as just a person that started my own business. We are in the year 2015 in America and a woman should not be discouraged to open a business because of gender. There are a million people in Tucson. If men ever think they would rather have a male acupuncturist, there are a lot of really great male acupuncturists out there for them. I won’t get my feelings hurt because there are a lot of men and women who aren’t thinking about gender when they think about healthcare. I would say that probably goes for most industries in Tucson.

The one area where being a woman might be a disadvantage for me is I am not a repairwoman. I don’t care to watch a Youtube video and try things myself, so I do have to hire out for these things and may get ripped off occasionally because I am a woman, but I just keep learning from my mistakes.

If you live in Tucson, call the clinic and make an appointment to go get poked. The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture is located near the intersection of Grant and Campbell.

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