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Daily Inspiration: Meet Amy Vlacich

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Vlacich.

Hi Amy, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today.
I found acupuncture in 2011 after a serious bicycle accident in San Francisco left me with a fractured right elbow. My then roommate referred me to her acupuncturist downtown. Back then, I was very skeptical of acupuncture, but being reluctant to take pain medications and reliant on my dominant arm to function, I decided to give it a try.

I was amazed when after just one session, my mobility had significantly improved and I no longer needed pain medications. As I continued receiving treatments, I also noticed that my energy, mood, menstrual cramps, allergies, and sleep had improved. I began to wonder, what was this mysterious medicine that seemed to heal so many different conditions? How could a handful of tiny pins have such a profound effect on the mind and body?

It would take me another two years before I finally picked up a copy of the Five Element book, “Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine,” and decided to enroll in an introductory course at the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, California. Over the course of my 4-year graduate program, while studying and receiving regular acupuncture treatments, I was able to fully heal from my own chronic health issues–irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)–two conditions for which Western medicine has no cure.

At the time, I was also working as a part-time birth doula and prenatal yoga instructor, so reproductive health was always a fascination of mine. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, I often referred doula clients to acupuncture to encourage labor or turn breech babies.

During childbirth, I often used acupressure points to ease labor pains, reduce maternal stress and anxiety, and promote healthy contractions. Although it’s been over five years since I last attended a birth, I still enjoy working with moms throughout pregnancy and postpartum as it can be such a helpful tool for the childbearing year.

Since joining the team at Thank You Mama I’ve shifted my professional focus toward fertility and reproductive medicine, supporting both men and women on their paths to parenthood. As a certified Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM), I understand how acupuncture can positively impact pregnancy and live birth rates whether trying to conceive naturally or with assisted reproductive technology.

I love how minimally-invasive acupuncture is with countless mind/body benefits yet little to no adverse effects. Someday, I hope that all fertility clinics and labor and delivery units across the US offer acupuncture treatments on-site to reduce the need for pain medicines while also improving outcomes. As an adjunct therapy, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Surviving acupuncture school was no easy feat: four years of didactic and clinical instruction with essentially no road map after graduation.

Fortunately, I had several mentors who guided me along the way and helped mold me into the practitioner I am today: Dr. Heidi Kao (Integrative Wellness Center), Dr. Hualing Xu (AIMC Berkeley), Mary Stewart, Julia Carpenter, and Michelle Lemieux (Berkeley Acupuncture Project), Andy Wegman (Manchester Acupuncture Studio), and Jennifer Carey-Prescott (Thank You, Mama).

Honestly, they taught me everything I needed to know from energetics to endocrinology as well as how to run a successful acupuncture practice in a community or private setting.

Of course, no one could predict the pandemic that rocked the world in 2020, and I think that was a rough year for most practitioners as acupuncture is a very hands-on medicine. Many clinics were forced to close for months or longer, particularly in states where acupuncture is not considered an essential medicine.

Here in Florida, Thank You, Mama, closed its doors for almost two months, then reopened with new CDC guidelines and protocols. We also launched our first-ever telehealth appointments for herbal consultations, which we still offer today. So, a silver lining to all of this is that our services expanded to those outside the immediate Tampa Bay Area and to those unable to travel due to illness or mobility issues.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m an Acupuncture Physician, Chinese Herbalist, and Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (FABORM) here in St. Petersburg, FL. I work with families on their paths to parenthood, specializing in fertility, hormonal balance, and holistic pain management for all stages of life.

Perhaps what sets me apart from other practitioners is my integrative approach to care: I love the art of traditional tongue and pulse diagnosis as much as I love functional medicine labs and food sensitivity testing. For me, it’s all part of the picture of holistic health.

As an Acupuncture Physician, it’s my job to speak both languages fluently and to bridge the gap between ancient and modern medicine. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses yet together they can work synergistically, producing the best outcome possible for the patient.

Honestly, I am most proud of my patients who make the commitment to self-improvement over and over again. Simply making time for acupuncture and self-care on a regular basis is one piece of the puzzle yet there is so much that happens in between those appointments: exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, sleep hygiene, herbs, and supplements.

I’m continuously impressed by the folks I work with who are willing to make tough choices and lifestyle adjustments every single day in hopes of improving their emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. And perhaps also making a baby.

What do you think about luck?
In many ways, my life has been a mix of chance and choice, coincidence and careful planning. Nowadays, I try to find the middle way: a balance between Yin and Yang, between structure and spontaneity.

When I’m most aligned with my true path, inspired and driven, doing the everyday work yet open to surprises, things seem to fall into place. I feel very fortunate to have met many mentors along the way who believed in me and saw the potential in me before I had really found my way when I was still struggling to find my place in this field.

Without them, I would not be where I am today. I’m even grateful for the bicycle accident that brought me to acupuncture in the first place. In hindsight, even bad luck has turned out to be a blessing; compost nourishes the soil in the garden that is life. And over a decade later, that garden continues to grow and thrive, shifting with the changing seasons and the many surprises along the way.

Pricing:

  • $200 Initial Acupuncture Visit (90 minutes)
  • $115 Followup Acupuncture Visit (60 minutes)
  • $105 Initial Herbal Consult (60 minutes)
  • $60 Followup Herbal Consult (30 minutes)
  • $60 Community Room Acupuncture (30 minutes)

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alex Kaufman https://www.alexkaufmandesign.com/ and @alexkaufmandesign

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