The Dialogue with Sarah Prater
This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So, here we go with our 137th installment visiting with Sarah Prater, L.Ac. at Maryville Acupuncture, which provides acupuncture treatments to patients for a variety of symptoms. We also utilize herbal supplements, lifestyle recommendations, and dietary modifications to help you live your best life. We also strive to work alongside our patient's medical teams, as we believe the best approach is when all providers come to the table and work together.
Why acupuncture in Maryville? As a resident of Maryville, I saw a tremendous need for acupuncture in Blount County. In the midst of the opioid crisis, many physicians are recommending non-pharmacologic pain management options including acupuncture, and it just wasn't available here. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for many different symptoms including pain, headaches, digestive issues, stress, insomnia, and the list goes on. Fundamentally, we are here to support the health of our community.
How did you get started? I became an acupuncturist 10 years ago after seeing first hand how important integrative medicine could be to the well-being of patients. Upon moving to Maryville four years ago, I opened a practice specializing in infertility in Knoxville, but was keenly aware of the need in my own community. Finally, the time was right to open Maryville's only acupuncture practice to serve my neighbors and we made that dream a reality.
What is your background? In order to become a licensed acupuncturist, one must complete a 4 year Master's program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, pass a series of national board exams and become state licensed. Our training is much more rigorous that most people realize. Personally, I completed my Master's Degree after finishing a BS in Biology from Indiana University. In addition to her Master's our acupuncturist, Kate Sisson, has her RN degree as well and brings that knowledge to the table when treating her patients.
Who is your mentor? I'm going to get sappy for a moment and name my husband, Josh Prater and my main supporter. He has always had unending confidence in my ability to start and run a successful acupuncture practice and encouraged me to open Maryville Acupuncture even though we have two small children at home. He balances being an active partner in the business and letting me run my business very well and is always a solid sounding board for my ideas and visions. I know that I couldn't have done this without his support.
Describe your customers. Our customers come from all walks of life. I would say most of our patients have never had acupuncture before, but are looking for a more integrative, or just different, approach to treating their symptoms. We also work with those who've been receiving acupuncture regularly their whole lives. We take our time to meet our patients where they are, explain our treatment recommendations, what they can expect, and how to contact us with any questions.
What environments impact your business? The biggest influencer in our business currently is the the opioid crisis. I don't know a single person who isn't directly or indirectly affected by this and the medical system has taken notice. One large way that we can help to prevent anyone else from becoming addicted to opioids is by finding other ways of treating pain. Acupuncture has been well documented as a safe and effective way to treat pain and is being recommended by the FDA, VA, and other government entities as an option to try before using opioids. Additionally, more and more insurance companies are following suit and covering acupuncture treatments. We see this as a huge, and wonderful, shift in the medical establishment and look forward to doing our small part in stopping the opioid epidemic.
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1. I wish I had started Maryville Acupuncture sooner! The idea didn't occur to me until about a year ago and the more I talk to my neighbors about it, the more I realize just how needed this service is here in Blount County. 2. That I didn't need to doubt myself. Self confidence can be a struggle for many business owners. I feel so fortunate to have had the support of my family, community, and been able to lean on the resources like the Chamber, SBA, etc to help me realize this dream. 3. How much I enjoy starting new businesses! This process, while stressful at times, has been incredibly rewarding, fun, and challenging.
What do you enjoy about the business? My favorite thing about being a business owner is the ability to wear different hats each day and be constantly challenged. There is never a dull day when you work for yourself! My favorite thing about being an acupuncturist is getting to know my patients. I truly care for them and feel endless joy when they start feeling better or making changes in their lives that help them move towards their goals.