How Amy Kuretsky Transformed her NWHSU Education into a Successful Practice
If you’re a fan of Recording Artist Lizzo, you may already know that she’s a fan of acupuncture. What you may not know is that her YouTube video, BIG GRRRL SMALL NEEDLES, features an alumni of Northwestern Health Sciences University, Amy Kuretsky, MACM ’13.
After Lizzo had released her album “Big Girl, Small World” in 2014, her team decided to make some promotional videos to support the album, including a series of “day in the life” videos that featured Lizzo at the State Fair, visiting Glam Doll Doughnuts, and getting acupuncture.
“In the video, Lizzo and I talk about her experiences with acupuncture, and then some of the video is her actually getting acupuncture,” Kuretsky says. “It was a really great opportunity to expose more people to acupuncture and make it a little more of a common household therapy amongst a younger generation.”
But Kuretsky didn’t become an internet-famous acupuncturist overnight. In fact, during her NWHSU education, she thought she might want to work in a hospital setting.
A clinical internship that clarified her goals
During the clinical portion of her NWHSU education, Kuretsky thought that she might want to work in a hospital setting, so she interned at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the largest not-for-profit hospital in the Twin Cities and a part of the Allina Health Network.
While Kuretsky enjoyed the internship and gained a wealth of clinical experience, her work at the hospital made her realize that she wanted to start a private practice.
“I’m very thankful for the experience of having an internship that was in a hospital setting, and also grateful that it gave me the clarity of knowing what I wanted to do when I was done with school,” Kuretsky says. “I have a background in entrepreneurship, produced a local film festival and done some other odd jobs. I really enjoyed being my own boss and getting to define my role as I wanted for myself.”
Starting a practice, and taking a turn
Once Kuretsky decided that she wanted to build her private practice, she believed that she wanted to focus on sports medicine. While in school, she crafted a business plan to support this vision, and set out to build a clientele.
“I was really active at my CrossFit gym, so I had this whole network of people that were really excited for me to graduate and to start practice and treat all of their aches and pains,” Kuretsky said. “Then I graduated and started to practice, and I realized that I didn’t like treating pain. Acupuncture was really effective for them and people get really good results, but I just didn’t enjoy it.”
That’s when Kurtesky expanded her vision of how she could put the clinical skills that she acquired throughout her NWHSU education in her private practice, treating more and different types of patients, and adding more healing modalities to her skill set.
Organic, intentional growth
Kuretsky graduated from the Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine program in August of 2013 and, because she had taken some of her board exams prior to graduation, was licensed to practice in October of that same year. She rented a treatment room in Northeast Minneapolis two afternoons a week for less than 10 hours, and grew a patient base that necessitated a move to a new office in the North Loop.
“It was just a single treatment room, I didn’t even have a closet or a waiting room or anything,” Kuretsky remembers. “When my patients were on the table, I was either in the room with them doing energy work with them or sitting at my desk charting, or sometimes I would sit in the hallway and do my charting in the hallway. It was a very small and efficient office space. And it’s just grown from there.”
After three years, Kuretsky started renting out her treatment room to a recent graduate of NWHSU, Kim Christensen. As both of their practices grew, they realized that they needed a bigger space to accommodate all of their patients.
“Another office space in the building became available, and it was significantly larger than what we had, but it was more of an investment,” Kuretsky says. “So we got together and said, ‘well, we can’t do this alone, but maybe we can do this together.’ Kim and I had really shared goals and a similar vision, so we decided to join forces and to merge our practices together.”
Kuretsky and Christensen founded Constellation Acupuncture and Healing Arts. Today, their practice sees 80 patients a week; they employ two acupuncturists, a part-time massage therapist, a part-time craniosacral practitioner and a full-time administrator; and offer services including acupuncture, massage, cupping, herbal medicine, energy medicine and breathwork.
Adding breathwork to her practice
In addition to all of the modalities under the umbrella of Chinese medicine—acupuncture, herbal medicine, cupping, and moxibustion—Kuretsky also treats patients using breathwork.
“The style of breathwork that I practice is very invigorating, it strongly moves energy, and so I keep those appointments separate from acupuncture,” Kuretsky says. “I came to breathwork about three years after becoming a licensed acupuncturist, and it is such a complement to the work that I do with Chinese Medicine.”
Kurtesky explains that it’s good to have more healing modalities available because some patients respond really well to acupuncture, but when they don’t—for whatever reason—adding breathwork can create a shift in the body that speeds the healing process.
Positioned for success from Day One
While she may not have envisioned the exact form of her private practice during her time at school, Kuretsky credits her NWHSU education with helping her to build the skills necessary to succeed as an independent practitioner.
“The school gave me a lot of hands-on experience, and a very solid foundational base of education and knowledge so that I could go forward and treat patients with confidence in my skills both in diagnosis and treatment,” Kuretsky says. “It also prepared me by giving me a great network of practitioners both in acupuncture and other modalities, as referral networks and as small business support.”
Today, Kuretsky is passionate about treating digestive diseases and mental health, especially cases that explore the connection between the gut and the brain. She thrives on working with people who have really high-stress, demanding jobs and whose mental health has been affected.
But she didn’t discover this passion until several years after graduation.
“By no means do students need to know what their practice will look like when they are starting school,” Kuretsky says. “It’s great to have dreams and it’s great to make plans, and also you absolutely have permission to change your mind. You don’t have to stay with one specialty just because you made a business plan around it. You’re allowed to shift and change.”