We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexis Michopoulos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexis, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My thought process behind starting my own business revolved around one phrase: “FEEL HEARD”. In this fast-paced, ever-changing world, I’ve seen medicine become way too transactional, particularly for women. The more women I talk to, the more I hear, “I don’t FEEL HEARD by my doctor”. To FEEL HEARD, one must build a relationship with another person. To build a relationship, it all starts with trust. This is where the idea for my practice was born; women’s health is one of the most understudied and misunderstood areas of medicine. Furthermore, as a woman, I too had been made to feel brushed aside with medical issues and concerns. I went years being told “there is nothing wrong, your labs are normal, just diet and exercise more..” when I was actually battling PCOS and a thyroid disorder. We tell women it’s all in their heads and to just get over it and push through and that is not acceptable. It’s why I decided to specialize in women’s health, to give women a place to build trust with their provider, to grow a beautiful relationship together, and yes, to finally FEEL HEARD. I want to teach women about their health, how to be an advocate for their health and why.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’ll start with a confession. I am one of those incredibly lucky people who always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. My pediatrician, Dr. John Generich, stoked my curiosity about the human body and medicine. I can l remember to this day some of the very vivid conversations we would have because it hit on my passion and I’m one of those people (also lucky) to have an amazing memory (which honestly, gets me into way more trouble than it solves). When I was in high school, my father died from an illness that, if recognized early enough, should have been treatable. Soon after, we lost our family business. Through these tough times and others, I held onto my memories of my conversations with Dr. Generich
Without the family business to help me financially, the odds were stacked against me, but I never gave up. I worked hard in high school, earned a full ride to the University of Denver. I didn’t care where I started in medicine as long as my foot was in the door. Beginning with jobs as a front desk receptionist in a medical office and teaching EMT courses, I worked my way up to a Medical Assistant while studying for the MCAT. Finally, I earned my way into medical school and the rest is history!
Throughout this journey I learned that: (1) NOTHING comes easy, if it was easy, everyone would do it, being hard is what makes it great, (2) Tough times don’t last, tough people do, and (3) No one gets to the top alone, look out for your family and friends always. I took these lessons into my career in corporate medicine but quickly found that this type of practice doesn’t align with my values. Taking the time each patient needs to deliver an experience I could be proud of, where people feel heard and where they knew I would work as hard as they would to prioritize their health is of paramount importance to me.
Like everyone, I have my own health concerns. From a young age, I struggled with my weight. I suspected thyroid and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but my labs were always “normal”. I was told that I needed to exercise more and eat less. At one point I tried training for a fitness competition, working out 2 hours a day and eating only boiled chicken and spinach with egg whites. Nothing changed. I got stronger, but everyone was confused, to say the least. Then, several years ago, I suddenly began gaining weight and noticed I was EXHAUSTED. I was working out daily and eating well and gained about 15lbs in 1 month. While this was devastating, I had no faith that any doctor would do anything more than tell me I am overweight and need to work-out more. I knew what doctors tell patients like me, because I am a doctor
This time, the experience was different. My doctor was willing to order detailed tests. This time my thyroid levels were abnormal. I was so excited to have an answer to my problems and the solution was as simple as taking a little pill! Unfortunately, there was not much improvement and I was so discouraged. I began researching and listened to a lecture given by a physician who is a PCOS specialist out East and I could have sworn she was talking about me. She talked about how we haven’t given this disorder, and the 20% of women who suffer from it, enough attention. She explained how lab reference ranges don’t always apply to women. She went over the correct way to diagnose and treat PCOS.
I worked up the courage to contact this specialist to talk to her about PCOS and we went over my labs and she said “if I had levels like that, I would be 3 times my weight, I don’t know how you have only gained 15lbs.” Then it hit me,I had been working my whole life just to stay overweight, and that this wasn’t my fault. My life and my relationship with myself would have been completely different if someone had listened to me when I was a teenager. I began treatment, lost almost 30lbs and had energy for the first time in my life.
From there, I did a deep dive, researching and studying new PCOS research as well as insulin resistance and learning new and effective treatments. I was able to start identifying these issues in my patients and helping them learn about their bodies and health as well as why it’s important to treat these things immediately. I was able to tell them it wasn’t their fault and that there is a solution that works. I could honestly tell my patients that I believe them.
My vision for my practice became crystal clear. I began seeing many patients with these issues and then, as humans do, the patients grew older. Menopausal patients with PCOS presented a new twist and they don’t teach us much about menopause in medical school except “it’s a normal process and women just have to stick it out and eventually it will improve.” My patients were miserable from their hot flashes or felt like they didn’t even know themselves due to their mood swings. These weren’t issues that we could just wait out, and the toll it was taking had a huge effect on their quality of life and relationships. There was more to learn.
What’s more, these lessons were very present for me because I was beginning to experience perimenopause early. I was getting daily migraines, my heart was racing, my brain stopped working, I was crying at Snuggle commercials and wanting to scream at people for chewing too loudly. We aren’t even going to talk about my sleep. I thought it was my thyroid, but my labs said no. I was discussing it one day with one of my mentors and she so matter of factly said “your thyroid isn’t your problem- you need progesterone.” My research on menopause included every book she recommended and regular mentoring sessions to learn her knowledge from 35 years of treating women’s hormonal health.
When this journey started, I didn’t imagine I’d be caring for patient’s hormonal health, but life has a way of handing you the lessons that get you where you are supposed to be. Through my own experiences, I have learned to listen, to hear, and to dig as deep for my patients as I have done for myself.
There is more to treating hormones than labs and treatments. Each person experiencing these hormonal concerns also experiences so much more in terms of health and life. While I focus on hormones, I also pay attention to other health concerns of the body and mind. Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT) is hands-on treatment of the body and its systems. It allows me to take a whole-body approach. I use OMT to address immediate concerns of pain and discomfort and to relieve many of the symptoms experienced in menopause and aging.
In my new practice I focus on three areas to offer the most personalized care: (1) Women’s Health Care, (2) Lifestyle Medicine & Insulin Resistance, and (3) Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy. Every day I wake up excited to create a practice where both the doctor and patient can be authentic, build a relationship, and allow for the time needed to create an experience for each patient I can be proud of. In my practice, I don’t just “see” patients, I listen to them, learn about them, and treat them as the incredible people they are. It is of ultimate importance to me to share my message that if people are tired of feeling unheard, dismissed, or unvalidated that they have a new home and that’s with me in my practice!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Colorado Springs is an incredible city! If my best friend were visiting the area and I wanted to show them the best time ever we’d spend their first evening having drinks on my patio. This way they can enjoy the fact that we in Colorado have hardly NO humidity and they don’t have to worry about staying out all night getting bit up by mosquitos!
The next day I’d want to take them to the Farmer’s Market down in Old Colorado City; I just love it there. There’s something about the energy of this Farmer’s Market that gives off this feeling quiet electricity that I can’t get enough of and the fact that you can get no-kidding ‘hand-roasted’ green chiles is just icing on the cake! Then of course we’d have to stop for drinks & tapas at Ristorante Di Sopra while we were down there. We’d enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset from their rooftop bar!
The following day we’d spend the morning hiking around Garden of the Gods, followed by coffee and some baked goodies at Story Coffee Company, in Downtown Colorado Springs. They have the best gluten-free treats; and if you’re like me and gluten hates you, this is the spot! Afterwards we’d take a stroll downtown, where I’d show them the location of my family’s iconic restaurant, Michelle’s! We’d then wash up and get fancy for a dinner at the Broadmoor, making sure to stop along the way at the Golden Bee for a beverage and ensure they took home as many of those ‘golden bee’ stitched stickers as possible. Pretty sure I still have one stuck in my bathroom somewhere for the past 5 years.
The next day we’d channel our inner daredevil and take the drive up Pike’s Peak! Afterwards, we’d hangout in Manitou Springs and walk around admiring all the shops and the Penny Arcade. Finally, we’d do the infamous Incline! Ok, let’s face it, you don’t actually DO the Incline, the Incline DOES YOU! Afterwards we’d cool down with an afternoon tour of Glen Eyrie Castle, learning about the history of Colorado Springs ending the trip with dinner and drinks at one of my favorite places, Ambli Golden Cuisine!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh jeez, where do I start? There are so many people I can credit, but let’s start with the real priorities here: my dogs! But for real, my dogs Cooper, Nessie, and Monty are my pride and joy. Cooper has taught me to see the humor in everything; never sweat the petty, but pet the sweaty! Nessie has shown me that I can be a badass each day, just get up each day and make that choice. Monty is by far the most gentle soul I have encountered; he has taught me that it’s ok to wear my heart on my sleeve every once in a while and to do enjoy the moment, carpe diem!
As far as the amazing people in my life I am eternally grateful to my mentors, Dr. Pat Hennessy, Dr. Lisa Butler and Dr. Larry Butler, These three wonderful humans and physicians have taught me so much about medicine and how to truly and authentically care for people. Without them my new practice would simply not be possible. They’ve also never hesitated to give me a swift kick in the butt every time I’ve needed it! They gave me the encouragement and support I needed to believe that I could go out on my own.
Other: email@example.com 719.661.8839