After exploring integrative health practices on her own, Dr. Russo put passion to practice by pursuing a degree in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook.
Ruthann Russo, Ph.D., DAc, M.P.H., J.D., is many things: a previous health care attorney, a CEO, a researcher, a health care professional, and most proudly a Saybrook trustee and alumna from the College of Mind-Body Medicine.
Her Saybrook journey started after a life-altering event. When her daughter Emmalea was diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager, the family turned to integrative health practices—like yoga, meditation, guided imagery, and biofeedback—to do what conventional medicine was unable to. These practices worked; Emmalea was seizure-free for four and a half years.
The whole experience changed Dr. Russo’s career trajectory. Instead of working for healthcare, as an attorney and CEO, she started to work in it.
She first went to acupuncture school. After graduating, she started attending the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, where she met Dr. James Gordon, the founder of the Center and the dean of the College of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook. He told her she should look into the Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine that Saybrook offered because it was helping to legitimize this concept of integrative health practices.
Dr. Russo not only completed this degree in 2015; she has created and taught both “Health Informatics: The Science of Healthcare Information” and “Ethics in Healthcare” at the College of Mind-Body Medicine.
“This is a scientifically rigorous program,” Dr. Russo says. “We are always backing up what we are putting out there by going to the research; we’re not going to recommend interventions that are not backed by research.”
Dr. Russo is now a certified health coach, a yoga teacher, and a licensed acupuncturist. She has authored twelve books, including one on the raw food diet. She researches the effectiveness of different integrative health care practices and advocates for self-care to treat chronic conditions. She has eight degrees to her name and is currently starting the fourth company of her professional career. Dr. Russo even gave a TEDx talk on a re-envisioned health care system.
Despite all of this, Dr. Russo is surprisingly relatable. After speaking on her own life journey, she often finds herself surrounded by people sharing their own stories.
“There are always a few people who come up and say, ‘my daughter has epilepsy’ or ‘I have epilepsy,’” Dr. Russo recalls. “People are so thrilled that they have this opportunity to look into something they never realized was there to help them help themselves.”