Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Ari Skye-Babbott.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
While The Acu Bus was a dream that sparked to life during the pandemic in Calumet Park overlooking the ocean — it really was one that had been culminating for a much longer time. As a kid, I had a medical condition called scoliosis (an irregular curve of my spine). Because of it, I wore back braces for 23-hours a day for 6 years. With this came a lot of back pain. I was determined to continue rock climbing and being my teenage self without limitations. Luckily I’m the daughter of two chiropractic doctors so was able to get complementary and integrative care to go along with standard treatments at Children’s Hospital.
One of the modalities that helped the most was acupuncture, including techniques like cupping and gua sha. I was drawn to the medicine as it’s a whole system of viewing the body comprehensively through lenses of not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. The individualized lifestyle tips, as well as collaborative approach to care, truly gave me a voice in my health.
It took me multiple years until becoming a Doctor of Acupuncture, a path that included going to and then leaving art school, studying public health and pre-med at a unique interdisciplinary college (Hampshire College), becoming a Vice President of a national public health firm, and then completing 6 years of graduate and doctoral-level education to dive full-time into direct care as a medical provider.
I moved to San Diego after meeting two mentors by chance at an Integrative Medicine Leadership Training. They invited me to provide medical care and acupuncture therapy to patients in rural Fiji and encouraged me to work at UCSD. Now, part-time, I teach medical students and doctors about the value of integrative medicine and provide acupuncture care to patients at UCSD clinics. I’m also the proud owner of The Acu Bus.
During the pandemic, fueled by a love for tiny homes, I had the realization that I wanted to start a mobile family acupuncture practice. The beauty of the mobile practice is creating a safe space during COVID (hello windows that can open to let in a warm San Diego breeze) and taking the pressure off people to drive in traffic to yet another appointment. The Acu Bus shows up at your house, you walk into the bus and head to relaxation city while receiving comprehensive care, and then you walk back into your home.
With additional specialized training in pediatrics, I decked out the bus to welcome kids and families, including a dancing llama garland, stickers, and a brightly colored mural. I’ve always loved working with children and have been around little ones for a long time — I have two sisters 7 and 19 years younger than myself and amazing nieces and nephews.
A major goal of my practice is to bring play, creativity, and collaboration to medical care to help kids and families heal and thrive. Kids can change so rapidly with gentle treatment, so it’s wonderful to give back and help equip them with the tools to feel their best.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
First of all, I’m not sure a smooth road is the goal! While the bumps and dips and mountain climbs are challenging in the moment, they’ve been pivotal to getting here. For example, working 40 hours a week while attending 30+ hours of class and clinical rotations was not easy — but it’s allowed me to pay for school out of pocket and be debt-free.
While being an employee of a consulting firm was easier in some ways (regular paycheck, benefits, ability to work from home), it was limiting in a lot of ways (glued to the computer, Slack, working irregular hours, not having enough time for self-care). Starting a business has been a fun challenge during the pandemic, but I’ve been so inspired by all the genuine connections with local business owners that I’ve made, even being new to San Diego.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about The Acu Bus?
The Acu Bus is a mobile family acupuncture studio focused on whole family wellness. I specialize in pediatrics and use gentle and safe no-needle techniques for kids. I love working with the whole family as the changes you make together and the encouragement and support along the way make all the difference.
Helping kids feel their best and equipping them with life-long tools to thrive is why I love working with kids and teens. Acupuncture wellness sessions in The Acu Bus are a multi-sensory experience. We invite our patients to be co-creators in the process and find great joy in seeing them thrive! Our sessions include a range of therapeutic modalities based on the person or their child’s individual needs, including acupuncture, no-needle techniques, cupping, massage, gua sha, kinesio-taping, lifestyle counseling, nutrition therapy rooted in East Asian Medicine principles, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, and other integrative approaches.
My background in public health, speciality in pediatrics, teaching role within a healthcare system, mobile medicine model, and dedication to comprehensive and integrative care makes me a unique acupuncturist. Plus, each treatment happens one patient at a time so you’ll receive 100% of my focus. I take time to explain information about health in understandable and accessible terms, listen to you, and answer questions you may have. I also love collaborating with my patients’ care teams, including doctors and other specialists. The more integrative and complementary in the approach, the better for the patient.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
My biggest piece of advice is to reach out to people — call them up, email them, connect with them through social media sites. If you’re truly curious and want to learn more about who they are, who they serve, and potential collaborations or synergies you may have together, this will shine through. Buy them coffee/tea, ask open-ended questions, get curious. The best connections I’ve made are the ones where I’ve gone for it and have found that people are way excited to connect (more so than you think).
And the other thing that’s similar to that piece of advice is generally to just go for it. Even if it feels like a stretch or “out of your league,” even if it never amounts to anything, it feels bold and helps you grow!
I wish I had more mentors early on with experience with mindset work — it can be hard starting a small business, so having folks to share your concerns with and be inspired by to keep going is amazing.
- 15-Minute Discovery Call: Free
- Mobile Acupuncture Session: Sliding scale $150 to $200
- Virtual Health Sessions: $120
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://theacubus.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.acu.bus
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/the.acu.bus
- Other: https://g.page/theacubus?share
Creative: Volt Creative Photography: José Coli Styling: Patty Galceran-Coli