Fueled by a Passion for Autism
An interview with:
Medical Power Couple
Sujay Kumar, MD and Sowmini Oomman, MD, PhD
Co-Medical Directors & Owners of RejuvenageMD
Dr. Kumar has been practicing medicine for 15 years as a Family Practitioner, and Advanced Medical Aesthetics Instructor and Injector.
Dr. Oomman is a Triple Board Certified Physician, PhD, Neurologist and Sleep Medicine & Migraine Specialist with thirteen years of medical experience.
Drs. Kumar & Oomman are proud to own and manage RejuvenageMD with one or both of them in-office/on-site at all times to administer key procedures, consult with patients, and run the practice “hands-on” as Board Certified Physicians.
* Both were born & raised in India
* Dr. Kumar went to Shri.B.M.Patil Medical School
* Dr. Oomman went to Kilpauk Medical College
* They met while doing US residency at University of Little Rock in Arkansas
* Dr. Kumar is a Pioneering-BHRT Hormone Specialist
* Dr. Oomman won the Brain Research Young Investigation Award in 2009
How did you start in Medicine? Dr. Sujay Kumar-
I come from a business background in my family. My family is very large and I was the first from my family to pursue medicine. I started medical school in 1996 and practiced medicine in India. Upon coming to America, I did my US residency at the University of Little Rock in Arkansas. While in medical school I was drawn to all aspects of medicine. The only thing that made sense to me was to move into Family Practice. I loved being able to work with babies all the way up to grandparents and getting to know the whole family. I practiced family medicine for a total of 15 years prior to moving to Franklin and opening our RejuvenageMD practice. Botox started as a side hobby for friends and coworkers, but now I have moved into the role of teaching and instructing others in all aspects of fillers, hormones, and aesthetics.
Dr. Sowmini “Mini” K. Oomman-
My parents came from a farming family background in India. My father decided to get away from the historic farming influence to start his own business and so when I was young he moved our family to a thriving city and began a scientific business specifically with specimens. He excelled in this scientific work so much so that he discovered a new species of insect that is named after him (Kochumania exelsa). Being surrounded by science in the home every day really impacted me and helped me discover my love of science. I have 3 older siblings and my brother became a doctor and as I saw what he was doing it really drew me to medicine. My initial draw to medicine was as a researcher and scientist. When I was at the University of Texas I was a PhD and was in a teaching role and wanted to find a way to teach, research and still be hands-on in medicine. So I was drawn into Neurology because of its complexity and the challenge it creates.
Tell us about how you met?
We met in 2006 at The University of Little Rock on the first day of residency orientation.
After medical school I (Dr. Kumar) was a hospitalist in Arkansas while Dr. Mini did her Fellowship at Detroit Medical Center. We spent some time in Nebraska and then I took a job in Dickson, TN as a Family Practice Physician and that was when we fell in love with Franklin, TN and moved here. It was also during that time that our son was diagnosed with Autism and we knew we had to find a solution to care for him. Dr. Mini took 15 months off to be with him. Dr. Mini currently has a telemedicine practice for Sleep medicine in Bozeman, Montana. Most of her work in Montana is done here in Franklin, but she travels to Montana about once a month for her clinics.
What is the focus of your medical practice?
Everyone knows that to be healthy you eat right, sleep right and exercise. So at RejuvenageMD we focus on four key components: sleep, good nutrition, balanced hormones and exercise. Our practice has a non-insurance based medical aesthetics practice as well as an insurance-based sleep practice.
What makes your business/practice unique in our community?
The “Why” of our clinic is really about giving back to the community. By caring for the needs of our patients our practice is successful. Each month we choose a local charity to support. But ultimately, this clinic is driven by our son and his needs, and we want to give back to the community and create something that will help other young adults with autism have a productive and self sustaining life. Through our foundation, Dante’s Journey, we want to build community support for not only our medical practice, but to support our vision.
Tell us about your passion for Autism:
Our son, Dante (5.5 years old), was diagnosed with Autism 3 years ago and Tennessee is one of only 4 states that does not cover Autism care under insurance. As physicians we could not believe that Autism was considered "experimental" in the state of TN and the same large insurance companies that are covering Autism care in other states do not offer coverage in TN. As we dug into it, we realized that many families in TN are in the same situation that we are in and do not have any Autism care covered. One of the very important things with autistic kids is that you start care at a very young age to make a meaningful difference in their lives as they grow. The harsh reality is that this therapy costs between $50-$60 thousand per child per year, and roughly speaking 1 in every 60 children is autistic. The sheer cost for individual care is daunting for most families.
We began thinking about the future of not only our son but also the roughly 500,000 kids with autism that are turning into adults over the next 10 years. The problem is that more than half of those kids will not have a job and will have difficulty getting one. We just knew that we had to do something about this, and we wanted to figure out how we could make a difference! We are both researchers and found that the two jobs that are a great fit for autistic kids are 1) software (because high-functioning autistic individuals love to do detailed steps repetitively for years on end), and 2) carwashes (low-functioning autistic individuals have shown to be very effective in this role).
So we started our Rejuvenage MD medical practice so that the revenue created from it will feed our non-profit, named Dante’s Journey, that will buy car washes and hire autistic adults to run them. Then from there we will buy real-estate and build "quads," buildings with 4 units that have 3 bedrooms and bathrooms in each where the autistic adults who work at our car washes can live in community together. We want to help others by using the skills and abilities that we have.
How do your life experiences make you a better physician?
When physicians share common experiences with their patients, we are able to relate to each other better. We are married, we have a child, we have experienced hardships, which enables us to have empathy and understanding of what other families are going through. We come from humble backgrounds in India, and our goal is not to make a lot of money for us. We want to give back to the community and invest in kids and young adults who have Autism. We want to help kids and give them purpose. If we did a traditional role in medicine we can impact our patients, but we want to help kids and families that are in the same difficult situation with Autism like us. So we thought… “How can we impact a community on a bigger scale?” that drives our purpose and our medical practice. We want to create an impact that goes beyond patient care and really changes the community.
What are your goals for your patients?
Our goals for our patients are to give them medical attention that they are not able to get in other places. When a practice is insurance based then it has to be volume driven, but by not taking insurance we are able to really spend time with our patients and give them the time and attention that each one needs. We educate our patients while we treat them so that they understand how to get healthier.
Getting to Know the Docs:
Dr. Kumar- Atlas Shrugged
Dr. Mini- The Bible
Dr. Kumar- Lord of the Rings
Dr. Mini- Predator
Favorite restaurant in Nashville?
Dr. Kumar- J.Alexander
Dr. Mini- First Watch
Favorite vacation destination?
Dr. Kumar- Phi Phi Island
Dr. Mini- Thailand
Among your friends what are you known for?
Dr. Kumar- being the life of the party and my smile
Dr. Mini- her wit & humor