Story By Morgan Bryce and Hannah Lester
Photos By Robert Noles
Dr. Viengxay Malavong wasnâ€™t going to let anything stop him from pursuing his dream of changing lives with medicine. Now, he runs Aspire Integrative Health in Opelika.
Born in Laos, Malavongâ€™s family emigrated to the United States as refugees shortly after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, eventually settling in Mobile.
Inspired by reading the stories of Dr. Jonas Salkâ€™s invention of the polio vaccine and the accomplishments of other famous physicians and scientists, Malavong said he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the medical field when he was just five years old.
â€œ[His parents] never had the heart to tell me that we were poor and couldnâ€™t send me to college,â€ he said. â€œBut they didnâ€™t discourage me from pursuing my dream.â€
Malavong transferred from Theodore High School to Alma Bryant when he was in high school, which prompted him to join student organizations and become a member of the cityâ€™s Leadership Mobile Program.
After his graduation, Malavong pursued a degree in biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He graduated in 2006 and from 2006 to 2010, Malavong was in medical school, practicing and studying remotely through the A.T. Still Universityâ€™s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa, Arizona.
â€œKnowing what I wanted to be throughout my training, I tried to fill myself with knowledge on everything I could to make me a well-rounded family doctor,â€ he said. â€œI did a lot of psych work, which I enjoyed, working with people who may have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or addiction issues.â€
Malavong entered into the residency phase of his medical training after graduation. In 2015, he finished and accepted a position with Auburn Urgent Care, where he worked until 2019.
â€œFor people looking for a family doctor, with me, youâ€™re going to get someone who is going to be here for the long haul,â€ he said. â€œThe key with me is that Iâ€™m a family doctor who will listen and help people and their families meet their needs and reach their goals.â€
Now, Malvaong is dually-board certified in family and osteopathic medicine and has four years of medical experience. In addition to running Aspire, he works several days a week at the local Stopwatch Urgent Care locations.
Finding the root of a personâ€™s medical problems, â€œboils down to the mind, body and spirit,â€ he said, with a basis for problems in those respective spheres that can be traced back to food.
â€œI think a lot of it is micronutrients that are or are not present in the food we eat,â€ he said. â€œThe type of foods we usually eat have calories, not the vitamins and micronutrients we need to process and produce the neurotransmitters we need to simply function,â€ Malavong said.
Malavong explained is similar in practice but different in form to chiropractic medicine.
â€œLike chiropractics, our focus is restoring the body back to function,â€ he said. â€œA lot of the techniques we use are more counter-strain or muscle energy, which tend to be a little more gentle, especially for the population that might be a little more frail.â€
Through a personalized approach with each patient, Malavong said he is willing to work with anyone, regardless of their physical condition or weight, and guide them toward a higher level of health and overall wellness.
â€œWe like to look at the patient, not just at their medications,â€ said Angela White, a primary-care provider at Aspire. â€œ We like to kind of see where their family dynamics are, where they are emotionally, with their diet, outside factors that are influencing their health. We really are holistic.â€
White said the clinic also offers prayer and focuses on the spiritual aspect of health.
â€œWe approach them in their own beliefs and faiths, but those who are open to prayer, we offer that to them,â€ Malavong said.
For more information, call 334-203-1723, like and follow the clinicâ€™s social media pages or visit www.aspireintegrativehealthclinic.com. The clinic is located at 2202 Gateway Drive, Suite A.