Why I left my thriving practice to start from the ground up

I write this as I am 3 weeks away from opening my independent, solo medical practice.  There are many things, big and small, in need of my attention.  Through this process, I must remind myself to keep my “eyes on the prize”, one of the strategies which has a role in medical weight loss.  Many people have asked why I am making this change.  They have wondered if it is to spend more time with my family, or because of all the changes in medicine, or some other reason.  I would like to explain.

I loved practicing Primary Care.  I have known I would be a physician for nearly as long as I can remember.  It began shortly after I decided being a astronaut was not for me, which was fortunate since I am afraid of turbulence on airplanes, it turns out.   In medical school, I did very well in every subject except for anatomy, so it was hard to choose a specialty.  I came within 2 days of choosing Obstetrics and Gynecology.  But at the last minute, I resisted the pressures to choose a subspecialty and instead I chose Internal Medicine.  You see, while the intricacies of oncoolgy, the excitement of critical care, the absoluteness of surgery were all attractive, what brought the most meaning to the practice of medicine to me was knowing the story of the person in whose life it was occurring.  While Internists do not cure cancer or halt emergencies in their tracks, they do have a unique “front row seat” view on people’s lives and are there through events in life and death and everything in between.  Internists are there before the ultimate events, trying to look into the future and forestall any negative health events.  After all, one’s health affects one’s life in a multitude of ways.

So, I happily practiced Internal Medicine for 12 years until I decided to make this change.  I estimate I had approximately 55,000 patient encounters during that time.  I am grateful for the privilege of witnessing and participating in whatever small way I did during that time.  I’d like to think that I learned a lot about people through all these encounters.  I have certainly learned a lot about myself and the choices we have in this life.

Over the last couple of years, one truth about the practice of primary care became more and more evident: a large portion of the conditions I was treating were preventable, reversible, or vastly improved with weight loss and fitness.  Many times a day, I was prescribing new medications and raising medication doses, beginning people on insulin, treating pain, insomnia, mood issues, all that could all be improved or relieved with changing the body’s composition, metabolism, movement, and function.  My patients wanted to get healthier.  They did not want to take more medications that were cumbersome, expensive, may have side effects and made the feel like they were ill.  They wanted to feel better, move better, and do what they wanted to do.  Moreover, the scientific knowledge and medical treatment is known, in practice, and effective, to treat excess weight.  However, it takes a specific treatment protocol, training in these treatment protocols, and a lot of time.  The traditional primary care practice does not have these. Hence, my decision to start my own practice.

It was very difficult to arrive at this decision.  It took me an entire year just to do so.  I can remember specifically the moment that sealed the deal.  I had a patient who had begun a medical weight loss program with me when she had retired and realized she could not move well enough to do all the things she had worked so hard looking forward to doing.  She followed her meal plan, took her medication, came back for follow up consistently, and lost 75 pounds.  Now, this is just a number.  It is a big number, but still just a number.  But what did it mean to her and her life?  I was seeing her for a routine follow up. She told me a story.  She had been to a baseball game and it had been so hot that she had had to sit down on the ground where she could find some shade.  She did this reluctantly, knowing she would not be able to get up without assistance.  But when the time came, she decided to give it a try.  Lo and behold, she got up on her own!  More then just a number on a scale, she had gained freedom and independence.  Her life was changed.

My mission with my new practice is to bring proven, published treatment protocols to the community offering an option to free people from the shackles of excess weight that cause reduced movement, increased pain, increased burden of medications, and decreased feelings of health, vitality, and wellness.  I will do this with the highest standards in safety and respect for the people who entrust me with their care.  I want to hear many more stories of people doing things they did not think were possible!

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