Fresno, CA (currently in residency there), from Wyoming
***This is an updated version. I originally posted this accidentally as a comment under Dr. Luhrs's intro. Since then I had an epiphany while in the shower (where all the best ideas are had, am I right?) and have not been able to stop thinking about my dream clinic/life since. !!! :D ***
1) What inspired you to become a healer?
I officially decided to become a doctor my junior or senior year in high school when the “career counseling” brigade began parading how important finding a path in life was to us unsuspecting 16 and 17 year olds. I now realize that the certainty with which I chose medicine was unnecessary and ultimately unhealthy, but from that day forward I pursued getting into med school with tunnel-vision focus and unwavering determination. For that, I am very proud, as it speaks to my ability to make anything happen that I doggedly pursue. In high school I decided upon “doctor” as my career path because I enjoyed biology, was a very good student, and figured that since I wanted to help people it was a great idea. All the unrealistic encouragement I got from all the adults in my life, none of them doctors who knew what it was actually like, only further consolidated the decision. I’ll never forget the disappointment on my art teacher’s face that she unsuccessfully tried to hide when she knew I would be majoring in some form of biology in college and not art. To this day, I wish I would have listened to her sense that pursuing an artistic path would be a great fit for me.
The good news is that though I now know I don’t want to be a doctor when I grow up (better late than never now that I am one! ;), I do know that I am deep to my core a healer, whether or not I want to be. Since I was little I was an old-soul introvert, and my parents’ adult friends and acquaintances would often approach me and have adult conversations with me, baring their souls to me. It always struck my parents as odd that they would come around a corner and there would be me, a little girl, intently listening to one of their friends blathering on and on. I’ve always been a natural listener and love to hear people’s stories and discover what stirs their souls. This trait lives on in me but is currently subdued and somewhat in hiding, slightly traumatized by the pressures of remaining within the framework of a typical psychiatric visit that has to fit into 30-60 minute appointments including documentation, blah blah blah you all know this theme. My goal is to heal these wounds and see who I am after the stale and suffocating cobwebs of medical training have been brushed away. I miss my natural upbeat curiosity about humans, not “patients” (because really aren’t we all patients?), and the world around me. I want more time for this person to explore and contribute in a more meaningful way. I want to meet people where they are at in a way that is necessary for them to bare themselves to me so that I can help them find the powers they innately possess to heal themselves. If that is on a mountaintop or in their favorite coffee shop or on walks around the lake they love, then that is where I want to hold space with them, not in the confines of a traditional doc-in-a-box office space. Though if this traditional setting is what someone else requires, then that’s fine too.
2) Describe your dream clinic/practice/workspace/job:
My passion regarding human health is steeped in diet and lifestyle. There is so much knowledge about how diet and lifestyle impacts mental health (and all health) that is not being utilized in typical medical care. My dream is to hold monthly retreats to educate people who want to take control of their lives and health, reclaiming their intuitive healing powers as human beings. These retreats would include hands-on learning how to cook a plant-powered diet, yoga, meditation, and lots of education on topics such as the mind/gut connection and how most chronic conditions including many (if not all) mental illnesses can be cured or at least drastically improved with an anti-inflammatory diet. For any retreat participants who want to have further individualized sessions with me after the retreats, I would like to see them via tele-health.
I wrote the above paragraph prior to my first meeting with this group over Zoom. One piece of the above dream that didn't match my current reality was that I need to work full-time seeing patients in Wyoming as part of my contract with the state for med school, and I wasn't sure how retreat medicine was going to fulfill this requirement or if it even could. A second piece was that the pressure to become "expert" enough during the year off I am taking after residency to hold these retreats was too overwhelming for me, and I knew it would taint my year off with too much pressure, leaving without the ability to pursue the self-growth/healing that I intended for this precious time for myself.
After meeting with you all over Zoom (might I just quickly say that I just love all y'all?!) and learning from Dr. Campbell that she is successfully running a telepsych practice and avoiding the over-prescription of psychotropics, I was ecstatic. I was so relieved to know that other people like myself not only existed in psychiatry but were making it work for themselves. Kendra, I cannot thank you enough! By saying "yes" to this conference even though I am "too busy" with residency blah blah, you and Kayla have forever changed my life, I can feel it! <3
So that Zoom meeting was two Thursdays ago. The next day after the meeting, Friday night, I was in the shower around 11:30pm (already needed to be in bed because me and my partner, Micah, needed to be awake at 3am to hit the road for a conference in Santa Fe we were driving to) when I was hit suddenly with the realization that I could run a telepsych practice similar to Kendra's in Wyoming and simultaneously still be in alignment with my goals in medicine and meet the contractual requirement I have with the state. My eyes bugged out, and I yelled for Micah to come into the bathroom because I could not stop the maniacal waterfall of enthusiastic words that thundered out of my mouth. I kept us awake excitedly talking about my dream practice until about 12:30am, leading to a very tired start to our trip, but it was so worth it, because I haven't stopped thinking about my idea for my dream practice since.
The dream practice entails initially meeting in video sessions with patients for a two-hour evaluation after they fill out my online intake form to make sure they are a good fit for my approach. I think for this initial eval I will charge $400 and then have as many f/u visits (30-60 minutes) as is required to restore health for about $200-250. I will not accept insurance - Kendra, I read your website and your thoughts regarding insurance coverage are identical to mine, so bless you for being such a beautiful example for me. I am just bursting with gratitude right now knowing that I am not going to have to go this alone. Seriously, ask and you shall receive (see my answer to #5 below). Once my practice is full of enough patients I regularly see and my confidence regarding my functional/integrative/holistic knowledge is up, I want to invite these patients to week-long retreats as mentioned above where I teach them how to cook healthy meals hands-on and teach them yoga. It is all coming together!
-- I would like to have my clinic website completed by end of residency so that I'm not fretting about it during my year off (graduation is June 2019, fucking finally!).
-- Year off: yoga teaching certification possibly in India, visiting sustainable living communities as a vistor/live-in volunteer, attending conferences on plant-powered diet medicine, orthomolecular medicine, and integrative medicine. Kendra, if you read this, do you think that I need the integrative fellowship to run my practice well?
-- Also during year off: attend Pam's retreat, likely in October 2019
3) Describe your dream life:
My home base would be at one of the centers where I hold retreats. This would be a sustainable community designed and driven by people of the earth with a smorgasbord of skill-sets: farming, engineering, construction, education, and obviously many others, given we all possess so much untapped potential that isn’t explored due to being pressured to do one job or choose one career. Our current society is sick, and I am a community-builder who will bring us back to our self-reliant roots with the help of the tribe around me. The property would be filled with cats, dogs, pigs, chickens, and goats, and lots of beautiful plant life. We would not eat our furry friends, except for the eggs produced by the chickens and maybe some milk made into cheese from the goats for special celebrations. I would spend my time split evenly between my practice (a combination of primarily education via retreats and some via individualized sessions with patients) and enjoying my surroundings. I would wake up to the sound of water at a nearby river or the ocean and never again an alarm. I would start the day with a gentle yoga practice or meditation and work in the garden or in feeding animals. The first half of the day would be spent working on whatever projects needed work or play in the community (maybe leading a yoga class or two) and the second half of the day in my personal work projects that would feel like play compared to my current practice of psychiatry.
4) What book are you most excited about and why?
Your Money or Your Life: I’ve been wanting to read this book for quite some time, ever since Kayla mentioned it a while back. I have been hesitant to jump head first into pursing my dreams due to heavy student loan debt and med school contractual obligations, initially planning to work for a lucrative state hospital to quickly pay down the debt. The more I allow myself to dream and tap into my purpose, the more I begin to recognize that, as the title of the book says, I can’t sacrifice my life for financial needs. My hopes are that in reading this book and engaging with you beautiful people, I can create both a life that I not only desire but that is also so purposeful that the money will manifest itself for me. I’d like to shift my cognitive set from feeling so burdened by the debt (to the point of feeling like a victim of my own choices) to feeling empowered to ninja it away using my skill set for the greater good.
5) What are you hoping to take away from this course?
The courage and inspiration to set forth full steam ahead on a journey towards making my dreams a reality. Bonus: Maybe another friend or two! :)