An interview with the experts behind STL Fertility

With deep roots in the St. Louis community, the team of experts at STL Fertility, Dr. Molina Dayal, Dr. Maureen Schulte, and nurse practitioner Melanie Miranda, provide the high touch and hands-on experience that fertility patients expect, supported by unparalleled success rates.

STL Fertility is the only 100% locally owned by female physicians, all female fertility center based in St. Louis. In August 2020, the providers took full ownership of the practice from their former parent company and relaunched the practice as STL Fertility. While the name has changed from SIRM St. Louis Fertility Center to STL Fertility, the commitment and mission hasn’t: it’s about helping one patient at a time find an individualized path to fertility success.

Website: stlfertility.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stlfertility
Instagram: stlfertility
Phone: 314-983-9000

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Hello, and welcome to STL Active St Louis’s premier health and wellness podcast. STL Active aims to give listeners in the St. Louis area the information they need to succeed and progress with their health and fitness. This podcast is brought to you by stlouispt.com and hosted by Doctor of Physical Therapy, Greg Judice.

Hey everyone, its Dr. Greg, owner and physical therapist at Judice Sports & Rehab. On this episode of the show, I’m interviewing Dr. Molina Dayal, Dr. Maureen Schulte, and  Andrea McClain from STL Fertility. With deep roots in the St. Louis community. Their team of experts provides the high touch hands on experience that fertility patients expect, supported by unparalleled success rate. STL Fertility is the only 100% locally owned female by female physicians all female fertility center based in St. Louis, I think in the Midwest as well. In August of 2020, the providers took full ownership of the practice from their former parent company and relaunched the practice as STL fertility. While the name has changed from SIRM, St. Louis Fertility Center to STL Fertility, the commitment and mission has not it’s about helping one patient at a time find their individualized path to fertility success. In this episode, we talk about their practice some success stories, and try to destigmatize some sensitive topics. Without further ado, let’s get into the interview with sto fertility. All right, welcome to the show. We’ve got Dr. Dr.  Dr. Maureen Schulte Molina Dayal,  And Dr. Nope, not doctor but still very, very important. Andrea McClain, here with us today from STL Fertility. Welcome, guys. Thank you.

Thanks for having us here.

Awesome. I’m very excited. We were able to make this happen. This is by far the most people I’ve ever had on one, one time, the first off, so we’re gonna we’re gonna do the best we can here but I’m excited. So let’s start with telling the listeners a little bit about your background.

My name is Molina Dayal. I am currently the medical director at STL Fertility. In terms of my background, I was born and raised in the Washington DC area and did much of my schooling out east. I went to school at Johns Hopkins University for undergraduate medical and public health school, and then came out here to Wash U in St. Louis to do my residency in obstetrics and gynecology. Then went back out east to U-Penn and Philadelphia for my fellowship. And after that went and joined the faculty at George Washington University for almost 10 years before I came out here to become medical director at a different practice before we became STL. fertility. And it’s I have my own fertility journey. And I have one adopted daughter.

Very cool. .

Yeah. So I am Dr. Maureen Schulte, otherwise known as Dr. Mo Schulte. And I was born and raised in Chicago, went to medical school at University of Illinois, did my OBGYN residency training at Wash-U here in St. Louis, and then stayed there for fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. After fellowship, I was with a large group in New Jersey, and learned a lot and then settled back here in St. Louis with Dr. Dayal,. Until we took over the practice a little over a year ago, and renamed it STL fertility and now we’re off to the races.

Very cool. So I’ve got more questions for you guys, for sure. But let’s hear from Andrea.

So I’m Andrea McClain, or most people in the office call me Dre. I was a patient of the practice of that before it was STL fertility. So I worked my way into a job because I knew I wanted to be a part of working with Dr. Diane Dr. Schulte T, and I’m their patient experience manager. So I help patients establish care. And I also call out to OB offices that are local because we want to make sure that the care we’re giving is what they would give it their office, right so it’s an extension of care. And I have one IVF baby in a spontaneous baby. So buy one get one.

And I I completely forgot to mention my family. Who’s the best mom in the room? Um, but I am married to a wonderful person named Dan Sheltie. And we have three beautiful kids. We had our own fertility journey with many miscarriages, so I have a special place in my heart for my recurrent miscarriage patients and We’re very lucky to have three adorable children.

Awesome. So you mentioned that you were all somewhere else before STL fertility. We don’t have to go into like the whole story if you don’t want to, but I’d love to hear about how you guys came to own STL fertility.

So before I can move to St. Louis, I was in an academic position, and I had an opportunity to move out to St. Louis, with my then husband, I’m now divorced, who had a wonderful opportunity at a local health organization named SSM. So I moved out here with him and became Medical Director of the share Institute for Reproductive Medicine or SRM. And SRM went through multiple changes, including being acquired by a large fertility company named Integra med. And I think during the pandemic, we had a wonderful opportunity to take over the practice from Integra med. And that’s how we became STL. fertility.

Yes, yeah. Cool. And so were you guys part of the leadership team with Integra med? Or how did how did you guys decide that like, this is what we want to do?

Yeah, so I think, Well, Dr. Dial was always the medical director of SRM, which was our former name. And then, really, I think, my background is from fellowship, I was part of a large fertility practice that became international, really. So in the largest network, and I got to see a lot of behind the scenes of how large fertility practices function, which was excellent training. And so when I ultimately decided to decided to settle down here in St. Louis, I, we knew the type of care that we wanted to give. And it was more of a boutique feel, right, where we were sharing patients with each other, but that with 30 other physicians, and really seeing our patients through from beginning to end. So when the opportunity came up to acquire our practice, rename it and run it ourselves, we jumped at the opportunity, because we felt like That was an important bowtique. The bowtique aspect was an important thing to protect, because it’s the way that we wanted to provide medical care. And it’s what our patients deserved.

I love it. Okay. So I know that when we were talking before, we started recording here that you guys were very proud of your mission statement. So I would love to kind of hear how you came up with it, why it’s important to you.

I would love to take that one, because I feel like it was very organic. So our mission statement is that our family is here to help build yours. And it’s the quote above our door. And it’s really just the way that we feel. So at STL fertility our staff is a family. So Dre, obviously is here with us today, it’s a very fluid, amazing feel in our office, which I think is another thing that sets us apart because patients feel that all of our staff members love and care about our patients as Dr. Dale and I do. And it’s true, the STL fertility family wants all of our patients to be successful and grow their own respective families. So it just sort of was an organic quote that really stuck. And now we have it everywhere. And we think it really embodies the nature of our practice.

I love that. And Andrea, you were a patient. So you got to experience this from both sides.

Yeah, um, I mean, I have been in the medical field prior to working with them. And I have to say for like, doctors, physicians, they’re real gals. They, you know, like, I honestly, you know, there’s not this sense of, like, you know, don’t look her in the eye, you can’t contact her directly, like, I will, you know, we even call them by their first names, like when patient, you know what I mean? So, they, it there’s an accessibility to them. And there’s, there’s a vulnerability to them, that I think is super important, especially because we all feel like we are, you know, one big family and you can’t feel like that if there’s only you know, two people that aren’t accessible, right? Or you can actually contact them. There’s all these steps of, you’ve got to go through the office manager. If you have a question for the doctor, then it’s like, hey, a patient called Can you answer this for me? And there’s like little to no ego which is huge. And I think patients see that too, with how kind of interact like playful we are with one another. You know, we have a big clinic nurse’s station like most offices do. So that’s kind of like the hub of where everything happens. A lot of the times, that’s where you’ll see them both standing, like they said about sharing care. That’s one thing that, you know, sets us apart from other offices. And I let people know that right away that you’re gonna, you know, you might establish care under Dr. Sheltie. But you’re going to see Dr. Diana, you’re going to meet our nurse practitioner, Mel, you’re going to get to know everyone because we don’t want your treatment to have to stop to like, you know, if they are out for personal reasons or things like that. And you need to have a surgery, we want Dr. Dial to swoop right in, you know, and keep your train moving. So I think that’s huge that there is this kind of family aspect of, you’re going to know them both. But most people when they release or graduate from our office, they mark all three providers, as who say who they saw. And so for us, we’re always like, well, who did the initial note, you know, like, who they saw last fuse? On the scene? Yeah, I mean, from a clinical standpoint, you know, we’re constantly looking like, well, who did the, you know, who did the establish care console, we’ll figure that, you know, that’s what we’ll do it as. But, you know, even patients kind of feel that right where it’s like, they check all three providers, because they felt like they were a patient of all three providers,

which is huge. And I think our patients love it, because medicine is a team sport. So anybody who’s been in medicine knows that. And we always are in constant communication about every single one of our patients.

You know, just today, with all the patients that were coming in, or even this past week, we were both tag teaming everything, like we both write notes and review and talk about every single patient that came in together.

Yeah, I think that’s super important. From a provider standpoint, like I was solo for so long, and it just becomes lonely. So I’m sure that makes it more fun for you.

Oh, my God, it’s so much solo. I know, right?

I mean, you probably have way more fun. And a, someone that’s having fun is happy. And someone that’s happy is probably a better provider. So I totally get that. That’s very cool. One thing that Andrea said that kind of stood out to me was that, you know, they feel like real people. Right? Yeah. And and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to the doctor just to see a surgeon or something. And it’s like, their robot. How do people get to know them? Yeah, right. Yeah. And it’s, that’s not the vibe that I want for my clinic. And that’s obviously not the vibe that you guys have from your clinic. And that’s just refreshing to hear that you are real people. And that is what’s felt by your patients, because there’s one right here.

That’s cool that and I think patients pick up on how their team is right. Like how many times you’ve walked into a doctor’s office where it’s like, this is stiff, or you can tell you know, like, it’s just, I don’t know, there’s kind of an energy in a certain element to our office that I feel like patients can kind of feel that kind of lets their guard down, right? Like, it’s not some scary, dark stuff. You know,

we have a lot of fun during COVID. Yeah,

yes, yes. And I think it speaks to our STL fertility family, because patients don’t want to graduate. So we will get them pregnant, we’ll do their second OB scan, but they will miss our office staff in us and like coming to see us every week, because it’s been, you know, These are trying times when they’re struggling with infertility, and we’re there for them. And it’s almost like they will miss having that support system. And so we always say like, we’re always your doctor, we are always here for you. And I have had some patients come back and make me do their 20 week scan, 20 reco B scan, just because we have amazing ultrasounds, which was, you know, our Christmas present to ourselves last year, so but, you know, we’re just there for them. And I think keeping it simple,

but and building on that. I mean, part of that is, is some of its taboo. A lot of girls are coming through that. We’re the only ones who know, who know about, and we want to make sure that, you know, we’re girlfriends, you can tell us we’re here, you know, like we’re available to you. And I think that that’s huge, too, because and that’s where that family kind of comes into play again, that I

think that just speaks to your culture. Right? Yeah, you’ve got a culture of, of trust between the providers and the patients, which is huge.

And frankly, I think every single staff member in our practice feels the same way. I mean, they treat everyone exactly the same way. They’re very warm, they’re welcoming. Everybody’s very supportive. And I think that’s, that’s a huge part of it, as well. Well, and

I think I think it speaks to you. I’m going to brag on you for a minute because out of fellowship when I was going to open a private practice here, solo, sort of one of the things I wanted to build was that culture. But the reason that I walked away from that opportunity from it was a time, you know, standpoint, that just didn’t fit with life anymore. But also, you had built that culture, at SRM and we only grew that with STL fertility, I think so. Thank you. That’s a cheers to Molina.

Very cool. Yeah. So the word fellowship has gotten thrown around a lot. So let’s talk about how No one achieves a fellowship, right? They have to go to undergrad, then the medical school, then to residency. Yes. And then by the time you finished 30th grade fellowship trained specialists.

Okay, like 33rd birthday.

It’s 11 years. Right? Crazy. It’s 11 years.

Yeah. Because all of it for four and four and three. Yeah. It’s a lot of

school. Were very

well trained.

Yes. So tell me about how that sets you guys apart because we were talking beforehand and fellowship trained specialists are not, not the most common.

That’s true. You know, nationally, there are fewer than 1500 fellowship trained reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists. So as we were counting out, like all the years, so after four years of Obstetrics and Gynecology residency, we have to do a three year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. So during that time, you learn a variety of things, like every single thing you can think of related to our field. That’s not just infertility, but endocrinology, which is, you know, just hormonal sort of issues related to reproduction and women. And I think the thing that sets us apart is certainly we have that background. But we’re taught so many different aspects of, let’s say, infertility care. We know we know certainly how to treat women with infertility, but we know how to treat complications. We know how to take care of women sort of in a sort of a holistic sort of wide approach. And I think that’s what sets us apart. Some people say what we do is cookie cutter, but I don’t believe that at all. I think when you’re fellowship trained, not everything, almost nothing is cookie cutter. No, you know, every everybody’s treated very individually, because we’re looking at every single aspect of their care because of our training.

Very cool. So not only are you to fellowship trained specialists, but the fact that you are the owners of a IVF clinic here is also pretty unique. So why don’t you kind of dive into that a little bit and say, was it in the Midwest? Right?

I believe so. I think they’re the first female owned reproductive endocrinology center, definitely in the state of Missouri. But I think it’s a greater region than that of only women, only women. And that only happened in 2020. I mean, it’s your trailblazers, right? Yes, um, it’s wild. Yeah.

I think that, again, going back to that culture, when the pandemic hit, and our sort of overall Integra Med, who owned 90 fertility practice across the country, they went through bankruptcy. And so we really had the opportunity to fight, right? And Molina and I sink our teeth in because we wanted to protect our culture, protect our patients, protect our staff, from being bought out by another big corporation, or, you know, and it was a very unsettling time. Because we were in a pandemic, so nobody knew what was happening as far as a health standpoint. And also, you know, they were going through a bankruptcy. So really, anything could have happened. But we, you know, our lawyers told us that we were dogs on a bone, we were, and I’m really proud of us, because we just we’re not going to take no for an answer. And we ultimately, you know, prevailed. And I’m so happy that we did because, you know, we protected the culture that we love. The patients that we love the staff that we love, and we’re able to, you know, protect our jobs, which it’s more a calling. I don’t even like calling it a job. Because we have fun at work. And it’s great. So, so yeah, I think it was in. That was an interesting time. Yeah. And it was,

it was over three months of negotiation. Oh, yeah. Well, not

only that, but to give kudos to both of you. At that time. They closed the doors, you guys had patients on medications were like, well make whatever has to happen. Because of patient care. And ultimately, you know, when you file for bankruptcy, that’s it. Like, everyone go home lights are out, but they offered, you know, they got into their own pockets, kept the doors open, and that’s all in the name of patient care and their team, right. Like, they didn’t know what was gonna happen. It could have been all for nothing, and ultimately, you know, they got the ultimate reward, but they didn’t have to do that, which

is huge for us. We really wanted to continue to support our patients and our staff. We did not want anything to be impacted. It was already impacted with COVID as it was right

everybody was going through something terrible so why make another terrible Yeah, right. And so you we did guys we could Yeah, He had kind of gone the extra mile two weeks was huge.

It was interesting too, because we we have patients that have come back since that time, and they had no idea. We were going

through it. And we’re like, we’re not telling them for us. We know I want them to know. Right? You know, yeah, we

didn’t want them to feel unsettled, right,

because it’s already unsettling what they’re going through. Right. So to add to that, yeah, wouldn’t have been good.

Yeah. And it was. I mean, it was great, because ultimately, we got, you know, the best outcome, you know, for everybody, in our opinion, and our patient’s care wasn’t interrupted, and we moved forward. So, yeah, we’re really thrilled. But looking back on that I still don’t think Molina and I have digested

it. No, no, now that we’re thinking or talking about it, I, I feel like it was such a long time ago. And I have it almost like in the recesses of my mind. But yeah,

because we would come home and we, you know, we’d see patients all day. And then we would get on the phone with the lawyers after hours. And then we would have strategy meetings and talk about, you know, how all of it was gonna play out. And

then we go back to work the next day. Yeah. And do the same thing, the next day strategy meetings in the evening, and we just kept going.

Yeah, it was, it was um, yeah, I’m just really proud.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s awesome. Something you should be proud of. Yeah. That’s very exciting. That’s, yeah, there it is. Alright, so before we started recording here, I heard a story. And then I heard another story. And then I heard another story. And my story is that we’ve been dealing with infertility as well. Right. So 100% of us here, have had some sort of fertility journey, right, as we kind of use that term before. So how common is that? If we if we have like one educational takeaway? I think I would just like to, I don’t know destigmatize infertility if we can, because it’s obviously very common, especially in this room, but all over St. Louis as well.

So it’s one in eight people struggle with infertility. And it’s extremely common. One in four undergo miscarriage. Yes. So that’s also extremely common. And I am happy because I feel like nowadays, people are speaking about their journeys more than in the past. And I know social media and podcasts and things have been a huge part of that. So I usually tell my patients that if they’re uncomfortable sharing, or they don’t know who is out there that is also struggling to make a fake Instagram account where they don’t use their name. But they go on there and they follow like the trying to conceive community, because there’s a lot of physicians, ourselves included, that have educational posts, and there’s a lot of patients and just IVF warriors out there that are talking about their struggles. And I think it’s a safe space to share information. And especially if you don’t want your close family and friends to know

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I was in the same boat, you know, after going through multiple miscarriages and then going through in vitro fertilization myself. Now, again, this was 18 to 19 years ago, so I’m old. Yeah. It was a long time ago, but success rates were vastly different back then. But after going through multiple treatments, not working, I needed 100% And it was either 100% Being child free, or considering adoption. So I tried the child free option and that lasted for About nine months. And then I said, You know what we really need to adopt. And it was the best decision we made. That’s awesome. I have this wonderful, beautiful, crazy. Daughter. I love I love her dearly.

And she they look identical,

which is bizarre it is. Yes. Absolutely bizarre. Yeah. Cuz

it is meant to be

very much a crapshoot when you fill out the paperwork. Yeah. Very cool. So one of the things when talking to my my partner, Dr. Jin, we talk a lot about common versus normal. And especially when it comes to like pelvic pain, and that’s more of her realm. You know, a lot of these things that women are dealing with, they feel are normal, right, especially after having a kid or dealing with the miscarriages or dealing with the postmenopausal pain, all of that. And obviously, that’s not necessarily your realm is the postmenopausal, but a lot of the things that they’re dealing with here are just normal things. But they’re not normal, right? They’re common. And so I think there’s a huge difference between common and normal. And that’s my job with my patients that I end up sending to Jen, is that education piece on common versus normal? Is there something similar that you guys and when it comes to like the educating patients? Is there something similar? You know, with what, what perception of reality is versus reality?

Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about the age related fertility decline.

Yes. That is probably one of the most important factors when it comes to fertility is a woman’s age.

Yes. And I feel like from an educational standpoint, right, they don’t teach us this back in high school days and biology. But essentially, women are born with millions of follicles inside the ovary, each follicle contains an egg, but we have a finite number of follicles. Okay. And so that they that number decreases over time. The decrease starts at 32, and really goes down at age 37. So women are out there being bombarded with People magazine, where celebrities are on the cover, having their first child at 50. And without reading the article, you think, Oh, this is fine. When you know, I got this, I can go to medical school. And I can, you know, wait until I’m 38 to think about conceiving my first child. And the reality is the biological clock waits for no one. And so if there’s one thing that we could educate all of your listeners today, it would be that the age related fertility decline as normal. Again, it starts at 32 really goes down at 37. It affects us in two ways. By decreasing the number of eggs we have to contribute to a pregnancy. And then by increasing chromosomal abnormalities in the baby, ie trisomies or mana Samis. Okay, which most commonly people think of like Down syndrome. Okay. So I think if you are, you know, a badass woman going after your goals and dreams, as you should consider if family building is a desire at around 33 to 35. If you are not settled down and ready to start a family, I would consider egg freezing, for sure.

Okay, so I don’t even know that that’s the thing from my perspective. Again, I am not the expert on fertility here. So how common is egg freezing?

I wish it was more common. So just like Dr. Schultz, he was saying I mean, the quantity of eggs, we have declines over time. And with that the quality declines. And if I could get every woman who didn’t think they were going to have a family, let’s say until their mid 30s, to commit to freezing eggs in their late 20s. I think everybody would be extraordinarily happy, because that’s sort of the peak of their fertility in terms of quality and quantity. I think there are certain regions that have a higher incidence of egg freezing because I think more women will look into that. And I think there’s some regions in the country that don’t consider that we are starting to see that more and more frequently in St. Louis is lovely. But if they’re able to freeze their eggs now, what that means is that all the increased chance of Down syndrome or chromosomal abnormalities that could occur later, may not they should not occur because you’re freezing at a much earlier time. The quality is better if it was freezing everything in time understood. So they can be frozen indefinitely and their quality does not

change. And is that something that you guys do?

Okay, yes. And I always tell my patients it’s not if you should freeze your eggs. It’s How many cycles you should do. And unfortunately, as we get older, we need to do more IVF cycles to give us an increased probability of having at least one birth from those frozen eggs. And again, that speaks to the biological clock, right? So if we could have a patient come through at age 33, and do one IVF cycle to get enough eggs in the bank, that would save her 38 year old self, one to three IVF cycles, if that makes sense.

Understood. Okay. So I was not expecting egg freezing to come up. I’m a little thrown off, I apologize.

I was gonna mention one other thing about freezing. So we offer egg freezing for cancer patients. Okay, no. So the premise behind that is that those women who are going to be receiving chemotherapy, or even radiation therapy may have a significant and permanent impact on their fertility potential, because many chemotherapy agents and radiation in and of itself can destroy follicles or eggs, so then their total pool of eggs or quantity of eggs will decline. So in order to preempt that, we ask women to come in and freeze their eggs before they are exposed to those agents, or those, you know, cancer treatment modalities so that we can preserve their eggs, because you have a lot more eggs now. But then if you have chemo or radiation, you suddenly have maybe half the number or a 10th the number or maybe you even go through menopause, and you’ve lost everything, but at least we’ve preserved. Got it.

Yeah, and I think so at our center, we feel so strongly about cancer patients preserving their fertility, that we do it at an extremely discounted rate. And we see them same day, if not within three days. And that goes for men and women. So with men, obviously, it would be sperm freezing before they undergo chemotherapy. And so, you know, for listeners out there, if you are facing that, please call our clinic, please get counseling and consider freezing your eggs prior to undergoing chemotherapy to you know, preserve future fertility, if that’s a desire that you have.

Because what’s amazing is that the uterus is not impacted by chemotherapy or are typically by radiation therapy to a large degree. So you can still hold a pregnancy and carry a pregnancy. That’s just the eggs themselves are no longer available to do so.

Got it? Okay. And that is very interesting.

I guess one other thing, too, we work with a lot of different pharmacies that actually give free medicine, medicine vacations for IVF. For that purpose, yes, for cancer patients, too. So that’s just a caveat.

So jumping back to the age related changes that happen, right? I mean, is that a product of the current, you know, millennial, and Gen Z, education, like, I feel like my generation it was you got to go to high school, you got to go to college, you got to go to grad school, and then you got to pay off your debt. So there’s all of this, like, time, time time, and then you finally may be ready to start having a family at 28 or later. And is that is that generational? Or is this always been the case?

So the age related fertility decline has always been there that hasn’t changed. We are as a society are now delaying childbearing for sure, due to all the things that you just mentioned. But from a biological perspective, it’s always been sort of 32 and 37 is when you statistically see the slope of the decline. And the reason that we say like 33 to 35, is when you should consider egg freezing is because, you know, Molina spoke to late 20s. And she’s absolutely right, because a 28 year olds, egg quality is going to be better than a 33 year olds. However, when they do long term studies, it’s are these women coming back to us, they’re frozen eggs. And so we try to split the difference, because if that 28 year old meets, you know, Mr. or Mrs. Wright or whoever, and they desired, you know, they build their family at 31, then they don’t necessarily tap into those frozen eggs. So so those are all the considerations that you have to think about when deciding the perfect age to freeze eggs.

Got it,

and it doesn’t take very long to do so. You know, so, if you think of a monthly menstrual cycle being let’s say, 28 days long, it takes 14 days for an egg to ovulate. It takes about 12 to 14 days for us to give you medications in order to have an egg retrieval. To freeze, right? So it actually doesn’t take

it does not have to be like a whole thing, right? It’s no, it’s a fairly quick process.

Absolutely. And that’s why with cancer patients, we can get them in pretty quickly. And just keep rolling.

Very cool. Alright, so shifting gears a little bit. I know when I was checking out your website, one of the things that you guys are very proud of as being local. Right? You are St. Louis owned. And that’s awesome. Right? I am not from St. Louis, originally, but I still am a St. Louis. And yeah, and so you know, I’ve been here long enough that I feel that and so I’d love to kind of hear, where do you have that local pride from?

Yeah, I think, honestly, it’s hard not to fall in love with St. Louis. I think that I married someone from St. Louis. And so I was Chicago through and through, I thought I was going back there. And then I went to Truman State University, here in Missouri. And so all of my best friends are from, you know, St. Louis and Columbia. And then really, my husband is from St. Louis area. And so that’s how I sort of, quote unquote, got dragged here. But then there’s no way that I would leave. Because once you actually, you know, stay here and, and start, you know, building your life here. You just fall in love with the city because of, it’s easy. And the people are so nice. Yeah, the people, and I think it’s just a lovely way and environment and culture to live.

I 100% agree. I mean, I, I, I’m from DC, same thing, I thought I was going to be on the East Coast for the rest of my life. And after moving here, I mean, you just the environment is so nice. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family. You know, what’s interesting is I’ve had many, many of my friends visit me from either coast. And they’re just like, when they leave, they’re like, We totally get it. It’s so nice. I mean, it’s a, you can do pretty much anything here that you can do elsewhere. But it’s a lot easier to do. Yes. Yes, amazing food

and access to everything you would ever need to do. Absolutely. Absolutely. So very cool. So we talked about this briefly earlier, we use the word boutique. So what does a boutique practice mean? First of all, and then why did you decide to go that route?

So a boutique practice to us is really sort of enveloping patients into our STL family. Right? So STL fertility family. And the bowtique feel is that, you know, at a new patient console patients sit down with us for an hour, we talk about everything, we get to know them, then we debrief with our staff, our staff gets to know the patient or staff context, the patient, then they come into our office, they meet all of the people that they have already spoken to, they make a connection, a one on one connection with each individual in the office. So they know everybody, right. And that’s that bowtique feel. So it’s not that they get a random phone call from a different provider, or a nurse that they haven’t met before. Because we have a lovely, like small staff. And we’re focusing really intimately on their care. So that’s, I think the bowtique difference.

Absolutely. And I think it’s very different from the vast majority of practices that physicians work in, you know, I think most physicians work in a environment where there’s a corporate sort of part, you know, parent company, or a large institution. And so I think, in those situations, unfortunately, I think a lot of physicians are pushed to see a certain number of patients or they have certain metrics that they have to meet. We don’t want to do that. No, that’s not our goal. I mean, our goal is, you know, to provide the the best possible care and the most intimate setting. And you asked us questions beforehand about growing and

yeah, what’s the what’s the future plan?

I mean, ideally, we would like to grow, but I don’t think we’re want to grow at a sort of a steep slope or extraordinarily fast. Mo put it very well, before we we started and it’s responsible growth, right. You know, I think if you grow too quickly, you really lose sight of patients and patients lose sight, you know, they just lose themselves within the practice. There’s too many moving parts then. And we just want to keep it very, very

intimate. And I think I have to insert this story. Do you remember when we had a certain patient who, with the IVF process, she took her trigger shot at the wrong Time, which, which, just to simplify things in IVF, it throws everything off. So you have to do an egg retrieval 36 hours after the trigger shot. So she took it at the wrong time. So we had to open up the clinic at midnight, right, so that we could do her egg retrieval and salvage her cycle the night. Yeah, in the middle of the night. And I mean, that. That’s dedication. That’s dedication, but the ability to do that, I mean, we really didn’t think anything of it. Right. We were like, okay, so yeah, we’ll just do the retrieval at midnight.

And our staff were willing to come. Yeah.

Especially like, I mean, that’s our lab manager, Jen Hart came. I mean, there’s, there was no, everyone showed up, right. It needed to be and it was just

like, oh, yeah, well, I mean, obviously, we’re gonna do this, you know, there was never a question. And I think that dedication and care and intimacy, and many, many other centers that, you know, have, they just, their bandwidth is such that they, you know, I don’t even think that the people that would need to make that decision would even get the memo. Right. So But here, it’s so intimate, and, and bowtique. That it’s like, okay, yeah, well, we’ll open it. 1130. Yeah. See, midnight. That’s awesome. So I think that’s

important. I mean, people don’t I think people have become so disenchanted with typical health care, right, that they don’t even know what it could be. Right. And I see that so much. I mean, I haven’t told you a whole lot about our practice, but we’re a full hour one on one. There’s no, we have time between appointments so that, you know, there’s no COVID Scare in the waiting room. There’s no waiting, because if you get here 10 minutes early, I’m ready. But yeah, it’s just a different feel. And people appreciate it. Right. But I can’t say how many people I’ve seen that are, well, I went to such and such, and I went to, you know, the other place and the other three letter name, and it didn’t. It wasn’t like this. Why? Why do you do things this ways? Yeah, cuz I like the you saying

that. And I think just from you know, where I’m at, we see a ton of Second Opinion cases, like, from this area. Like, I wish they found us first, but they find us somehow they find us. And a lot of the feedback is, oh, my gosh, you know, why didn’t? Why? Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s huge. And I think that’s kind of what keeps us moving. And I think they do a great job. If we try to make sure that when patients like especially new patients, right, they want to establish care. We try not to have this like, well, you can call in January, and you can get appointment in April. Like what they don’t do that they like to have at least, you know, maybe four weeks is a stretch, but we really try to keep a look at our books to make sure that people who want to get their opinion from these doctors, especially Second Opinion cases that have come from somewhere else to meet them is great. And a lot of the times with patients when they’re like oh, you know, I let them know it’s family style here. You’re going to get to know them both. I joke all the time. They are the perfect person. They are fire and i i always tell patients I’m like Dr. Diana is just this like overwhelming sense of calmness about her and Sheltie. She is just a ball of fire. So proceed with caution, right? Like if you’re a high energy person, you probably don’t want to do your stablish care consult with Dr. Sheltie. Because you guys are just gonna be like, one upping each other. Right? And then if you’re someone who needs a little bit more of like, I need someone to say like, we’re going to do this girl, like, I’m going to get on the table. We’re gonna we’re you know, we’re going to do this. You probably need you know, Dr. Sheltie. And that’s why I always joking, like they’re the perfect person, which is great that you’ll get to know them both. Yes, that’s true.

And I think just having that flexibility is huge, right? At the typical medical centers, right? You’re just a number, unfortunately. And that’s not in how any other providers want it to be. Yeah, but that’s just how it is.

It makes me so sad to speaking more globally about medicine. I have a lot of friends and family asking me about concierge medicine. And I always say, Oh, you mean like why physicians went into medicine in the first place. Like, that’s how all doctors want to provide care. And and I’m really proud of a lot of friends who have left sort of big corporations and going into concierge because they like it better. The patients are happier, they’re happier, they’re able to use all of those years of schooling. Right. And that’s how Molina and I feel like our boutique practice is our concierge care. Right? Because we’re able to like, really focus in on each individual patient, it makes it more fun for us more fun for the patients and it’s just, you know, lovely, so that’s awesome.

Yeah, love it. And obviously I support that because that’s what I doing as well. Yes, yeah, quite concierge, but I would say boutique physical therapy STL active is supported by rangemaster. The makers are the very best shoulder pulley in the world. Most people who have gone through therapy for shoulder issues have used a shoulder pulley in the clinic. But let me tell you, not all police are created equal rangemaster police use metal in the pulley mechanism rather than plastic, allowing them to glide smoother and last much longer than the typical pulley shop range master shoulder police and other rangemaster rehab products using the link in the description. Now back to our regular scheduled program. Alright, so we talked about this before, and I’m not sure where the answer is gonna go. But that’s okay. Typically, I’ll ask guests Who’s your ideal client Who’s your ideal patient, and you guys did not have an ideal. So I’d love to kind of hear what your answer to that would be.

I mean, there really isn’t an ideal patient. I mean, we’re willing to take any sort of patient who comes through the door. I think there are some centers who look at specific parameters when it comes to patients, whether it’s ovarian reserve testing, or some of their blood tests, or some of their markers to deem that they’re kind of like the best patient or had the they had the best prognosis. But I think one of the reasons people seek us out a second opinion is because we have very high success rates. And we’re not picking and choosing our patients, you know, we’re not cherry picking our patients, if that makes sense. And I mean, I would just ethically feel horrible doing that, because every single person who walks through the door is on a journey, and I think every single person deserves to be seen and potentially be treated. Now, that being said, you know, we are very realistic with them, you know, depending on who they are and what their numbers are, and how old they are. Again, you know, as Dr. Schultz, he was talking about age, we have very upfront conversations with them. And we say, Look, this, these are your odds. Right? If you want to take this on, we are willing to do this with you. Yes.

I think it’s important, not giving false hope. But giving a realistic?

Yes, absolutely. And I say it all the time, if I’m not being straightforward with you, I’m not helping, right, you know, because I always say, these are the facts. This is the biological clock, here’s what we’re dealing with. Now we have to figure out how to get around it, what our success is going to be. And if we want to, you know, move that mountain, or if we want to do X, Y, or Z. So there’s always options. And it’s really a personal discussion. Absolutely.

One other thing that you mentioned was lifestyle, right? And we’re kind of going back to the age related changes that happened with fertility. Let’s talk about lifestyle a little bit, because you were mentioning a specific client before we started recording, recording, but I’d love to kind of hear in general, what are some of the pros cons negatives positives when it comes to lifestyle that affect fertility?

Yeah. Everybody always asks, what supplements can I be taking to improve my fertility? And the answer, right is anything you can do to improve your overall health is going to help your reproductive health? So unfortunately, there is no magic pill yet. But living a healthy lifestyle having an average BMI, right, so not being obese, those factors are all going to weigh into having a healthy pregnancy, healthy delivery, and also going to help your fertility journey. Absolutely.

So this podcast being titled STL active is there. Is there any data to show that like being more fit as, obviously you mentioned, just BMI, right? Is there any data to show that like, somebody that exercise is more is more likely to get pregnant? Is there anything like that?

Not really. Now, you know, when you think of fitness, and you think of excess of exercise, when you have BMI that are extraordinarily low, that can impact one’s fertility, because many women in those situations stop ovulating altogether. And just like high BMI as they can have reproductive consequences, actually more like pre pregnancy consequences. So I think there is a fine line in terms of being physically fit. We don’t want one extreme or the other. But again, if you have a light, you know, healthy lifestyle, that’s only going to help you

Yeah, and I think the menstrual cycle is a vital sign is what we usually tell our patients. So if you are a marathon runner and you haven’t cycled in two years, it’s time to do you know check in with yourself in your physician, right? Because when we lose our menstrual cycle, our body is in a state of sort of chronic stress. Okay, so we see it a lot female athlete triad, right. We want to make sure that we are we are not exercising too much and stressing our body out too much where we actually are having an ambulatory cycles.

Got it. And I think that’s important. And that was one of the things that we learned quite a bit about in school from the physical side, right, is not overtraining not over utilization, or you know, any of that type of stuff, especially when it comes to childbearing years. So

what’s interesting is that just thinking about from the male side, we don’t really see as much of an impact with excessive exercise on men, right? That’s interesting. So, you know, men make sperm every single day of their lives as opposed to as, as Moe was pointing out, women are born with a certain number of eggs and it declines. And we never kind of, you know, regenerate our eggs, but men are constantly making sperm and yet we don’t see any sort of untoward effects from exercising with them. One of the things I wanted to point out, because you were asking about common versus normal, I suppose, is when we think of and it comes back to men, actually, when we think of all the different causes of fertility issues, it’s pretty much equal, you know, there’s an equal chance of finding something going on with a woman as with the man. So I think historically, and even culturally, to some degree, a lot of women think it’s all about them, or something going on with them. But in fact, it’s as likely to find something going on with a man. Yes, I think that has to be, you know,

it has to be checked from, right. It’s not just a single answer. Yep. single person coming in for the assessment it has to be.

And in fact, if there’s one test, you can get on a couple that’s cheap, and can tell you a lot it is the semen analysis.

Yes. And I have seen an uptick in the amount of men on testosterone. Yes. So this is just a public service announcement. If you are trying to get pregnant and your partner is taking testosterone injections, stop immediately, what testosterone injections do is actually trick the body into thinking that it shouldn’t produce sperm anymore. So please stop this, call your physician, talk to them about it, and do not do testosterone injections. If you’re trying to conceive.

The impact of testosterone is reversible. So that’s why if you stop within three to four months, you’ll potentially see an improvement in your sperm count,

but depending on how long you’ve been exactly, so some men,

unfortunately, when they’re on testosterone make zero sperm. Yes. Okay. So so yeah, super important. Not to be and

that’s why it’s important for both to be tested. It’s not Yeah, so absolutely. One person game here. Yes. Got it. So one of the things that you guys mentioned was this matcher program? I’m not 100% sure exactly what that is. Do we want to get into that? Sure.

Yeah. So we’re the only Fertility Center in the area in the region that has a program called matcher. And what that is, is basically using bio informatics as a way of identifying sperm and eggs and embryos. So with like fingerprints, and barcodes, we can make sure that there is no mix up of egg and sperm or embryos and their disposition.

So if you like I always see the

news. Yeah. Now, that was

planted into somebody that who’s, you know,

so this is not an STL fertility. So, that’s our way of making sure that that doesn’t happen. So honestly, it’s all bar coded. It’s with thumbprints. It’s, we try to follow patients as they go along. And we make sure that everything, it’s very cool. Yeah,

we’re excited about the new technology. And as you know, things come out, we are open to adopting them. And this is one thing that we felt was important because of the increase in, you know, the new stories that are coming out. And just because matching gametes, sperm and egg with the patient that they’re from is, you know, the most important things that we do. And this is only going to aid in that.

And not only just from the liability standpoint, but just because that’s what that’s what the cloud, right, absolutely. Right. I

mean, it really reduces, you know, basically a lot of the issues that have occurred are from human error. So it really decreases that aspect.

Yeah, it makes it seamless and for proof,

I mean, yeah, it’s alarms go off, literally, if there’s any way of not matching. Yep, it’s like color matching. That makes sense.

But what’s cute is, this is a personal story, but one of our embryologist shout out to Sarah actually bought Molina and a magnifying glass because the matcher barcodes and names are so small, that we need a magnifying glass in our Oh To read the names, and so Thanks, Sarah. Yeah.

That’s funny. All right. So success rate was another thing that you guys brought up. And I was talking to Dr. Jin and I was asking like, what’s, what’s typical success rate when it comes to IVF, or other fertility treatments? And she was like, Well, I mean, honestly, it’s kind of a toss up. It’s 5050, most of the time. So, and you guys mentioned a number higher than that. So I’d love to kind of hear what your success rate is, and how is it higher than the average place.

So success rate is based on a variety of different factors. I mean, there again, going back to like that ideal patient, and you know, those sorts of things. But you know, it’s based on a lot of the prognosis of like the woman and the sperm and everything. But one way of increasing the success rate of any IVF cycle is to potentially do something called PGT, or pre Implantation Genetic testing, where we’re able to test embryos to see if they are chromosomally normal. So again, getting back to women’s age and fertility, increased chance of having trisomies or Monosomy is like Down syndrome, being a Trisomy 21, we can find embryos that are not affected and transfer them. And so our success rate when we use a PGT, a, what’s PGT normal embryo is between 60 to 70%, of having an ongoing pregnancy,

which is higher than the average. Absolutely. And so is that that PGT testing, is that something unique to you guys? Or is that just something that is, you know, a bit more specialized thing? I’m not I don’t I don’t know enough, about most

RTI centers across the country are using the PGT technology, and Melina and I definitely support it, because it’s a selection tool, right. So if a couple goes through an IVF cycle, and has four embryos created, you can go ahead and start transferring each embryo, okay, one at a time, one at a time. However, if you biopsy those embryos to see which ones are chromosomally normal, and maybe you get two out of all out of four, then we know which embryos to transfer, right? Because it has now objectively told us that this chromosome or this embryo is chromosomally normal and will likely result in a pregnancy 60 to 70% of the time. So So we believe in the technology

takes out some of the doubt the uncertainty,

because when you watch embryos develop over time, you can see how fast they’re growing and what they look like. But that’s not an objective way of determining what is going to be normal. Which one is going to be normal.

Yeah. So we always talk to our patients about it doesn’t change what your embryos are, it just objectively tells us their chromosome copy number, right.

So by choosing a normal one, that’s going to increase your odds chances.

Yeah, so then the patients are pregnant quicker. And ultimately, you know, miscarriage Right, right. There’s a new study out that just actually recently was published that suggested a decreases miscarriage rate.

Kind of, well, that’s pretty important. Yeah, absolutely. Very good. So let’s change gears here a little bit. I want the audience to kind of get to know you as people because now that we know that you’re real people. Yeah, you told us. So. I’m gonna have you kind of go around. Let’s hear about like maybe your favorite thing to do in St. Louis, or your biggest hobby, so that we know a little bit more about you.

What is my biggest hobby? I enjoy painting. Okay, so I love abstract painting. I do acrylic art. Actually. All of the art pieces in at work are mine. Yes.

The art and the practice. Yes, you know,

so it’s for me, it’s, it’s just a creative release. It’s like for me to really get into my Zen. Really enjoy that quite awesome.

Very cool. Yeah. So are you doing like smaller things, bigger things? Obviously, if they’re at the office, they gotta be. So some

of them are big, large, largest this table, you know, so I can’t do small for some reason. Okay. I can’t do that. I need to have a vast sort of Canvas. Yeah.

I do some woodworking and all of my stuff ends up being fairly small, just because I don’t have the space to do. I don’t need another table, right. Another table at the house. So I end up doing small stuff. But that’s very

cool. I love it. And I don’t do it all the time. I get sort of every inspiration every four months or something and then suddenly, my problem is as soon as I start a piece, I have to finish it like say I go back like in the middle of the night and I’ll do some more and then I’ll come back a few hours later and Just keep going until it’s done, which is strange

when you woken up at 1130 to open the clinic Andrea?

Um, I don’t know. I mean, right now I’m just kind of in the thick of toddlerhood. I have a four year old and my daughter will be three in February. So it’s, they’re in charge, whatever they want to do on the off time is what gets done. It’s kind of hard to do in the pandemic, but we’re just kind of homebodies my husband and I, so we’re usually just at home with our kids.

And then unfortunately, that’s been our hobbies.

Yeah. Oh, yeah. I also peloton. Yes. Sorry, Dr. Sheltie.

But that’s it. Yeah, very cool.

Um, so really, I think I’m passionate about family. And so I have a seven year old, a five year old and a 10 month old. So really, it’s outdoor activities with the family. So we are always outside. And then if I do get a moment to myself, I’m usually designing or redoing something at my home. So I really enjoy that. I like creative i for spaces. And so that’s kind of an outlet for me. So I’ve done my whole house, and I love it. And then really just hanging out with those kids and raising them.

No, love it. Very cool. So we’re getting close on time here. I know, you said you had about an hour. So what else would you like to share with the audience?

I think, you know, from our standpoint, we just want everybody to know how passionate we are about what we do. And about STL fertility in general. And I think we don’t even have to say it because you can hear it. When I hear Molina speak when I hear Dre speak about the practice. Like, I think it’s just it kind of just is how we present ourselves. And so, but I think that is something to take away just our passion about women in general and about people achieving their fertility goals. And sort of our love for for St. Louis and sort of building the community up.

And from you, I was just gonna say that we are here for you. Yeah, we’re here for everyone.

It’s clear that you guys are passionate about what you do. That’s awesome. And that’s, it’s refreshing. I can’t tell you how many practitioners I talked to that are just burnt out. They’re they’re just spent, they don’t? Yeah, you know, they’re showing up because they have to not because they want to, because they love their patients. So that’s very cool to hear. Yeah.

No, we’re so love it. Yeah, we do. It’s funny. It’s like, there was I didn’t sleep well, a couple nights ago, my husband was asking me why. And I was like, I was just so excited to do that scan. Like I couldn’t wait to see what she had. And he just laughed at me. He’s like, Oh, my God,

the big beta. Yeah. What was in there? Yeah.

And so it was almost like, you know, kid on Christmas morning. Yeah. Yeah, everybody was excited.

Well, very cool. So if folks wanted to get in touch with you guys, how would they do that?

They could call our office and hit Option one, they’ll get myself or Brandy we usually do the establish care consults. One thing too, that I’ll kind of mentioned on just for listeners out there. Is it minimum like trying to conceive? I know, it’s like it on average, it takes a year for a healthy couple, right with no problems. But I always liked you know, I kind of skipped a couple steps. Like, I want to know, there’s no problem. And I know there’s other people out there like me. So like, at minimum get the diagnostic stuff done to make sure you know, there are a couple things that we can do just to kind of put you at ease and make sure that it’s like, Hey, girl, like, should we need to make embryos yesterday? Yeah. Or it’s like call since I mean, plenty of times, Dr. Schultz, because our offices are right next to each other. She’s like, call me in six months. Yeah. What’s our diagnostic reports have come back that you’re fine. She’s fine. Call us in six months. But outside of that, you could also go to our website, which is STLfertility.com And you can create your patient chart right, which is going to allow you to put a little picture of yourself in there. Your insurance, we verified benefits, ensure you can be seen with us, and a clinical questionnaire which is major for them. Because our doctors are both kind of you know, they’re constantly looking up and reading up and that doctor dial loves a challenge. But like she said, like new studies that are constantly coming out, it helps them do their homework, they prep for their new patients, right? This isn’t like something that they’re just doing live like, Okay, this person’s in front of me. What do I need to know like they are doing their homework the night before? If not prepping for A week prior like, and I know that happens on the weekends, because they want that hour to kind of know, you know, if you complete the paperwork and the questionnaire, they know what you’re wanting from them, and they pull up and plan that our call for all the questions you might have, but also to set a path forward. So that’s how you get in touch with us at STL. Fertility or call us.

Yeah, what’s the phone number

314-983-9000.

option one,

option one for established care.

Also, we’re on Instagram and Facebook.

Right. All right, and we’ll put those links in the show notes, guys. So if you want to follow them, it’ll be right underneath the podcast here. So anything else guys? No. Awesome.

Happy 2022

That’s right. Absolutely. Yeah.

So recording first week of January here. So happy to have you guys. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you. Thank you. This has been STL Active.

Thank you for listening to the STL active podcast from stlouispt.com if you enjoyed the show, please spread the word. Thanks again and see you next time.

Transcript

Hello, and welcome to STL Active St. Louis’s premier health and wellness podcast. STL active aims to give listeners in the St. Louis area the information they need to succeed and progress with their health and fitness. This podcast is brought to you by stlouispt.com and hosted by Doctor of Physical Therapy, Greg, Judice.
Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Greg, owner, and physical therapist Judice Sports & Rehab. On this episode of the show, I’m interviewing Dr. Matt Zimmerman, owner at Sage Family Practice. Dr. Matthew Zimmerman is a second-generation osteopathic family physician who has been in practice for 10 years. On this episode, we talk about his practice the healthcare system as a whole, and even a little bit about a shared hobby of ours. Without further ado, let’s get into the interview with Dr. Matt Zimmerman. All right, welcome to the show. Dr. Matt Zimmerman from Sage Family Practice.
Yes, go. Good afternoon. Thank you.
Happy to have you here.
Me too. I’m excited to be here.
Awesome. So let’s start with you telling the listeners a little bit about you.
Oh, boy, me. So I’m a family physician. But I think more about me is that I am a dad. I’m a husband. I guess I’m a son of that aspect too. But I am a Michigan native. I grew up in northern Michigan. I went to school at Michigan State. I ended up doing my medical school also at Michigan State University in the College of Osteopathic Medicine. I have been in practice of medicine for over a decade now, which seems like a really long time, but learned a whole lot of things. I have been in practice for myself for last six months with my own practice Sage Family Practice and this is a whole new venture. But yeah, I do a little bit of everything. I like being a doctor. I like being a dad. I love family time. I’m an amateur woodworker,
too, right. Okay. Yeah, happy to talk about how about this,
I’m better at being a hobbyist. And I like being a maker. I’d love if I was a better woodworker. But that’s where I’m at. I get that. But yeah,
I’m really good at watching YouTube videos and woodworking. Exactly and wishing that I had the tools.
Oh, my guess I have. I have a few tools. I have a few things that you know, there’s that one tool that you need for that one project. I’m kind of that guy. But then I’m not sure when I’m ever going to use that tool again. Or I found like recently, I got a multi-tool. And those are the best and most fun tools isolating. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I didn’t know that. I needed it all the time. And I there’s They’re awesome. You can use it for everything. Since we moved into our new house. Here in St. Louis. I think I got that as like a Father’s Day gift. I’ve used it like 20 times burnt out like two blades already. Yeah. So.
Okay, well, we’re gonna have to revisit that. So go back. Alright. So you have your own practice now? Yes. And we’re gonna talk about that. Yeah, I want to know, kind of your background with medicine.
Oh, sure. So I’m a second-generation physician. My mom was an osteopathic physician in northern Michigan. She’s been in practice, gosh, I think for like 35 years. She’s just amazing. So I grew up learning, you know, that, you know, I was the kid on the playground when somebody skinny I ran and said, Hey, I know what to do. And that’s kind of who I’ve always been, is taking care of people. I, I knew what family practice was, for a long time before I even thought about medical school. Went into college. I have psychology as my background and my bachelor’s degree, but I always kind of did pre med work. And I did a Bachelor of Science for psychology, but all my curricular stuff that worked for my degree happened to be pre med. So it’s like, oh, it’s just a nice little insurance plan going in. And then sure enough, it’s like yeah, I really want to do med school. And, you know, during the first like, few months, I was like, What do I want to do? Do I want to be like, you know, going to anesthesia or something crazy. And I just kept going back like now I think I want to do family. And I did get sign up for the National Health Service scholarship was in school. So by doing that, I kind of you have to be primary care. And if you if you skip and decide to do something else, you owe them a lot of money very quickly. And so I didn’t know that I didn’t want to change anyways, I knew from a long time ago, anytime I talked with a doctor or listen, I loved every specialty. You know, when I was on surgery, love surgery when I was an internal medicine, loved it. OB GYN, loved it, pediatrics loved it. In one place, I found that I can do all of that as family practice. And I can do I can see and do just about anything within my scope. Obviously, I’m not a surgeon, but I do small surgery. And so yeah, so I’m a deal family physician, so osteopathic physician, and I get to use my hands to diagnose I get to use traditional medicine the way we all understand that. And then yeah, I think I’ve lost sight of the question. For a second, but I’ve grown up doing this practice for a long time, and I kind of fell into family practice knowing like, this is where I fit. I love building relationships with people I like, you know, being, you know, someone’s resource for things I I’m not an expert in my field, but I know quite a bit of what I’m doing. You know, I think the same thing goes like when you take your car to the mechanic, I’m not mechanical, I don’t know how to fix a car. I love it when people come to me that they’re knowledgeable about their health, but they want to learn more. And that’s kind of my goal with things is to, to, to bring people in, but also to, you know, learn and listen with what they’re doing and how they do it. And then how can I help with what I know. And so I think I take that to my practice, too.
Yeah, I think that’s admirable is you’re the quarterback of the situation, right? You have to know enough that you can direct people to where they need to go in each individual situation. Know Exactly, yeah. And I think being a generalist is a good thing. Right. And you know, these days, it’s so specialist driven. That it, it gets to be a hassle, right? Because if you’re, if your nephrologist, doesn’t talk to your pulmonologist doesn’t talk to your cardiologist, then those systems that all work together, yeah, aren’t getting addressed together.
Right. And, you know, I’ve heard the fun metaphors, you know, you said, quarterback, I like that one I’ve heard, you know, you got to be the captain of the ship. You know, I want you to take the lead on this. And I like all those roles. I like being the guy that, you know, can sit and look at the information and go, Well, it’s, you know, this med didn’t get changed when you went to this one, because like you just said, you know, if you if you have two specialists, you know, they get two different med lists, if they’re in different health systems. They don’t have that piece of information when you’re in the hospital two years ago, because it was a different hospital, you know, and then you follow up with your primary, your generalist, your family doctor, and I get to sort that information. Sometimes it seems like it’s hectic, and it’s like, oh, gosh, I have more paperwork. But it’s also like, I get to learn and live those things with people.
That’s awesome. Yeah. So when you finished up med school, is there a residency for family practice? How does that work?
So sure, so yeah, you do four years of medical school. And then so family practice is three years of residency. So a lot of people see the stuff of like intern and versus resident. Well, the way it is now is that your internship years, your first year of residency, so I was in Lansing, Michigan, for my residency, and I did family practice is three or four years, and I was chief resident with my co chief resident the last year, so that was really fun being, you know, leading the other residents teaching as I’m still learning and the student I mean, we’re still learning in the student always. But, you know, being in in different levels of that hierarchy of stuff was really great. It’s a good program. And then yeah, after that, so that was seven, eight years ago, something like that. Launched into working here in Missouri after that, so Okay, worked for a bigger health organization, but in a rural critical access hospital doing outpatient family medicine for last seven, eight years, learned a whole lot, especially jumping right into practice. I felt like I was really ready to be, you know, working probably from my first or second year of of residency, because I did some moonlighting when I was trim training, I did some filling in for doctors that were sick and things like that in the community. So I’ve been working actually, before I finished residency, I’ve been seeing patients and that that was the good thing about our residency program was we had our own patient panels. So I’ve been independently seeing patients with supervision for a long time. Sure, before I even did my own. And so yeah, I learned all kinds of things on how I want to practice. And then I learned a lot of things on how I don’t want to practice. And that was a big change over probably the last probably four or five years ago, I really started seeing the things I wanted to change. And that’s what kind of brought me to where I am now. But yeah, so and then been in St. Louis now in the St. Louis area since April, doing my own practice. And, yeah,
so what were the things in your previous job that you didn’t love?
So I didn’t love you know, I heard this really good. And I think I even heard you, you you speak to it recently. But I heard it again, in a lecture I was at at the Chamber of Commerce meeting a few weeks ago, this transactional versus transformational kind of relationship with the people and I don’t think I had any transformational realizations or anything like that. But I was getting really bogged down with the idea of these, you know, 15 minute appointments, these quick visits. You know, trying to fit somebody in a week or two weeks out fully knowing that my schedule is really busy. And I like like I said, I love spending time with my patients. I built it into my schedule eventually that I wanted 30 minute appointments and so I could spend some time but even then I still knew to fit somebody in was going to take away that time it was going to take away my time and then it meant more time for me to do charting afterwards. And so I could feel the strain on myself. I don’t like the phrase burnout but I do think that that was relevant. And I think a lot of It had to do with that time. You know, I slowly and it wasn’t even that slow. But once I realized it, I had a patient panel of greater than 4000 patients. And yeah, and I had a couple nurse practitioners that helped out with that. And where we work face all patients kind of like as as primary care Doc’s and we did supervision, we talked a lot, they’re wonderful. But when you you’re over 4000 patients, and you know that really, in my mind decreases access, when you have a physician that wants to spend time with patients. I really did not like the 5-10 minute appointments where you don’t get enough time to spend and figure out what you did. Or if you feel like he left the room and you’re like, I really didn’t get the answer that I was even trying to figure out how to help somebody or you space, you probably felt that too. I hope not, but I would assume somebody did. And then you also refer a lot more. And there’s a lot that like I said, I’m I loved all the specialties that I grew up learning in medicine, and I love doing some of those things. I love procedures. I love hands on medicine, I love trying to figure out the cardiac stuff that I can do their stuff I can’t do I can’t do a Cath, I know that. But I can definitely manage someone’s AFib I can manage someone’s heart failure. But when you know you’re rushed for time, it’s not safe. And it’s not as easy to do. But in a different setting. It could be and so I think it really came down to you know, the balance of, you know, how busy things were, how decreased access, and I could see the the dissatisfaction with patients because we had a great relationship, but they couldn’t see me. And you know, like I come back from the weekend like, Well, we tried to get in, and we called Two weeks ago, and like, I didn’t know you called Two weeks ago, if I would have known I would have tried to see you and I worried about that. And then I worry about when I see somebody on the schedule, I’m like, oh, gosh, two, they have something happened, because I haven’t seen them in a while. And so that always made me nervous. And I think those were the things that continue to strain. There’s other things to the bureaucracy of big medicine. And I learned that over time. And I think some people it’s it’s great to be an employed setting where you don’t have to worry about the overhead, you don’t have to worry about hiring in an acquisition of patients and things like that. And there’s just different ways to do that. And some people that’s a blessing, because it’s it’s much easier. And I think for me, it was something that bothered me, it just didn’t fit with the way I want to do things.
It sounds like you value the quality time that you can spend with people now.
Yeah, and I think whether it’s patience, or like things like this is where you can share the space of you know, healthcare happens to be my aspect of what I can share with people. And I like talking about it. And so but but sharing that space, being able to, you know, be there for when a person has those questions and be, you know, a resource in authority on something, or at least, you know, a trusted person that you can ask a question to, and you’re going to get a straight answer. And then you have a conversation about what to do with that answer. Right. So
I think one of the things I like most about what I’m doing is that I get to joke around with people, right? Like, I get to know my people well enough to know that the lady with the really expensive car likes to go to White Castle for coffee. Like that’s hilarious to me. Right? Like, getting to know them as people not just a shoulder injury or not just a heart failure. Right? That’s what’s so rewarding.
Oh, yeah. Well, it helps to I think, you know, it’s it, it’s, it helps on different levels, because I think you, you know, you break down some barriers, when you do those things, when you can have, you know, better communication with people, you usually, you know, I found this with a couple of, of med students and nurse practitioner students that, and we all have this, but there’s certain personalities that can break down information with people faster, you get that extra piece of information that, you know, if you interviewed somebody with the same questions, you’re going to get an answer. And I’m going to get different answers just on how we deliver and how we say those things. And so, you’re completely right, is trying to find those cool shared spaces with people in those, you know, like, how is your daughter doing? Or if someone brings their spouse or their kid or their, their, their, you know, adult parent with him. You know, you learn about people and you learn behaviors of people, but you also learn Yeah, those those things that make you know, a relationship, kind of this wonderful thing where you can, you’re literally spending time with them. It’s not so much that like I said, that transactional piece where yes, you know, I’m your doctor, there’s a payment model, there’s all those things that you know, I went to school, we all pay for the services we do. But there’s also that, again, you’re finding someone that you trust to give that information to you in in a setting that’s safe and comfortable, and that you can give all the information because you probably know this if you didn’t get all the information, you know about an injury or about something that hurts or doesn’t hurt. You’re gonna maybe not know all the things as you do a treatment for somebody or as a plan for somebody you might miss out or you might do too much. Even it’s
You know, at the end of the day for me, like tomorrow, I’ve got seven patients. And that’s, that’s pretty much as many as I can possibly see in a day. Yes, we do a full hour every single time. Right? So with time in between, that’s about as many as I can do. I know for a fact, tomorrow when I’m done, I’m gonna be exhausted. Yeah. Right, because I am thinking about every single thing that I do with every single client. And I think that’s a good thing. Right? If I am not on my game and trying to problem solve 90% of the day, we’re missing something. Yeah. And I think that in a different setting where you may only have 5-10 minutes, yes, you’re problem solving. But you’re also kind of just running around, right? There’s just a lot of logistics, in that not as much critical thinking when it comes to patient care. And I’m not saying that that, you know, was a detriment to your clients, but it may have been a detriment to you. And I would think that having a happier, healthier Doc is probably a good thing for your clients.
I do think so there’s lots of things out there. But like I said, that mindfulness that burnout, though, was a moral injury. I know that that’s a phrase that goes on there, too. And I think that time is so interesting, because, you know, if you look at traditional schedules for physicians, you know, I think I don’t know the average, but I’ve heard roughly about 20, some patients a day is the average, that’s a lot of patients, I was at one time seeing 30 people a day. And, you know, I’ve trained with some doctors that they see upwards of 40 patients a day, but they have, you know, one to two students and one to two residents with them, while they’re doing that, and seeing four people at a time, basically. And they enjoy it. And it works for them because of the pace of things. And because he you know, he knew his patients super well, he had built relationships for 3040 years. So I think that was easier for him to do. But for me, and the way to spend time with people, even 20 patients, you know, because there’s phone calls, there’s faxes, there’s signatures, there’s insurance, phone calls you have to make and then, you know, did you really eat lunch today? Or did you do charts for 45 minutes, you know, your administration time, and I have air quotes about administration time. Is that? Because those are times for you? Like you just said, Did you? Did you have that time to decompress to think about what you want to do for that next patient? You know, and there’s all these models for physician wellness, about what take five minutes in between each patient like, well, if I’ve got, you know, a patient scheduled every 15 minutes, and I’ve got to take five minutes in between each eye, that’s where my sarcastic thing comes in really big when when I’ve been in those conferences with people I’m like, okay, so you know, please do the math with me, right? And where do you want me because in traditional model, medicine, that fee for service thing is, if I don’t see you and do something to you, we don’t, I don’t want to talk too much about money, but it comes down to we don’t get paid. And then that corresponds to poor outcomes with patients. And so it just never worked. For me, I love being able to spend time and like you said, having a full day is awesome. Being able to use those skills in your mind critical think, I think that’s amazing. And having that time that you’ve got a little bit of time in between. So you decompress you wait for the next one. And yeah, if you have a full day, it’s mentally exhausting, but you got to do the things you want to do. I think that is, like you said, a much better fit for a clinician, a health professional, if you will, then someone who’s at the end of the day, doesn’t remember how the day ended, is, you know, 15 charts behind and has 10 phone calls to make and you know, has to answer like, all the scripts that didn’t get sent yet. And so it it changes how your perspective at time,
right? So I don’t know why that reminded me. But I’m, I’m in the process of training a new therapist. And when I say new therapist, she’s new to this business. She has more experience than I do as a PT. But she’s not worked in this type of setting before. Yeah. So day one, you know, showed her all the computer stuff and the software and all that. But I wanted to run her through just kind of a roleplay evaluation, see how it went. And I was using an old injury of mine. And she took eight to 12 minutes or so doing like a subjective history. And we didn’t do objective, but then we did more of like the plan side. I spend probably 25 to 35 minutes on subjective. And when I told her that she was like, how do you do that? I was like, because we have plenty of time you have an hour, right? Like, use it. Yeah, get to know them as a person. Because for us, we’re working on specific functional tasks most of the time, right? If I have knee pain, that doesn’t mean I’d have knee pain. That means I can’t go to the gym. I can’t run I can’t compete. I can’t play kickball with my kids. I can’t. There’s all the stuff that goes along with it. If I just know, knee pain. That doesn’t mean anything that is not emotionally moving. What would you use the word transformation? Yeah, right. Transformational versus transactional. Yeah, knee pain is transactional. Yeah. Being able to play kickball with your kids as their high school senior, something whether that’s transformational, like, you may never get that opportunity again, I want you to be able to do that in six weeks.
Yeah, no, I think that’s great. I think you’re right. I think when you when you try to, you know, we’ve said all these things, breaking down barriers, but finding the cause holistic type of, of healthcare and things, I think those those all come in. And you’re right, when you can sit and you find one, you know, I used to say this thing, you know, I tried to be very stark and objective when it came to people that came in for pain specifically, you know, I wanted to say, you know, I did, we did a bunch of stuff in residency about, you know, opioids and all these things, and trying to block that. But that, Mike, my phrase, in the beginning was Why don’t care about pain of like, Oh, that’s not a good thing to say that you shouldn’t say it like that. And I stopped, because I think I always qualified it. But it was, it was always rude. And so I stopped saying it. But I always said, you know, we have to look at what do you want to do? Like you just said, What do you want to do functionally? Because pain is going to be there and we got to augment it, we got to get through it. Sometimes you treat it sometimes you you go through it. Sometimes you do therapy, or you do whatever. But what does that functional goal? What is it? Like? You just said what is it you’re doing now that’s limiting you from getting that function. And so there’s those pieces, you’re not going to find that information, you’re not going to be able to get those goals with somebody, or get that treatment plan that encourages people to keep coming back to you to keep using you as their person when they need that. You’re not going to get those relationships. If it’s like, okay, you have knee pain. Well, I know this treats knee pain, and I’ve got to see the other person. And so the ear right that’s that takes transaction versus transformation. I love this phrase, I’m I have to go back to the Kirkwood high school track coach, she’s an amazing speaker. And she’s been doing it for like, I think she said 34 years and her whole method, you should call her. Her whole methodology of how she takes on relationships with people. And she does it with high schoolers. is amazing. And then she I stole this phrase from her. So I credit her so but it was a wonderful speech. But I took that to heart. And I’ve heard it other places in different pieces, but
maybe not those exact words. But the sentence the same, right? That’s cool. Yeah, I like it. I know. So we’ve kind of been skirting around this, this question that I’ve wanted to ask you is about building relationships. Yeah, right. Basically, what we’re saying is spending more time with people typically will assist in building relationships. But I’d love to kind of hear your perspective on a why is that important when it comes to dealing with clients? And B, how do you do that?
Well, you know, we talked about time, and I think time is important, because time is is you get to spend doing it because you have to put in time to learn people’s trust. And to get people’s trust, you need respect, and you have to value what someone is saying and the information they’re giving, you have to listen with intention. And those are all going to happen with time, you can’t just do that, you know, on a quick questionnaire or you know, one to two questions and pop out, you’re not going to get the whole history, not that gonna get the whole picture. But I think also building the relationship is how people get to you how so so I’m talking specifically about my practice and why I’ve made the changes I do. And I have my little things that I you know, I have three little pillars of sage family practice, and it’s, you know, I’m accessible, I’m affordable, and I’m personal. And the idea is personal is the really big one is because I want people to feel comfortable with who their doctor is. I want people to be able to reach me when they need to that’s a little bit of the access, but it’s still personal. And then the affordability, you know, I don’t want to break people’s bank, but I want to also make this approachable for people. And I think when you you know, have very transparent pricing, I think when you have a high value, high value health care, but low cost, you meet people where they’re at. And I think that’s that’s an important thing, whether it’s time or whether it’s due, you know, access. So do they need to do maybe they don’t need an hour appointment, you know, not everybody needs or wants to sit. You know, I had one patient this a couple weeks ago. It was the first time that he actually looked at his watch after about 45 minutes and said, Am I taking up too much of your time? I said, No, we’ve got all kinds of time and I felt like super excited about that moment. And, but then again, it’s that access again, I have somebody else who I’ve gotten a couple text messages today. And we talked last week. I’ve only seen him once in the last month but communication wise and access wise, he has my you know, the office text message line, he’s got an email to me. He knows how to call me we do video visits, we do you know all the ways on which you can communicate with somebody. So communication and access for people I think is just as important as building those relationships. And so, like we said before, I want to make sure that for me healthcare is like a conversation. You know, when I give somebody information that they should do based on what we we talked about in terms of what the concern is. I don’t be you know, I give the information. You have to go out there and do the thing. So whether it’s exercise Is that a pill? Is it a fish is a physical therapy, you’re the one that has to go do those things. So I want to make sure that what we recommend and talk about what you’re going to be able to do, you are motivated to do it. And then is this going to be something realistic that we can continue to work on to reach whatever that goal is. And so those are like, I think that’s a big blow up picture of like, a relationship with somebody, like, you can’t do all those things. Without communication, you can’t do it without people being able to access you. You know, in healthcare, there has to be an affordability price piece to it. And then, you know, it has to be a personal approach, because, you know, if I just walk in, say, Wait, you got to go to therapy, and they don’t, they don’t understand or their person, it’s really been bogged by PT before. And you’re like, Yeah, but you didn’t do therapy the right way. You know, and I know, that’s gonna light you up. But I said it for purposely, but you know, the same thing with pills, like, you know, everyone, no one wants to be on a medicine, right? But you know, from from, from personal experience with blood pressure issues myself, I hated the thought, and I’m a doctor, I hated the thought of taking a pill, I resisted it for a little while. And then it’s like, this is silly, you know, I’m putting myself at risk. And I say the same thing to patients, when they come in, like, well, it’s only 148 over 92. And it’s like, okay, that that’s high, you know, and it’s documented, it’s been that way for a while, and then you start, you know, telling the realistic things, you know, it’s like, well, that that’s a risk factor for this, this and this, and it can lead to really bad things. You know, not everything’s that severe. But if you don’t have that relationship with someone, they’re either going to be turned off and move on to another provider that gives them exactly what they want, which may be in their cases, nothing. Or they’re going to listen, and they’re going to say, Well, is there another way to do it? Is there something to do that doesn’t involve this, and we can, we can try different methods. And so I love that bit relationship piece, that conversation piece that you can have with someone to really get to know who they are, how you can help them. And then what can we do to keep this moving forward? For sure.
I think most people are going to be somewhat resistant and somewhat stubborn until they trust you. Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s part of it. It’s not just saying, Oh, well, I went to such and such school, and I’m this smart, and I pass this test. It’s, here’s why I care about you. And this is what I know, that could help you. Right. And I think building that trust with people is crucial. And that’s done through building a relationship. Yeah, I think they go hand in hand. Yeah, I
think so too. I think you got to put in time with people, and you got to be able to listen. And yeah.
I don’t think I’ve asked this question on the show before. What is a DO versus an MD? Yeah, I see them both. Yeah, I’m not 100% sure exactly. What the difference is, is there a difference? Yeah, I know, school is different
school is a little different. So Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine do versus medical doctor MD. So yep, I might do. deals have been around, I think the first schools like 152 years ago, or something like that. So started in Missouri, actually. So at still, in Kirksville, he was actually an MD and a chiropractor, I will maybe do a fact check later, but I’m pretty sure about that. But at the time, when he was practicing medicine, most of the culture of medicine was based on there was a lot of bloodletting. There was a lot of exploratory things are non looking, not looking at ways that the body can take care of itself. So when we talk 150 years ago, we’re saying, bloodletting versus trying to do things that allow the body to heal naturally. So we fast forward, you know, decades and century later, Andes and do is I really think anymore, it’s, it’s a little bit of a school of thought. And then it’s, it’s just a different medical school. And so, there’s, there’s two ways to think about I know, you know, MDs that are super holistic, that think about all kinds of things outside the box. Typically, you know, kind of what we were just talking about, for that transactional piece. A long time ago, my explanation that was given to me is when I was starting school, and again, I grew up with a deal mom, I didn’t know what an MD was for a long time. So I was like, Oh, it’s just a deal. That’s a doctor. And so but, you know, the thought was, is that, you know, I have knee pain? Well, we’re going to treat that symptom with something that takes Rid of Knee pain, whereas the older holistic approach would be, is that okay? In osteopathic approach, is that what causes that pain? You know, is it that you know, are we talking about an injury? Are we talking about you know, do you do you have a problem with your foot, you know, is there swelling? Why do you have swelling, you know, it taking into account all the factors, is there a weight issues? Is there a back issue that’s causing you to favor a knee, you know, all the little things that might contribute in that bigger picture? And then the other thing with osteopathic medicine is we’re all trained in osteopathic manipulative medicine, or medic manipulative therapy. So OMT, or OMM, depending where you went, and some people call opp that’s a different phrase, but it all means using our hands to diagnose and so there’s, there’s ways in which to treat the body and the best way I explained to patients what is OMT what is hands on medicine means that you can use your hands to help diagnose, prevent, and treat things. And probably similar to some techniques you use, and probably they’re, they’re probably named even the same, they’re probably the same technique is, you know, muscle energy, you know, having the patient give you a little resistance while you hold certain isometric or isotonic positions. You know, myofascial trying to loosen up tissue, without trying to give a massage or massage is actually a form of this therapy. Also, there’s some overlap a little bit with chiropractic things, my experience, and there’s some excellent chiropractors that I’ve worked with, is that, you know, not everything is cracking and popping, there’s a lot of other things too. And so the idea is that there’s a lot more holistic approach to health care is what is what my always foundation for osteopathy was. And again, that being said, is modern medicine, you have to have take a holistic approach and everything we’ve just talked about, I don’t think we you really get to take care of people and have the respect of people if you’re not taking some of those approaches. So I think more and more than more than any more today, a do is a practicing physician went through all the same credentialing training that a medical doctor does. The schools of thought are a little bit different. And then
has the same ability to prescribe. Oh, yeah, surgeries and neurosurgeons that
are DOs. There’s yeah, there’s neuro there’s DEOs in every field of medicine. I think we’re up to like 37 medical schools now. But now we make up like 25% of the population of physicians.
So it’s for all basically the the facts, the data, the research, the same. Yeah, philosophies, a little bit different
philosophies a little different. And then there’s that that aspect of hands on medicine also cool. Yeah, not everybody uses that. But it is taught when you when you start school?
Absolutely. So tell me a little bit about your practice. I know we’ve kind of touched on a few different things. Right. You You said accessible, affordable, personable, right? Yeah. So those are kind of the principles that you use or that you promote? Thrive? I’m not sure when the right
we’re gonna go with my scripting from my website. So is it those are the values? I think that that’s that so my practice is sage family practice? Those are the values that I want to make sure that I stick to with people values can always change. But those are what, when I was thinking of how to create this DPC or direct primary care practice for myself, what are the things that I would look for, to one to be a patient of, but also, what would I look for and want somebody else to if they were going to take care of me? How would I want that to look, and so I would want to make sure that the things that frustrated movement with my prior prior position is that access, I want people to be able to get in with me. So in this direct primary care model from a three stage family practice, my patient panel is not going to be 4000, I’m looking somewhere between three and 400, I don’t have a final number, I think it’s going to be what that looks like at the time, but to not be bogged down with 1000s and 1000s. of patient. And because it’s a monthly membership, that continues, that’s a little bit easier to do for for myself and for people. But you know, so that’s that accessible, affordable piece, my rate is for adults is 65 a month, every month, kids are 30 bucks a month. You know, there’s some Doc’s that make that much higher, there’s concierge physicians that you can spend a lot more. But my biggest thing is I don’t bill insurance. And so because of that, you know, you can take your doctor with you, you know, I’m not in network, I’m not out of network, I’m not in anybody’s network, so that again, drives my access is that I’m available if you want a doctor that’s willing to take time and be personal with you. And that will make sure that you have access to your physician when you need it. Because you know, it’s very typical, you know, we’re calling you call for an appointment for someone. And well, next appointments, you know, in November, where it’s it’s not even October yet. We got October at the end of the week and the next first appointments November, well, you may not need something, or it might be too late November and things can get worse. And so I’d rather if you’re established, we may be able to see you now and take care of things as they’re happening and be a resource now. But yeah, so sage family practices is built on the direct primary care model. I know you’ve had some other DPC Doc’s on. But I just fell in love with this model. I think it’s great way to take care of people.
So you’ve been doing the DPC model with sage for six months, you said six months like that. So I know you’d kind of mentioned earlier that some of the things that prompted you to do your own thing. Were just the frustrations of the typical model. Yeah. So what and you’ve certainly touched on this already, but like what sets sage apart?
Right? So, so definitely so I think those pillars that we talked about again, so that accessibility the affordability of personal healthcare And I think, you know, I love like we’ve talked about getting to know people. I love the idea of kind of like what everyone thinks is what is sick. I only ever saw one episode but isn’t Marcus Welby? It’s like, or like your community, Norman Rockwell, like community doctor, like the doc, I don’t do house calls, but the doctor that, you know, you go to their office and you know, there, it’s comfortable, you know, people come in and we sit in regular chairs. And by the end, we do the exam, you know, but for the most part, it’s it’s a conversation that we sit and talk and we figure out what we’re doing. And then we still do the traditional stuff, you know, I take vitals, you know, I do my exam when it’s pertinent for people and stuff. But a lot of times it’s trying to, you know, letting the patient talk to figuring out how and where I can help. And what is it that we need to address? Is it screening stuff? Do we need to maybe just go down the list and say, you know, are we checking all the boxes for screening? Or is it a specific thing that we have to cover? And what I love in the in this model is that I’m able to do those things that frustrated me, I’m able to take that time, I’m able to say, You know what? I don’t have anybody for another half hour, do you want to keep talking? You know, or, you know, I’m going to check in with you tomorrow. You know, and I know that tomorrow, I have time to check in on somebody. And I know that, you know, when somebody calls me at Friday, at like two o’clock, I know that if I need to I could see somebody I could fit somebody in right away. And that’s really important to me is to is to make sure that again, that’s that’s my role, right. I want to be able to fulfill that reset
accessibility piece. Yeah. Very cool. So DPC. Yeah, right. And and you’re right. We’ve had some other DPC folks on the podcast here. So maybe, well, let me preface this. Each of them has had a slightly different definition of what is DPC? Sure. And how does it different from concierge? Sure. And what what’s the difference? So I’m going to I would love to hear your philosophy on Yeah, DPC in general. But then how is it different?
Yeah, so I won’t lie. I think I probably had the same questions a long time ago, I thought it was, you know, I at one point, I thought it was only occupational medicine. For some reason. I don’t know why I thought that I thought it was just the entrepreneur, people who, you know, are about to retire and want to kind of, you know, figure out a way to do medicine still. That when it boils down to it, my understanding is that it is it’s a membership based service. So think about it kind of like a gym membership, is that you know, you sign up for it, you’re only going to get out of it, what you put into it, and but it’s there when you need it. So when you want to go to the gym, when you want to come see me, I’m available. And but you know, if you don’t use it, because you don’t need it, or you’re healthier this month, really good. It’s still there. And so I’m still here, and that’s that provided providing that access piece for people. And the bigger the big thing that separates it from other health care models is the no insurance piece. So a true DPC is one that doesn’t take insurance. So it’s just a membership fee patients should have or keep whatever they’re comfortable insurance. And I, I stress that whether it’s us health shares, whether you have like that really high deductible plan or like a catastrophic plan, or if you just have regular coverage your employer provides, but you just want that different level of personal care. This is on top of that, or this is this is beyond that. But I put my price point at 65 and 30. adults and kids, because I want it to be affordable for people that do want to use it in whatever situation they’re in whether it’s uninsured or under insured, or even if they’re over insured, and I just want that aspect. But again, I don’t bill insurance. I don’t you can’t turn my bill into insurance. And the difference between that in my mind is in concierge is I do think DPC was kind of born out of what concierge purpose was. But concierge is where you do bill insurance still. And then there’s more of like a retainer fee is the way I’ve always thought about it. So typically the concierge practices I’ve talked to or read about it somewhere between two and $5,000 a year plus your insurance gets billed every visit. So there’s a copay every visit. There’s, you know, when you go to the office, and it’s still fee for service, they just happen to collect a little extra for me too. And I just think healthcare is already really expensive. You know, and that’s the the niche for DPC is it’s not expensive. There’s ways to look at, you know, we offer let I have some special contracts with a couple local labs, that I can get loud pricing much cheaper than someone’s insurance. Same thing with medications. There’s just other ways to keep the costs of healthcare low. And I think that’s what DPC and that’s what I want to do through sage is to keep healthcare available for people because it is really important for people. And then if you can find those avenues with all the things we’ve talked about, I think that’s the difference with DPC, especially with concierge and then definitely different than traditional medicine, you know, where you like, as we said before, is if you go there and to, you know, for the office to make money, they have to see you and do something to you. It’s very different.
Interesting. So I think that definitely sums it up. And I think the and this may have been touched on before but I think the way you described the yes, they’re gonna bill insurance. Also there’s a retainer, right. I think the way you describe that makes it make more sense to me. cuz I’ve, I’ve asked other people like, what’s the difference? Like? Well, one’s more expensive? Well, yeah. Why? Why is it different? I don’t know. Well, you’re
when you when you do that also, you know, and I’ve never done seen a concierge doctor and I have not dove too deep into what they what they do and don’t do. But they have to also figure out how to so if you’re going to bill insurances, how are you taking money also for this is where we’re getting some legal stuff that I know a little bit but not enough, is that if you’re taking money on top of the insurance, you have to be able to provide a service that goes beyond the regular things that the insurance carrier would pay for. So
in my world, that’s what’s the difference in wellness and physical therapy, right. And it’s such a gray line, right? There’s no definition of wellness
until I see typical practices. And indeed, sometimes there weren’t, but like, the different genetic testing that can be done the super cholesterol, cardiac profiles, you know, stress tests that have like extra bells and whistles to them. And sometimes they’re necessary, sometimes they’re not. And sometimes they have really great validation for a patient with their appropriate risk score for those things. And sometimes they don’t. And to be honest, if you want to do that, that’s great. But that’s just not what I’m looking to do.
Understand. So one of the things that we were talking about before we started the recording here was work life balance. Yeah. Right. You had mentioned that in previous positions you’d had often you’re taking your chart home, or you’re not necessarily taking your work home, but there’s stuff right, that admin stuff. Yeah. When you’re clocking in for eight hours, it’s, well, more than eight hours. Yeah. So I’d love to kind of hear your philosophy on work life balance, but also, what’s the difference for you these days?
Yeah, so you know, and I honestly can’t complain, I’m an outpatient physician, you know, I don’t have inpatient responsibilities or anything like that. So my work life balance in the traditional sense of that word was, was probably okay. But when you you know, your work your eight or nine hours a day, five days a week. And you know, the, you have to have so many patient facing hours every week to meet your protocol for the salary that you do. And then yeah, having between at the end there, I was doing 16 to 22 patients a day. And, you know, revolving door notes don’t get done every day, there’s phone calls you I hated leaving phone calls that at least an answer that just bothered me, if someone didn’t get their question answered. You know, at the end of the day, when it’s like 4:30-5 o’clock, you’re like, Okay, well, that question can wait till tomorrow. But what if I answered it right now, and didn’t have to do it tomorrow, because then it just keeps building. And then you go home with some stress, and you go home, with sometimes you go home and do charts. And sometimes that carried over, I think a lot into, you know, the only time I had for free time or for doing things was Saturday and Sunday, or, you know, after we, you know, had dinner, or we put the kids to bed, we had a little bit of, you know, time with my wife to chat and do those things, some personal time there. And then it’s bedtime, you know, and I’m not I can’t I try to I can’t stay up late. And I like getting up early, so it doesn’t work to stay up too late. And so there’s not a lot of time for the woodworking that we can talk about, and all those other things in, you know, that lifestyle piece. And I think today, you know, I still am doing charts in the evening, I’m still making phone calls in the afternoon. But this model of care is it leaves so much more time for, you know, the best thing is, so So one of the other people you’ve had on Dr. Otto, who’s a close friend and colleague with his, with his practice is that, you know, it leaves more time for even medical knowledge, curiosity, like I’d love to in the future to take you know, an ultrasound course for for for medicine, I’d love to take a classical, yeah, but the point of care ultrasound and acupuncture and, and things that have always made me curious, but I’ve never been able to spend time on them, let alone hobbies, and I love being so much more present for my family over the last few months is that, you know, being able to run and pick up the kids without having to juggle like seven patients left at the end of the day to try to schedule and basically saying, Well, I can’t. And so there’s all those little things that always come up. But I think before it was more of like a work work balance. It was like, I did my work there. I thought about my work all day when I was at home. Now it’s there really is a separation. And I really noticed I think patients notice it, you know, and I had some patients that followed me, which is super a super good blessing, very humbling. But they notice it, which was fun. They’re like, there’s something different about this. And I was like I just keep trying, I wish I could just sit with me every day and see like this is totally different. And there’s just, it’s a lot more rewarding. Doing it this way. And even like we said, All this time I spend with patients and I feel like there’s a couple patients that I had when I was in my previous spot and I see them still now. I feel like I know him better in the last couple months than I did for like seven years. And it’s just it’s just, it blows my mind and it’s so hard it the biggest thing with DPC and especially how sage family practice I feel like I’m doing it is it’s simple. And that’s the hardest part to wrap my head around is that it’s not complex, right? And I can even
just like insurance codes, like there’s 25,000 of them, like, how could you possibly keep that in some sort of simple way, there’s a big
book they give you every year from the administration department ash, they say you should probably look at this and it sits in stops the door over in the corner, until
it’s stuff like that. I mean, that’s one aspect of the complexities of the typical model, right, you know, and then and then productivity standards, and then this, and then
you have your metrics, and then you have it, you know, but and I love metrics, because most of the metrics are based on what patients do. It’s not, you know, I give them like we talked about, I give them all the information, and I try to help them with motivationally things. But there at the end of the day, the ones that have to go do it, but yet, we’re out there the administration’s that some of these places, they’re, you know, I use the wording or penalize or, you know, bring down numbers or scores for doctors and healthcare providers, because someone’s a one see with their diabetes wasn’t a goal. Well, I tried really hard to do that. I got them in several times in the last month. But it didn’t happen. And it and maybe we’ll get it next quarter. But then that reflects poorly on the physicians like, that just doesn’t make sense. Like, I get that we want to get that goal. I want to get that down because it creates better health for everybody. And someone has less risks, but that’s just not the way to do it.
Right. Yeah. So with work life balance, we got to talk about some woodworking. Sure. So I kind of rotate hobbies. Right. So like I get super into woodworking for like a year. Yeah. And then I do this huge project that kind of burns me out. And air quotes burns me out. Sure. And then I kind of switch to a new priority. So I’ll admit, over the last year, year and a half, I’ve been super into Disc Golf, frisbee golf, too. So woodworking has kind of been like, Oh, I’ll design something. But I haven’t quite pulled the trigger on buying them. We’re doing the project, right. My last big project, I rebuilt our deck. Whoa. So we we got a quote on getting our deck finished. Yeah, the week before COVID. Right, when all of my patients couldn’t come in, and my wife was furloughed. Oh, no. So needless to say, that was not a priority to spend 15 grand on a deck, no necessity for the right way. Right, right. So I’m thinking okay, well, if this is two weeks, I could I could probably build a deck in two weeks. So it didn’t take two weeks. It took four weeks, but the point is over 80 to 100 hours. I rebuilt our deck that’s more, you know, a sixth of the price. That’s amazing. But I had the ability because it’s a real life skill. Mm hmm. But I learned on YouTube. Yeah, well, I learned on YouTube if you can do anything for Right, I’ve never actually had a lesson or no learn from a person how to do any woodworking.
I would love that. I’ve looked into that actually. Right. So there’s a woodworkers guild. Okay, that’s it. I have met with somebody like Well, the best thing to do is to find a guild. I’m like, Okay, well then, like as we said before, before, I would like when do I have time to go drive and sit in the guild meeting? In fluster? Sounds fun when you keep saying the word guild? That’s an awesome a deck. Wow, that’s a big thing. Right?
It was not quite fine woodworking by any means. But I think I mean, I it’s still challenging. It still requires a lot of planning and measuring. And, yeah, it’s not something I’d ever done before.
That’s, I mean, that’s a big undertaking. So yes, I think that counts. I will give you a green light that that counts. Excellent. Yeah, I’ve I haven’t you have like a favorite project that you’ve done? So I think I’ve got lots of projects. Oh, my, my wife’s a graphic designer. And I think she’d probably still listen to this eventually. I think that she’d probably labeled herself as a maker and a creative person. So she comes up with amazing designs. I’m halfway decent with tools. Except I have no like, I love to say that my creative abilities gotten better. But my like crafty like really polished is is it’s lacking in some areas for my woodworking but my favorite projects are I’ve done some really fun cutting boards. They’re kind of the entryway I think for most people to get into woodworking, but I’ve done some fun shapes. I’ve done some foam cutouts. I’ve done some fun, you know you put a different wood mixed in with it a little bit. I built in our previous home, it was more in the country. I built the furniture for under firepit so a three seater pieces to a chair a love seat and then it’s like the love seat with a little table in the middle. So two chairs that I’ve built. I built a light fixture for a friend of mine it was mostly That was a weird project. I kind of did like a very Asian culture like block wood with like a little Edison bulb on it and I like electrical things too. I’m currently our big project right now. So I just finished the Scotia which is a fun word underneath the treads are wood steps. Okay, so it’s the little fancy tiny quarter half inch piece of like trimmed wood underneath, okay, just cut it and put it in. I didn’t route it or anything like that. But I am we are going to tackle we have all the parts, we only have like a five run stair way up to the upper level, I am tackling a newel post a railing and balusters and it is really daunting.
Yes, lots of angles. Yeah.
I don’t Yeah, yes. I just want to like put it in place. And then I promise you can’t waste too much.
Because what is crazy expensive right now, it’s less than it was three months ago, it’s still
pretty expensive. But this and this is all red oak isn’t super expensive. It’s the cheaper of most of them. But it’s like the newel post like it has to be the right height from the start. And I got to trim it down to start and then have to drill a hole in the bottom and then like the two holes have to meet a perpendicular to each other. It’s really a cool thing. I’m more nervous over that than I think of some of my practice things at the moment which aren’t the best. But that’s good. I’m worried about woodworking. I’m not worried about my medical practice.
That is a good thing. I think my next project is a dollhouse inspired bookcase for my nice. Whoa. Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see. That’s intense. This is like a project where I can’t paint it to cover up any mistakes. So this is going to have to be kind of a big one. So anyway, yeah, that’s later we could have a different podcast. Yeah, commissioned for my for my sister in law. That’s awesome. We’ll get there. Alright, so one of the other things we talked about before starting this was, you mentioned sharing space. Yeah, right. And there’s multiple ways to describe or define sharing space. But you mentioned, especially within medicine, being uplifting rather than competitive, right? I see that so much, right? Like, there are a lot of PT’S in St. Louis, there’s three big PT schools here. Now, we are so bad at competing with each other. We’re so bad at competing with chiropractors, rather than living in that mindset of abundance, and I want to help the people with x. And if they know that I’m great at that, then they’ll come to me. Rather than like, oh, well, I could do that better than them. Right. So I’d love to kind of hear your perspective.
Well, I think mine stems from a couple of things. One, you know, being in the traditional health care, you know, being employed by a large health organization, you kind of look at everybody’s competition, and you don’t share information with the other big health system, you know, you don’t you reach out to your colleagues and talk about things, but you’re not really supposed to share the payment model you’re supposed to share, you know, how you got your patients or what their marketing teams doing, or, you know, being on the recruitment board for things and the executive board for things, you know, you just keep some things, you know, close to your chest. And, well, that’s good. I get the model of business. I didn’t go to business school, like I said, I’m a psychology major, and I went to medical school. So I’m very much in the category of like this. This is in and we talked about YouTube videos of people sharing content, people sharing information, I think that space has is opened my mind up to how I want to do medicine, and meeting doctors like Dr. Otto and Dr. Allen and Dr. Fox, and there’s another Dr. Helen, and Dr. Hicks. And those are just a few people in the category of this space. And I’m finding more people that do PT that do they do wellness? Or they do women’s health? Or they do Oh, who else did I meet? They do a very specific fertility type of medicine. We’re all we all do something a tiny bit different. Like you said, we do the same thing, but maybe differently. And there’s enough patience to go around. We all have you. I’d rather have a patient choose me because they want to choose me not because I forced them to choose me. And so I think also in you know, like you were talking with me before I said, you know, we I’d love to share every patient that needs physical therapy with you that just might not fit for everybody. Absolutely. But I also can say to my colleague that hasn’t met you, like why have you met Dr. Greg yet? You know, cuz he does this a little differently. And they might know somebody, you know, it’s his his connections and networking. And this is not something I’ve ever done before. And being in this space where, like you said it, I don’t feel any competition with us. And I think the direct primary care world too is like that this or direct model of healthcare, whether it’s PT or primary care. You know, I’m not looking to fill up my patient panel with 4000 patients so I can hoard all these people so that they’re just mine. I want a small niche of that. I’d love the people stay with me. Yes, that’s my own ego and there, but I’m not going to try to take care of everybody. So there’s other people out there and I want, you know, if somebody else came to me, just like I’ve had the really great experience with some of these other doctors. Somebody came to me and they’re like, I want to learn how to start a DPC practice. I’m going to give them all this information. There’s no reason to hide it. Because if they’re doing well in the rest of they’re doing well, too, right? And it’s it’s just as cool space. And I think joining things that do networking, I’d like I said, I’d never did that before. And plus, I never had time to do it Sure. I never kind of needed to do it, right. But I also probably didn’t want to do it before. And now I do kind of have to do it. But when I go there, you know, you build yourself up and you do it. And you know, you’re handing out cards, which is a new thing for me. And, you know, you’re you’re sharing information. How do you do this? And, you know, I’ve explained what DPC or what sage is, hundreds of times at this point now, and, and I get better at it every time. And it’s it’s so fun, because you’re, I’m really sharing I think, you know, Sage family practice, that’s what I’m promoting, but I’m sharing myself, I’m sharing what I want to do and how I want to do it. Right.
I love that. So we’re getting close on time. Okay. You mentioned that you have an offer for listeners, I’d love to have you share that.
Yeah, so I am accepting patients. I’d love some new patients. But if if you if you heard me on this, if you’re a new patient joining me, I’d love to give you half off your first month. That way, we can start things off on a discount, but also start off on trying to build that relationship and see how things go. Very cool. I think I said that correctly. Yes, definitely. That’s fantastic.
Anything else that you’d like to share with the audit? Let me start over. Let’s, let’s get you your your contact info on the recording. So let me have you shot with Sure. So
say to me, practice We’re located at 111 Prospect Avenue, in suite 202. I share the practice some other people but sweet 202 the office phone number is 314-530-6525. And the website is sagefamilypractice.com. That’s…. And I’m also on Facebook and Instagram. I haven’t really jumped other social medias. But those are the ones I’m on. Happy to communicate with you I have on my website a link, you can click for a 15 minute get to know if you’re not really sure what this is happy to chat with you happy to do that in person too. If it works out, we can schedule something. Or if you’re really excited about it, there’s an Enroll button and people can kind of jump right on the website that sends information to me, and then we just get started.
Very cool. Yeah. Anything else you’d like to share with the audience? For we hop off the microphones here?
No, thank you so much. This is so fun. And again, I think this is help your listeners know. And I think they do that this shared space I think that people you talk to is exactly what I was talking about before. It’s just it’s so neat to define this atmosphere and find this place.
Yeah, you know, I think you watch me prepare for this. Right? Did Yeah, you got here 25 minutes early. It’s not a big deal. But I used to be so nervous about talking to people and like, what is how do I talk to a doctor? And how do I talk to such and such? It’s like, do I did I ask the right questions? Right? It’s like, you’re just a person. Yep. You’re just a person like, yes, you might have gone to school for longer than I did. But
you’re not. No, like, a different type of person. Right? Yeah, I think that’s,
that’s important. We’re all people. We’re all going through the same crap, right? We’re all here for similar things, hopefully, to make the world a little bit better. We have
a purpose to be doing some right. And this is it. Whatever we’re doing right now is the right thing. And I love that you said it that way. Because I actually had a mentor that whenever he introduced himself, he was a physician. And when he met a new patient, he introduced himself with his first name. He never said Dr. So and so he said his first name. And I’ve done that for a long time. And you know, I think it I think it breaks some things down. It makes things more approachable. But just like you said, still a person. I just happened to went to medical school. That’s really the big difference.
For sure. Yeah.
So you know, it’s it’s one of those things. I’m glad I’m doing this. Yeah. It’s been fun. Like, I don’t remember exactly which episode this is 35-36 Something like that. But anyway, this is fun. This is great. I appreciate you being here. Thanks again. Thank you. Any last parting words?
No. I hope everybody has a great day. And yeah, thank you so much.
Absolutely. This has been STL Active.
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