BONUS EPISODE: A My DPC Story Fireside Chat featuring Dr. Nneka Unachukwu (She/Her) of EntreMD

Dr. Una practices at Ivy League Peds and
Dr. Nneka Unachukwu of EntreMD

Dr. Una, as she is lovingly known by most, is the host of the EntreMD podcast and founder of EntreMD Business School.

She is also a speaker, author and regular contributor to Forbes. And recently released the book The EntreMD method - A proven roadmap for doctors who want to live life and practice medicine on their terms.

She has already helped hundreds of physicians get their time back, dramatically increase their bottom line and build businesses of impact.

One of the biggest things that I admire is she embodies what we are all doing in DPC and that is being autonomous physicians AND entrepreneurs.

On top of that she is a parent and a person who has thrived despite the pandemic and despite the state of healthcare for the everyday American.


From Dr. Una:

Hi, I’m Dr. Una. I’m the host of the EntreMD podcast and founder of EntreMD Business School. I am also a speaker, author and regular contributor to Forbes. I have helped hundreds of physicians get their time back, dramatically increase their bottom line and build businesses of impact.

I was just like you a decade ago. I was an accomplished physician but knew there was more. In my bid to explore this, I started a private practice. I started off scared, ignorant and feeling like an imposter but eventually, it dawned on me what the missing link was. I knew NOTHING about business. I have since gone on to become a serial entrepreneur. I now have the freedom to see patients when and how I want, pursue my other interests and spend time with my family.

Doctors are experiencing burnout, loss of autonomy, lack of job security and extreme dissatisfaction with their careers like never before. It does not have to be this way. My mission is to help you create a business or career that will empower you to take back control.


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------------------------- TRANSCRIPT* Today. I am so honored because it is a privilege to have Dr. Nneka Unachukwu

here on our fireside chat. We are also graced with the presence of Dr. Pyal Jhawar, an internist and direct primary care physician in Bradenton, Sarasota, Florida, who opened her practice in September of 2021. And Dr. Tea Nguyen A. Direct care, podiatrist practicing out of Santa Cruz, California, who initially opened up in 2018, but then transitioned to a fully cash based specialty practice in 2020. Now our featured guest dr una Uh, she is loving as she is lovingly known by most is the host of the entree MD podcast, as well as. A must listen. As she is lovingly known by most is the host of the entree MD. D podcast. A must listen for any DPC director. As she is lovingly known by most is the host of the entre MD podcast. A must listen for anyone who's in DPC and founder of entre MD business school. She is also a speaker, author, and regular contributor to Forbes. Recently she released the book, the entre MD method, a proven roadmap for doctors who want to live life and practice medicine on their terms. And we can all relate to the words she shares there. She has already helped hundreds of physicians get their time back, dramatically, increase their bottom lines and build businesses of impact. And one of the biggest things that I admire is she embodies what we are all doing in DPC, and that is being autonomous physicians and entrepreneurs. on top of that, She's a parent. And a person who has thrived despite this pandemic and despite the state of healthcare for the everyday American. So without further ado, welcome Dr. Unna. And thank you so much again for being here today. Thank you so much for having me. I think I'm gonna have. Record that intro and take it with me everywhere I go. but thank you for having me. And I, I do wanna say thank you for doing what you do. As you know, I, I, I love physicians and I know that this is interesting time for physicians, but I'm grateful for other physicians who are out there, this determined that we are going to change medicine, we are gonna change, you know, the narrative for physicians. We're gonna change healthcare and you're leading the way in that. So thank you for, for what you do. Absolutely. It is so interesting that when you take a physician out of the chains of fee for service and you let their creativity go crazy, It's amazing what they can achieve. And so with that said, I wanna start off the conversation with the fact that you are a physician who had a lot of the same insecurities starting out as many of us do in DPC. So specifically you talk about, in your podcast, as well as in your book, how you were, you were open, you had already signed through your lease, you had signed on for technology or, you know, your internet contracts and whatnot. And then the patients were not magically showing up at your door. Bring us back to that moment when you realized, wow, I'm treating myself as, quote unquote, just a physician, the term that you hate to, to have people say to you, um, how did that turn out for you that you went from just a physician to being the woman you are. So, so I'll start off with, if there is any insecurity in the book, I had it I had them all. And so when I started my practice, I started my practice 15 months out of residency. My boss had that my first job I had signed a one year contract. He had given me a five year contract after that, like, Hey, we're working out well, here's a five year contract. And to put that in perspective, I had been married for three years. I had finished residency for three years. So as far as I was concerned, three years was a really long time. And so I was like five year contract. I can't do that. Right. And I was gonna move anyway. So I was like, listen, I'm gonna move anyway. So I can't stay. And he said, so go start your own practice. I'm like, nobody starts a practice one year out of residency, like, what are you talking about? And I'm like, in case you missed this very big bump here I am pregnant. Like we thi this is not a winning combination. but he was like, you're already doing everything you would do there, here. Um, and if you have questions, I will help you go start. And so I will say I started my practice out of ignorance, right? Like ignorance is bliss. I was like, this is gonna be amazing. I started researching other practices started, you know, what are they doing? I'm looking at their reviews. What do patients not like? So I can make mine different. And we started looking at locations. I got location signed the contract. This was amazing. I looked at the sign, I really pediatrics. I'm like, oh my gosh, we're doing this. And so my philosophy was hang the shingle and they will come. And so I hung the shingle and to my shock, they did not come And at this time, like you said, I'd signed the lease. I had insurance contracts going. I had, you know, like, um, internet that I've signed up for phone, all, like, I felt stuck. Like I would run away if I could, but I can't. Right. And so it's like a deer caught headlight moment and it dawned on. that I was gonna have to do other things. I was gonna have to market now, first of all, I'm a physician. Okay. And as far as I was concerned at that time, selling and marketing, those were sleazy things. Those were not professional things. They were almost cus words like what physician talks about selling. Right. And so I'm like, I can't do that. And, um, I was the socially awkward, super shy, introverted introvert. And I'm like, I couldn't even bring myself to go to OB GYNs to say, I'm a pediatrician, send your babies to me. I couldn't do it. And so then I didn't have patience. And I remember, you know, feeling stuck because I was like, I can't do this. I don't know how to do this. I don't know what I'm doing. I'm a physician. I'm not a business person. Um, I'm not the kind of person who can do this. Right. So these people who own practices, they can do it. But I can't. And I remember reading a book. Because remember this is 2010. So there Facebook groups that was not a theme. Facebook did not have groups there there's no group there. I couldn't find physician entrepreneurs. I literally used to Google physician entrepreneurs, physicians in business that, and like, where are they? You know, who can I ask questions? I can't find them. Right. And so I was reading this book by Brian, Tracy, eat that frog. And he, he made one sentence that totally changed my entire world. He says, all business skills are learnable. And for the first time he dawned on me. Those guys with bigger practices are not better than me. Like I'm not static. I can change. They just have skills that I don't have. They can promote their practice. I haven't learned to do that. They can build teams. I haven't learned to do this. They can look at profit and lot statements that make sense out of it. I haven't learned, but it's a skill. I can learn it. And so it made me realize that I'm dynamic, not static. If there's anything, I don't know, I can learn it and I can be as successful as anybody else. And that changed every thing for me, everything. I just love that. And I mean, when you say I can be as successful as anybody else, it's such an empowering statement I want to challenge, people who are listening today. Think about that and say it to yourself because one, you're putting that out into the world, but two, it literally is true. It absolutely literally is true. Let me open the floor there, guys, do you have any questions about what Dr. Una is sharing already? Because I see a lot of heads nodding in the audience because it's a very relatable experience. Yeah, I think, um, what you said about, you know, how physicians feel uncomfortable about marketing themselves? I can definitely say it's a, it was a very uncomfortable feeling trying to do that. And I'm like, why do I need to do this? Like, it feels weird. It feels almost like sleazy. Like, am I being, you know, sleazy trying to just go tell people, Hey, come join my practice, learn more about me, you know? And, uh, and over time it becomes more comfortable and you realize that's just how you think about things in a business model. It's not, you know, something, you know, taught as a physician necessarily. So it's like you have two different, you know, mindsets going at the same time, but I, I totally understand what you mean by that. Yeah. I, I've been doing a cash practice for two years now and it's still uncomfortable to have money conversations. It still feels. Am I coming off sleazy or am I providing a solution? And so it's not as if I changed overnight in how I present myself, it still is very uncomfortable. So I'm glad to hear you share that you where we're all at, it still exists back there. But I learned from you that business skills are learnable. And so knowing that we are dynamic is incredibly powerful. And I thank you for saying that. My pleasure, and, and I love what you said, that this I'm still in the process. And that really is a, is a thought pattern of the ultra successful. Cuz sometimes we get impatient. Like why, why isn't, why haven't I fixed this? Why haven't I still uncomfortable with money? Why am I that? . But when you realize that there's no goal per se, you're in constant evolution, then you give yourself space to just continue to grow. So then you're looking, am I better than I was three months ago? Much better. Great. So am I where I wanna be? Not yet, but I'm so much better than I was three months ago. So that's a, it's a very powerful way of thinking. And then the money conversation, if you think about us as physicians, we were so shielded from it that it made us I'm a physician. So I can say this. It made us entitled, right? Cuz think about being an employed physician. You get up in the morning, you get in your car, you grab your coffee on your way you park in the parking lot. You go into the office, they tell you, patients are ready. You walk in, you see the patients you leave and then money magically appears in your bank account. So we have this philosophy. If I do good medicine, the money will. well, that's a lie because the reason why we can do what we did is that somebody marketed and brought the patients in the hospital, employed a PR person who went in the community and said, this is a practice. You need to be a part of somebody at the front, had the money conversation, collected the copay and the deductible and all of that stuff. And then when you are done, somebody send the, send the claims and somebody else works in collections. There's this whole slew of people that deal with all the money parts, and we're shielded from it. We're told, just come and see the patients. And so when we start our practices, we go with that philosophy. We get up in the morning, we get in our car, we get the coffee, we go to the parking lot. We sit and we're like, where are the patient? but all those other parts are missing. And so when you become an entrepreneur, you, when you start your own practice, you need to realize there are all these other pieces that made it work. Um, we were shielded and we now need to start paying attention to that. When people are opening up the practices, they're new, they might be new to the community in general. And they're, they're realizing that, wow, I, I need to, you know, sell my business. I need to sell my value proposition. What are some of the, the tips that you have when a, physician is, in that space of. I, I can't do this. How do I do this? because even though what you said earlier is so empowering to get to that spot of feeling like, okay, yes, I'm empowered. And then I can act on that empowerment versus that's such an empowering statement, but I'm still fearful and I'm still stuck. How do you talk with other doctors about getting past that fear to start, getting the word out about your practice and about that you are accepting patients that your value proposition is amazing. So when it comes to, to money to selling to all these uncomfortable things, there is nothing we say right now that will make it comfortable, nothing. And once we realize that, then we can be a little more comfortable being uncomfortable. Do you see what I mean? It is going to be uncomfortable. It will become more comfortable, but chances are you'd have picked up bigger projects that will put you in more uncomfortable things. And so the most successful people live uncomfortable. So the first thing is to not strive for comfort, right? The comfort zone is where great dreams go to die. That that's not what we strive for. If we, if we think about in med school, we embrace discomfort after discomfort. That's what made us these great physicians that we are the discomfort of the grades. You have to get into a good pre-med thing, and then you do pre-med and then you do med. And then while you're just, you know, settling into med school, then there's residency. Then there's, you know, it was nonstop discomfort, right? No matter how good our schools were, no matter how much support we have, it was uncomfortable. And so if you wanna be that person who continues to evolve to continues to do great things, then you're somebody who embraces discomfort. Like this is uncomfortable, but this is good. so that's the first thing. The second thing is, you know, I, I, I talk about this concept of falling in love with your business and what that is, is tracing the true impact of what you do. It puts you in a position where you're like, yeah, you do want to work with me. And yeah, it is only 99 or a hundred dollars or whatever it is a month, or it is this like, you're so excited and you know that you're giving people such a great deal because you've taken the time to fall in love with your business. So what does that mean? It means that you don't just stop at, I see people and this is how much I charge them and they can get longer visits. You don't stop there. What is the true impact of what you do? Okay, so you trace it to where, well, there's this person, they couldn't afford the premiums for health insurance and all of this stuff, but through their job, they got to work with you. And so it was affordable. And for the first time they were able to have regular visits. And for the first time their hypertension was under control. So their dad died at 56, but here they are at 70 because they have good care. So they're living longer. They get to go to their kids' wedding. They get to go to the kids' graduation. They don't have all these complications, so they have a great quality of life and they get all of that for $99 a month. See, that is very different from, they can just come to me and they get cheaper medications. It's very different. So you trace it all the way. So think about your patients when they tell your doctor, you changed my life because this then take that, this, and take it all the way. And so you get, you're just like, oh my goodness. I am the best thing since life spread. That's the impression it gives you. It makes it so much easier to put yourself out there because you know what you're doing, it makes it so much easier for you to ask for dollars because you're like the dollars you pay that, like how much would you pay to be alive and walk in your own two feet without any deficits at your daughter's wedding? Like how much would you pay for that? you know what I mean? I'm only charging you $99 a month. right. So the more, you know, the true value. So it's not the process. It's not, oh, I saw the patient. Oh, I got them. Discount meds. It's not, it's not the process. It's the outcome. The more you sit with the outcome, the more you fall in love with what you do, the easier it is for you to tell people you really want to work with me. It helps you stand in your authority and, you know, talk about your business in a way. I mean, you, you're just like you, you have to come . what do what, well, what else is out there? you've challenged us with going beyond, what we have to sell, transparent lab costs, transparent, radiology costs, access to 24 7 care, whatever the physician chooses. But I love that it's really building a story and a journey for the patients. And we all know that we really respond to stories more than more than pitches and, and if I may, when you think about what makes us say yes, it's not the process. in the nicest way, I can say this, nobody cares about your process. They just wanna know what it's gonna do for me. Right. So, so I, I love using the example of a personal trainer. If a personal trainer comes and says, oh my goodness, you're going to love working with me. This is the gym we're gonna be at. This is a wonderful elliptical. I'm gonna put you on every day. These are the weights you're gonna lift. It's gonna be so great. We're like, who cares? Right. If you tell me I'm gonna put you in your skinny jeans again, I'm sold now, are you gonna have to put me on the elliptical for me to get in my skinny jeans? Yes, but I don't, I don't want the process. I want the outcome. Right? So you think in those terms, when somebody works with me, somebody's been my patient for three months, six months, nine months a year, what can happen to them? what could their lives look like? And for many people, we already have that, right? We already have people we've served. We already have these stories. That's what people want. That's what they're looking for. The outcome, not the process I have to, I have to insert myself here because I'm, as a surgeon, I'm completely guilty of loving the surgical process, the fine detail of the equipment that I use, how I suture and how I do this and that. And no one cares. And it's so clear that patients don't wanna hear the gory stuff. They don't wanna know if they're bleeding or not. They just wanna know, can you get me in a place where I can play with my children on the beach? And it's funny because we had that information in front of us, but it really untangles our ego. Like how could I not talk about surgery? That's I'm a surgeon. How can I not talk about how you get there? and in reality, they, they really don't care. They didn't go to medical school to care so that's a really good point. And sometimes they may, they may be intrigued because many people don't go into the, or by that. So say, let's say you even did videos of, you know, some parts of surgical procedures and all of that. You can, as long as you take them on the floor, right. Which means I'm doing the sutures like this so that you don't have that ugly scar. You see what I mean? So you take them all the way, because everything you do that you love, there's a reason you love it. Do you see what, like you, we want to take them to the, to the outcome. You're thinking about it. But a lot of times when we're talking, we stop at the process. We're not taking them all the way. You see what I mean? So some of those things, if you're used to doing them and people are somewhat drawn to them, it's fine. As long as you take them all the way. You see what I'm saying? So the outcome, like I'm doing this and, oh my goodness, this is a 30 minute procedure, but by the time I'm done with this, give it four more weeks. She will be on the beach playing with her grandkids. You see what I'm saying? You take it all the way. So they're like, the surgery is fascinating and she got them on the beach. This is amazing. I wanna go to that doctor, you know, so you take them to the outcome cuz that's what they really want. And if you look all over entrepreneurship, everywhere for the really successful businesses, that's what they do. Like you can actually start looking at that. And the reason why I bring this up, is that sometimes a lot of times innovation is not new things is taking things from other industries and bringing it to your industry. And I think DPC, the DPC model is a perfect place for that more so than a fee. So for a fee for service, you earn what you earn. So there's some strategies that you can learn that cannot work in that model because there's a cap, there's a, you know, but with the DPC model, there's so many things you can pick up from other industries. And you can put it there and it makes it work like magic . So for instance, one of the groups that do a lot of marketing would be, weight loss, right? What do they almost always use before? And after pictures, there's no gym. it's before and after, like, I was like this and I'm like this, and so the best marketing messages are the same. It's not pictures now. It's like, I was like this and I'm like this. So what was the pain somebody had before they started working with you in this DPC model? And because they're in the DPC model, because they're in your practice, what does life look like here? You get good at painting that you get, you just have people say yes, because it's a proven model before and after pictures work. So now you're not using the picture. You're using the words. He was on 10 medications. Blood pressure was not under control, had to wait two months to see his doctor, all of that stuff. Now he has this right. And blood pressure is under control. And now he's only on three meds and he has his life back and he was just at the beach and he was like, so now you're painting it. But with words, not pictures and it works. my own patients have told me a couple of times. They're like, you know, if you just hit like these. The three or four points that every patient, you