Episode 64: Dr. Nazia Sheriff (She/Her) of Olive Leaf Pediatrics - Orinda, CA

DPC Doctor, Pediatrician

Dr. Nazia Sheriff practices wholistic care for her patients!
Dr. Nazia Sheriff of Olive Leaf Pediatrics

Dr. Nazia Sheriff is originally from the windy city of Chicago and moved a few years ago with her husband and two young children to sunny California. She first discovered her love for pediatrics and working with children when she was in highschool! She received her BA in Psychology and her Medical Doctorate from the University of IL at Chicago. During her Pediatrics training at Loyola Children’s Hospital, she was awarded grants for her work in health education for refugee children. Dr. Sheriff then started her career as a Pediatric hospitalist at a Chicagoland based children’s hospital where she took care of newborns and sick children admitted to the hospital. She was the Hospitalist Medical Director as well as the Medical Student Director for many years. Dr. Sheriff created family centered policies that allowed families to be involved in all aspects of their child’s care. Life then brought her to the Bay Area where she has been focusing on preventive and wholistic pediatric care.

Dr. Sheriff believes strongly in lifestyle medicine and has a special interest in breastfeeding medicine, nutrition, fitness, socio-emotional health as well as special needs. She is an IBCLC, is an ACE certified Youth Fitness instructor, serves as medical advisor for Cooking With Kids Foundation, and is a Certified Positive Discipline educator. Her passion is to bring pediatric medicine back to its roots and focus again on treating the whole child.

In her free time, Dr. Sheriff enjoys family hikes, reading, taekwondo, and international travel!

She opened Olive Leaf Pediatrics in the Summer of 2018!

The logo for Dr. Sheriff's wholistic care pediatric clinic
Dr. Sheriff's clinic, Olive Leaf Pediatrics in Orinda, CA

Two slides come together demonstrating kids can be healthy whether they are breastfed or formula fed.
Dr. Sheriff supports children, whether they are breastfed or not because she cares for the whole child, not just how they were fed in infancy.

Resources mentioned by Dr. Sheriff:

- Institute for the Advancement of Breastfeeding and Lactation Education (IABLE)

- For vaccine administration: The Buzzy Bee and the Shotblocker

- Baby scale: Salter Brand scale

- Positive Discipline Program


Website: Oliveleafpeds.com

IG: @oliveleafpedsdoc

Call/Text: 9252975573


Welcome to the podcast. Dr. Sheriff thank you so much for having me. I wanted to open

with your why, because I loved that when I went to your website, it's such a calming green. You have all of leaf. You talk about the nurturing of a child and your practice as a whole child. And I wanted to get a little bit deeper into the why.

Why did you choose all of leaf as the name of your DPC practice? Well, you know, I really think that, uh, there's so much meaning behind a name. I feel that way about, I felt that way, even when I was naming my own children. And so when, you know, olive leaf was being conceptualized, I, I knew that I had to have a name that had a really personal meaning to me.

And, uh, you know, that reflected the values of the practice. So, you know, I, I knew that we wanted to focus on nutrition, bring in some, like a calming, you know, Peaceful presence. And I just have always been at, I guess, attracted to the symbol of the olive tree. It didn't quite, you know, fit because again, I was dealing with BDS and, and kids.

And so, you know, they haven't quite laid their roots and become a big tree yet. So I, uh, that's where olive leaf was born. You know, it's symbolic of my practice philosophy of like you mentioned, treating the whole child. So treating mind, body, and spirit, the olive leaf has nutritious as well as the medicine properties.

Um, that obviously signified two of the major approaches that, you know, my practice takes healing, the bind and the body. And then in spirit, it grows into a universal symbol for peace and tranquility. So really, you know, my practice strives to help the little olive leaf eventually flourish into a wholesome.

As a parent, you know, that's something that we think about in terms of our kids and who they'll be in the future. And I think that's great that your practice is focusing on nourishing them in all of those departments, so to speak so that when they grow into full trees, when they go into full grown adults, they have, you know, strong roots in healthy nutrition, healthy habits, healthy coping skills, and then feeding off of that.

One of the tabs on your website, it says our philosophy. And I really loved that also because you know, people put it in different words, our mission, our story, our why about us? Why did you choose our philosophy as the heading on your website? Well, I knew that when I was starting all of Lee's paeds, that it was, it was, you know, to attract, you know, families that kind of believed in the mission or the philosophy.

And the philosophy just really encompasses, you know, essentially an entire, like way of thinking. And then therefore also, you know, goes into an entire way of living. And so when I came up with, you know, philosophy, I was kind of thinking about like, you know, Really what, what are the core principles that were important to in my experiences as a mother, in my experience, as a pediatrician and where does that need lie in our greater community?

And so that's where, you know, the philosophy of. Treating the whole child or having a holistic w H holistic approach to, you know, um, just to clarify, uh, came in and also just, you know, in the beginning it was, it was really interesting because I wanted to provide a different type of service for my families.

And I started out with house calls. So I, the philosophy included, you know, house calls as well. And, you know, most importantly, uh, long-lasting change in the world of pediatrics comes only when the parents and the families are invested in your plan of care. So I really wanted to highlight that my care was family centric and not just child centric, because the child is obviously a larger part of that family unit.

So when you say that, it makes me think about. Was mentioned in your bio when you were in Chicago prior to moving to California, you were heavily involved in hospital medicine. And one of the things that you had been very passionate about was creating policies where families were very heavily involved in their, in their kid's care.

And so I'm wondering while you were in that hospital setting, where did you learn about the idea of having a direct pediatric practice and can you tell us a little bit more about that journey to create your own practice? Honestly, it was, uh, it was an accident. I happy one, but definitely an accident.

So I was a pediatric hospitalist for over seven years. Uh, while we were, while I was in Chicago, that's actually, you know, my native city where I grew up and whatnot. And, uh, while I was practicing as a hospitalist there, you know, there were so many. Gaps in care because people just weren't communicating.

Right? The rest of her respiratory therapists were not communicating with the nurses. We're not communicating with the physicians. And so we really implemented a policy and I was, I was the director there. I was in administration. So, you know, I had the ability to go ahead and implement the policies, these family centered policies, you know, rounds and communication and, and whatnot.

And, you know, over time, I, I really was starting to get a little bit disillusioned with the big box medical system through, you know, what I experienced as a hospital as to what I saw with administration. I worked with some amazing human beings, but just the system was so flawed and. Didn't see myself being part of that system in the long run.

And so I was getting that, you know, seven year itch that sometimes be doctors get right at that turning point of our career. And I swear the universe just works in the most amazing ways because right at that time, while I was getting this like, you know, itch, uh, we, we kind of made a sudden life decision because of my husband's career path and an amazing opportunity that came his way to move to the bay area.

This was, you know, literally packed up left family. We had, you know, our kids who were kind of five and seven at the time and really upset with us about the move. And we just were like, Hey, let's just, you know, let's just do this, let's move to the bay area. And I felt like the universe at that time was, you know, Calling to me to just like, you know, or just creating a new path for me.

And when I got here, I was like, okay, I know I don't want to be part of this, you know, the hospital system of a big box medical system. So let me go and try out some solo practices. And I did, and I knew I was like, I want to be in the community. I want to be hands on with my patients. I have so much to offer.

I'd like, you know, like, you know, learn extensively that nutrition and got help and peanut behavior and discipline and all that. I want to do all of that in community pediatrics and the beautiful practices that, you know, I tried out either part time or as locums, which, you know, I had, it was kind of a trial period with the intention of me potentially joining it didn't really have space for that.

Cause they were still traditional insurance-based practices. And so what happened was I was spending. 30 minutes with these like, you know, teenagers that are like Dr. Sharif. You're the only person I've ever told this to, but I cut myself and I do this and it was just because I was just spending time with them.

And I was going way over my limit and calling behind. And the whole system was so frustrating to me. And then I realized that I didn't, you know, make this big life move and this big life decision to, you know, get out of like the comfort of academia of big hospital system, just to, you know, fall into another trap.

And I started doing some research and I came across DPC. I don't even know how I came across it quite honestly. And I was like, this is it. You know, I have to do a non-insurance based practice. And I think I joined like the DPC forums on Facebook or something. And I was like, this is, this is, this is how I'm going to be able to practice Fullscope as, as a holistic pediatrician.

And once he made that decision. Practice holistic care. And to open your, in your own insurance free clinic, did you do any market research? I had done some market research in, you know, essentially the bay area at the time. There were no DPC practices. Uh, actually, sorry, there was one and it was about 45 to 50 minutes away for pediatrics.

I don't think there were any for adults. There were concierge practices, so there was concierge paeds, and then there were concierge few concierge, adults, quite a few of those, but not D not DPC. And I kind of did this like hybrid thing for awhile because I was like, you know, I'm not sure about DPCI that like, is it, is it gonna work?

Like why isn't it here? And so I did this hybrid and I found, you know, faults with that concierge model, even within my own practice. And, and I, I eliminated it pretty quickly within months of opening my practice and I went into straight DPC. So I, I, you know, again, my market needs to just consisted of.

Within, uh, I dunno, like one hour drive, right from the location I'm at it. Just to see what availability there was. And when you initially opened, how did you announce to the community that you were open for? So I did some Facebook posts. I networked like crazy. Uh, I got out there to the birth workers, to other concierge physicians, really just anyone that I could speak to about DPC.

I think I tried some BNI groups. Those I realized were not for me. They are for some people they weren't for me. Uh, and, and yeah, it just kind of organically got out there. I honestly didn't spend a ton of money on marketing. I just, you know, put myself out. And when you opened your practice, did you have a physical clinic or did you do home visit and telemedicine first?

Yeah, so I, um, I knew I wanted to start off lean because this is a big risk that I was taking somewhat risk averse. And so I was like, well, let me just start off, you know, with the, like, I don't know, like $5,000 budget, maybe not, it wasn't even that. And just do house calls and just get all my, you know, equipment and whatnot and, and start off that way.

So I did house calls for about a year and I was growing and I was getting. Really tired of driving. Quite honestly, I loved seeing babies, especially for the first time or, you know, essentially for like the first month in their home, because I felt like it's important to provide a new family that service, but past that, you know, I didn't really feel like it was necessary.

So about a year after I opened, I actually opened up my clinic. Uh, and it's, you know, five minutes away from my home. I chose a path of convenience, quite honestly when opening up my clinic, but yeah, five minutes away from my home, five minutes away from my kids' schools. And it's just, you know, like just, I love it.

Like it's, it's my, you know, it's my little sanctuary away from home sometimes. Awesome. And when you mentioned that fatigue from driving at happened, did you have any strategies or thoughts when you were opening and you knew that you were going to open lean and do home visits as to how you would accept patients?

Like, did you have any I'm only gonna do. The patient's first from this radius and then work out words from there, or how did you do it? Absolutely. Yeah, because I, I believe, you know, part of practicing, uh, preaching holistic care is that you also have to practice it in your own life. Right? So I have a family and they're obviously a very important part of who I am and my identity as, you know, being a mother.

And so I knew that I couldn't stretch myself too thin and they still had to be available for my own children. So I limited it initially to about 20 minutes. Um, the bay area is a little bit naughty because like, you know, you could be driving like three miles and it might take you like an hour. So, you know, I've limited initially it's about 20 minute driving radius.

And then sometimes I'll still extend that to like 30 minutes, um, especially for newborns, but, but that's kind of my max, I don't ever go past 30 minutes. And I even from the beginning, you know, I really wasn't planning on going any further. And on your website, you list the areas that you service within that 20 minutes, but it also says, and more so it specifically reads, uh, Berkeley, Oakland, Piedmont, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Walnut Creek, Alamo, pleasant held Danville and more.

And so I'm wondering if you make exceptions, what usually falls in that bag of, and. Yeah, that's uh, and that I actually initially didn't have that and more, and then I realized that I was getting calls from these, like, you know, really sweet, like somewhat, you know, really excited families about my practice.

And so, you know, oftentimes, um, right after baby is born, I'll, I'll sometimes extend, you know, my services outside of the cities listed and see the babies at home for like about a month and then have them come to my clinics. So the, you know, again, it's per my discretion, but usually if there's very sweet sounding families that are super interested in my practice and believe in the philosophy, I, you know, I do tend to be, you know, a little, a little lax about that and you can, it's your practice.

Absolutely. That's awesome. I, I think back on. My, my former attending, who's a pediatric hospitalist. He had a baby on his service that lived 45 minutes away from me and the baby needed a circumcision. And so came to my clinic and I was like, oh my gosh, you drove all the way 45 minutes from where you live to come see me.

And they were like, yes, because your, your PO your friend in the hospital, uh, recommended that we come see you. And that, that family, I just think about them. When you mentioned, you know, there's this special families who are so excited about, you know, being in partnership with a physician who actually cares for them and who takes the time out to really give them, you know, the, the time that they need to address concerns, especially with newborns. Absolutely. It's I think one of the beautiful things about having a practice like this and, and yeah, and it, you know, I think families that feel akin to the practice also, obviously self-select and use somehow self-select them.

And, you know, the universe just kind of makes everything work out and thinking back to those earlier days, whether it be the early days. When you started what were some of the growing pains that you remember either good or bad? Yeah, absolutely.

So, I mean, I think the biggest growing pain was that because I was getting a little bit conservative about marketing in the beginning and I'm not origina