Updated: Apr 29
Direct Primary Care Doctor, IBCLC
Dr. “Mandy” Dornfeld is a life-long Indiana resident. After completing medical school at Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola Chicago, Dr. Dornfeld, moved to Muncie, Indiana to complete residency training. She and her family chose to settle in Columbus immediately after her residency training where she practiced full-spectrum family medicine for 13 years, caring for patients in the hospital, in the office, and delivering babies.
In 2020 she and her family moved to Whitianga (pronounced FIT-EE-ANG-UH), New Zealand for an ex-pat experience where she worked as a (very rural) GP doctor.
Dr. Dornfeld and her husband, David, have been married for 22 years. They have three kids who all attend BCSC schools.
Dr. Dornfeld has a passion for high-quality care for patients and their families. She is just as happy caring for newborns as she is elderly patients with complex medical and social needs. Mandy has a thriving breastfeeding medicine practice and is a board certified lactation consultant.
Since living in New Zealand, she has a new love for hiking (called tramping in New Zealand), enjoys travel and spending time with family.
She opened Sage Direct Care in August 2021.
Dr. Dornfeld "Pitching" DPC
See Dr. Dornfeld on
House Hunters International
Season 161, Episode 6
Website: Sage Direct Care
Facebook: LINK HERE
Listen to the Episode Here:
DON'T MISS AN EPISODE!
Leave us a review in Apple Podcasts and Spotify to help others discover the pod so they can also listen to all the DPC stories so far!
Direct primary care is an innovative alternative path to insurance driven healthcare. Typically a patient pays their doctor, a low monthly membership and in return builds a lasting relationship with their doctor and has their doctor available at their fingertips. Welcome to the my DPC story podcast, where each week you will hear the ever so relatable stories shared by physicians who have chosen to practice medicine in their individual communities through the direct primary care model.
I'm your host, Mary consumption, family, physician, DPC owner, and former fee for service doctor. I hope you enjoy today's episode and come away feeling inspired about the future of patient care. Direct primary care
Direct Primary Care to me is direct access to my patients and knowing my patients well. I'm Dr. Amanda Dornfeld from Sage Direct Care and this is my DPC story.
Mandy Dornfelder is a lifelong Indiana resident after completing medical school at Stritch school of medicine of Loyola, Chicago, Dr. Dorenfeld moved to Muncie, Indiana to complete her residency training. She and her family chose to settle in Columbus immediately after her residency training, where she practiced full spectrum family medicine for 13 years, caring for patients in the hospital, in the office and delivering babies in 2020.
She and her family moved to 50 Anga New Zealand for an ex-pat experience where she worked as a very rural GP doctor, Dr. Dorenfeld and her husband, David have been married for 22 years. They have three kids who all attended BCSC schools. Dr. Dorn killed has a passion for high quality care for patients in their.
She is just as happy caring for newborns as she is elderly patients with complex medical and social needs. Dr. Mandy has a thriving, breastfeeding medicine practice as well, and is a board certified lactation consultant or IB CLC. Since living in New Zealand. She has a new love for hiking called tramping in New Zealand, enjoys, travel and spending time with.
She opened Sage direct care in 2021.
It's so exciting to talk with you because we opened around the same time and you have done so well. And your journey is just so rich. So for people who have not heard of your story before, I hope they listen, very closely. So I want to start with this incredible journey from the United States to another country.
And so you were practicing in Columbus, Indiana, and then you moved to 50 Anga New Zealand. And so for those of you who are HGTV fans Dr. Dorenfeld was actually featured on international health centers, specifically episode for season 1 51. And you can look that up. It's also on her accompanying blog on that note.
One of the things that you had shared was that. You wanted to, you know, work overseas. So can you please tell us about that journey and what led you to ?
Yeah, I have always been kind of a person who's wanted to travel, but I never really had the opportunity in college. I was doing all my pre-med courses and very academically minded and just never made the time for it.
and, just kind of always dreamed of living abroad. but I never thought it was possible as a physician, because of licensing, et cetera. and then, you know, once you kind of start your career and work, build your patient panel and work in a health system, you just can't imagine stopping everything and, changing everything to live abroad.
but when my husband and I made the decision that I would be, Leaving anyway, to start a direct primary care practice that kind of opened up this door to something different. And we said, you know what, if we're going to leave this job anyway and start with a new practice, this would be our golden opportunity to go live abroad.
And I read about other family doctors living in New Zealand, there are other first-world countries and other countries developing countries to where you can work. It turns out, but New Zealand is one of the friends. Probably four American physicians. And I said, you know what? You only live once let's go do this.
So I, for me, it was kind of a natural kind of break before starting my practice. Uh, I, a lot of people thought I had to do that because of a non-compete, but my health system does, I did have a non-compete, but it was, it said I couldn't work for a competing health system. It would have, let me start my practice right away.
So I did not do it so that. It kind of gave us this kind of time to decompress and think about the new practice. but more importantly, I wanted to give my kids the opportunity to live abroad and I thought it would be a new challenge for me to live abroad and learn how to practice medicine in another country.
And living in a very rural area, I think helped me brush up on skills. Thinking outside the box a little bit, we did not have a lot of resources where we live. We were three hours away from a major hospital. We were an hour and a half away from kind of a critical access type hospital. And we were at our practice was really all there was for about an hour and a half around.
So we managed everything we could right there.
It's just incredible. And you know, one of the, one of the quotes that you had said in your interview on the house hunters episode was sometimes you don't make a move based on what makes sense. It's just an example of how, even before you opened your doors to Sage, that you were autonomously choosing to do, you know, this, this journey and to you know, take on all the, all of the adventures that came with that.
So I want to ask there, when you were established in New Zealand, what kind of credentials did you need, if any, to get under your belt before opening? Like, did you have to do any CME? Did you have to learn new formularies? Uh, because of differences in medication, how was the transition over to being a GP?
Yeah. So I joined a group there. So, it's a rather rural practice, but it's a big group because they, they really care for a very large subset of patients. That Yanga is, uh, is a resort community. So during their summers, which are our winters. December January, February, the population grows from about 4,000 to 20,000 and our group, our practice was really the only medical care there.
So we functioned as their acute care, urgent care, chronic care for all of those people. And so I had their support. There were probably six doctors total there and we were on call two at night. We'd go in and see people at nighttime as well if we needed. But there's really, there was really nothing I needed to do other than all of the paperwork.
I mean, they do their due diligence to be sure that you've had the training you're board certified, you know, you've passed your USM Les. So they, they there's a lot of that. Probably it took, I think I decided in June I wanted to go to New Zealand and we were there by January. So it was pretty fast. Overall.
Of course, that was right before the pandemic and which is another story. but with the pandemic, things got a little bit more tricky. And now their borders are opening again, but we arrived in January. A pandemic occurred March. There was a six week, very strict lockdown in New Zealand. And then actually they eliminated COVID completely, which was wonderful.
We lived in a very free life there as far as COVID, but the drawback was, the borders were essentially locked. So if we left, we wouldn't have been able to come back and no one could come see us. And I, I know that probably people, people were feeling the same all over the world, but it was a different experience in some ways than we had originally thought we would have, because we thought we would have visitors pretty much nonstop and family would be coming to see us and things like that.
So that changed things in a lot of ways. And it really. Informed our decisions when we had to make some decisions for our, one of our sons needed a surgery. And instead of going back to the U S for that surgery, we actually paid cash and had it done in New Zealand because COVID was raging and we were so much safer there in New Zealand.
So, there were some interesting experiences that, that way as well,
and, as an American who was overseas, even though you had a position there, you were employed how was that experience paying cash for something like medical care.
Yeah. I mean, I got to see the whole system from both sides, uh, and that could probably be a podcast in itself.
I'm talking about the New Zealand socialized medicine system. Certainly it saves the people there from bankruptcy and things like that. You know, they really do a great job of chronic disease care there. But it's, it's certainly a two tier system. So people do wait quite a long time for specialized care.
Especially if you're from a rural area, which we were so not uncommon to wait three, three or four months to see any specialist or to get an MRI or an ultrasound, things like that. And so a lot of times people will pay. Cash or pay out of pocket to go see, go private is what they call it. And so it creates a two tiered system.
So that was kind of interesting to see how that worked. We were not the, the New Zealand healthcare was not available to us because we weren't there for, we weren't planning to be there for two years and you have to, you have to have a two year visa to qualify for New Zealand public health. And so, that really wasn't even an option for us.
So, yeah, but certainly, uh, healthcare, even when you're paying cash is much less expensive. They're much less expensive. It's
yeah. It's it's so it's so interesting to hear that, that side of the story. And I, I appreciate you sharing a little bit about the health care system. Cause that's that's definitely something that I wanted to know more about and I'm sure the audience did as well.
So, so let me ask you, you know, when it comes to the description of waiting three to four months, it's interesting because when you said that, I think about my community where sometimes it takes longer to, to be seen, you know, for a screening colonoscopy or to see a rheumatologist depending on what type of insurance you have.
So what are some of the things that you thought about when you were, you know, living this system every single day and also having the intentions to move back to the states and open up your own practice.
Yeah. Well, I mean, it's really interesting there. I mean, the government really is in charge of them for the most part cost containment for healthcare.