Direct Primary Care Doctor
Dr. Ga Geong (Jenny) Lee was born in South Korea and grew up there until age 6 when she moved to Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto in Canada with honors. She completed my medical training in Beaumont Michigan as a Family Medicine Doctor and then went on to complete a Fellowship in Women’s Health at Case Western University in Ohio.
She moved to Las Vegas after graduation with her family in 2016. During Fellowship, her family had grown to three. She had her daughter Annabelle in Ohio during her training. After moving to Las Vegas, she started working for a local medical group. One year later, she had her second child Lucas. She was employed for three years, and then, three years ago, she opened her own private practice in Las Vegas.
Her practice is called Sunny Health DPC. She is one of the founding members of Free Market Medical Association (FMMA) where she along with others is passionate about building a foundation for price transparency in medical care.
Outside of her work, she has many interests including gardening, cooking and traveling. She enjoys good company, and she likes to share what she knows. She enjoys meeting people; genuinely takes an interest in anyone she sees and talks to. She spends most of her free time attending conferences for learning additional medical skills, and spending time with her young family.
Dr. Lee shares today about how she went from an employed position in Las Vegas, her first job out of residency and fellowship, to opening her own DPC, Sunny Health DPC and how she didn't know she didn't appreciate fully what autonomy meant to her until it was threatened to be taken away. In today's episode she also shares about how entrepreneurship was not her strong suit starting out, the namesake of her clinic and why her patients value her culturally sensitive care.
Hear Dr. Lee on the 'La Vida Las Vegas" Podcast
IG: @sunnyhealthdpc, @sunnybeautyandwellness
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Welcome to the podcast Dr. Lee. Hi, how are you? I'm doing so well. It's so exciting to talk with you. You're only a state away from me in Las Vegas. So hopefully someday we can see each other soon. Yes, absolutely.
I wanted to start with your journey into medicine. What made you choose to become a physician?
Well initially, um, I want it to be a dentist because, um, my dad was in the dental field and he looked up to dentists. So, um, that's how my journey in medicine began, but I didn't really do well on the entrance exam.
So, um, from that I kinda change gear and took some time off and decided to go into medicine.
I did a post-bac program with dental students and medical students, and I could not do their upside down 3d tests, so to save my life. So I completely understand that. And in terms of when you found medicine as a, you know, a better alternative that fit with you more, what was it that fueled your passion to go full board into medicine and get into medical school?
I think that I always liked the idea of being able to help someone and being, um, advocate for people who cannot really, help themselves and just the science itself interested me. And the path of medicine allows you to continue to learn. Not that you can't learn in other fields, but in medicine you always have to be a student.
And I really liked that part.
And knowing that about you, in terms of before you opened Sonny health DPC, what was your life like professionally?
I was three years out of my fellowship. I did a woman's house after my family medicine residency, and I was an employed physician in a big, outpatient clinic.
I was my first job out of my fellowship. So I was in Las Vegas. This is the first place that I moved
to. And in terms of your day to day in this fee for service job, what were your expectations and what was your autonomy like at the time?
You know, um, I didn't know I didn't have autonomy until he was taken away from me later, but, um, I had a very busy schedule. I think initially I was seeing about 18 patients in a given 10 hour shift, but it really grew in, um, in the last year that I was there. I was averaging about 23, 25 patients per day.
Wow. And what were some of the biggest struggles that you found when you were having a schedule like that?
You know? Um, I, I didn't know there was a problem. Like I just thought I was doing a good job and I, of course I was very busy. I was, it was normal for me to miss that. Uh, you know, kind of rushing in Russia out, very busy picking up my children's after work.
but you know, I didn't know much better. Like it was my first job and I thought this is how all the doctors work and everybody around. Work that way. So I didn't really know there was a problem.
I'm sure listeners are thinking to themselves, that sounds really familiar.
And you know, even hearing your words from my own experience, I know exactly what that feels like. It's like you go from residency clinic where maybe you're starting to do 900, 203 is 900, 200 fours, and then you go into a clinic and you know, like, we've talked about those golden handcuffs, you start easing up your schedule.
And then all of a sudden you have the schedule where you are not in control. And so I want to ask there, when you talk about, you didn't know that you didn't have autonomy what was that point where you were like, wow, this is not gonna work for me to continue in fee for service.
Yeah. You know, um, so that's how that's, that's how my schedule was. I was, I was busy seeing about 25 patients per day, but, um, all of a sudden they were asking me to change my schedule, see more patients and all of a sudden changed location. And I didn't really have much control over what they were telling me to do well.
And was that because of your, the way your contract was written?
I think that, you know, with the new management, because our company went through several transitions and, uh, with the new management, they looked at each provider's schedule a little bit differently. And when I was having some admin times built in before work and after work, you know, before they didn't have a problem, but new management had a problem and they, they said that I just needed to see more people.
What was the final straw that you experienced in fee for service that made you transition? You know,
that's very interesting because if I didn't actually go to, I think that GPC summit in year 2018, I, I may have been continuously working at fee for service office, but you know, my husband and I, we were starting to get a little bit burnt out.
So we were looking at other things we're fascinated with DPC. So we went to the DPC summit without much thought. And, and, um, when I mentioned about the schedule change, those kinds of things came after that. And when that happened, All of a sudden, I thought, oh, you know, I don't have to take this. I may have different option.
So I think that's not what we all began.
That's amazing. And you know, I, I am a big believer in things happen for a reason. So what a cool experience that you had that under your belt, the knowledge about DBC under your belt before you actually needed it? Um, I feel that that's also very relatable because I was thinking about DPC long before I made the jump.
So I love that. And let me ask you there, when you talk about that, you guys, I'm assuming you and your husband went to the DPC summit. How did you guys even find out about DPC?
Um, you know, I, I found out through my husband, but I think my husband found out through some Facebook groups. I think that's how most of us are included in that Facebook groups.
Definitely. You know, for, for those people who might not be on Facebook groups, um, for physicians, there are groups like DPC docs. DPC women. DPC docs in the house, DPC for newbies. There's lots and lots of, uh, DPC doctors, groups, DPC Alliance. That is another one.
Um, but I want to ask there in terms of, you know, we are at the cusp of the two DPC summits, the summer, the hint summit is coming up in June and the DPC summit, uh, coming up in Kansas city. So can you tell people, you know, what, what was your experience like when you were at the DPC summit in 2018?
I've never felt that kind of experience before, because even though I was working professionally for three years, I kind of, it was taking me a long time to get out of that student mode because I've been student for so many years and.
To see all these, you know, experienced doctors kind of say, you know, out on the stage clarity about what the problem is with the, with the current medical system and what they did to transition. It was very refreshing for myself to hear it. And I thought that, you know, oh, just because I'm, I'm a newbie, maybe this is how I feel, but it wasn't the case.
And I, I saw that, you know, the people who've been practicing medicine for 20 years actually heard my story and I was able to relate to their story. And, and I think that was very special.
That's incredible. And I hope that the people who are able to attend summits this year, you know, that the in-person experience is so much different than watching recordings.
And while I definitely encourage everybody to watch as many recordings or to listen to as many podcasts as you can. It's very different when you're in the room with other people who are wanting to know more and more about DPC. So I definitely encourage people to check out the options when it comes to the summer and the summits.
And you know, when, when people are going to the DPC summits, you know, clearly entrepreneurship is a big theme in terms of DPC is a business model. And we are physicians being able to practice autonomously through D through DPC as a model. And so I want to ask you there when you. Had experienced this corporation telling you, Hey, you, you ha you're going to have to change your schedule.
Goodbye. Admin time are going to, we're gonna, you know, make you work more for the same amount of money, um, and give patients less care. I, what, when you decided to open up Sonny health DPC, how did you get started? did you take out a business loan? Did you fund it yourself? How did it work out financial.
so, you know, I was fortunate because my husband was working as a physician, so we had a steady income. He could support the household. And, um, I was not good because one of my friend, um, actually opened the direct primary care before me, about six months before me. And so he had an office space very small and he had two rooms and he actually was generous enough to give me the option to use the other room.
So really my overhead coming in was very low, maybe no more than maybe 1,500 per month. So I took out a small loan from my family, so that counts,
I think about $15,000 out. And really that's all I needed. Um, I wasn't making money for first six months, so, but I wasn't taking any money away from the family. So the only money that I took was $15,000 and later I paid it back after about a year. So that was really my starting starting budget. I didn't take any outside of alone.
It's really important for people to hear that because you know, there are some people out there who think that starting a business, you have to take out a loan or you have to go into debt for 20, 40, $60,000 or more. And when you are able to do things like network with people or hear people's stories as to how they got started, just like you shared, you can hear the numbers to see if those numbers are something that can work for you.
So 15,000 as a, as a loan from your family as your starting budget, and you were able to pay that back in a year, it definitely gives some people, you know, some numbers to work off of there and what an incredible opportunity to have a DPC doctor to help you get started. It just, it makes me think of when Dr.
Belinda Mott was talking about how she has the space created specifically for other people who want to do DPC and for them to come in and use her space rather than having to negotiate a lease, yada, yada, yada. So I think that's wonderful that that's how you were able to. You know, your space established.
And when you were in the transition period, about how long did you take between when you decided to do DPC and when you opened up your doors at sunny health DPC,
it took about six months. Um, I took about a month and a half of vacation, uh, between, uh, finishing my job. Uh, but I was in preparation while I was still employed.
Just kind of creating the website, looking at the logo, you know, those kinds of stuff. And that, yeah, it took about six months for preparation.
And when you were taking that month, month ish off, what did you focus on at that point where you just, you know, you know, knee deep and doing DPC stuff, or did you take some time off just to relax and take a break from it?
Yeah, we just took a vacation. We did a family vacation to a, I think we visited Hong Kong and Korea. My husband is Chinese and I'm Korean. So I think, uh, we, we just visited our relatives.
That's amazing. I, I want to say it was Dr. Vance Lassey who talked about, you know, taking time off is, is a good thing to think about.
And, you know, just to have time to recover from the experience in fee for service is, you know, healing to the soul. So that's awesome. And let me ask you, when it comes to, like, you talked about your logo and the name of your clinic, when did you come up with those and did you create your logo yourself?
Yes, the logo I created. It is actually supposed to be like a person hugging, but it kind of looks like a heart and, or an apple. But, um, I did create that because I wanted to see like, you know, Dani health DPC is embracing kind of like embracing a patient. Um, the name came about because, uh, my mom actually, uh, had a flower shop when I was growing up and it was a sunflower something flower shop.
And, uh, she's very, she's someone that I really look up to and she opened her business without much experience and she really worked hard and she did fine. And so I just wanted to have something sunny in there. So that's how the name came about. So beautiful.
And let me ask you, because, um, when you opened and you were in this shared space and you had your own business with your own logo, how did that work with regards to sharing the space?
Um, in terms of, did you have both DPC logos on the door or how did that work? Um, so that. People might be going to the same location on Google, but they're two different entities.
Yeah. So, you know, um, that's where sort of like I had to match my price to be like my, my friend. I didn't want to have like, you know, lower price or a higher price.
We kinda, we just kinda kept the pricing and, uh, the information pretty same. Um, the building was, you know, like the lease was under my friends. So the name on the building, like outside was his name, but, you know, my I'm in the medical Plaza, like medical building, so we never get like walk-ins so people who will be coming into see him or me, they will be coming in because they have a prior appointment.
Uh, so I never really had a problem with that. Um, I just put it like, uh, you know, um, like, uh, you know, like a little local at that window and like at the entrance door, but I didn't have any locals like outside the. But, you know, after about a year and a half into, um, myself practicing, we wanted to expand.
So we actually got the next week. So my name is now under the, so I share both spaces. My name's on both, both spaces. So now my name's not outside in the building and everything, but before I did, and I didn't really have much problem with that either.
Gotcha. And what a nice way to experience, uh, you know, the business sweet idea without having to go, um, you know, into your own lease, uh, to start again, if it's so great, but that, that was how you started off space wise.
And let me ask in those early days, because you know, this is thinking back to when you opened, what were some of the challenges that you found unexpectedly going from a physician to then being a physician and entrepreneur.
You know, um, I, I don't think I'm a good entrepreneur.
I, I, I'm not very good at selling my business or my service, but I think that when people meet me, number of times, they kind of learn to trust me. And I think that's been where I've been getting a lot of internal referrals. Um, but the challenge has been with, you know, like owning a business like this, where it's a membership base where people sign up and also sign off.
Right. Um, I think that, um, I wasn't easy initially, and even now it's never been easy for me. Have people come and go, like when people like, you know, canceled the membership. You know, I am, I am, it doesn't matter how many patients I have each and every time it kind of makes me a little sad. It makes me wonder what did I do wrong?
And I think that's sort of the challenge where operationally, like, I need to kind of get over that because I have to understand that the business as medicine is also influx that, you know, people have to also leave. Right. Um, but uh, having that, you know, where there is, um, I was in general, my practice has been growing, but you know how there's been some hiccups where people cancel people join and that's been kind of hard for me and I don't know how other DPC doctors see it, but each even now I said, like, it's very difficult for me to have a lot of patients that say all of a sudden tomorrow five patients canceled.
I wouldn't think that, oh, despite people just had something else going on, it makes me wonder, like, was there something wrong with the practice? It kind of like, I go back to that and I think that's something I need to work
on. I appreciate that honesty because I'm sure that churn is felt internally and emotionally by other people as well.
And so I want to ask there, do you have some kind of exit survey and what's your completion rate? If you have an exit survey for those people who do choose to seek care elsewhere,
you know, that's a very good, that's a very good idea. I don't have an exit survey. Um, and I think I should, I don't really have too many patients leave at once.
Right. But, you know, in general it's been like patients, sometimes they, you know, they got insurance and sometimes you'll be like, they're moving out of town. I live in Vegas. It's a very transient city. Uh, so I've been having a lot of those, uh, reasons behind why patients are canceling membership. I've I haven't had too many patients leave in anger or had a real problem with this.
And that's really good to hear because, you know, when it comes to this as a business model, our value proposition has to make sense for people to invest in, you know, they're spending their money in our practices and in each other as physicians. So I want to ask there, when you talk about Vegas and the population, can you, can you give us a little bit more of a feel as to, you know, you're living in Vegas?
You're not going into the, I guess, on a bachelorette party visits. So what is it like in terms of the demographics in your area and who has joined your practice?
Um, I think that initially, like first in early part of my business, a lot of my patients, although I never told my patients in my previous practice, I was leaving, they found me somehow and they joined their practice, but afterwards it was really word of mouth.
And I put out a small ad in. Uh, Asian newspaper. And, uh, I did that because a lot of my patients who are Korean and did not, um, really asked me if there's a way for them to find me. And I say, I don't know, but I will put an ad in the Korean newspaper. So they found, they found me through that route. Um, but I want to say in terms of demographic at this point, you know, it's like any other city, like, I mean, we do have a lot of patients who ha who was involved in service industries and, um, but you know, people, I have patients who are just working in companies, businesses.
Um, I mean, I have a small population of undocumented patients, you know, I have patients, um, who have, so I want to say it's, it's pretty, um, it's a lot, it's a big variety of patients, but I don't know if it would be much different if I was in other states.
And in terms of, when you look at, uh, like you talked about that you have some people who have certain jobs, some people are undocumented, the employed people, , are there employers in Vegas who give DPC as an option to their employees who work in the service industry?
Like the people who are, doing, upkeep for hotels and properties and such,
you know, um, I am part of like the free market medical association. Um, and I hear, you know, some information that there is Ashley caulk in a hotel, like companies like they companies where they may be interested in offering something like this.
I'm not sure if they call it DPC, but it's more like, um, a membership model, like primary care options for them. And I think that, um, it may, it may be in the works, but I currently don't have patients from big companies who are under that kind of program.
in terms of the care for undocumented people in your practice, I want to ask, what is the draw when they say, oh my goodness, I'm going to go see Dr.
Lee today and I'm going to send it for her practice. What is the draw for them? And that makes your practice. I think, um,
I think it wouldn't, it would be, it would be, um, not just my practice, but all the project, primary care practices. They feel somewhat sheltered because they're not really having to go to the lab and do a blood test using their ID there.
They're there to show some basic ID, but they're under the umbrella of my practice. So when they go in there even to get a placental blood test done, they show whatever ID that they have. Right. But it's really, it's not their insurance. They need to verify and check. It's really under my account that during the blood test and prescription medication, as you know, it's not hard for them to pick up.
So they feel somewhat sheltered. And if they have any questions, the thing is they could directly contact me and my staff. So, um, I think that they feel more secure.
Wonderful. And thank you for sharing that because you know, there, there was actually a reporter who reached out recently because in California, I don't know how it is in Vegas, but in California of people who are undocumented over the age of 50 are going to be able to get medical benefits and great.
But what do you actually get for Medi-Cal benefits? Like how can you access your primary care? How long do you have to wait to access your primary care, et cetera, et cetera. So I think those are wonderful, um, wonderful points to take note of, especially if you are in a community who is servicing undocumented people so that they can have access to preventative care just like anybody else in this country.
So for those people who might have been on the fence initially, and then later joined your practice, what was the draw that made them join? Uh, at the end of the day,
you know, um, when, uh, when Nash, you know, I told you, most of my patients are referred and usually referral will come with an explanation from their friends or family about what happened and how Dr.
Lee helped them. And I think that just experience like that, hearing about it, even though it didn't happen to them, kind of gives them the confidence to join the practice because. You know, medically, they can't guarantee that everything's going to be okay every day. Um, so I think, you know, most people who understand I should, it's interesting because people who have insurance seem to actually understand this concept and appreciate it as much as people who don't have any health insurance, because they know that even with their insurance, how difficult it is for them to get the care that they need.
So, um, I think that most people, when you explain to them, um, they understand, and really when you do monthly times 12, and when you calculate how much they're paying a year, it, you know, it really makes sense financially because it's maybe the cost of one time urgent care visit. So yeah, it usually people understand.
And when you talk about understanding, I want to highlight your FAQ page because on your website, you know, versus like, I think about like my website, where my FAQ's are questions, like what is direct primary care, your FAQ page isn't statements that people who are looking for quality care could definitely be drawn to.
So for example, you have statements like you don't want to wait for your doctor, you know, rather than a question, like how often do you wait for your doctor? You don't want, you don't want to wait for your doctor. And so I want to ask when you were creating your website and creating your FAQ's, I think that's a great way to approach, you know, the short attention spans that people have these days, and also speaking to their why your, your potential patients wise, um, what was it going through your head when you created your FAQ's to be statements rather than questions?
Um, I think these are the things that I would like to hear if I was at. So it was, that's how it came about.
So I think that, you know, you said that you're not, you don't consider yourself a great entrepreneur, but I think that is so smart that you were thinking in your customer's eyes. So I love that. I love that.
And I hope that that's helpful for other people, especially those who are considering, you know, um, their FAQ's, you know, in the next few weeks or so. And when you mentioned this twenty-five patients a day, and then you were asked to do more in terms of your daily practice now, what is your typical day at sunny health?
So, um, a typical day at sunny hill DPC is very busy. So, you know, this is, that's why I love your channel because it's sort of like, you give opportunity for entrepreneurial, like no new doctors. I need to, you know, share the journey. And if I knew everything perfectly from the beginning, it wouldn't be much of a journey that you come with me.
Right. So, um, I am someone who likes to see patients very often. That's what I realized. So even though I don't have 2000 patients in my panel, I find my schedules being kind of, um, you know, very down about 12 patients about at least in a given day, uh, on my DPC, Workday. And I think that's also too much.
Because 12 patients in my DPC practice where I typically, I spent at least about 30 minute per person. I don't have a lot of other, I don't have much time, so I need to make some changes. Yes. But I do see about 12, but compared to what I had done before, like, twenty-five, this is much
better. Yeah. Awesome.
And you know, when you talk about Tomorrow next week, next year might be different. I love that, you know, again, highlighting the fact that you have the autonomy to make those changes and to pivot and reevaluate your practice and see what's working. And what's not working recently. I had, uh, I had read about the ideal week.
And so that's what I've been using for my own practice with regards to pivoting and looking at what would I like to do because Marielle is not the best at keeping to her financial Friday plan. So I definitely would say, you know, um, whatever works for you for other entrepreneurs out there who are also physicians, um, taking, taking a check-in with your practice every once in a while is a really healthy thing because sometimes life happens so fast, especially with an opening practice at signing on patients so quickly that, you know, you might not have the time to take a, to take a step back and a breath.
So I think it's, I again, appreciate the honesty there and I appreciate, your experience because. Your experience I'm sure is very, relatable to other listeners out there.
And when you talked about, uh, I want to go back to, um, the, the Asian newspaper ad that you took out, um, now is there a big Korean community in Las Vegas?
I think it's growing community and yes, relative. Yeah, there is definitely at least medium sized community. And there's been a lot of transitioning from, I think, people in other states moving here in last couple of years, so, and included in that transition. I think definitely Asian patients, uh, Pacific Islanders they're in the mix.
I mean, they, all, many of them are transitioning here, so yes, the newspapers being quite helpful.
That's great. And you know, when I think about, um, when I was cleaning out my dad's house, after he passed, uh, the, Bhutan newspaper was what he had collected volumes of the Filipino newspaper. And so it's when you have a close knit community, especially if they have a local publication, whether that be digital or paper or whatever, even radio, you know, um, it's definitely something to look into under.
I's then you would, you know, a big mainstream community-based, uh, city-based publication because, , more people within that specific, concentrated community are most likely going to be sharing the information there. So I love that. And, you know, with you being Korean with you being able to speak, bilingually in English and Korean, I want to ask, , because I'm sure you have patients who Korean is their first language and potentially their only language.
, were those people able to find care from a Korean American or Korean doctor locally, easily before you opened?
No. No, I, and that's really the main reason. And I, I should, that was one of my major reason why I even put the ad on the newspaper because a lot of my Korean patients in my old practice really relied on my service because I spoke to.
And, um, I just want to let them know as an option. Hey, like I am here and if you really needed to find me, but, no, there's not many Korean speaking physicians in Las Vegas, so it's been difficult for them to find care here.
In terms of like a lack of care that they are receiving here, um, sometimes even for simple as a upper respiratory infection or any medical concern, they will easily drive to LA drive about five hours to get there, just to get the care they need and drive right back. And this is not an uncommon practice here, and this is not uncommon practice apparent only for Korean patients, but a lot of other Hispanic patients, a lot of other patients do that as well.
Sure. And yeah, with us being neighboring states, it does not surprise me because people drive to Vegas so easily from California. I mean, it's eight hours, I think, from where we are an Arnold and that's, you know, you can drive Disneyland or drive to Vegas. And so for, for patients, um, to, to.
Need care that badly, that they're willing to drive that far to get quality care, hopefully quality care. That's just crazy. So, you know, that's wonderful that you, have a niche of patients who really well forever understand your value proposition because you're able to give culturally sensitive care.
And I want to ask there, um, coming up this June, you're also going to be involved with a seminar that, uh, is going to be hosted by the local Korean group. So can you please share about how you got involved in that and what is the seminar going to be focusing on where you're at?
Um, you know, it's going, it's actually like a Korean community locally that reached out to me.
And, um, actually he, um, yeah, he wanted me to kind of start a dialogue with the Korean community, you know, about medical issues, questions the local people have. So I thought there'll be a good place for me to just kind of answer questions and that kind of be available if they had questions, um, about medical care.
And so I agreed to it. I don't think it'll be just one time seminar. It will be more, a serious where I may be periodically called in to answer
questions. That's so cool. You're, you're becoming your own local health expert, especially for the Korean community. So I love that and you know, it's, I am, I am also a big fan of this idea that if your patient doesn't join you today, they might join you, you know, a week later, two weeks later, a year later.
But the fact that you're establishing yourself as somebody who they can. Learn from understands them. I think that that is, is never going to be, um, anything but in your favor. So I think that's awesome. And in terms of, um, you mentioned the free market medical association, can you tell us a little bit more about what does the FMMA look like in Vegas?
the Free market medical association was just established really recently. Uh, we had our first meeting, like beginning of this year, but of course it's an established, uh, uh, group, uh, in other states. Uh, and we are trying to bring here like, uh, option for, um, price transparency and medical care.
And, uh, we are, we are, we have scheduled meetings. We actually have a meeting that's scheduled coming up, coming Tuesday, but I think it's, it's kind of also house all the direct primary care doctors in that. So that we can start the dialogue and kind of pool all the specialists so we can provide some better care.
And that's what I was going to ask, because, you know, when, when people talk about like BNI groups and whether it's helpful or not helpful for them, I was going to ask that about the FMMA in terms of,, when you talk about being involved in the FMMA and just transparent pricing in general, how have you been able to find specialists to care for your patients at cash prices?
Um, we have like other direct primary care doctors in town and I've myself been practicing, practicing for about three years.
So we actually have individually and as a group made quite a bit of connections with local specialists. So we do have most specialists that have cash pricing for us. So it's been, it's been really helpful.
That's really great that you're building up that network because you guys as DPC doctors do not, Discriminate against whether a person has insurance or not.
And to have specialists on board locally, that you guys are vetting yourselves. I think that's really powerful.
Yes, that's great.
And another organization you're a part of is the AA AUW. So that's the American association of university women. And so this is something that I had not heard of before. So can you share more about what the, a UWA is and what's your participation in the organism?
a U w is, you know, American association of university women. And, um, it's really, uh, you know, a group of not only females, but primarily females and the, uh, they graduating university.
And, um, they have, uh, you know, they do a lot of good things in the community. We sponsor students, uh, for, you know, uh, scholarships, uh, but there's sometimes like, you know, drives, you know, like for, um, donation drives, things like that. So I just participate the other association that I'm actually a part of is a Korean chamber of commerce.
I am working as an acting secretary at this time. Um, you know, it's, again, a new role for me, so there's not much that I have done so far, but, uh, they do have a lot of talks about bringing, um, businesses from Korea, that convention expos, where I'm not, uh, where they'll be kind of hosting. So, you know, I'll learn more as time goes on, but I'm also excited about that role that I'm playing
Absolutely. Especially, you know, it's mutually beneficial for you bringing your entrepreneurship skills to their table, but then learning from their space to help your own business. So I think that's really, really cool. now I want to ask about recently you have started delving into developing and aesthetics branch of your practice.
So can you tell us about what made you get into aesthetics and how is it going, adding that service on or adding that branch onto your DPC?
Yes, I'm, you know, I'm the first year into my direct primary care. I had some time, so I looked into some classes doing Botox and filler in the beginning classes. And I really, I was really interested in it.
I thought it was really funny. So really that's how it began. And I started taking more classes, more classes, and now I really have about nine or 10 different services that I can provide in my practice. So, um, I want it to be separate from my direct primary care. So I'm in the process of having a separate practice, um, that will be called semi beauty and wellness where I'll be offering these services, but it's kind of like, it's something different than primary care, right.
It could be a little bit more creative and I could be, um, in my own space. So I really liked that. So that's how it kinda came about.
For those people who, um, you know, might be interested in delving into ascetics, where, what do you recommend in terms of how to start getting your feet wet when it comes to learning and improving your skills at a seven.
Um, I think the primary care office is a great place for you to practice if you're interested in that kind of stuff, because patients, first of all, trust you. So if you wanted to offer a very basic service, let's say, um, like Botox, uh, something basic Botox, you can do that in your office. Then you have patients on, you know, just regular patients walking into the clinic on a regular day.
Right. Um, so you don't have to do all the services. You don't have to open a med spa from the beginning. But you could kind of just get your foot wet and just try and see if this is something you even like doing. But I will say that, um, there's many classes that's offered in person. I mean, myself in Vegas, we have a lot of conferences here, so it's been really good for me.
I didn't have to travel much. You can really take any of those institutions for getting the training and, uh, try it out and see if this is something that you like doing financially. I'm not sure. Like, um, at this point I have invested quite a bit of money through my eye steady, so I can say, uh, I have made much out of it yet, but, um, I think that for me, it's a good investment, but everybody has to make the right decision for them.
And when it comes to aesthetics and offering aesthetics to your patients, do you have to, in, in Nevada, do you have to have, uh, a separate coverage for malpractice for us that X or is it bundled into your physicians and surgeons coverage with your current current.
Um, if let's say, you know, if like, let's say when you are doing Botox once a month, I'm not sure if, you know, you can, you can ask your individual a malpractice company, but I didn't. But now that I'm in, I'm delving into more of a full aesthetic practice. I, this I haven't yet, I haven't opened the practice yet.
You know, I have been offering some of the services then I think I need to expand my coverage.
Yeah, definitely. I know that when I applied for my malpractice, that was a separate questionnaire in terms of, you know, do you provide, um, I, I know aesthetics was on there, but also alternative medicine I think was, um, uh, a separate questionnaire, uh, for my malpractice company.
And when you look to the days that you're open with sunny, beauty and wellness, as well as with a panel of patients that you take care of it, sending health DPC, how do you envision your pricing working for both your patients, as well as your aesthetics practice.
I am going to raise my. Y I'm going to raise my price. It will be what someone may be wondering about. Right? Why? Well, at one point, what point in your practice you may consider raising a price, right. And where are you in your practice? Are you full panel?
Are you not? Do you know, like, so like my business plan, people may be wondering about that. Um, you know, at one point like, you know, first I think when I priced out it was, it wasn't much of a choice. Like I just wanted to match what my friend had w was more of a low scale on the pricing. I charge $20 for a kid 65 for an average, 85 for 65 and older, right. You know right now my PA and my panel is about closed, mean close, meaning I have about 400 patients.
Right. And I could take more patients, but this is a point where I'm trying to branch my other business. I told you, like, this is where I'm thinking, like, I'm not an average, direct primary care doctor where I should be seeing seven a day. I'm like, I'm overloading myself. I have 12 plus patients into my schedule.
I have a problem. Right. So in order for me to have I static to kind of cool off and then own the DPC practice, I can't take all the patients. You know what I mean? So at this point I have to make a decision, right? So I have patients on my waiting list. Of course I could take all of them, but I have not done that.
And actually starting, you know, waiting lists has really helped me. I feel like all these people are starting to call. So I have, like, I don't know if there would be people on my waiting list or something like that. But then the thing is, um, I think I want to raise my Christ because. I think that I can go up on the price, you know, but the way that I'll be going up on my prices, I will leave my pay current patients alone. I'm not going to touch those prices, but really the new onboarding patients who have the decision to join or not join, they're going to have to face whether they want it.
They're okay with the price or not. So that's where I am.
When you talked about how you would like to keep your current members at a certain rate and then increase it for other members, it's definitely something that, uh, other, other DPC doctors have done other DBC doctors, just because of the price of, you know, materials going up, they'll increase their pricing for everybody, and everybody is different and you do what's right for you.
So I think that that's great, but I love that. Um, I love that you are at this branching point considering you're going to be doing I'm wise with your own schedule. When you add aesthetics onto your, your thriving DPC practice.
Yeah. So, you know, really like there's like, I feel like everybody has a crossroad and this may be mine where I have an option to actually somebody told me why don't you hire someone?
I never thought about hiring another doctor or having somebody work with me. Right. But maybe I never stopped somehow. I never thought I'll hire a staff period, but I hired a staff. So it's just kinda like, there, there is like an increment of things. Like, and it's good, but things that could happen where it never say never, like I may actually have like a year around, like now, if I was talking to you, Maria, I may actually have a doctor with me.
It's amazing. I don't know. Like, it's interesting, scary, but it may be I'm at a point where I don't need to put people on the waiting list. I could have given it to a person.
And I, but I just, I just want to call out there, like you're saying these words, you're putting it out there in the universe. And so that might be the case indeed, where you have a second
right after we get off this interview.
That'd be amazing. You let me know if that happens.
And you mentioned though, when you never thought that you would hire stuff and then you hired a staff person, at what point did you decide this is, this is going to happen because I need a staff person to help make sure that my patients get the care that they are, are wanting and deserving.
you know, you know, I were, I was getting too many phone calls. I can not handle the phone calls. And that was where I decided, okay, I need to hire someone to get my phone calls. I didn't try. I didn't need her to check in a person, check their vitals, just pick up my phone calls. That's how it began. But at this point I couldn't handle the day without a staff.
I mean, I could, if I really, really wanted to, but it would be very difficult.
Sure. And in terms of your staff person, um, what are the duties that they help with, that they help out with on an everyday basis? You
know, um, my staff is multitasking, right? So my staff also does the front desk checks in a person.
It was just a very basic vital, but, you know, um, picks up all the phone calls and faxes, um, you know, really answers all the questions that sometimes patients have. Um, they, they work as my right hand. So like I tell them, you know, if you could do me something called here, referral license, To contact the offices, they do all that.
And it's just, it's just, it's only being positive.
And how did you find this person? Um,
you know, I did, I think I, I applied for indeed and I looked down through indeed. That's how I found our first medical assistant. Um, and then after that, what was very interesting was I got, um, the person who was hired.
She actually went to a medical assistant school that happened to be very close to my outfits. So she told me about her school. So, um, I don't know why I contacted that school, but I contacted that school and mentioned that I'm a, I have a medical practice and your student is currently my staff. They kind of gave me an idea.
Would you like to be, uh, would you like to help train on medical center? So, um, I said, sure, we can try it out. So we got a student, but in that transition, they said, do you also need another staff right now? We said, yes. So we hire someone and we have sort of like a program where we have a medical assistant students coming through our clinic.
That's awesome. And I think that's, I think that's great because as people have talked about having medical students and residents in their clinics to have them learn about DPC, I think that's really great for medical assistants in your area, learning about what direct primary care is and how it's different, because there's other, DPCs in your area that they could potentially work with or help support.
And they would already understand the model because of learning in your space. So I think that's super powerful to help grow your guys's local ecosystem. Yes. And I want to ask here, when you think about, you know, there are, like you said, there's listening to this podcast.
There's lots of people at different stages in their business ownership. , but what are some of the questions that you wished others would ask themselves? If they're thinking about DPC? Um,
w w what if they're early on and let's say they haven't opened the practice and they'll be asking questions, they really have to know why they're wanting to open a direct primary care office.
It is a lot of hard work. It takes time, but you have to know what you're looking for. Um, and if this is a solution, then I think direct primary care is a great option. Um, even after you open a direct primary care like myself, I've been in it for three years, there'll be a different set of questions that come out in different stages of your transitioning.
And like right now, I can tell you that three years out, I have a full panel somewhat. I mean, I could take more patients, but, um, I'm at a point where I want to open my aesthetic practice. And, um, you have to, you come where you come to a question like, you know, do I need to hire a staff like a provider at this point to take on new patients while I'm doing this I static.
Um, and you really have to kind of, um, uh, evaluate where you are. And I think that happens in different stages of your, uh, business.
Awesome. I want to ask about the fact that you also have two young children. And so when you have a practice of 400 people, you are about to branch into another arm of your DPC, into aesthetics, I want to ask how, how are things going with regards to balancing your kids' schedules as well as your own schedule and your husband's schedule?
Yeah, so I think as a great question, like for example, you know, uh, other direct primary care doctors, um, I think everybody's different. They may be only seeing like five people a day, seven people a day, but not every direct primary care will be seeing that few patients. It depends on how that person practices.
And I'm a person who sees a lot of patients in a given day because. Like to follow up. And, um, even though I am having a direct primary care, which is being really helpful for me in terms of scheduling, um, like making my own schedule, it's still being a struggle for me to kind of balance taking care of my five and seven year old children, um, with working and in the verge of Oakland United aesthetic practice.
So it's been great, but I think for everybody, they have to make their own decisions, how to run the business, because even in direct primary care, you could be overwhelmed and you have to make the right decision so that you're not going to be burned out even in direct primary care,
such an important, such an important thing to point out.
And I want to ask there one last question in terms of when you have reached those points where you're like, oh boy, I, I I'm feeling it. This is, this is getting a little stressful. What do you do to get through those moments as an entrepreneur and a mom and a.
No, I really just kind of asked myself, what is it that I want to accomplish?
Like, you know, and I, I kind of go back and decide why I made this transition. So if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna have to take some time doing something, I just pause. And that's why I have a waiting in this, going in my clinic. And by the way, that's been very good, great for me for my business, because somehow once I started the way you're doing this, there's a lot of people calling, but you just have to like pause and take a step back because in the early part of my business, like when anybody calls and inquire about this, since I'm just so busy, just taking them in.
But at this point I really have to take a pause because I need the time to do something else, which could be more important. So you just have to make the right decisions.
And for those people who are thinking about doing DPC, what words would you say to them based on your experience?
I want to say, um, from my experience, uh, it has worked out for me greatly much to have a low scale, like, you know, low, um, low budget, low overhead start.
And that has really alleviated a lot of the stress because it took time. It took years for this. It mean three years. It could sound very short time, but it was a very long time for me where in the first, even a year and a half, I think I mentioned to you, I had a lot of doubts upon myself, uh, doubts about the practice and about myself.
I, you know, there are many times where I felt like I should just quit this and just go back to get higher somewhere. So I think that you really have to make the right decision and, you know, not to get distracted, um, not having so much of the overhead and the financial burden has really helped me because I, to kind of forget about that part and worry about other issues.
But if I was really burdened financially, it would have been very difficult for me to get through that stuff.
And definitely if people are in that boat of being concerned about the finances, those are the questions that I would, you know, uh, think about in terms of bringing to the DPC summit in Kansas city or the hint summit in Denver.
Because when you think about what, what is your why, like you said, and then you think about the things that are making you hesitant to do DPC, even though it's consistent with your why, but that's where I would narrow down your questions when you're networking with people in person or reaching out to other people who are doing DPC like yourself, who have been in practice for years and who, you know, know the, the, the ups and downs, the ebbs and the flows of these practices.
So thank you so much Dr. Lee for joining us today. Thank
you so much for having me.
Awesome. And I hope to see you soon at one of the summits.
Yes, we will.
*Transcript generated by AI so please forgive errors