Direct Primary Care Doctor
Dr. Christina Doll is a board certified Family Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine physician and the owner of Revival Direct Primary Care in York, Pennsylvania. She grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., where she first developed an interest in medicine during a high school internship at Children’s National Medical Center. Dr. Doll moved to Pennsylvania for undergraduate school at Dickinson College, where she earned a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. While at Dickinson, she also played varsity volleyball and met her now-husband, Travis. She returned to Maryland for medical school, attending the University of Maryland School of Medicine in downtown Baltimore. After medical school, Dr. Doll headed back to Pennsylvania to complete her residency training at WellSpan York Hospital, where she served as chief resident in her final year. She graduated in 2017 and became board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine shortly thereafter. In 2020, Dr. Doll decided to pursue additional training in Lifestyle Medicine, becoming board-certified by the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine later that same year. Dr. Doll opened the doors to Revival Direct Primary Care in September 2021. When not seeing patients, she can often be found in her garden, with a toddler on her hip and a pre-schooler running around by her side.
Dr. Doll Is An Amber Grant Recipient of $10,000.00
Dr. Doll Amber Grant Interview
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Welcome to the podcast, Dr. Doll.
Thank you. I'm so excited to be here.
It's so funny because you and I have interacted so much in social media before, and yet I still haven't met you in person.
So I'm so looking forward to that, but I'm definitely looking forward to talking with you today, too. It's
nice to see you.
I wanted to start with when COVID hit and your realization your job is not guaranteed in fee for service, as many people.
Right. So, yeah, I mean, before I opened my practice, I think that my path was really similar to many young family physicians. Right.
I took all of the usual steps, went through medical school, residency training, and then I found myself sort of, you know, middle of my chief year looking at the horizon, thinking like, okay, you know, what's next? What's my next step. And I remember feeling like I really only had a few options. Like I could work as an employed physician for one of the large hospital system, affiliated medical groups.
I could have. You know, look into private practice, maybe a partnership track, or I could stay in academia. And I really wrestled with my decision because none of those things necessarily felt like quite the right fit for me. I had also just had my first child and I wanted to make sure that whatever position I chose to sort of start my life as an attending that I would, it would allow me to have some sort of balance as a physician mother, which I think all of us are looking for.
And it's really hard to find. Right. Ultimately I decided that I would join one of the local medical groups in hope of getting some additional experience in outpatient setting. I thought it would give me sort of a predictable schedule, provide some of the support that I was used to medical assistant administrative support, steady income, all the, all the good things.
But a few years into practice. I became pregnant with my second child. And unfortunately I had a really difficult pregnancy. I had severe, severe hyperemesis gravidarum. I, it was resistant to every medication in the books and ultimately I needed continuous Ivy fluids for 30 consecutive weeks. So I had this little backpack that held two and a half liters of fluid and a pump.
And I wore it 24 7 and tried to keep up and try to function, but it really became clear pretty quickly. Like I was going to have to temporarily step back from seeing patients. I was just too sick. So I had my daughter in early 20, 20. And as luck would have it, of course just as I was starting to feel better, I was like coming out of that fourth trimester Hayes you know, getting ready to return, to work, getting my groove back.
That's when COVID came to town. I actually remember I was in the parking lot after my six week postpartum checkup and I got an alert on my iPhone about going into lockdown. Wow. So it was like in an instant, everything changed. Right. And over the next few weeks, it became really clear that the job I had stepped away from during pregnancy was going to look very different.
By the time I was scheduled to return. Just like practices all over the country here in York, you know, people were putting off preventative care. They weren't coming into the office. So visits were down. Offices were closing, you know, providers were being shuffled all over the place to kind of meet to changing needs.
So I sort of found myself in this really strange spot where I had to decide, do I stick this out and kind of wait until patient volumes recover. See if I needed again in the same capacity is when I left. Or do I sort of take this moment when the world is clearly changing and just make a big change for myself?
Do I, you know, just take a leap of faith and ultimately I think that's what gave me the push and I decided to leap.
Yeah. Amazing. And just, you know, especially for the parents out there just hearing that and I'm sure there's lots of people who also were affected heavily with regards to, you know, how do you balance young children as well as a practice?
And so I want to ask there when you decided, you know, Hey, this is the perfect moment for me to make a change. How did you learn about direct primary?
I had been interested in direct primary care for quite a while. And it was kind of a lurking in some of the Facebook groups and things like that. I had not heard of it as a resident, so it wasn't until it was making my second year in practice that I heard about it a little bit and got invited to those Facebook groups and started kind of more and more delving into the world of it.
And, you know, considering it, but it felt very, for some reason, even though I knew so many doctors were doing it, it felt very unreachable for me. Definitely.
And I want to go into depth there because, uh, before you've said, and this is when, and we'll talk about this in a little bit bit, your Amber Grant interview, you mentioned how you would tell yourself that you weren't good enough.
I, you didn't have formal business training. You didn't have this sort of panel of patients ready to support a new practice in DPC. And so I want to go back to those days where you had those thoughts, yet you were able to overcome those, you know, those doubts and those fears and open up revival DPC.
So can you tell us what was going on in your mind that brought you to the point where you're at today?
I think that I, I want to acknowledge that. I think the reasons I had and honestly still have on occasion, those sorts of thoughts, those hesitancies, I think it's sort of complex. I think that in part, the way that we're trained as physicians sort of predisposes us to developing fear of failure, right?
So we go through this intensive competitive training and we're expected by others, but certainly by ourselves to be perfect, failure's not an option. Failure is something that really is presented as a source of shame. And so we'd never want to fall off track. We're right. We don't want to do anything wrong.
We stick to this very clear well-defined path in medicine. So intentionally choosing to stray from that path. It's really scary. And I think that that's a valid feeling and also just sort of logistically opening a new business is risky, right? Like if we spend years of our life studying medicine and anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, we learn all these things, but the business of medicine is not part of our curriculum, you know, probably a little intentionally.
Right. So to decide, you know, you're finally in a position where you feel comfortable with the medical side of things. Now I'm going to delve into the business of medicine and open up a whole new can of worms, right. Is really overwhelming. And I think really hard. But at the end of the day, I think what helped me is this idea that you have to sort of choose your heart, right?
So for me being an employed physician lacking autonomous. Seeing patients, you know, every, whatever it was, 15 minutes, 20 minutes taking home piles of paperwork, all of that was hard. Starting a DPC from scratch and sacrificing all the comforts of steady income and benefits is really hard. So you just have to choose your heart.
And for me, I think the more I learned about DPC and the more I kind of dipped my toe into the water, it just became really clear. Which heart I wanted to choose. If that makes sense.
It definitely doesn't. I love that. And I really appreciate, and I know the listeners do too, that you're so transparent and that you admit that it is still hard.
I agree with that every single day. Like we, you know, you, you hit those, those bumps in the road and you're like, oh, I know this feeling, but you, you have continued to push through. And I really love that. Choose your heart because it really it highlights how resilient we are as people who choose to go into medicine.
I mean, we have to deal with so many. Very complicated situations, whether it be medical or whether it be social or emotional with our patients. And we still are able to, you know, show up for our families, be there and continue to be business owners and DPC. So I absolutely love that. And you know, one of the things that When, when you mentioned choose your hard I really think that, you know, the, it should be on a mug or something like that because, uh, it's a, it's a good succinct reminder as to you have a choice.
Right. And, and that is so, it speaks to autonomy. It speaks to the ability to pivot all the, all of the things that we're so happy about in DPC that we're not allowed to do in fee for service as easily school. I wanna, I wanna go into, and I mentioned this earlier, the Amber Grant, because , as you mentioned, you explored and you found that this is really your passion, you were able to apply and you won the Amber Grant.
So I was wondering if you could tell people what is the immigrant and how did you find out.
for me, you know, because the timing of making the decision to open my practice was sort of unexpected. I had not been financially preparing for a startup, right?
I had not been like squirreling away money or factoring the cost of launching a new business into our family budget. So I knew right away when I made the decision, I'm going to have to be really financially savvy and really cautious if I want to make this thing happen. And I had no prior experience with grants or grant writing.
I quite literally went to Google and started just looking, just searching for opportunities locally, nationally, whatever I could find, just to see if I could get some additional funding for the practice. I really wanted to avoid taking out a loan. I have plenty of them from medical school as I'm sure most of us do.
So at all costs if possible, I wanted to avoid signing up for more of that. So when I came across the. I was really excited first because it's a grant for women which was neat. And second, because it was unique in that you did not have to be at a certain stage of your business to apply. Um, You don't need to be open for X number of years or anything like that.
So essentially the Amber Grant is a national grant program for women owned businesses. You can apply on a monthly, so every month they take applicants and they select a monthly recipient. And then at the end of the year, all of those monthly winners are considered for sort of like an end of year grand prize.