Direct Primary Care Doctor, Integrative Family Medicine
Dr. Erica Young graduated from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama and completed Family Medicine residency at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia.
As a component of her residency training, Dr Young completed the requirements for a Certificate in Integrative Medicine awarded by The University of Arizona.
She lives on Whitemarsh with her husband and daughters.
She opened Relief DPC July 9, 2018.
In today's episode, Dr. Young shares how she went from being a public school teacher to med school and then how she was able to open directly out of residency. She knew very early on in her medical career that DPC was the only way she could practice autonomously in her community. She shares how her DPC supports all through affirming care wherever her patients are in their mental and physical health journeys. She talks about how she has been able to guide the insurance underwriting community to help grow DPC within her own community and she shares how life can be like when you practice on your own terms.
The Straight For Equality Ally Spectrum & Associated Resources
Types of Membership Offered At Relief DPC
Dr. Young's Logo for Relief Direct Primary Care
Dr. Young's self-esteem journal
Dr. Young's Note Templates (Adult + Peds)
The Med Pride Caduceus Pin
DPC Docs FB Group
Ph: (912) 999-8617
FB Group: Relief DPC Integrative Family Medicine
FB Business Page: Relief Direct Primary Care
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!
Welcome to the podcast Dr. Young, thank you so much for having me. I've been looking forward to it all day. Your intro really just charged me up and it is so wonderful to have you on the podcast. I wanted to start with flushing out. What was it like at the beginning of your DPC journey? Well, the very first introduction that I had to this type of medicine was in an elective during medical school.
It was at a clinic in Birmingham called the McMan clinic. And James McMan is a family medicine physician. He did no insurance billing. He saw about six to eight patients a day, sat down with them each for an hour. He included things like lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, intimacy, social, and spiritual growth, emotional growth.
And my time with him, I loved it. It was very different than the other clinics that I had spent time with during medical school. So that was my first introduction to a. Traditional clinic next. I was at my residency clinic and I quickly realized this is not for me. I was being told you talk too much to your patients.
You put things in the note that we can't bill for things like their sources of joy and their passion and their support systems. And that's the type of medicine I wanted to practice. So I attended the 2016, a a F P resident in medical student conference in Kansas city. And at that conference, Dr. Ryan Kaufman of Hickory medical DPC offered a session.
I went to that session and everything. He said, I was eating up. I was like, this is the type of clinic I'm going to have. Next. I go to the DPC summit in Washington, DC, the summer of 2017. And I literally cried most of the time and I was crying. It makes me wanna cry right now. Was that the room was full of people doing what I wanted to do.
I'm gonna get my emotions under check, but literally those people were talking about their clinics. They loved what they were doing. They loved their careers. And I knew I could do it so many people at my residency doubted that this was a possibility right out of residency and that it would even be a success.
I had one attending tell me, you'll come begging me for a job in six months. You know, it's too much to try to own your own practice. But the DPC docs community led me to my clinic today. You know, as you were getting emotional, the first thought that came to my mind was you don't see a fee for service doctor, typically crying about how happy they are in their job.
So that in and of itself just speaks volumes as to how this movement really allows us to be the physicians we were meant to be. And, you know, I, I wanna drop here that it is so important to what you said about how you learned about this in rotations, but also through a resident focused summit mm-hmm and then beyond in the DBC summit.
And I, I would love to pick Dr. Kaufman's brain as to how he got into the resident summit, because just recently I reached out to the California AFP resident summit organizer, and I said, Hey, you know, Is there a way to get DPC in, in this summit. And we have set up a table with at least three physicians, three DPC physicians going to talk to residents and medical students.
And that is definitely a way to, you know, take charge in your own community, whether that be on the state level or whether that be on, you know, your local medical school level or whatever it is. But I, I challenge people after you said that to think about how they can reach out to medical students and residents and other, you know, always other physicians who are in fee for service, who are unhappy because in primary care, we see the trends going down in terms of number of people choosing primary care as a profession.
And. We can't have that happen. That's just my personal opinion as a family physician. But yes, I completely agree. I think we need to wrap our arms around the third year medical students and get them excited about family medicine. And what I've done is the family medicine rotation at my local medical school sends the students once a rotation as a field trip to my office.
They come in, we sit down in the casual, what I call my living room of my clinic. And we talk about all the things DPC. Most of them have never heard of it. Most of them have already been exposed to some unhappy physicians in the rotations, and they see me beaming with pride for my office and I walk them through what it means to be a direct primary care physician, what it means for my patients.
And that's the time that we need to rope 'em in and get 'em excited about the possibilities of a long career in primary care. And just the importance of getting them at that stage. Cause a third year resident is too late, not too late permanently, but you know, it's not the time to grab 'em it's time.
It's you need to grab them that third year before they determine what they're going to be when they grow up and teach them that this is a possibility and not just for family medicine, but for internal medicine, pediatrics, even surgery in that kind of connects to the direct specialty care, which we have one here in Savannah, um, an endocrinologist doing it with you, having medical students.
And I absolutely love that because that's really how we grow this community is getting people involved at a young age and getting them enthusiastic and planning for DPC at that young age. Like it, like you pointed out I'm sure one of the things that they love about your clinic is the uniqueness of it.
So can you share about how your DPC really represents the community that it's in. Yes, I can. I think one of the coolest things about DPC offices is that each one is his own place, his own person, and it can reflect who the doctor is. So you bring in to your clinic, all of your life experiences.
So for me, this all kind of started years ago in my twenties, my husband and I bought a house. In a historical neighborhood and we joined a historical homeowner's association. Well, we chose this neighborhood to raise our children because it was very diverse. It had all ages, elderly, young families, all socioeconomic backgrounds, and it did include a large LGBTQ community.
So our homeowners association was made up of both members of the LGBTQ community and not, and it allowed me to get a glimpse inside the community. And as I became friends and really family with my neighbors over the 12 years, I started hearing stories that were very alarming. For example, my very next door neighbor, when he moved into his home.
He wasn't coming over and talking, and we were like, what's going on with this young guy next door? You know, why is he not being neighborly? Well, he joins the same historical homeowners association group and sees us there along with all the other LGBTQ community members. And he comes up and he says, I was terrified to meet y'all cuz I didn't know if y'all would accept me or burn me, you know, burn my house down, try to drive me out of the neighborhood.
Well, he was my same age. We ended up being very close friends. I actually just visited with him this past weekend, but through my experience with him and the other members of the homeowners group, I saw that there's real obstacles to being honest about who you are with your healthcare and really even your neighbors.
So what a drive for me to say, I'm gonna be a physician. That's open and honest. And I see everyone, I hear everyone I'm here for everyone. I love the planned parenthood logo of care, no matter what. And I think that is something that I carry through my office. When I talk to medical students, I tell them when you are in contract with insurance companies, you cannot do charity care.
You can't choose to do something for free, but in my office, if I have someone that I want them to have access to their medication and they cannot afford it, I can just give it to them. If I wanna charge someone less than my stated rates, because I know it's not what they can afford. I can do that too.
And so being able to modify your healthcare plan and your business, um, according to who's coming to your office, I think is something that no other employee physician has the ability to do. Just incredible. And, you know, I, I just, and I go back to the, that medical student who is probably dumbstruck that, that this is the type of unique practice that you have building it around your community and not around the codes that the insurances cover.
So just incredible. And with this being pride month, and with you being an ally of the LGBTQ a plus community, how, when, when you think about your care as, as a clinician, how do you describe your care to medical students? If they're asking, how do you provide affirming care? Right. Well, for me, I really feel like it's offering that level of care to every single person that comes into my office.
So it's, I like to think of it as addressing their social behavioral, psychological and medical needs all at one time on my clinic notes that I use in my office, I have a section about sexuality. So it's made sure that it's brought up with all of my patients. Now, if a patient comes in for a splinter or a rash, I probably will not address all of those things.
but for a typical established care visit or an annual visit, I'm gonna go over their, how their nutrition, their hydration, their sleep, their exercise, and also their spirituality and their sexuality, their alcohol, their smoking, all of those kind of components. And so when you say. Is there anything I need to know about your sexuality or about your sex life that I can help take.
Good care of you. You're opening up the conversation and sometimes patients will say, no, there's nothing you need to know. And other times people will say, you know what, actually I've really had problems. I have, you know, it just gives them the opportunity to answer and know that you're open to hearing whatever it is that they have to say.
It's a great time to ask about domestic violence or consensual sexual, um, relations. And so I do not do this just for members of the L GTB Q community, but for everyone. And I think what happens in my clinic is that patients may come to find me. From my website or they might have somewhere in the community, picked up my rap card.
Mm-hmm . And on there, I purposely state L G B T Q friendly. Yeah. And I have that in my membership section where it wasn't necessarily that I was trying to make a statement. It was more just like, I want people to know that if they want the couples discount, they don't have to be the traditional family or the traditional marriage.
It can be anyone that considers themselves partners or couples. Can come to my office and we're open and accepting of that couple questions there. One, when you talked about that, when you were at the resident summit and you were listening to Dr. Kaufman and he had one hour visits, how long do you set for your initial visit for new members?
One hour, each of my, my day is set for the hour. So nine o'clock, 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock. And so sometimes those initial visits do last longer. And if there's not someone scheduled behind them, then I let it run. If it, there is someone scheduled behind it, then my nurse will come and knock on the door and let me know.
But that, that the next patient's ready or there, but typically an hour is how long. And sometimes they do last, maybe an hour and a half. Gotcha. And the other question I had is if a person comes into you and they're like, I'm still hesitant to like talk with you and answer those questions. Cause I really don't know you.
How do you start breaking down those barriers to the point where they're like, oh man, Dr. Young, I got something to say, I have no problems asking her because I know that she is looking out for me as a person. Well, I think the very first thing is when patients sign up to be a patient at my. I use Atlas MD software mm-hmm and it has as a part of their registration asking them about their gender identity.
It allows them to choose non-binary if they like to. And so that right from the get go mm-hmm, lets them know that that's okay. And that's, that's an option. That's a choice. And so I really do. Think that's the beginning part. And that's probably the second time that they would get the inclination that I am an ally first.
It might be for my website or my rack card. Then when they're signing up in the registration, it's very clear that is asking about their identity. It also asks in the sexual history about like, are you content with your sex life? You know, do you have sex with men or women or both? So it's allowing them to have some introductory information to me and knowing that I'm interested to know those things.
And then the last thing would be after they have an appointment at my office, they go home with their appointment note. And on that appointment note is typed out all my little check boxes of what I wanna talk about. And sexuality is one of those check marks. So even if we didn't talk about it at their initial visit, when they go home and review their note, they'll be.
Spirituality's on here. So if I have a concern that I actually want my spirituality to be a part of my healing, mm-hmm, , she's gonna be open to that. Oh, sexuality's on this note. So if there's something about my sexuality that I wanna discuss with her or ask questions about that's also, okay. I do have conversations with all my teenagers going off to college.
I call it the sex drugs and rock and roll visit. that I want them to come in and, and go over their, you know, things about consent mm-hmm and safety and infections. And I make first aid kits for those students and they take them away to school with their emergency contraception in there and condoms in there and chlamydia treatment.
So I think those sort of conversations that I'm having with my patients allow them to know and feel comfortable, discussing things very personal with me. And in terms of you getting to this point where you've really thought about how to onboard your patients in such an affirming way, I wanna ask. What can you share a little bit about your training in terms of how did your training prepare you to provide this care as a DPC P.
Awesome. Well, I went to the university of Alabama in Birmingham, which had a wonderful office of, uh, minority and diversity affairs. And from that office, there was an organization called med pride. I did join that organization mainly because I had already been, um, a part of the ally community working with Birmingham aids outreach, west Alabama aids outreach, and, um, even having a pride event in our own, um, neighborhood.
So med pride was a good fit for me. And it really was an organization that was about educating medical students. Mm-hmm about the care concerns of the L GTB Q community. So part of that, one of the most exciting things that we did is we actually had pins made. And it wasn't my idea. It was someone else's idea was to have the, um, CUCs and as the snake spiral around is the rainbow colors.
And we could wear these on our white coat. Well, for most people they would just see the CUCs on our coat and think, oh, doctor. Sure. But for someone from the LGBTQ community, They would see the rainbow colors and lock in to this person is an ally or a member of the community. Mm-hmm . So it's something that, that, you know, little bitty rainbow makes a difference.
The next thing that my medical school offered, which I think all medical schools should offer was an elective called LGBTQ healthcare. It was taught by a doctorate of nursing. That was a get E man. And over the course of the semester, he talked to us about his own journey, but also had other members of the community come in and discuss things like a lawyer came in to express how we need to talk to our patients.
Do they have the right. Documents prepared for being able to visit a loved one in the hospital. If they're not legally married, do they have the right documentation to be able to make medical decisions? And it really kind of just exposed all the medical students that chose to take the class to some of the obstacles that the community has in healthcare.
It also taught about having a lavender resume and I was unfamiliar. That terminology, but what they explained it to be the leaders of the class was that you wanna have something on your resume that speaks to your allied, this your ability, or your willingness, your your desire to serve this community.
And so for me, that would be listing things like I helped plan a pride event for my neighborhood, or I helped, you know, work at a fundraiser to support an aids outreach program. And honestly it started where I'd start listing. I was a member of the me pride group. Now those are resume things. So that's not as directly related to my DPC, but it is what made me know that I needed to include something on my website, something on my rack card that gave the inclination that the L G B T Q community was welcome at my office.
Yeah. So that's what kind of led me to placing that on my website and on my, um, rap card. Now, some people might say, you know, Putting that out in the public in Southeast United States. I know I, Alabama and Georgia, is that risky? Well, if anyone has a problem with it, they're probably not someone I wanna take care of.
So it allows, you know, some self selection to the people that wanna come into my office are people that are also LGBTQ friendly. And I love it though, this idea of a lavender resume. That is definitely something new to me hearing you say that, but you know, I think about again to those medical students and even residents, if they're looking for, you know, there, there was a, a person who was coming from overseas, wanting to practice in the states.
Focusing on LGBTQ, I plus care. You know, if you, if you have a resume that clearly, you know, points out that you are an ally, whether you're in the community or not. I love that if you're applying for a position that is, you know, focused on LGBTQ, I plus care that you're gonna stand out as, okay. Like, this is someone who clearly wants to be here because of what they've done in the past.
So I think that's a great tip. So thank you for mentioning that. No problem. And one of the challenges. In primary care is that we have, you know, we're, we're the social worker. We're the, the, the physician we're the, you know, the everything sometimes, but when it comes to mental health for those patients, especially in LGBTQ, a plus community, You have this self-esteem journal and I'm sure you use it for all of your patients, but can you tell us what the self-esteem journal is and how have you used it specifically for members of the LGBTQ I a plus community in your practice?
All right. Well, that self-esteem journal was a part of a month long focus journal that I was offering to my entire patient community. And what I've done really, since COVID pandemic is noticed that we need connection and we need something to focus on other than COVID. So this originally started, I think April of 2020, I started, um, something called the alignment assignment.
So the entire month of April, we had an assignment each day. That was something about being in alignment with yourself, with, with the world, with the universe, with your C. And then after that month was over a few months later, we decided my office staff and myself that we wanted to do another focus journal.
And this one was on peace mm-hmm . And so we did a 30 day peace focus journal that was building up to the election of 2020. And that was kind of my personal need to find peace at that time. And, um, so we were offering writing prompts and poems and songs to reflect on during that time. So the self-esteem journal came about in February when I was doing the focus journal on worthiness and self-worth and these things come about sometimes, cause it's something that I need to be working on myself.
Sure. Or it's something that comes up in a few different clinic visits or different patients method. And I think if three people have asked me about. Probably all 600 of you need to know it. Mm-hmm . So in emails that I send out to my patient community, I would include these writing prompts and journal prompts.
So the self-esteem journal is something that came out of that self-worth self-respect focus for February. That was in 2021. So it's not something that I've designed, particularly for members of the LGBTQ community, but it's something that was, we used across the board. Mm. But I do think that patients of that community would know, well, this is something that can benefit me.
Yeah. And if they aren't feeling good about their mental wellbeing, it would give them an opening to say to me, you know, you had us do that journal. And I had a really hard time filling it out. I had a hard time identifying the things that build up my self-esteem. It's very important to me and always has been to ask each of my patients who their support system is.
And so that's something that I think does boost your self-esteem and your self worth. And it's something I talk about with all of my patients about making sure they have connection to friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, that can help support them. So that self-esteem journal was, um, something that was a part of a larger focus journal.
And I think it is an entryway to mental healthcare to post, um, those things on your social media or send them out in emails to all of your patients. Because most of my visits in the family medicine clinic, I would say 50% are probably related to mental wellness. Sure. And, you know, I, I I'll just drop here that if you go to Dr.
Young's, uh, blog on my DPC story.com, you can see that self-esteem journal. And, you know, you, you mentioned inclusion of, you know, the, the type of care, including like the self-esteem journal in your socials. And so I wanna ask your, your socials are really reflective of everything you just said. And so, you know, if you haven't been to Dr.
Young socials, check them out, I mean, even your Instagram is poems or prompts or even pictures of your cat. So it really, your, your socials really reflect who you are as a person transparently. And I love that. How do you strategize your in your Instagram content, your Facebook pages to support your brand and your C.
I first say I'm most comfortable with Facebook mm-hmm and I do credit Facebook for where I am today. I feel like in the beginning I started a Facebook group with just myself and two other women. One was a nurse and one was a teacher. I met them at a dinner and they literally asked, why did you come to Savannah?
And what do you wanna do in Savannah? And I start talking to them about how I chose my residency program and the fact that it had an integrative medicine certificate and how I wanted to have an integrative medicine clinic. And so they're like, we would love to come to a clinic like that. So I was like, okay.
I started a group, this was July, 2016. So two years before I opened and it grew from those three people to anyone and everyone I talked to, I would add to that group. And I asked other people, if you know anyone in the community that would be interested in. Add them to the, to the group. And I used it as like a, um, virtual vision board.
So I started collecting pictures of what I wanted my clinic to look like. Mm-hmm I started collecting pictures of what the exam room would look like. Does anything that was inspiration towards what my DPC clinic would, would be. Including, um, information from other DPCs. And so building that group, it went from three people to now it has like 700 people in it, and it's a collection of DPC doctors.
Patients, community members is really where I networked my practice. I'm talking to other people that were interested in wellness, so that could be yoga instructor, psychologists, nutrition, exercise meditation. All the different things that I wanna include in my patient care plans. So really Facebook is what I credit for building my patient population.
That's where I was able to, um, introduce my ideas for what's the name of my clinic. I literally put out surveys, like, what color do you want your medicine bottles to be? I can order them blue or green or Amber and people would respond. You know, I'd say, what, what kind of charity you wanna sit in when you come to the doctor's office?
And I would give them, you know, choices, B, C and D. So while I was building my clinic, I was posting, you know, we put in the studs, we painted the walls, I recycled two by fours to make my molding, you know, whatever it might be. So patients really felt like they were a part of the clinic growing and really were picking out what they, how they wanted their clinic to be.
So Facebook is definitely a huge part of building a sense of community. And it is where I express myself in my interest. I also allow patients to share to the page, if they're hosting a, a new moon meditation. Event. Well, they can share it on there and invite other people to come or yoga classes or whatever it might be.
I do try to post a few times a week and that's something that some traditional doctors will say, I don't have time to keep up with the social media page. And I even have had people say, well, could you hire that out? Well, I could not because it's really a personal reflection of where I am each day. If something comes into my social media feed that I think my patients would benefit from, I share it.
If I come across something or sometimes I need my own motivation and I'll literally do like a Google image search and my tagline, I love it's arms wide open. So I'll look for some image that has that I look for, you know, whatever's kind of going on in the community, in the news, in my office and have it reflect that on my, um, social media.
So I don't have a formal strategy other than. If something, if I feel inspired to share something, then I do. And I know most doctors recognize this, that sometimes if you see something in a week, you might see two or three additional similar cases in the same week and you'll think, oh, I need to be addressing this.
You know, whether it's video games too much for a teenager or, you know, not staying hydrated. I don't know what other examples would be, but I love Facebook. So I do think it's important to build a practice, to do it. I, when people are interested in DPC and they then tell me, I don't really know how to work Instagram or Facebook, I'll say, well, the first step to becoming a DPC doctor is master social media.
It's kind of like owning a business in the 1950s and deciding you're not gonna have a telephone are not gonna be listed in the telephone book. If you're not gonna be on social media, the world's not gonna know you exist. And so I do think my building up of that community over two years before I open, allowed me to open up with an established patient base.
Nice. And I wanna ask here, is this all from your Facebook business page? Well, that's a great question, cuz so many people, um, get confused about you need an individual page as a person. Sometimes people make an individual page as a physician and then there are business pages and groups. And me personally, I started with the group and that was my brainstorming.
That's kind of my personal, um, Pinterest board or you know, inspiration board. And then I have a Facebook business page. That's much more medically focused and resource focused. Like this is my phone number. This is my address. And this is where you can get a COVID vaccine or this is where you can get a free mammogram.
So I'm posting onto the business page. Events that are hosted by our department of public health or, um, hurricane warnings, weather warnings, the office is gonna be closed. It's, it's more streamlined and simple where the Facebook group is really where I'm trying to build a sense of community. It's where I'm inviting people to share posts to comment.
It's where I hosted when I was trying to grow my practice, some, some, um, little contest, you know, share this post with three people or tag three people, and you'll be entered into winning a free essential oil, something like this to try to get more people into the group. So it's really more about, I guess, marketing mm-hmm and branding and people getting to know who you are and the type of care you offer is the Facebook group community.
And the business page is more the, like, kind of like the telephone book listing, just like how to reach us and have. To stay safe. Gotcha. Thank you so much for that clarification, because I'm sure that there are people like, oh, I didn't realize just like when I asked the question, I didn't realize that you could, you could have both, so that's great.
And now I wanna, I wanna jump there from the comment that you made about arms wide open, that you love, that, that, that saying your logo. Uh, I was geeking out over it because similar to my logo, I have space. I have, you know, quote unquote dead space at the bottom. You have this space at the top that you've used for things like call to actions.
So first of all, can you tell us about how you came to have your logo and how did you decide to use it as you know, a, a, a space to have call to actions within your brand? Right. I love my logo. And so it originally came about when. When I decided on the name of my clinic, the very first dream, even in my, um, position statement or your personal statement from medical school, I wrote at the end that I was gonna have a clinic called mind, body spirit, ND.
And that was my original Facebook group name was mind, body, spirit, ND wellness cooperative. Well, that is a lot of words and too long. And so when I started working with a business mentor, they were like, you need a different name. And so I came up with relief and this name comes from a quote from someone that I like to follow.
And it's that relief is the cure all medicine is looking for. And so I had painted that on a canvas for a, um, medical school art show. And it's just something that I've always loved and that painting hangs in my exam room now. But so relief is the cure that all medicine is looking for. So when I decided relief, direct primary care was my clinic's name.
I needed a logo and I kept thinking what symbolizes relief. And I literally was Google image searching. I was going through my own photographs and trying to decide what symbolism I wanted to use. I came across a picture of myself. I think my husband took it or a friend where I'm standing on the shore of I'm in Savannah.
So out at Tivy beach and I have my arms wide open and my head's kind of flung back, um, looking to the sky, just like in a sense of gratitude and connection, all the things that I love. And so I took that picture saying, I love this picture. I think it reflects the meaning that I want my clinic to have.
And then talking with I, again, I use Facebook to put a shout out to say who in my Facebook community knows how to do graphic design, cuz I don't and a girl that I had not seen for a long time, but had been a friend in high school in college, contacted me and said, I am a nurse, but I can do some graphic design.
So I shared with her this picture. And I said, how can we turn this into a logo? And I literally just on, I was actually on a peds rotation working overnight at the hospital and I was on my phone and I was doodling with my finger on the edit, um, of the photograph, trying to simplify it into a logo. It looked like a scribbled mess, but I sent it to my friend and she turned it into my logo.
Circles are just something I. Coming full circle. And I wanted it to be a circle. The arms wide open are, is on there. And you could also see it as maybe a tree branches, you know, kind of holding out or being stretched out are also arms wide open to accepting of everyone. So that's the first development of my logo.
Now how to use the dead space as called action. It was just my natural instinct to, um, use a simple edit on my phone. So when you edit a photo, you can add text. And I thought, where is it gonna go? And so it goes in their middle. And the first thing I used was just to let people know, clinic opening in July enrollment opens in March, sign up before it's too late.
No, we're 50% full. If you want a space, come get it. You know? And so I, and then when I needed a new staff member, I used it as job opportunity, you know, share the word, spread the word. So it is, it's been nice. It's not part of a genius business strategy. It wasn't some sort of, you know, something that I knew to do.
It's just something that kind of happened natural. I love that. I, I absolutely love that because you know, the, when, when you talk about branding, when you talk about marketing and your call to actions are, you know, Are already on your existing brand. I mean, how, how much more can you compound? Like, this is my logo.
If you see it, this is what it means because they already, like, your community is familiar with your logo. And on that note, you put your amazing logo on things like stickers. So can you tell us about, you know, why did you put it on a sticker and how are those stickers being used in your community? Well, I ha I'm the bomb of teenage girls.
well now 17 and 20, and I know they love to buy stickers. And so if we're on vacation, they want a sticker. If we go to a record store, they want a sticker and they're putting those stickers on their laptop, they're putting them on their water bottle, my older daughter's putting them on her car. So I just knew that stickers were something that my children looked for when they go into a store or would they go somewhere?
So sticker's fun. Um, so I was seeing it as something like I would have like a business, um, card, cuz people don't use business cards anymore. They. To those away, but a sticker, they're more likely to say, where can I put that? Maybe they even just put it on their trash can, but that's okay too. So the sticker was just something fun to do.
And I do have patients ask for them. I did run out and have to get more. And so I hand them out and old and young people alike want the sticker and I've had people ask me, is it okay if I put this on my car? I'm like, sure. You know, if you want to, I, I have it on my car. And then I, I told, shared with you before.
And, uh, maybe we'll share the picture that I was at a hot pepper eating contest here in Savannah and outside in the parking lot. There was a moped and it had my sticker on it. Well, I was just thrilled to be because I thought, oh my gosh, you. Someone has my sticker. And then another time my daughter comes home from school and says, mom, I saw your sticker today on a saxophone case.
So some, one of my patients had picked up a sticker, put it on their saxophone case. And now it's in the hallway at school. And I think this helps build a sense of community. You know, you're driving around town, you see a relief DPC sticker. And you're like, ah, they're part of my group. They're part of my club.
They're part of my community. Or even another student at school may see that DPC sticker and think that's where I go to the doctor, you know? And it just gives that sense of community. So it's been something fun. I do have my laptop cover is covered with my stickers over and over and over again. And so that's something that my patients see every day.
So, um, yeah, stickers are just. Amazing. You are clearly part of this DPC community and you're helping grow it. I wanted to ask about your involvement in helping grow the community in a different light. Something that's very unique to your practice and to you as a physician, is that you are doing speaking to the healthcare underwriting community, uh, and to those professionals.
And so, you know, when it comes to growing this movement, we've talked about medical students. We've talked about, you know, how to affect the, the community that has yet to graduate residency, but for you, how does speaking to the healthcare underwriting community help grow your practice, the DPC community, and, and, and expose other DPC physicians to, you know, how they can make a difference as.
This is how I have brought lots of patients into my practice and even other DPCs benefit from it. When I originally went to that DPC summit, allied healthcare was there in talking about how they were going to use a specific insurance product to wrap around a DPC, um, office. So in Georgia, we have a DPC, um, group that met in Macon a few years ago, and we, the allied health people came and that's how I first got connected.
And I was asked to speak at a local meeting that's called like the coastal empire healthcare underwriters association. So basically my job is to go into that meeting and explain what is direct primary care. And I'm speaking to a room full of insurance executives. These are people that are writing insurance policies for small groups, um, small businesses for families, for individuals and even large corporations.
So explaining to them what a DPC is, the basics. Wholesale labs, wholesale pharmaceuticals, you know, cash, price imaging. They're being able to start wrapping their mind around how do I work with this? Mm-hmm because a lot of times, me personally, too, I feel like I'm the enemy, the, or insurance is the enemy.
And I have to realize I do not discourage patients from having insurance. I want my patient to have insurance. If they need a specialist, a surgeon, a hospital stay, I want them to have access to that. And so us working together with the insurance underwriters, the healthcare underwriters is really important.
Every time I've given a talk, I I've done every year. Maybe COVID cut out a year, I've done it on the local level and the state level. I always come away with patients. These are people that sell health insurance, and they know that. A game. And so they wanna come to my office and take benefit of how direct primary care works.
But then those people, everyone that they work with, all of their clients are looking for healthcare. So when they're selling a product are convincing a small business to go with a high deductible plan, they can, or they say, you know what, you know, your self-insured company. And this gets into the complexities of, um, the different types of insurance products, but a company that's self-insured needs to save money on every product, every medication.
And so for an insurance provider, to understand that they can do that through DPC mm-hmm , they're funneling people to my office will, when I spoke this last year, several questions came from the audience. We hear you, Erica, this is an awesome thing. We love it, but you're full. So if we sell this idea to all of our clients, where do these patients go?
And so this year I brought two new DPC, um, doctors with me and kind of told them, I'm passing the torch along. You know, my practice is full, yours is growing. And so you need to make these connections. So it's definitely a way to network, um, to grow your practice and to better understand how insurance not having it or having it impacts your patients.
I do in turn, when I have patients ask me mm-hmm, about insurance. I clearly tell them I am not an insurance specialist. I don't know all the answers, but I can direct them to some of those underwriters. Sure. And so it is a mutual help that they're directing patients to me and I'm directing clients to.
And how did you get started as this, this person speaking to the health insurance underwriting community? I think it's from meeting to allied health professionals at the Georgia DPC meeting. And then I'm a talker. I love to talk. I think they invited me some questions and I got up to the podium and they're like, do you have a PowerPoint?
I'm like, no, I just talk. You know, I just, I don't know. I, I love to present, I was a school teacher for 11 years before medical school, so I am kind of a natural lecturer or teacher. And so I think I just got up and started talking and then every year they email me again and say, can you, we put you on our schedule.
And of course I, I enjoy it. So I do it amazing. And you know, I just like, there's nobody who understands DPC like a DPC position. And so for you to share. With your enthusiasm, with your love, for speaking and sharing about what you're doing, you know, it's very different than a PowerPoint. So amen too. The fact that you love to talk, I love it.
now, in terms of your practice being full on your website, you have it clearly listed for people who are looking to join DPC. You have your verbiage is registration currently on hold. So I wanna ask over time, how has your growth been? And at what point did you decide this is my, this is my number right now.
And to hold your registration. Well, I do know that I am in a fortunate position and I do appreciate all of my patients completely. Cause I know there are other DPC docs out there that are not growing at the pace that they want to. And it's, cause it's not a simple formula. Mm-hmm this is a business that is individual as individual as who you are and how you connect to your patients.
So for me again, that Facebook group, that's where the bulk of my patients came from. The day I opened, which was two weeks after my residency graduation, I had 120 patients already enrolled. So my job at that point was just to get them scheduled. So I was scheduling every hour on the hour, you know, for weeks out to get those people, um, in the door and established one of the tips that I would share with anyone considering DPC, especially those like me that are practicing in a community where they're not from.
I'm not a local mm-hmm . So my staff, my one person I opened my practice with was a local. So she had a lifetime of connections. She had children that had connections. She had family that had connections. She'd worked other places and had connections. And that really helped. Bring in patients into my office.
So some people say I don't have the money to pay staff. Well, I didn't either. I literally was working from a line of credit to pay her, but the value that she brought to my practice was well worth it. Not only bringing in those patients that she, she would say, oh, I ran into someone this weekend on Broughton street.
And they asked me where I was working. And I had to explain to them when I told them I was at relief DPC, they didn't even know what that was. So she's spreading the DPC message all around town. When she's just talking about where she works. And on Facebook, she puts, I work at relief, direct primary care.
So people are like, what is that? So I think that is a huge benefit. So my growth from day one, um, I actually went back and looked at my Atlas curve today. Um, You know, better remember, but I was growing by about 20 to 30 patients per month. Mm-hmm and then in November of 2019, I was feeling busy, too busy.
And I had that point about 550 patients. And so I decided no more. I actually had come to a place where I was thinking I'm turning into that doctor. That's too busy to take the time to work with their patients. That's not what I, why I did this. And at five 50 I could cover all of my expenses. I was comfortable with the money that I was bringing home to my family.
And I said, we're gonna put a hold. And I allowed one new patient appointment a week. So we started a wait list. Well, then it became a little bit ridiculous. I had like 50 then a hundred people on the wait list. And so I would start telling people I'm not adding you to the FA to the wait list because I wasn't having enough people leave my practice to need to fill it in.
Sure. Um, so then I started saying, I will only take in new patients that are either employees of the businesses that I care for, or family members like a husband, a brother, a son of a current member. So I did that from November, 2019 through the pandemic. It was really difficult because when a patient called and said they have no access to care.
Yeah. And they're scared we wanna help 'em. So I did let my number grow to about 6 77. That's my highest number. And I was, you know, Those people that were scared and needed care, I wanna provide it, you know? Yeah. So then I had to put a very hard freeze on new members, um, during our Delta spike, that was last July through October, I literally was working 18 to 20 hours a day.
I was having over a hundred text messages a day. I was having to tell my patients do not text me. Thank you. Cause if you text, text me, thank you. That's another 60 texts I have to read per day, you know? And so I, and I told my employees, I mean, my employers, the small businesses I care for, you cannot add any new employees because I'm at my breaking point.
I had originally thought that when employers. Let someone go that they would leave my practice. Mm-hmm , but that did not happen. They would leave their employer. And I would say your employer's no longer gonna pay your membership. Do you want me to archive your account or do you wanna stay a patient? They wanted to stay a patient, so I didn't even have space for new employees, but I did that freeze last fall.
And then as things calm down in the new year, I have, um, Been in a, kind of a flux where it becomes a timing issue. If someone contacts my office and someone's just archived or left my practice, I might have a space and I might not, this is also a way that I've been able to support the other DPCs in my community.
So my nurse knows when someone calls and says, I wanna enroll. She'll say, well, we're actually not taking new patients right now, but there are several other DPC docs in the area and we give out their contact information. So that happened for me when I opened other DPCs in the community were feeding people to me.
So now I'm feeding people to the other practices and hopefully this is just a catalyst that will keep moving DPC forward in Savannah. I do think we're a unique community. We're I think we're at seven DPCs and we're a small town. Savannah's a big tourist, um, destination, but it's actually a really small town.
And so I think it's pretty phenomenal that we're having that much DPC interest. Definitely. And with Savannah being a, a tourist town, do you see other, DPCs taking one off visits for vacationers? I have not been someone that did that, but what I do offer is if you have family in town, like say visiting for Thanksgiving or something, and they need care, I will help.
So I've had patients call me and say, you know, my mom's here visiting. She fell and scraped her hand. Can you come in? Or can she come in and let you look at the wound, things like that I've even done. You know, my dad's in town and he needs his eye drop. Well, I I'll send a refill to the CVS. You know, he forgot to pack his eye drop or something.
So I will do that, but I try not to do the one visit, even though there were in the early days of my practice, we, there were people that definitely came in for a science infection and never came back. Um, which I don't really love because the whole reason I'm doing this is to have those relationships.
Yeah. And so it doesn't really work for me to see someone one time and never again. So. There are practices in Savannah that I think are designed or have a payment schedule set up to do one time visits, but it's not been a part of my. Gotcha. And in terms of, you talked about your staff, you talked about your nurse as well as that you had a loan out to pay for your nurse.
So I wanna ask first there financially, how did you plan in terms of opening your DPC? Because you opened two weeks after residency. When I knew I wanted to do DPC, I didn't have any money. And on the DPC docs page, people are like, oh, I've been saving up for my urgent care job or I've been stashing away.
Or I sold a home or I sold a car. I'm like, okay, I don't have any of those things. I have a residency salary. And when I'm done with residency, I still need to make a salary cuz I have a mortgage and children in private school. And so what I did. as advice from the DPC summit was to get a business mentor.
And that is from an organization called score, which have chapters all across the country. And I don't know what SC stands for, but O R E is organization of retired executives. So it's free. I signed up, I met with my person and he first told me, you know, what you get is what you pay for. And I was like, but I'm not paying for anything.
He was like, exactly. You know, but he's who helped guide me through some of the business decisions and my funding. So I initially applied for a small business loan through this small business administration. Mm-hmm and I was approved for that. My business mentor was shocked because of my medical student loan debt and my credit card debt.
At the time that I had lived on during medical school, he was shocked, but I did have good enough credit to get the loan in the finalization of that loan. It wasn't meshing with me because I'm a big thrift store person in a Facebook marketplace person. I don't wanna go buy all new furniture. I want to ask for donation like the desk behind me, my, um, residency advisor gave it to me.
Um, so I, that's the sort of things that I look for. So the SBA loan was not gonna work for me. Like most things in my life happen as they're supposed to. And that's part of that alignment assignment. I really focus on like being in alignment with what the universe wants for you and following your path.
And I kept saying the whole time, someone's gonna believe in me. and believe in direct primary care enough that they're just gonna give me the money to start my practice. And some people, a lot of my co-residents were like, you are such a dreamer. Like this is never gonna happen. It's never gonna work out, but I could, someone will do this.
Someone's gonna believe in me enough. It'll come about. And it did. I had an angel, um, investor that just came, um, to know me and to know the DPC model and offered me a line of credit. And so I did take that line of credit. They originally offered me $150,000 as a line of credit that I would take in small installments as I needed it in exchange, they would be looking over all of my banking account, my, my, my business account.
So they ended up starting my account with $15,000. And I used that to, um, buy equipment and furniture and supplies. And I was using it to pay me a residency salary, not a physician salary, and to pay my staff. At the time I opened, I had a medical assistant. So then as the months went on, that person was overseeing my banking and was seeing how much was coming in.
And he would deposit more money into the account as I needed it. He ended up giving me a total of $40,000. And by the, that was July till December in December. I, I met the break point where I actually didn't need any more of his money, but I couldn't afford to pay him back yet either. And so at some point he told me, okay, I'm looking over all of your books.
You can start affording to pay me back. And I started making those monthly payments a few months later. He was like, now you can afford to pay me more per month and then more. And then to finally that was paid off. So that is an opportunity. Don't deny yourself the dream of DPC, just because you don't have the money, it can happen.
And then honestly, to know that $40,000 may be enough. It. A convenience that I came straight out of residency. And the fact that I was not used to a large income, so my mortgage, my car payment, whatever was not, you know, a physician level of those things. It was a resident level of those things. And so that probably helped.
And so anyone thinking about it do contact score, that would be one of the resources that we could link here. And then also don't give up on your dream. And like I said, so many people are obstacle builders and I'm kind of like an opportunity seer, um, that it will all come to be as it's meant to be. I love that.
And yes, score.org again, is that, is that resource. It will be, uh, also attached to Dr. Young's blog, um, at my DBC story.com, but score is service core of retired executives. And so they have, they have communities or they have chapters all over the nation and say, for example, you wanna attend a, a course.
Like my example was I was, I was a breastfeeding mom and I could not make it to courses during the day. I actually found the score chapter in, in Delaware that was offering courses at seven o'clock in the morning, Pacific time. And so I attended their sessions virtually, but they have a catalog of resources that you can watch, you know, on your own time, they talk about the business canvas, the business plan.
They, they are people who are retired executives who do have. You know, years and decades, in some cases of, of, of knowledge with marketing, with business strategy. And if there's somebody who you are connected with is who is your mentor, and they don't know, um, necessarily how to answer your question. They have the whole score.org community to reach out to.
So, you know, it, it is such a great resource and it's completely free because it's sponsored by the small business administration. Wonderful. It really helped me out love that. Thank you so much for sharing about financially, how you supported your DBC. But now I wanna ask about your nurse because Jane bra is your, is your nurse and she's not only an RN, she's your clinical coordinator, but she's also got a marketing background, a nursing degree, and she's a certified yoga instructor.
And like you've already said, she's the walking billboard for your practice. How did you find Jane? And in terms of her being a clinical coordinator, how is her role working for your patients on the day to day. Well, I cannot say enough about Jane. I'm so thankful for having her, but I would, um, be wrong to not point out that when I started, I had a medical assistant and she started the practice with me and really did so much for my practice and helped me kind of work through the day to day, even like, what do I need to have in my cabinets?
And she had worked in a medical office for many years. And so she knew a lot about like how to do a referral. I didn't know how to do a referral other than clicking a button on a cooler referral, which is not how it's done in the DVC world. So my first medical assistant was with me for three years and she really did a lot to help support my practice and was the talking billboard around town.
So when she decided that she needed to resign, I. Punched in the stomach and felt like, how am I gonna survive? And again, I thought the universe will take care of this and my patient community will take care of this. So the first thing I did was email out to all of my patients and explain that the medical assistant will be moving on in her life and career.
And I'm looking for someone, um, to work at relief, direct primary care. Well, when I started typing out the to-do list or the task list that this person needed, it was overwhelming because I needed that person to be a referral specialist. Mm-hmm, a greeter, a. Scheduler a vital science taker, a, um, medicine dispensary, assistant, um, a phlebotomist and a lab, um, coordinator.
I mean so many things. And so I thought it's gonna be a challenge, but we'll find the right person. And Jane came to me through a patient. She was currently at the time working at our local hospital on the COVID floor. And so she was griping to one of her friends that she was surfing with saying, um, you know, just how miserable, um, She was in that she had, she originally went to college and studied marketing in Spanish and she had worked in, um, restaurants.
Her families worked in restaurants, and this is actually something that I really value in her because she knows about customer service. She knows about multitasking. She knows about the fast and furious. Like, you know, we might have these times in my office where even though we're chill and safe and slow, there are times that 10 people need 10 different things.
So that experience, she had that first and then decided to go to nursing school. So kind of like me, I was a teacher and then decided to be a doctor. We both kind of came into these careers later in life. and she was really disappointed in what nursing really looked like in the real world. She was like, this is not what I dreamed.
I dreamed that I would be making a difference for patients. Mm-hmm I dreamed that I'd be educating patients on their medications and on lifestyle, on exercise, on nutrition. And so I'm so fortunate that I was able to find her. And I think she's fortunate that she found me and that we've really enjoyed working together.
June 1st, this month of pride was her one year anniversary. And so we're super excited for having her here. She's excellent. And I do ask of her a lot, like I said, all those roles of phlebotomist and so clinical coordinator was really a terminology that I developed for my first employee at her, my first employee being a medical, a.
She actually at her previous job had been called nurse. And I saw this in my residency clinic where medical assistants were referred to as a nurse. Yeah. And it kind of bothered me because that person did not have a nursing degree. And it's similar to other people like calling themselves a doctor where they might not have a do or an ND.
And so that staff member did not wanna be called medical assistant. And that was fine. And cause I said, you're actually much more than that in my office. And so we came up with the terminology clinical coordinator because she literally is the one person that does it all from taking out the trash to scheduling, you know, my, my whole schedule.
So that kind of just passed on to Jane when she was hired that she would be the clinical coordinator and it kind of helped her understand that she's not just the nurse giving shots and checking vitals, but she actually is. The do it all. Now, when I say she does it all, I also do it all. So if the trash is taken out, I'll take it out.
I do the clinic laundry. I clean the toilet every day, you know, those sort of components. So it's not that I respect. I expect her to do everything. If I'm free, I answer the phone. If she's free, she answers the phone. So it really is nice. And I do wanna say, I know I said it before, having a staff member, I think is what allowed my office to accelerate at the speed that it did, because while I'm in seeing patients all day, she's answering the calls.
And if those calls go to voicemail, I'd say the large percentage of them just hang up. And that could have been a potential patient. Sure. But having staff answering the phone and selling DPC to them, explaining DPC to whoever's on the other line, really allowed for my patient growth to happen. Mm. And for patients to be satisfied when they text me or email me during the day, I'm seeing patients, but Jane is responding.
Mm-hmm to those texts and to those emails, even if she's responding with Erica's in with a patient, I go by Erica in my office. If, if she's seeing a patient, I will get this message to her and she'll get back to you. But as an RN, she's able to triage a lot and she's come to know kind of my go tos. Like Garling warm, salt, water, and hydrating and resting and whatever.
So if someone calls with something she knows, come on in, give us a urine sample, we'll start you on some antibiotics. We'll send the culture. She knows the whole kind of protocol. She's able to, she makes my whole life better. So I'm very thankful for having her and I hope I can do everything to keep her awesome.
Now on your website, you had the, the verbiage about that. She is a certified yoga instructor. How does that play into the fact that you are an integrative family medicine physician? Well, I love that you ask about that because integrated family medicine is what really brought me into family medicine. And it's actually the only thing that brought me to Savannah.
So integrative medicine to me just means that you are open to a wide base of healing modalities. It doesn't mean that you're an expert in those healing modalities, cuz I'm not an acupuncturist. I'm not an herbalist, I'm not a homeopath, but I am open to all those healing modalities. So I do think having that on my name and on my Facebook and on my logo has drawn patients to me.
A lot of patients will say, I'm looking for someone that's going to honor my focus on mindfulness. As a way to treat my symptoms. I'm looking for someone that's not going to laugh at my use of essential oils, but actually be supportive of it or seeing how we can weave essential oils into Western medicine.
So the word integrative to me, this means that complimentary healing modalities are not just tolerated, but accepted or even promoted. So in my practice, those things would be things like acupuncture, massage, Reiki, or energy work, grounding time in nature, stress reduction, sleep quality. But I really have a, a wide base.
If someone comes to me and says, I wanna try this, then I'm probably gonna be open to it. An example, I usually give people is a lady came in. She had a recurrent basal cell on her, um, face. And she said, I really wanna try to use, um, Franken sent. And I said fine. That's great. Well, I told her for two weeks, apply the frankincense every day.
And at two weeks we will get you to a dermatologist. And if they feel like it's cleared, great. If it's not cleared, they will be able to biopsy and move the process on. Well, she was thrilled that I was honoring her use of central oils. I would have loved to see that the lesion was gone and I would not have argued with the healing of that lesion.
I would've said yes, you did it. And it went away in her particular case. She did use it. It did not go away, but honestly it took me two weeks to get her an appointment with the dermatologist. Anyway. So in those two weeks we weren't delaying her care. Yeah. We were honoring her. Wishes and feelings about what was going to heal her, but we also were able to still get her the care that she needed.
So I use that as one example, another, um, thing would be honoring patients that really feel like their yoga practice is a part of their care. And so when I saw that Jane was a yoga instructor and she actually had gone through yoga teacher training with my previous ma wow. my previous ma was actually able to tell me.
A little bit about Jane. And later I found out Jane had asked her about me, um, to see if we would be a good match. And, and so that is also another way that I built my community. Mm-hmm and the fact that I took my rack cards to every yoga studio in the area, every coffee shop in the area, every whole foods, every supplement store or.
Or a health food store. And so that really brought in the patients that are already seeking those healing modalities. Now they've just found a physician that supports that. That doesn't mean that all of my patients are like that. I do have the patient that just wants their blood pressure medicine and their labs.
And they'll see me in six months, but I do have those other patients that will say they have an injury. And before they do the physical therapy or before they get the MRI, they wanna see if they can do it on their own. And Jane can step right in and say, these are the yoga poses that could help strengthen your shoulder.
Or these are the, the modifications you need to make to your yoga practice, to relieve the stress on your wrist. Those sort of things have been very valuable and the yoga community, I take care. I used to take care of a whole yoga studio. COVID shut that one down, but I do take care of a lot of yoga, um, instructors and people that practice yoga.
So, um, that kind of brings in the integratedness. And another component, um, of that integratedness is I'm not a specialist in any of those forms, but my residency program allowed me to get an integrative medicine certificate. And so that's something that I was actually looking for when I was looking for a residency position with that certificate.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you were able to get that? And did you have to go in person to some of that training to get that certificate or was it all remote? That's a great question. The first part of that is that it is a 200 hour online course, and it is not a certification. As far as a board certification.
It is a certificate as if you finished a course for my particular residency program. When I came to it, it was a required component of residency training. And so that means as part of our weekly didactics, we did have in person lectures, mm-hmm about the different healing modalities. We had someone come in and talk about acupuncture and what it takes to become an acupuncturist and how it's used.
We had an attending on staff that practice. Acupunctured only on the ear. He had, um, military training for that. So he was able to share that knowledge with us. We had people come in that were herbalist. A lady came in, that was a BMA practitioner, which is an energy exchange. You know, health, food store owner came in and talked about organic food versus not.
And so lots of different components that were in person and online. I think you, you had asked me earlier about the value of doing a program like that. I do think it's been valuable for me to have that word on my logo and brand and name, um, because I think people search it and are looking for, for it.
And they might use it more modern terminology of functional medicine or root causes or all those there's all those different brands or those fields of medicine. But it does bring patients to me in my particular situation, I did not have to pay for the training cuz it was a part of my residency training.
And so I can't really speak to, um, You know, the actual dollar amount that would be worth the cost of doing it. But I do think my patients like it, mm-hmm I have like, I I've gone through Reiki, um, training, just level one, but I have my certificate in my office right along with my other certifications and patients frequently will ask me about it and like, oh, if I'll say, you know, I'm not a Reiki master, but I'm open to Reiki and I've done the beginning parts of the training and it lets them know, okay.
So if I tell her, I wanna use energy healing as a part of my care plan, she's not gonna laugh at it. Mm-hmm and she's not gonna make me feel bad. And so many of my patients will say, they've left practices, not DPCs, but traditional practices, because the physician tells them they're wasting their time with meditation, or they're wasting their time with a supplement or something like that.
And so they just feel like they're being shut down and not heard. Gotcha. And you know, something that I wanna highlight is on your website as well. You have a tab that's specifically entitled wellness community. So not only is it in your brand and in like your Facebook community, but it's also plan's day on your website in that you are listing other people in your community who support that type of care as well.
So I wanna ask there, how did you pick the people that you included on your website? That's a great question. And this really came from my beginnings of networking in Savannah. So when I came to Savannah, I starts telling everyone I can. Come in contact with whether it's a nurse or a patient at the hospital, or even someone at the grocery store, what I wanna do.
And so people started joining that Facebook group, um, from that Facebook group, um, one particular lady is a, she's a, um, psychia or a psychologist here in Savannah. Her husband's a neurosurgeon. She was very interested in what I had to say. And she volunteered to. Some networking dinners. Mm-hmm so about once a month for about four months, she hosted an event at her home and she just was inviting parents from her daughter's school.
Other psychologists that she worked with, her neighbors, she knew some people in the community, a cardiologist that was a yoga teacher training, a neurologist that was doing the functional medicine program. Um, and she invited them to these dinners. And so at these dinners we would socialize. But then we also, I would give my kind of spiel about what direct primary care is and what I wanted to bring to Savannah.
So most of the people that are on that wellness community came from those dinners and, and really just through networking, people are like, oh, you've gotta meet this massage therapist. She's not just a massage therapist. She's a heal. A lot like you or something, you know? And so I would meet those people and it's definitely an exchange where I send clients.
Like if I'm going to recommend someone do mild FAIA release, I do not offer that myself so that I have those people, my wellness community, that I do send my patients to same thing for massage or acupuncture, energy work, I, or even therapy, different forms of therapy I would send people to. So they also send me.
I send them patients and they send me in the very beginning, I ask those people in order to be listed on my website to offer my patients something special. Mm-hmm whether that was a quarterly workshop or a 10% discount or a free consultation. I haven't held anyone to that. And I haven't kept that wellness community completely up to, um, date mainly because I'm not actively recruiting new patients.
Mm-hmm sure. And, and, and throughout this whole interview, you've really highlighted how you've developed your practice around your community, and even to the, to the fact that you practice in a business space, that is a community in and of itself. So you are in the cottages of Cedar hammock. Again on your website, you mentioned it's a comfortable, calm and casual space.
So just embodying your community even to the point of practicing in your community, where there, where you're even surrounded by pediatrics art, an art studio, a salon, a florist. How did you come to pick this space? And was this, this first space that you opened? I love this question because it is one of those examples of how my life works out.
This is called pronoia where you feel like the universe is conspiring for you instead. and it definitely happens in my life. So kind of like my angel investor, once we knew we were moving to Savannah, we came for spring break. You know, you have match day in March. And then we had my, I, my husband's a school teacher.
So we came for spring break to Savannah to scope out where we were gonna live and also where he was gonna work. And we found an section of Savannah that's called the islands. It sounds luxurious or Caribbean, but it's actually just like a little set of islands that are separated by little creeks, but it is a very small town inside of a small town.
My husband got hired at a school on the islands. He's also the director of sailing at the yacht club. That's on the island and we decided to live on the. So then when I, um, was opening my practice, I just knew I was gonna practice on the islands. So we literally would spend our Saturdays driving around every nook and cranny of the islands, which is not huge.
And looking for spaces. This was back before. Of course, when I was just in the developmental stages of DPC and I had that Facebook group that was like my virtual vision board. So we came into these cottages and I took a picture of one of the buildings, not the one that I'm in, but the one across the parking lot.
And I posted it on my Facebook group and said, this is what I'm looking for. This is the feel I want. Well, then I get a, through how the world works. I'm on a rotation in ear, nose and throat surgery. I've explained to the guy, the Dr. Zer, um, that I really, what I wanted to do. He was the first specialist.
That did not poo poo on my dream. Wow. He was like, I believe in you, this is awesome. You can do it. And I had mentioned to him, not this building, but another building that I was interested in. So one morning in his office, he starts screaming. I'm assuming there's some like radical nose bleed or something down there that I need to run to.
But he's like that building you're thinking about this is the guy that developed that building and it was like this 75 year old gentleman that was a real estate develop. He was like, you need to talk to this guy and he kind of gave this guy, like Erica wants to do this. And I believe in her and everything.
So that guy just kind of took me under his wing. His name was Elliot and he became like my real estate advisor. And he had a long career was retired, but a long career in real estate development. So he started taking me around town. He, he arranged me to work or meet with an architect. So I could start thinking about how much space I needed for, I have one exam room in my space and I have 900 square feet, but we, he started taking me around town and he kept taking me to doctor's offices that were concrete and square.
Yeah. Our urgent care facilities that are like in a strip mall. And I was like, this is not what I'm looking for. I want something that feels home. And I even said, I'm, I would consider a home as long as it had commercial, you know, zoning, but I wanted it to feel like a home. I wanted it not to be hustle and bustle, like a huge parking lot.
I wanted it to have a little bit of privacy and security. Like not everyone knows you're going to doctors or what you're in there for. So anyways, one day Elliot asked me to meet him at the library on the islands. So I did, and he says, I have a building that I wanna show you. He drives me to the cottages.
And I said, this is my space. He's like, you've not even been in there or met the landlord. I said, no, but I posted this building on my vision board. And so I know that's why he brought me here. And this is my space. Well, to make it even more perfect. He introduces me to the landlord, a lady named Gladys wise.
This could make me emotional. I'm gonna have to gather myself for just a second. I'm me Gladys. And she tells me that she had this property from years ago and she ran a plant nursery on it. Well, she became a single parent of some of her children and needed to be able to support them. And all she had was this property.
So she needed to build buildings on it so she could rent them out to support her family. And she did that and she's a go getter. She became her own contractor and did built these eight buildings, you know, supervising all the workers and doing it pretty much herself. That was like 20 years ago. During those 20 years, she said she had to rent it out to basically whoever wanted to rent it, even though her dream was a wellness community.
Wow. You're just like, you're freaking kidding me because I actually have a Facebook group called. Wellness community, you know? And so we were just a perfect match. I kind of say, I'm the daughter she never had. My granddaughters are her. My daughters are kind of like her granddaughters and our deepest soul connection is that we're both thrift store addicts.
And so we would run into each other at the thrift store all the time and she'd be like, Hey, you know, did you remember me? And you know, so anyways, she came to my graduation from residency as one of my honored guests, her husband and I, and my husband and her all work side by side, building out my space.
She did not charge me anything for my space until may before I opened. Cause she said sometimes the dream is more important than the dollar. So she's a special lady. She helps me be able to do what I love and she has this beautiful space. So since I've been here, we've added an acupuncturist down the way, and the pediatrician has left traditional practice and opened a DPC lifestyle medicine practice just right across the parking lot from me.
And we have a massage therapist right above me. So we're, we. Filling out her dream as she allows us to build our dream. And so my space is, is really as part of that vision boarding, trusting the universe to provide everything that you need. It's like a strong sense of faith that everything will work out.
And that's what put me in my space, all of these cottages, they're eight of them in a little circle. They all have a front porch. They have beautiful landscaping. Gladys is a florist. And so she has her Floris space. It has a lot of beautiful greenery and everything around the property that she uses in her floral arrangements.
She even has a little water feature right outside my office window. And it's just really special. One last story I wanna share about that is there are two gazebos on, um, the campus and my nurse eats for lunch out in one of them, every. But Gladys shared with me that years ago, there was a lady sitting in one of the gazebos for a few hours and she started getting concerned.
And so she walked over to the lady and said, you know, is there anything I can do to help you? And the lady said, this was just a healing space. I needed some space again. I could get so sad. Wow. Or not even sad, but happy that lady just was drawn to this property as a healing space. And that was, you know, maybe 15 or 20 years ago before I was even thinking about doing this.
So I just know that it has a great energy and it's a good place to be amazing. And yeah, just, it it's uncanny how Gladys's wish was a wellness space. And I that's, that is absolutely uncanny that that's what the lady told her so amazing. Right. I love it. and I wanna ask, because you have all of this experience under your belt before you opened, you had your Facebook group, as you opened, you already had 120 people ready on day one, you've hired two different staff members.
Is there anything looking back that you would've done differently? And if so, why? That's a great question because hindsight's 2020, I'm sure. I definitely opened kind of naive, you know, I literally never owned a business. I was a public school teacher before, so I didn't know anything about taxes or business licenses or anything like that, but I just really had to go get it attitude, um, of there's nothing that can't be done and that if everyone else in the world figures it out, I will too.
So in my practice, if I would do something different, it probably comes down to like simple logistics. In the very beginning I was, I was determined not to have a computer in my exam room. That's something that I kept seeing patients say, my doctor, I didn't see the back of their head. They're just on the computer.
All the. In my residency, I would get in trouble. Like you didn't open the chart while you were in the patient room. Like they wanted us to log into the computer and start charting mm-hmm while we're talking to the patient. So anyway, I was going into each patient visit with a, um, little notepad handwriting, some notes.
Then at the end of the day or on Sunday, I would then type all of those notes into my software. Well, that meant I started working six days a week and I thought it went from the very beginning, only took me maybe an hour or two, but then when my days were booking out, I might spend a few hours on Sunday and that was not gonna be cool.
That's not the lifestyle that I wanted. You know, I was like, I could assign the contract for the hospital and worked this hard. You know, not that DPC is, um, easy, it's hard work, but it's a different passion work than it is, you know, doing charts. So. I don't know exactly when I decided to do this. I'd have to go back and look through my charts, but I now have a template note that is printed from Vista prints on what is on their letterhead template.
Um, And I have one for pediatrics and one for adults. And it's what I use during the visit. I write everything down, their vital signs. Jane starts by putting that on there. All of their screenings I put, when was the last time they had labs, when was their pap smear? When was their colonoscopy? We write the reason for their visit.
We do a reviews. Systems an exam. If it's warranted, we do all of my lifestyle things, the spirituality, sexuality, eating, drinking, peeing, pooping, all those kind of things. And then we write the plan at the bottom of the list. Well, then that document originally, I was just taking a picture and adding it as an attachment, which made it very challenging to facts or print or send as a referral.
So now Jane came up with scanning it as a PDF. So now it goes into the chart as a PDF and the patient takes it home. So I do not need to store it or shred it. It doesn't have their name on it or their date of birth. It just has the date of their visit has all of my contact information on it. And so they're able to take home a document that tells them this is what my blood pressure is.
This is when I'm due for my path. This is when my, these were my concerns. This is what my doctor heard me say. So when they read over it, they sometimes can clarify like, You heard me say this and you know, and it made, it clicked for me or you misheard me say this mm-hmm and then it gives a plan at the bottom that has their to-do list.
You know, find passion, find a passion project, find support, reach out to a friend, reach out to a family member, spend time with your feet on the ground for 15 minutes every day. But it also has my to-do list. Like send a referral to E N T or whatever that might be. So I wish I would've started that from day one, instead of doing all the typed out notes.
And so that was probably what I like that I'm doing now. And it probably will continue to morph into something different. I've had several different reiteration of the mm-hmm template, but I really do honor it. And I share it with medical students. Cause I'll say those six page things you're typing out or that you see at the hospital that has a bunch of coding gibberish in it.
You actually can do just a simple soap note done. Amazing. So when my clinic visits over, other than the few tasks, I might have like send a referral or research something for a patient my charting's done when the patient leaves And you know, for other physicians out there who might be really hesitant because DBC is very tech heavy, if you, if you choose it to be, but you know, if they're, if they're in that space of how do I get away from handwriting, my notes, that's definitely, you know, idea, an idea to think about.
So thank you so much for sharing that. Right. And now in closing, I wanna ask, where do you see relief, DPC going in the future? That is. A big question. I don't know. I hope to be sitting right here doing the same thing. I love what I do. This is my safe place. This is my place of refuge when I need it. I won't say that I love waking up every single day, but most days I'm very excited.
I love to interact with my patients. So I wanna continue that for as long as possible I am in my forties. So I think that this is something I'll probably do for 20 years, maybe 30 years. And how will it change? Sometimes I think would I bring in a new physician and people have even asked me like residents coming out.
They're like, can I just join you? And I'll say, well, first I don't have space for you to join my actual space. And this is kind of like my third baby. I have two daughters, but this is not that different than a child. And I think I would have to. Real consideration into letting someone join, be like a marriage, like can my child have a stepfather?
So I don't think that I will ever bring anyone in. What I would like to do instead is have other DPCs open near me, even right across the parking, across the street. Yeah. and we support them and me help guide them two or three different DPCs that have now opened, have come and spent time in my office.
And I was allowed to do that in another DPC here in Savannah family, medicine of pool. I spent a month rotation with them in my residency, learning how to do DPC. So I've offered that as, um, a rotation for residents as well. But so the future. I tell my patients that right now, their friends and family ask them what DPC, what, but in the future, I think people will ask which DPC do you belong to?
Just like you might ask which gym do you go to? And so it's more about building DPC as a whole and let relief direct primary care. Just kind of stay its little happy self and other GPCs grow up around it. Thank you so much, Dr. Young for joining us today. Well, thank you for having me. I was just thrilled to death when I first got your email and now I'm super excited about going back and listening to all the other episodes.
And I can't tell you enough how I'm so thankful for you spreading the word of direct primary care. Next week, look forward to hearing from Dr. Vicky Boria of radiance medical group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If you want to hear more pride episodes, check out the episodes aired in June of 2021. And if you haven't yet done so subscribe to the podcast today and share the episode with a physician. You may know who needs to hear about DPC.
Leave a five star review on apple podcast and on Spotify now, as well as it helps others to find all these DPC stories. Lastly, be sure to follow us on social media, and if you're wanting to continue learning more about DPC in the meantime, check out DPC news.com until next week. This is Marielle conception.
* Transcript generated by AI, so please forgive errors.