WHMI’s Founder Story
When I took a leap of faith and left my stable, lucrative, and unfulfilling job as a full time physician in a busy managed care OB/GYN practice, I knew I was called to be a healer, but practicing medicine that way was sucking my soul dry. Seeing 40 clients a day—often double booked in 15 minute slots— just wasn’t what I was called to do. At the end of every day, I felt depleted, not just because I was exhausted from working 36 hour shifts every fourth night and 72 hour call shifts every few weekends, but because I knew I had so much more to offer my clients. But I didn’t know how to navigate the restrictions of the system in order to serve in the way my heart longed to serve.
On top of all that, by the time I was 33, I was twice-divorced, I was taking seven pharmaceuticals that weren’t working for a host of chronic health conditions that plagued me, and I couldn’t remember the last time I had really laughed or felt vital. I fantasized about how “normal” people lived and dreamed of one day being happy—maybe after I retired at 65.
Then my Perfect Storm hit. I gave birth to my daughter by C-section, my dog died, my brother wound up in the ICU in full blown liver failure as a side effect from the Zithromax he was taking for a sinus infection, and my beloved father (also a physician) died from metastatic melanoma.
Six months later, when I was just starting to breathe again, my husband, who was the stay home daddy for our newborn, cut two fingers off his hand with a table saw and couldn’t care for our daughter. All hell broke loose. I wound up asking myself, “If I knew I had only three months left to live—the way my father did—would I be doing what I’m doing now?” My answer was a resounding “Hell no!” This realization changed everything.
When I asked myself the first thing I would change, I was horrified to realize the first thing I would do if I found out I was dying was to quit my job. But I couldn’t do that! I had a family to support, two mortgages, and a boatload of debt. Yet when I searched my soul, I kept coming up with the same answer. I couldn’t keep selling out my happiness or my professional integrity in exchange for the security my job provided. So I took a huge leap of faith and quit my job.
Leaving my conventional medical practice was a huge risk. We had to sell our house, liquidate our retirement account, and move to the country in order to afford to pay the medical malpractice tail I had to cough up in order to buy my freedom. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t keep selling out my health or happiness. And I just wasn’t willing to keep slogging away for the next thirty years until one day, I could finally start living.
So I leapt. I spent two years painting, writing, and living off credit cards, during what I came to call my “waiting and becoming” years. It wasn’t easy. I was terrified most of the time, and the people who loved me thought I had officially lost it. I had to protect myself with a mostly artificial bubble of supposed “fearlessness” and blind faith. But deep down, I was plagued with self-doubt, and the Gremlins of fear chattered away incessantly.
Yet, somehow, a seed of truth had taken root, and I knew I could never go back. The roots of my future had started digging into the soil, and I could only move forward, in spite of all evidence that the path I was blazing was more of a cautionary tale than an inspiration.
I almost bailed and ran back to the hospital, tail between my legs, dozens of times during this “waiting and becoming” time. I was falling deeper and deeper into debt, and the recruiters were calling incessantly, tempting me to betray my intuition and accept a hospital job in exchange for enough money to get me out of debt and pay for a comfortable lifestyle. But everything in my heart screamed, “No! There’s something else you’re supposed to do, if only you’ll trust.” I had to tap into something deep and quiet within, something essentially true, a voice I hadn’t heard clearly for years, one I ultimately came to call my “Inner Pilot Light.”
My Inner Pilot Light helped me keep repairing the chinks in my “fearless” bubble, and it encouraged me to trust that I was on the right path, even though I didn’t know where I was going. During this scary, growth-filled, and wildly mystical, magical time, my blind faith turned into evidence-based faith. As I detailed in my book The Anatomy of a Calling, I rediscovered my calling and crystallized my vision—to help people heal, connect, and thrive, not just in their physical health, but also in all aspects of their lives.
I also got clear on the message I wanted to help spread in the world. As a physician, I knew it wasn’t enough to treat only the biochemical elements of a healthy lifestyle. Sure, diet, exercise, a good night’s sleep, and taking your vitamins are key to a healthy life. But if you’re in an abusive marriage, you hate your job, you feel spiritually disconnected, you’re creatively thwarted, you can’t stand where you live, and you haven’t found your supportive community, no drug, surgery, supplement, or diet plan is going to save you. I came to believe that the body is a mirror of how we live our lives. By digging deep into the medical literature for proof of what I was coming to believe, I found evidence that our bodies sometimes have the power to enable spontaneous remissions from seemingly “incurable” diseases when we change our beliefs and how we think about our health while doing whatever it takes to bring our bodies into harmony with what is true in our relationships, our professional lives, our creative lives, our sex lives, our environment, our financial lives, and more. This realization felt profoundly important to me—and I wanted the world to know it.
What ensued was a burning desire to create a revolution in health care, to change how we think about health and healing, and to start a grass roots campaign to shift the paradigm of modern medicine. I started spreading my ideas, first on my blog, then in my books Mind Over Medicine, The Fear Cure, and The Anatomy of a Calling, in two National Public Television specials, three TEDx talks that have garnered over 2.5 million views, and from public stages across the globe.
But here’s the kicker. As I was spreading these ideas, I started getting hundreds of emails from clients across the globe asking where they can find doctors and other health care providers who embrace similar ideas about health. But I didn’t know where to refer these beautifully empowered patients! I know many wonderful functional medicine and integrative medicine doctors, but even still, these ways of practicing, while so much more holistic than conventional Western managed care practice models, are still largely biochemically-based allopathic models. Even functional and integrative medicine philosophies often focus primarily on supplements, herbal treatments, natural medicine, and alternative medicine treatments such as acupuncture or homeopathy. I support any treatment modality a patient believes will help, so I’m a big fan of all these modalities. But I think even the most alternative treatments are insufficient if the health care provider isn’t also addressing other mind-body-spirit factors that are just as important to your health—whether you’re healthy in your relationships, your professional life, your spiritual life, and so forth.
I finally came to realize I needed to develop an institute to teach what I’ve learned and practiced so the Institute could certify both physicians and health care providers of all disciplines to practice Whole Health Medicine. I enlisted the help of eminent physicians and other mind-body-spirit providers who are world-renowned in their individual areas of expertise so they could bring their own genius to the curriculum of the Whole Health Medicine Institute. Together, we are building the future of medicine.
We know it will take a village to heal health care and change how we all view health. We need your help in order to lead the troops in the mission to transform our system. You are the spiritual warriors who will bring the heart of medicine back to the center of our profession, and we are so grateful you are among us. Many healers feel unappreciated by the health care providers that rely on their collaboration, but that’s not how we view things at the Whole Health Medicine Institute. We know that clients sit at the head of what we call “The Healing Round Table,” and your presence at the table is essential. We value you, and we’re so happy you’re here.Enroll Today!