Dr. Weisman: Hey, sisters in medicine. It is time to rock it with the Doctor Me First podcast. This is all about authentic conversations between female physicians. And I hope, through our conversations that you're listening to, that you are inspired, encouraged, you learn something, and hopefully feel built into a community of fellow sisters in practice. And also, I hope you have a lot of fun.
Dr. Weisman: I'm Dr. Errin Weisman, your colleague in medicine, and your life coach. And this is episode number 10. In today's episode, I am talking with Dr. Rachna Patel. She is an amazing physician, who openly shares her story about what it's like to [inaudible 00:00:44] transition from an emergency room physician to an unconventional place. So, listen to our conversation. And don't forget to check out the Kick of Encouragement afterwards.
Dr. Weisman: Hey everybody. It's Dr. Weisman again. I have a special guest, but I want her to introduce herself.
Dr. Patel: Hi, guys. I am Rachna Patel. I am actually a medical marijuana doctor. I've been one since 2012. I had my own practice up until 2018, and now I've transitioned to an online practice. And doing some other things along the way, that I never expected to do, which is ... I wrote a book recently, and then, I'm creating my own line of products, as well.
Dr. Weisman: Awesome. So, what is your residency training?
Dr. Patel: So, [inaudible 00:01:39] is in emergency medicine.
Dr. Weisman: Okay. Awesome. Cool. I always like to hear ... You know, we all have different journeys, to where we have been to where we are going. And I love knowing that we can do so many things with our education. So that's awesome. So our word today is Purpose. Tell me, Dr. Patel, why did you pick purpose?
Dr. Patel: Purpose because, in transitioning from an emergency medicine doctor to medical marijuana doctor, that's what I was chasing, was my purpose. What was going on was that, while going through training ... Training is like a slap in the face to reality, I [inaudible 00:02:19]. 'Cause you sort of walk in like all sort of bright-eyed, and almost like, with these Utopian beliefs about medicine. And then reality sort of settles in. So my reality-
Dr. Weisman: [crosstalk 00:02:31] your ass kicked.
Dr. Patel: ... Yeah, exactly. And my reality was that ... I became an ER doctor because that's where people come when they're in dire need of help. And what's great is that we have laws in place, where I don't have to take into consideration their ability to pay. Right?
Dr. Weisman: Right.
Dr. Patel: But here's what was going on. Most of what people came in with was pain of some sort or another. And as long as the emergent cause is ruled out, we'd send them out to, of course, follow up with their primary care doctor, and then we'd also hand them a 'script for pain medications. Then what was going on, was that you had the same patients walking in, saying that, "These medications aren't working. I'm getting really bad side effects from these medications," or worst case scenario, I was in a position of having to resuscitate these patients.
Dr. Patel: And really ultimately, as physicians, what do we want to do? We want to help to solve other people's problems. I wasn't doing that. Really, what was going on was that I was playing a part in sort of propagating the problem, more than solving it. And it really hit home for me during my toxicology rotation. Where you have here an entire floor just dedicated to overdoses on prescription and over-the-counter medications. To me, that was like [inaudible 00:03:57]. It's like, "Okay, this is ridiculous. This is so preventable." And you had millions of dollars going into this.
Dr. Patel: You know, in residency, I was wired. I wasn't sleeping at all. 'Cause you sort of work 80 to 100 hours a week, and then you have a hard time actually falling asleep. So, there were times when I was just surfing the internet, 'cause I wasn't awake enough to actually be productive, but I wasn't tired enough to fall asleep. So, I'm sort of in that half-weird state of mind.
Dr. Weisman: Zombie zone.
Dr. Patel: Exactly. Yeah. So, I was surfing the internet, and that's when I came across an ad that said, "Medical Marijuana Doctor Needed." That peaked my curiosity, definitely, and I started to look into it more and more. I read through research study after research study, and about a year later, I was like, "Okay. You know what? There's a lot of potential here, with this medication, to help treat chronic pain in a way that conventional medicine is not." As doctors, we know that you can't just have the book knowledge. You need to have the people knowledge, as well. That's when I signed up to work at a medical marijuana clinic out in 2012. And here I am, over six years later, still pursuing it.
Dr. Weisman: So with that, what biases do you come up against now? Going from ... I feel like you were very traditional, as far as in your ER training, to where you are now. I can think of some just in my head, but I want to hear what you have to say, as far as the biases of our medical community.
Dr. Patel: Gosh. So, you know what? Honestly, for the longest time, I never talked about it with other doctors. Because I just ... I feel like doctors are a tough crowd. And they can definitely be critical. So for the longest time, I did not talk about it. Because, I don't know, there was just this ... That was my biggest fear, was to lose the respect of my colleagues. So I really just, for several years, I just put my head down, and I focused on treating patients, on getting them outcomes and results. Sort of figuring out the nuances, coming up with protocols behind the cannabinoids that are in marijuana. And it's not, I would say, until maybe a year or two ago, that I started to have conversations with other physicians.
Dr. Patel: Now, law has kind of been on my side. Because as soon as I jumped into the industry ... several months later, Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use. So, it's been a huge amount of progress in a short amount of time. I think that, in and of itself, has helped the medical community open up, as well. And quite frankly, I'm sure doctors out there have patients who are already using medical marijuana, who are already using CBD oil. So it's almost like they have no choice but to learn about it, to be able to properly care for their patients. So, that was my absolute worst fear, was to lose the respect of my colleagues. So I just, I didn't talk about it with them.
Dr. Weisman: Yeah. And now, since you have kind of stepped into it, and you say, "Hey, world and colleagues. This is who I am. This is what I'm doing." How does that feel, like with your purpose, and what you're doing with your life?
Dr. Patel: Well, it's really interesting. Because there is not a lot of doctors who are doing this. Not a lot of doctors who have experience, the clinical experience. So it's almost like inadvertently, I've become an expert, the go-to expert in the field. And it's not just other physicians who are coming to me. What's interesting is that, I remember when I first opened my practice ... Well, what's one of the first things you do? You go around to other physicians, so that, you know, if-
Dr. Weisman: [inaudible 00:08:03].
Dr. Patel: ... there's any sort of mutual referrals ... Exactly. But you know what? I could not get past the office manager. Doors slammed in my face. It's interesting because, as time went on, I started to get referrals from doctors I had never spoken to before. What I was doing was, I was putting out videos on YouTube. And then, that was more just for efficiency's sake, more than anything else. But I guess they were just encountering my videos, and based on that, they're like, "Okay, she knows more of what's going on and what to do, more than I do."
Dr. Patel: So I started to get referrals. That was really interesting, but it was not intentional. It just happened. In fact, I was even ... I was based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I was even getting referrals from physicians at a highly academic institution like Stanford. So that's been the evolution of it. That's where I am in the medical community [crosstalk 00:09:03].
Dr. Weisman: So you went from the closet to the expert. I love it.
Dr. Patel: Right. Exactly. And it's been scary, every step of the way. Right? Just recently, I went live in one of the physician Facebook groups, and I was nervous. I usually ... You know, I've been doing video for a very long time, and I've kind of gotten used to it. It was never my jam to be on video, to start with. The first video [inaudible 00:09:29] took like 10 takes, and my receptionist coached me through every take.
Dr. Patel: So, I'm pretty comfortable at this point. But doing that video, I was a little bit nervous, because of the topic that I'm talking about. But I was surprised. It was very well-received. Other physicians were very interested in the topic. Because either they'd used it themselves, and they found it to be effective ... or they'd seen other patients use it, and their patients had found it to be effective, as well.
Dr. Weisman: Yeah. It sounds like you just had to get over your own internal junk. Because-
Dr. Patel: It was, it was. Yeah, yeah. A lot of-
Dr. Weisman: [crosstalk 00:10:10] you so much with my coaching. Because I'm a physician life coach, so I'm one of those too, that I can 100% relate. For the first two years, I don't know if it was shame or embarrassment, but I was like, "I'm Dr. Weisman." And then I wouldn't add, "And I'm a life coach," because of that perception, of like, "Oh, my God. What are my medical colleagues going to think of me? They're gonna think that I'm totally woo-woo, or that I [inaudible 00:10:37] deep end."
Dr. Patel: Right.
Dr. Weisman: I can say personally, for my own journey, when I stepped into be like, "No, I am a badass life coach, and I'm a doctor, and I have three kids, and I love my life." [inaudible 00:10:53] really, really embraced my purpose, and just all that energy came together. And it felt like there was no longer that rubbing friction, like I was leading two lives. It was like, "No. I am all of these things."
Dr. Patel: Right. It's really weird. There's almost like guilt associated with breaking away from the traditional [inaudible 00:11:10], and shame, even shame associated with it. I don't know why, though. 'Cause it seems like people are very supportive of it. But there's just something about breaking away from the norm.
Dr. Weisman: I think so. I think it goes back to that psychology study, where they had apes. And they tried to climb that tree, and they buzzed them with electricity, and it was like, "Get back down." And then they put the new ape in the cage, and he was like, "Oh, I'm going up there." Even though the electricity was turned off, all the other apes pulled him back down. It's like the hidden curriculum of medicine is like, "Toe the line. Stay inside the lines. The lines are your friends. If you get outside of it, there's gonna be a perception that you are no longer a professional." Or you are no longer ... You know, it is a worthy thing. It is a shame-type thing, but-
Dr. Patel: Right, right.
Dr. Weisman: ... [crosstalk 00:12:02] unspoken, but that we feel it as we move through our journey of medicine.
Dr. Patel: Yeah. And I think the greatest message that I've sent to other physicians is that a lot of times, because of those feelings, whatever those feelings may be, they sort of stay stuck in the traditional path. Whether it's fear, shame, guilt, whatever it may be. But the ones who have ventured out, they're pursuing their purpose, which is giving them fulfillment in the process. And that fulfillment sort of channels into other aspects of your life, too. Not just with the work that you do, but because overall, I think you're a happier person. You may be a happier mom, or a happier daughter, or a happier significant other, or sister ... whatever it may be. It's a process, I think, for everyone to go through.
Dr. Weisman: Absolutely.
Dr. Patel: But realize that there's a good number of us out there who are more than happy to support you.
Dr. Weisman: Yeah. And I think too, it's so important ... It's something that I've worked through, and I worked through with my clients, that your identity as doctor, is gonna look different than anybody else's. Even though we get in our head, like, "Okay, I'm gonna have the clinic, and I'm gonna have the patients." Or, "I'm gonna go to the ER, and I'm gonna do my shifts." Your identity of doctor is just as unique as your DNA strands from someone else. And that is okay.
Dr. Patel: Right. Yes. Agreed.
Dr. Weisman: So [crosstalk 00:13:42] with that. And I think that is where I do so much work around burn-out. It's almost on a spiritual level, as far as with purpose. Because when people feel like they're operating outside of their purpose, or they feel like because of their job, they can't do their purpose. That is when you get the huge flairs of burn-out. And that's when I try to pick people up, kind of in the middle of that crisis, and say, "Hey, you are okay. It doesn't feel good today, but it's gonna feel better later. Because you now have a recognition of, 'Hey, this is not working, so let's find something that does.'"
Dr. Weisman: And just like you're mentioning about your journey, there's so many different directions that we can take our MD/DO in any direction. And because we're already so educated, we can start any kind of business. And I know people ... not that they just fall to the ground in awe, but they really do respect that. I have a friend who ... She's a physician, and started a clothing line. And people just love it, that she's like Dr. Style. And just, in so many arenas. That's what I would encourage any listeners today, that if you've got this crazy idea in the back of your head, that excites you so much, but you're so worried about putting it out into the world, that's what you need to be doing.
Dr. Patel: Right, exactly. You know, the other thing is, is that people have an innate trust with doctors. They know that we've cared for other people's lives, when they've been life and death matters. We've taken an oath to do no harm. So, there's almost this innate trust. Right? What's interesting is that, there's a whole community of people out there. It could be like Joe Schmoe talking about health. I mean, as a doctor, when you're looking at this information, you're like, "Okay, wait a minute. There's parts missing here." But what I would empower other doctors to do, is that, I think it's the doctors who should be putting themselves out there ... on YouTube, on social media, spread that message. Because it's powerful. People will innately already trust you because of that title.
Dr. Weisman: [crosstalk 00:15:59] our patients are seeking it out. Why would we not want them to seek it from our colleagues, who are going to help them make educated and evidence-based decisions, rather than, you said ... like Joe Schmoe, who's just started selling CBD at a corner office, because he wanted to turn a buck.
Dr. Patel: Right. Exactly. When they're searching on Google, I'd rather that they encounter other doctors talking about these topics, than Joe Schmoe. So I think there's ... Don't doubt what you have to put, the message that you have, to put out to the world. Little by little, go ahead and put it out there. Because there's a whole community of people that are waiting to receive your message.
Dr. Weisman: Absolutely. And I think that's the other thing, that sometimes we feel insignificant. Like, "Oh, nobody cares what I have to say." Or you're not going to find your tribe, or whatever. But you know, you just have to start with that one step. Maybe it's like you did, that one YouTube video. You just gotta put it out into the world.
Dr. Patel: Right.
Dr. Weisman: Or that one newspaper article you write for your little county paper. Or, one little social media post just stating your truth, and what you think is right in the world ... and what you know as efficacious, medically.
Dr. Patel: Right. So, let me actually tell you a story behind those videos. I had a very lean start-up. So I worked at a medical marijuana clinic for a year and a half, earned enough capital to start my own practice, and I just had a receptionist, and it was me. That's it. What was happening was that people were calling in with questions, 'cause it's medical marijuana. Not a lot of people know about it. So what was happening was that she would make a list, a log ... a call log at the end of the day. And I'd return people's phone calls, answering just some basic questions, before they actually made an appointment.
Dr. Patel: Now what was going on was that, I knew that phone calls were piling up. And I was spending hours, after seeing patients, returning these phone calls. And I was like, "Okay, there has to be an efficient way to do this." So that's where we came up with the idea of the YouTube videos. But I've always kind of been this ... I still am, very introverted. So it took a while. It's not gonna be like you're gonna succeed on your first try. But with practice, you get better and better at it, is what I can tell you. And in fact, take a look at my first video on YouTube. You'll see how horrible it is.
Dr. Weisman: [crosstalk 00:18:45] put a link in the show notes-
Dr. Patel: Yeah.
Dr. Weisman: ... between the first and the latest. Because-
Dr. Patel: Yes, do that. You'll see it's a world of a difference.
Dr. Weisman: [crosstalk 00:18:51]. Yeah.
Dr. Patel: And even like make-up. I never wore make-up, and there's this one video, where I have way too much foundation on my face. And it's like, "What was I thinking?" But it's an evolution, is what I'll tell you. I think a lot of us tend to be perfectionists.
Dr. Weisman: Absolutely.
Dr. Patel: So we want it to be perfect.
Dr. Weisman: I remember [crosstalk 00:19:11] perfectionist.
Dr. Patel: Right. Yeah, so am I. So, what you have to realize with the online world, is that you can always change things, you can always add things. People are forgiving. They want real, especially when it comes to video. What was interesting is that I was getting sort of live, in real-life, feedback from people. They would come in and they'd say, "Oh, you know, Dr. Patel, I binged on your videos." And that was like, "That's kind of weird," 'cause usually most people binge on Netflix, not on videos.
Dr. Patel: Then the other thing was, was that they said, "When I watched your videos, then I feel like I've known you. I feel like I can trust you." So that's what you're gonna get from the people. You know, if you have a clinic, and you're creating these videos, it's almost like you've already established a relationship with them. And whether it's a podcast, videos, whatever ... what you're doing is, you're gaining people's trust. You're establishing a relationship. So whatever endeavor you're going on to, they've already trusted you enough to sort of go on that journey with you.
Dr. Weisman: Absolutely. I see it as a way to connect with people. Because as physicians, we do kind of get put on a pedestal. And this is a way to kind of reach down to people and pull them up. And say, "Hey, I am a person, too. I just happen to have this base of knowledge. How can I help you?" I think when patients feel that authenticity, they come to you, rather than demanding and trying to just seek what they need at any means possible ... yelling at you, crying, all their coping mechanisms. They come to you more with open arms, and saying, "I know you said you can help me. I'm here." And that changes how you practice medicine, too. Instead of being so abrasive and so legalistic, it then goes back to the true essence of doctor/patient relationship.
Dr. Patel: Right. And the other thing is is that, I feel like there's always sort of this boundary of time, when it comes to the patient/physician relationship. But when you've already put yourself out there, you've already been generous with your time and information. So they come in already having spent time with you, in one way or another. So, there isn't that, sort of, fight. Like, "Why aren't you giving me your time?" [inaudible 00:21:49] you've already given them your time, in one way.
Dr. Weisman: Absolutely. Any other finishing thoughts?
Dr. Patel: No. I am just all about empowering other physicians to putting their message out there in the online world. Because there is a international community of people waiting to receive your message.
Dr. Weisman: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, tell my listeners where they can find out more about you or your practice, or how they can get in contact with you.
Dr. Patel: Sure. So, a couple different resources, if you're looking for more information on medical marijuana or CBD oil ... One is my YouTube channel. If you just Google CBD oil expert YouTube, or medical marijuana expert YouTube, my channel will come up. And I also cite studies and information that I go over, so that may be useful to you, as well. The other resource is my website. Dr., D-R, Rachna, R-A-C-H-N-A, Patel, P-A-T-E-L dot com. And if you want to shoot me an email, my email address is Dr. Rachna Patel at Gmail dot com.
Dr. Weisman: Awesome. Well, thank you so much today. I hope that everybody can listen to this podcast, and go away with a little bit more purpose. Than you, Dr. Patel.
Dr. Weisman: So what did you think of Dr. Patel's story? I don't know about you, but it's super heart-warming to me. To listen to this brave woman, who started in emergency medicine, and realized that it was just not in the middle of her purpose, and got brave. And knew that she needed to find her purpose, and just went out on a limb. And now, you know, eight years later, after she's done that ... that now she is an expert, in a field that is absolutely blooming right now ... with hemp oil, and CBD and everything that's coming out with patients. I am just so honored to call her colleague, and now friend.
Dr. Weisman: And just to proclaim her story kind of out into the world, because you truly can hear from her voice that she feels like she's residing in the middle of her purpose. So I want to encourage all of you out there listening today, if you are feeling disheartened, or if you are feeling down, if you are tired ... Not just like you didn't get sleep, but you are just run into the ground, dead-dog tired. Hear me right now, and know that your purpose is out there. It is available. And that, even though maybe you're not living in it right now, that you absolutely can be soon.
Dr. Weisman: And for those of you out there that are rockin' and rollin', and in the right ... in the middle of your purpose, I want to celebrate you. I'm so glad that you have that in your life. And for the rest of us, who are on the path of transition, who are making those steps forward, and trying to find our purpose ... I just tell you, keep on keeping on, girl. 'Cause you will find it. I think it's so ... excuse me, so important to realize that life truly is the journey. It's not so much about reaching a place in life, and then being static, or stasis, and not ever moving again.
Dr. Weisman: Hell, we all know what happens when you get stasis. You get damned DVTs. So we've got to keep moving forward in life. And I also think about how, that potentially, our purpose can change, from one year to the next. Maybe we're in the middle of something, and loving it. And then we find that maybe we have a little bit of a different purpose. So with all that being said, I just challenge you today to sit down, get a Post-it note, scrap piece of paper, journal, whatever it is ... and I want you to write out, "What is my purpose?" And then, I want you to just put down whatever comes to your mind.
Dr. Weisman: What is your purpose? And write it down there. Stick it on your desk or your dashboard, or your bedside stand, and then keep looking over it. Every time you read it, see if it gives you tingles. See if it really resonates with you. Because if it doesn't, that's not your purpose. Go back, get another piece of paper, and write again, "What is my purpose?" And I want you to keep doing that, until you can really write down, and describe what your purpose is. Because once you can describe it, then you can chase it down.
Dr. Weisman: Well, that's it for today's episode. I hope that you enjoyed this Doctor Me First. And hey, how can you doctor yourself first, in your purpose? Is it discovering it? Is it moving towards your purpose? Is it maybe residing and staying in your purpose? Wherever you are along the journey, I just encourage you to think about that. And I also want to ask you a favor. Please share this podcast with your favorite female physicians in your world. Because my goal really is to reach as many female physicians as absolutely possible.
Dr. Weisman: Because four years ago, I needed this. I needed to know that I wasn't alone, that people were talking about these type of topics within the aspects of medicine. That help was available, and that change really was possible. So, I appreciate it if you go to wherever you listen to podcasts, and hit Share. This episode or any episode, that has really influenced your life specifically. Thanks again, guys. And remember, your life, your calling, your pulse ... matters.