Dr. Shelley Meyer: hi and welcome to the Dr. Shelly Meyer YouTube channel and the women in medicine be the change podcast this is a new podcast that’s recording the same time as the channel is recording and as you probably noticed if you’ve been to this channel before that it used to be functional medicine based because I’m a doctor a family medicine doctor and a functional medicine doctor and a dietitian but I’m shifting with a new chapter in the channel to help serve women in medicine who may be experiencing burnout or frustration with their current physicians and providing inspiration for them to reclaim their mental and physical health and rediscover their love of medicine so I hope you enjoy this new pivot this new change please like subscribe and share this video out if you know anybody that could be helped even if it’s not a woman in medicine men could find information from this podcast women in other fields could find in free information from this this podcast and this YouTube channel so please share it out and be sure to mention in the comments any questions the comments you have I love hearing your comments so please do that leave that in the comments and I’ll be still posting every Friday so join me for this new version of my YouTube channel and this brand new podcast.

Dr. Shelley Meyer: Hello and welcome to the Dr. Shelly Meyer channel and the women in medicine be the change podcast I’m so excited to welcome Dr. Nadia Ali she is a functional medicine doctor but she didn’t start out that way and she has her own practice and I’ve been excited for her to tell her very profound story that relates to burnout and relates to the mission here on the channel and on the podcast and helping women reclaim women in medicine reclaim their mental and physical health and discover a love for medicine again because sometimes we’ve lost that when we’re burnt out so Nadia Dr. Ali can you tell us your story and tell us a little bit about what brought you to your path but that you’re following right now in medicine

Dr. Nadia Ali: thank you so much Shelley I’m so grateful to be here and

Dr. Shelley Meyer: so happy to have you here

Dr. Nadia Ali: um my path uh basically I started with my med school and I started doing my residency in Johns Hopkins university hospital after completing my residency I started as an academic hospitalist with pen and you know how difficult it is like with residency you have 80 hour weeks and I was hoping that at the end of it I’ll finally be able to practice medicine and it’s really awesome and um when I started practicing initially it was a lot of fun because I think it was like really being able to put to practice what you had learned in the last three years and be able to see the impact of that medicine but what I noticed when I was doing my practice in the hospital was that you know it was like um the same patients that were seen again and again and again and um the reason was the same issue that you know that you can give them as many medications as you want but if you don’t control the environment at home you know what they’re eating you know what their lifestyle is they’re going to come back you know it doesn’t matter I mean the medications can only do so much and so I really wanted to explore that side of things but uh first of all there was no opportunity you know to do that and I when I attempted to do that and I attempted to be part of a uh you know patient safety committee because we wanted to know how do we keep these people safe when they go home like how do we prevent these readmissions you know it was almost like it was my own effort like there was no support you know to kind of help me you know do what I wanted to do and um at the same time I started doing master’s in public health from Hopkins because I wanted to understand this phenomena we called health literacy in terms of why is it that patients and us our communication is not at the same length you know how can we make sure that what we are telling them that they really understand us and we understand what they are trying to tell us right because it has to be a two-way street so while I’m doing my full-time work I’m doing my master’s you know I was feeling like you know the harder I tried to innovate the harder I tried to make a difference the more pushback I was getting from the system that look your goal is not really to do all of that stuff your goal is to see patients and you know when we get trainings the trainings were not about patient outcomes the training was about how to code how do we get more money right I have a problem with that and I understand that if you are providing a service you do want to be able to get money for the service of course but the question is that like you know the service that we are providing is actually going in the drain because the patient is coming to us again and again and again so we are not addressing the root cause of the problem so I mean at that point in time with the way things were going more see more patients and see even more patients that I loved teaching so we were teaching medical students we’re teaching residents but imagine if you had 18 patients to see and then you had to teach I mean how is it even possible yeah you know and every year it was the same problem we are not meeting the RVU’s we are not making enough money well we can’t make enough money you know I mean because the hospital was located in a population that was in need they didn’t have the best insurance I mean so it was a very tough situation and with all of this going on this whole frustration you know of not being able to do what I really wanted to do and being in a context which was not really supportive you know of what I really wanted to do I was starting to lose my self-worth actually I was almost feeling like you know there is going to be really no end to this and I’m not succeeding no matter how hard I try and that started come affecting my personal life and a point came where you know I completely you know broke down and I remember calling the crisis line and I wanted to talk to somebody it was a weekend and I’m sitting in my office and I’m trying to say who do I talk to because I was crying and I was crying and I was crying and I couldn’t stop myself I said I really need to talk to somebody like you know somebody who I can ask do you think there’s hope for me right you know and so I did pick up the phone and I don’t know who that person was because he never told me his name but um but it was really nice to talk to him because I think he said to me I said to him that look this is what’s happening on my in my work life and you know this is why I’m frustrated on my personal side of the equation and you know he said to me that you know um I don’t know if everything will work out the way you want uh but I can tell you that you just have to be patient and I said well okay I’ll try right look it may not be the way you want but at least it will get better so it was very nice but I think at that point in time it was so interesting I talked to one of my colleagues and I said to her that you know you know the things I want to do and I’m looking at the best interest of my patients and I’m looking at the best interest of this institution I want this institution to grow I want to be the person who helps the institution to grow you know am I asking something which I should not right and she was very honest and I have to tell you I’m really grateful to her at that time her reply sounded to me like very dry and very like you know um brutal uh but now that I think about it I think she was very honest and I think that had she not been as honest as she was she was I wouldn’t have made the decision to leave and she said to me Nadia uh they want you to do something if you want to do something else you need to find a place that would honor and respect what you want to do

Dr. Shelley Meyer: it’s good to hear that honesty isn’t it because you’re like I’m not going to keep spinning my wheels then right

Dr. Nadia Ali: exactly because I did feel almost like a hamster-like you know trying to kind of move and going nowhere and that’s when you know I gave my resignation and then I thought that I should go into the outpatient setting on the clinic side of things because I thought it will be a probably a better place where I can help the people who come into the hospital like you know who come out of the hospital I can have them stay you know at home and be able to do that and when I saw them when I saw patients in the outpatient setting there was something very interesting I found I found that I was basically becoming a prescription writer

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes, that’s how I felt too

Dr. Nadia Ali: I would write one prescription and then it would not get control I would write a second prescription and then the other thing that I noticed was like some of these people because they would first have hypertension and then they would go on to develop high cholesterol and then they would go on to you know develop diabetes and so I was again saying that like I wasn’t able to get to the end of it you know and then when they would have so many issues the list of medications kept on growing and then on top of that I was told well you have 10 minutes and you know and I’m like well there’s so many problems you know and there are so many medications and how am I supposed to do that and I remember one time I had this woman was sitting in front of me going through a divorce she was really sad she was crying in the room and I was feeling so bad about what this woman was going through I was trying to kind of help her calm down and explain certain things and provide her different mindset of looking at her situation you know and I’m getting knock after knock after knock on my doctor Ali there are two patients waiting actually you have to finish this and I was feeling so bad I mean I felt so bad and I really didn’t know what to do at that point in time because it was almost like you know why am I even here what am I doing here like you know so at that point in time things were you know were becoming very clear that I really needed to this is not a system for me and because of you know when I was doing my when I was at 10 trying to do my master’s in public health at that time you know because of that breakdown that I had you know and I was quite depressed after that time um I was talking to a friend of mine and I said to her look I feel I’m depressed you know it’s affecting my work it’s affecting my personal life and I want to do something about it and she goes Nadia take an antidepressant

Dr. Shelley Meyer: oh, that’s the answer right the magic pill

Dr. Nadia Ali: and I said no I’m not taking that and she looked at me and she was very surprised she’s like no but we do give it to our patients and I said yes we do uh give it to our patients but I’m worried because I have read too much about it and you know there’s so many side effects and the side effects start before the actual effect and the effect takes about a month and then you can’t get off of it and she was worried about me and I said look I’m not committing any suicide so please don’t worry about me but I have to find another solution that was when I started reading about uh what are the other approaches you know and that was the first time I got introduced to the idea that there is something called functional medicine there’s something called integrative medicine and it was amazing to see the amount of literature scientific evidence on these modalities and you know honestly I can tell you that when people used to talk about those modalities you know my friends would say they went to an acupuncturist or you know they went for like this uh some um chiropractic manipulation I would look at them and I would say why would you do that

Dr. Shelley Meyer: and now look at you

Dr. Nadia Ali: tell them like yeah, I don’t know why they have to go to all of these things nobody can really explain them who knows if they’re even making a difference or not

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right

Dr. Nadia Ali: and when I looked at the literature, I was actually embarrassed you know because as a physician not to know that the other modalities but there’s actually scientific evidence I mean

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes

Dr. Nadia Ali: that is really sad you know that I didn’t know about it and then I started doing the yoga that I used to do before and the meditation which I was into before but now I knew I was doing it I knew how it was really working on my parasympathetic nervous system

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes

Dr. Nadia Ali: I was paying attention to what I was eating which I wouldn’t because there was no time you know and so now you know I was doing all of that stuff and um that is when I was like yeah that’s it I mean I can’t do this anymore and I resigned uh and I am really grateful because uh my resignation was written by my husband who said you know I think you need to do that and I said to him that look I have no experience of running a practice forget about integrative medicine practice I don’t even know how to run a conventional regular practice yeah so um he said to me that Nadia I think I want you to be happy you know I think that that’s more important and if you lose some money that’s okay you know because the most important thing is you will do what you want to do you will make the kind of difference you want to make you know and you’ve been wanting to do this for a very long time

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right it’s good to have that support and somebody to kind of push you over into that what you need to do

Dr. Nadia Ali: yeah so I’m so grateful for that resignation letter and it was almost like what he said gave me a lot of self-worth you know I was like yes you know you know I’ve been told I I’m not supposed to do that I don’t think I can do that you know but there is somebody who thinks I can do that and it’s nothing to do with what I’m earning it’s to do with what I really want to do it’s really my passion and I should be able to pursue my passion and that was the beginning of my starting my practice from literally zero patients okay and the best part about it was that you know I had seen a couple of different systems I had been in an inpatient setting I’ve been in an outpatient setting and now I could create a system which would be a system which would not have all the issues that those two systems had

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right

Dr. Nadia Ali: and I don’t know of a third system but I know that I want to create a system which would be the system without any of those issues and so I think I’m very grateful I think I feel I’m so blessed because not only was I able to create that you know but I was able to do it very successfully and I can tell you when I started that I would not have thought in my dreams where I am right now

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right yeah I know I’m so impressed with that we’re at the end we’re going to talk about everything you do because you offer a lot at your clinic it’s really impressive from one functional med to a doc to another I really I love it um but let’s step back for a second and well not step back but look at the situation the sad situation that we see medicine or practitioners being put in and especially women in medicine and what do you think keeps women in medicine in positions that they are feeling burnout that they feel stuck that they know it causes tremendous amounts of stress why are they staying

Dr. Nadia Ali: why are they staying in that position right I think that one of the most important reasons is that you know in our modeling you know when we grow up right, we are taught to compromise

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes

Dr. Nadia Ali: okay and unfortunately compromises do not work you know although we are taught that compromise is the best solution compromise is not a solution surprise simply means that you are saying oh, I’m and I should be happy despite being stuck

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right

Dr. Nadia Ali: and the two can cannot go together you cannot be stuck and you cannot be happy yeah but that is another way of what is being said to you what is being said to you is also that you are not so worthy so as to deserve anything better that is why just be grateful for what you have

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right be grateful for this job you have right

Dr. Nadia Ali: and I remember my first job like you know when I got the job, I was so happy I was like oh my god this is so great they think I can be part of the institution and I never ever negotiated my first salary which is like

Dr. Shelley Meyer: oh, they’re gonna give me money great

Dr. Nadia Ali: I’m so happy and then you know my second job I negotiated the initial uh time when I was being offered and after that I was there for about three and a half years, I never got a single raise which is very interesting

Dr. Shelley Meyer: wow

Dr. Nadia Ali: one time I even asked for a raise but here’s how I asked for a raise which is very interesting so it was three years no raise and actually a lot of about over I think 100 or 200 people were laid off by crozier uh that third year when I was there and I go in to talk about a salary raise and this is what I tell my HOD i said you know I feel so sorry about the people who you know have been let go and I don’t want my salary to affect another person you know and so I’m I don’t know if I’m asking for a raise so I’m giving him a reason why he should say that

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right, you’re right we can’t give you any more money you shouldn’t ask for anymore

Dr. Nadia Ali: justifying why yes this is this is how I was asking for this so again like I think you know and it’s interesting that I talked to him about a raise and then within a few months of that a new faculty was added okay and um the new faculty got a much better package

Dr. Shelley Meyer: of course

Dr. Nadia Ali: and I am thinking myself there must be a reason she must have been x y and z to deserve like a better package

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah

Dr. Nadia Ali: so it was really interesting how my low self-worth came in my way and I’ll tell you one other example of low self-worth which I still I mean when I think about it I I’m like I can’t believe this um there was I don’t know if you remember this but ACGME at one point in time wanted the internal medicine programs to create an evaluations committee

Dr. Shelley Meyer: okay no I don’t know

Dr. Nadia Ali: the rule for that was that I know this because I was an APD associate program director with the internal medicine program okay and one of the conditions of that committee or the chair of the committee can uh has to be a faculty member other than the program director okay and so my PD said to me that he wanted me to be the chair and I’m so excited and I’m like wow this is such a great opportunity I’m going to do my best because I love the residents anyways you know it’s going to give me another way to help them and to grow them you know and you know this would also help me develop some really leadership skills right which is so great so we have this monthly meeting where it’s announced whatever new initiatives are taken and I’m excited my name is going to be announced and then there’s the number of items on the agenda and there comes my name and he goes well um Nadia is going to be chairing the committee because unfortunately ACGME is not allowing me to be the chairperson


Dr. Shelley Meyer: quite the introduction thank you

Dr. Nadia Ali: oh, great thank you

Dr. Shelley Meyer: well I can’t do it so I guess she’ll do it

Dr. Nadia Ali: exactly and so I think that like this is how you know I mean you can be a woman of course if you’re a woman I mean you’re always not good enough just the fact that you know if you’re a man they will automatically offer you a better pay

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes, they don’t have to even negotiate it just comes naturally

Dr. Nadia Ali: you don’t have to negotiate they have because they have a family of course they have to take care of the family we don’t have to take care of anybody right

Dr. Shelley Meyer: no, we’re just working for fun because we love it

Dr. Nadia Ali: and then the other thing they would often think about this like is she gonna get pregnant

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes

Dr. Nadia Ali: that’s definitely one of the things they have in mind and you know and this is especially the case if you’re a woman of color and I’m a woman of women of color and I’m an immigrant so I mean everything that could possibly be

Dr. Shelley Meyer: stacked against you yeah which shouldn’t be the case but it is unfortunately so yeah

Dr. Nadia Ali: so I think that you know lack of self-worth you know whether it is conditionally like you know how we grow up we are told like to make those compromises and then we continue to make those compromises not only in the family but also at workplace in relationships you know we compromise across the board and the result is that you know we never are able to fulfill our dreams the way we should the way we have the right to do so

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes yeah I agree um well what was that going to ask you next um and then what resources helped you find the strength was it just that point of desperation or was it just that you had done you done the functional medicine research before you started like what resources did you turn to when you were looking

Dr. Nadia Ali: so, I think that you know it was not that I was not prepared like for example I completed my so uh you know ABIHM right American border patrol

Dr. Shelley Meyer: Yes, I did mine too

Dr. Nadia Ali: right so I had already done uh I completed my uh paper because they used to have the boards right remember they used to have

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right yeah

Dr. Nadia Ali: so, I completed my board and I actually completed my board I said to my faculty members that have completed it and I had nobody ever say so woody how do you plan to use it really, they were like oh congratulations

Dr. Shelley Meyer: like I can see it means a lot to you so

Dr. Nadia Ali: so, I think that even though I had that I was still not ready to make the move

Dr. Shelley Meyer: mm-hmm

Dr. Nadia Ali: so I think that you know uh one of the things that happens when you actually are when you get traumatized so trauma has a lot of uh side effects like you know trauma puts you to the risk of high cortisol it creates a lot of bad memories you know it makes you very anxious it makes you very depressed but there is another side of trauma too and the other side of trauma is that you know it makes you when you come out of it you know you are this person who’s lost everything can’t fail anymore

Dr. Shelley Meyer: right

Dr. Nadia Ali: I mean you’ve fallen so low how low can you possibly be right and at that point in time it’s all about winning because whatever you’re going to do it will be better than what it is right now you know

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes yes

Dr. Nadia Ali: so I think when you reach that point when you reach the point where you’re like okay whatever I have to lose I have already lost I had lost the trust in my colleagues and the institutions that I worked in to be able to support me okay and not only I had lost that trust actually there were there was a time where you know you are um you know forget about getting the raise or forget about how the system works against you know I had instances where you’re humiliated for things like oh you were late for 10 minutes oh how unprofessional so I mean there was forget about appreciating this actually

Dr. Shelley Meyer: depreciation appreciate yeah

Dr. Nadia Ali: and so, when you reach that point you are like you know what that’s it I mean I can’t this is the point of like you know where you say we are done here and you say to yourself you know I’ve lost everything I have nothing to lose

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes

Dr. Nadia Ali: and that when you reach that point that is when a fighter is born

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah and that’s when freedom happens when you just decide well it’s this is you know it’s all gone, I know where to go but upright

Dr. Nadia Ali: and then I think what happened was that you know when I at that point in time the shift that happened was that it told me that you know I am going to call my own shots no matter what I don’t care about any of these systems and so when I when I you know when you resign you have to give three months notice right in medicine you have to give three months notice yes within the first two weeks I was actually given a job offer interestingly this was a really amazing person who I met and he said Dr. Ali we’re giving you 50 grand more than you know what your previous job was given you can start as soon as you can if you want we can start under the table for you one day a week if you want to do that I said I don’t do anything under the cover I don’t know what made him think I’m going to work under the cover

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah

Dr. Nadia Ali: but I said I’m not asking for any under the cover position and I said that I’m not going into a conventional position even if you give me 50 60 80 90 whatever that is not what I’m doing we are done here I’ve tried and patient a fed outpatient I’m very clear I want to do integrative medicine he goes okay Dr. Ali if you want interactive medicine I can give it to you but it is I think the place he was talking about uh was about 50 55 minutes drive from my home like we said there you know we already have people really interested we can take you we can immediately get you started I said no I’m not driving 50 55 minutes from my home you know because I want something sustainable and I appreciate you even thinking about what I want to do not just what you want me to do I appreciate that and I said to him look give me one thing forget about giving me a job because I know you currently don’t have a position for me you know whatever you have you’ve explained to me I understand and I would have loved to work but you know this position is too far and the other thing which I was concerned about which I didn’t tell him at that time was that he was part of a system when you’re part of a system it’s a huge problem right because then you want when the physician comes into the picture the physician has to use x y and z things that you have in the system if you don’t then there’s a problem because that’s the whole idea

Dr. Shelley Meyer: of the system

Dr. Nadia Ali: of the set up right and so that was my concern too and uh but I didn’t say that to him because he was so nice to me and he was able to kind of offer me something that I wanted to do so I said to him look I only want one thing of you if you can be very kind enough to spare me one room that I can rent

Dr. Shelley Meyer: good

Dr. Nadia Ali: your system wherever you have this is the place where I live this is the distance I’m looking for and I’ll come there for a couple of uh days a week and I’m going to go ahead and do my practice there and he was so nice he actually did that for me and I’m very grateful to this great person it was very nice and um I was there it was an internal medicine practice family medicine practice and then I was there it was interesting that you know I knew I was on the side of the internal medicine physicians group and you will not believe I was there for about probably a couple of years and I got one referral from there

Dr. Shelley Meyer: that’s all wow

Dr. Nadia Ali: and it was very interesting because the referee was for a very young guy uh he had been to every specialist for his nausea he had this nausea they couldn’t figure out he’s so young you know and uh the physician had sent him to every possible place he had every single test on the face of the earth so one time he just uh I was going out my office and he kind of stops me he said I have this patient I really don’t know what to do can I send him to you I said yeah please go ahead and so he came to me we worked together he actually had SIBO and yeah really well and after he got well we said we can meet whenever you know now that you’re good I mean he was getting married he wanted to kind of be like can I get this over with so I can get married and

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah

Dr. Nadia Ali: so, like we got him into where he wanted to be and then a few years after I actually moved from that place one day, I was speaking at a um functional forum and I had this woman who comes to me and she said are you, Dr. Ali? I said yes do you know who I am I said no she goes I am the mother of the kid that you treated oh well she has a baby and I was like

Dr. Shelley Meyer: oh, how nice I love to hear those stories

Dr. Nadia Ali: that’s so cool so it was very interesting that you know and I don’t I honestly don’t think they the physicians are at fault for not referring you know I mean they’re just like I was I would have never ever thought of this being something that could you know that could really work

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yeah yeah oh it’s been so great talking to you um I want to share with everyone what you’re doing so they can see you know what a great practice you have going on now um so where is your practice located

Dr. Nadia Ali: so, we are in Wayne, Pennsylvania suburb of Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Dr. Shelley Meyer: and what’s your website

Dr. Nadia Ali: uh it’s the holistichealing.org www.theholistichealing.org

Dr. Shelley Meyer: great and I’ve been to it and I love that you have Ayurveda mind-body medicine aromatherapy nutrition treating all kinds of chronic conditions that a lot of us functional medicine doctors see you know SIBO like you said and probably what is like the most common one of the most common things you’re seeing from data

Dr. Nadia Ali: so autoimmune diseases are huge; uh you know gut issues are huge yes hormone issues hormonal imbalances um and now you know Alzheimer’s MS and those neurological diseases you know which really can affect the quality of life of people significantly we see those quite a bit

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes and I’m sure you can make a big difference there especially with quality of life well it’s been so great to talk to you thank you so much for coming on I’m going to share all this information of how to follow you and find you and see what you’re doing on the show notes for the podcast and then in the description um for the YouTube channel so thanks so much for joining I feel like I could talk to you forever but you have done such amazing things and thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your story because I think that’s so important to other women

Dr. Nadia Ali: definitely and I think that for if there are women who are facing burnout you know who feel they have low self-worth um please feel free to reach out to me because um I do offer coaching for women who actually go through it because of my own experience uh even if you just want to chat like you know sometimes you just need somebody to talk you know you may not just need coaching you might need just what I need somebody to call at a time of crisis and say is it going to be better like how can it be better you know I’m happy to talk to you

Dr. Shelley Meyer: oh, that’s so kind of you, and I think there are plenty of women out there who could use that, so thanks for joining us.

Dr. Nadia Ali: And thank you for taking care

Dr. Shelley Meyer: yes, thanks for all you do take care bye-bye

Dr. Nadia Ali: bye-bye


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