Today I'm here with Dr. Gina Sirchio-Lotus. She is a mom of four, a doctor of chiropractic and a functional medicine practitioner at the La Grange Institute of Health. Can you talk about the programs that you've developed to assist yourself and mother's going on maternity leave?
Dr. Sirchio-Lotus: When I opened my first business out of school it was rehab based with some clinical nutrition on the side. After having my first I thought I could just go back to work and have as much time in the office and be as involved with patients as I was prior to the birth. I thought, I'll just bring my baby to the office and they’ll sleep the whole time, but they don’t just sit quietly. They don’t wait for you to work a ten hour day. I realized I needed a grand restructuring because what I was doing was not working.
For me that meant growing more into my functional medicine practice. In addition to that I started running into other women colleagues, and friends who were having their first kids and having an identical experience. This whole idea of, “we can just buckle up and move at the same speed” is a complete fallacy and it is what inspired the creation of the Women’s Health Series. It is a postgraduate course and we spend a weekend on a women's health topic. We have fertility and infertility and athletes in rehab and there's a section for everybody's specialty out there, but we spend a whole weekend on the business model of maternity leave and all the options that women have to take maternity leave. Options that they don’t know they have.
Noah: Is this course that you've created primarily for chiropractors or is it open to other professions?
Dr. Sirchio-Lotus: I think about the demographic that's going to take this course and then how they are using the content. Although the course itself is geared mostly towards chiropractic coverage; the course itself is interdisciplinary. I have lots of different professions coming to teach with me. I’ll have chiropractors, PT’s, MD’s, certified nurse midwives, acupuncturists, and PhDs. The idea is to have professionals who are doing the best work in their field and to learn from them. In 2016 it was held at National University in Lombard, Illinois. That one was live, but we have also had a webinar version that was done remotely. In 2018 it is being hosted by Palmer at their Davenport campus. In the next few years we're looking at a couple other schools to launch the program in.
Noah: What advice would you give expecting chiropractors that are thinking about maternity leave?
Dr. Sirchio-Lotus: One of the things that's never quite hammered heavy enough during any business class in any school is that we are hands-on, face to face practitioners. We make our money by seeing people in our office and you have to consider that you are not going to be in the office, but your bills will still be coming in. Does that mean you're going to hire somebody? Does that mean you're going to leave? You have to think financially. How much money do I need if I exit and no one fills my shoes? How much time do you think you’ll need? A lot of women will say they need two or three weeks, especially because a lot of us are healthy and will have healthy pregnancies. That is a little bit of an illusion. They may think they can just keep doing what they’re when the baby arrives, but they may not be realistic about postpartum recovery and the time it takes. Some people can go right back to work, but it’s going to be hard on our bodies after all they have been through.
Statistically women do poorly going back to work too soon and so do their babies. You can probably suck it up and go right back to work, but it’s important to give a little thought of how much time do you think you’ll need and maybe tripling that so that you’re ready for unforeseen circumstances.
It’s like business planning in general. You want to make this amount of money, but you have to have some contingency plans. You have to have some other plans in place just in case things don't work out exactly like you want them to. The more prepared you are the better. You need to have a plan A, plan B, and a plan C so you are ready for all the possibilities.
Noah: What planning and preparation do you recommend for students who are hearing this and who may not think that maternity leave is imminent?
Dr. Sirchio-Lotus: Hopefully it’s a profession that you like and you’re enjoying your hard work, but I know sometimes it's really hard. I know that you hear stories of doctors making three hundred thousand a year and paying off their loans really fast, but they’re not the norm. Everybody else is staying up late working their numbers, planning and networking. Figuring out a patient base that they really love working with and learning how they thrive in that so they can enjoy their everyday life.
There's a lot that goes into building a practice that you love. I look forward to my patients. I'm worried about them when they leave. I'm thinking about them in my off hours. That doesn’t happen overnight. What attracts so many people to chiropractic is to have flexibility and control over their schedule. To have quality of life. The best thing you can do is understand who you like to work with and start to build towards that.
When my husband and I first graduated I think we were in weekend seminars three out of every four weekends of the month. That helped us figure out what we love the most and to do more of that. Start learning as much as you can, because if you don’t you are way behind people who have been doing it for years.
Especially when you’re first starting out it's hard to know what you're really excited about and what you're going to have the passion for and what's going to allow you to wake up early and stay up late to learn and push and grind because that's what you’re going to need and so getting exposure to all of those different techniques and ways of practicing will allow you to figure out what it is that's going to keep that flame of passion alive for the longest period of time so you can make it through the hump.
We can't all do the same thing, so figure out what you really adore about this patient base and say “I'm going to learn everything I can about it to be the best doctor for that group.” Become a specialist for that group. Once you’ve done that then all the planning and preparation for maternity leave will be more streamlined because you will want to spend time with your patients and you will want to go back to work.
Noah: How do you work with patients?
I always start from the top so I can decipher how the lab results tie into the clinical picture. I comb back through all their information to find out how to help them get to the answer because I'm sure money and time has been wasted by this point.
I want to get the bird's-eye view of their health and that's a great role that we can play. You might have your specialty in something, but to be able to stand back and say okay you've seen ten different specialists for ten different things you're wandering all over, you’ve got prescriptions, you’ve got exercises and it's a mess because they’ve tried to get specialized care but it's almost overly specialized.
We can play that great role of standing back and saying what you are trying to achieve? Try to troubleshoot from the top.
This goes on in all aspects of medicine. The better doctors that are out there do a great job of asking what you are here for and then actually trying to meet that. That is what I do and that is what I would recommend to students.
See the entire interview here: https://youtu.be/4G55TR9u_im
Writing with originality, generosity, compassion and purpose, Dr. Noah Volz imparts valuable lessons in an entertaining, engaging and snappy way―backed by a wealth of experience. As an author, chiropractor, and entrepreneur, he has started and run multiple companies and has been the host of the DC2Be Revolution YouTube channel and podcast.