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Babak Mokari, DO is an integrative physician with a practice in Charlotte, NC. He received his doctorate in osteopathic medicine from The Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2000. His specialty training included an internship at Henry Ford Health System and family medicine residency at Carolinas Healthcare System (CHS). Between his internship and residency training he spent a year as a healthcare corporate finance analyst with First Union Securities (now Wells Fargo). Prior to starting Healing Arts Medical in 2014 he practiced at Carolinas Physician Network as a practitioner at its urgent care centers, osteopathic medicine at Carolinas Integrative Health (CIH), clinical faculty at Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine, medical director of Touro University Medical Center, practitioner at Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Minor Injury Clinic and practitioner at Concentra in Charlotte, NC.
Today’s Episode is brought to you by Doc2Doc Lending. Doc2Doc provides Match Day loans of up to $25,000 to fourth-year medical students and current residents. These loans are designed to help students cover personal expenses, such as moving costs, housing down payments, and living expenses before and during residency. With fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and no prepayment penalties, Doc2Doc Match Day loans provide financial flexibility and allow students to focus on their exciting journey towards becoming a physician.
Doc2Doc was founded for doctors, by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor, and they support doctors throughout their careers. Using their in-house lending platform, Doc2Doc considers the unique financial considerations of doctors that are not typically considered by traditional financial institutions. So, Don’t let financial stress hold you back from achieving your goals – Doc2Doc lending has you covered. Visit www.doc2doclending.com/mdcoaches to Learn more.
MD Coaches, LLC provides leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians to overcome burnout, transition throughout your career, develop as a leader or meet your individual goals. Remember, you are not in this alone. Reach out to us today!
PHYSICIANS BY PHYSICIANS. It showcases unique physician talents, whether it be in the form of writing, painting, creating cookie masterpieces, or storming capital hill in the name of healthcare advocacy. Use promo code RxforSuccess to get three months free when selecting the monthly option. https://rxforsuccesspodcast.com/physicianoutlook
Dr. Mokari has additional training in medical acupuncture and hypnotherapy. He also has extensive experience in prolotherapy and trigger point injections. Dr. Mokari treats patients with a variety of acute and chronic conditions ranging from sports injuries, chronic pain conditions, headache, jaw pain (TMJ disorders) and movement disorders to integrative approaches to diabetes, hypertension, menstrual disorders, anxiety and depression.
Dr. Mokari is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a fellow with the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.
Dr. Mokari has been on the board of the Mecklenburg County Medical Society since 2015 and an officer since 2017. He served as President of MCMS in 2021.
Personal interests include travel, kayaking, snowboarding, mountain biking, camping and hiking. He and his wife Natalie are expecting their first child in July.
Dr. Mokari’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: Have influential people in your life.
Number 2: Learn Psychiatry.
Number 3: Have an ability to pivot.
Number 4: Everything will work out.
Connect with Dr. Mokari:
Website: Healing Arts medical
Notable quotes from Dr. Mokari’s interview:
I just started to use my osteopathic training and I started to see patients respond to that – to heal.
The immediate gratification of having somebody walk away from the interaction feeling better is a really different feeling.
I would say that having this more holistic approach where I have a foot in both worlds… really allows me to think in a way that… others don’t get to do.
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Access the Show Transcript Here
Transcript[0:00] And I would get their permission and say, do you mind if I try a little something to see?
And I would do a little bit of osteopathic manipulation. And they would leave there, either not even wanting something for pain or just asking for maybe some ibuprofen just in case things sort of flare up.
But they walked away from the visit, from the interaction, markedly better than when they walked in the door.
Welcome to the Prescription for Success Podcast with your host, Dr. Randy Cook. [0:39] Music. [1:01] Dr. Randy Cook Hello everyone, and welcome to Prescription for Success.
I’m Dr. Randy Cook, your host for the podcast, which is a production of MD Coaches, providing leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians.
To overcome burnout, transition your career, develop as a leader or whatever your goal might be, visit MDCoaches on the web at mymdcoaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
And don’t forget that CME credit is available when you listen with us.
Just look for CMFI in the show notes to learn how. My guest today is an osteopathic physician in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.
He has a special interest in integrative medicine and he’s had a good bit of success with so-called alternative therapies in areas as diverse as chronic pain, diabetes, hypertension, and even menstrual disorders.
So let’s hear my conversation with Dr. Babak Mokhari. [2:03] What a pleasure it is today for me to be talking with Dr. Babak Mokhari, coming to us from North Carolina.
Babak, it’s very nice to have you here today. Thank you so much for being with us on Prescription for Success.
Thanks for having me.
I’m fascinated with the reality that so-called alternative medicine is becoming a thing that that we can actually talk about and we don’t have to do it in hushed tones like we did early in my career a half century ago.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about that.
As we always do, I want to go to your beginnings and tell us a little bit about how you got into medicine. I noticed that you got most of your education in Ohio.
Is that where you were born, where you grew up?
I was born in Iran, in the Middle East. Aha, how about that.
Yes, and my family immigrated to the US when I was 12.
And my father had been educated in America. He received his master’s and PhD at University of Illinois. [3:15] How be darned. And so after the revolution in Iran, so in 1985 we came to the States.
Did you struggle at all with, you know, that would have been around 6th grade territory?
That’s correct. Was that challenging for you at all? Probably for like about six months. [3:34] You know, until, you know, I think I started to kind of remember a lot of things.
Basically, my father got his PhD in America, went back to Iran in the late 60s. [3:50] During that time, I was born in 73, and not long after that, my father came back to the U.S.
He had a sabbatical at Cornell for about a year. [4:05] And so I was exposed to English at that time, and then we had made, and then went back to Iran, and then we had made some visits to England several times prior to the revolution.
And so, I had some repeated exposures and I was going to an international school where I was taught English as well.
And all of that ended in 79, basically, once the revolution started.
Everybody pulled out of the country.
And so, I think I had that foundational structure in the language and everything that even though I had forgotten a lot of it, it was there in the memory banks.
And so, I feel like it didn’t take very long for me to start kind of picking things back up.
Well, let’s talk a little bit about your education. I noticed you got your BS at Ohio University.
And did you think you were headed to medical school at that point?
No. When I was in high school, I was fascinated with the eyes.
And so I thought I wanted to be an optometrist. And so I went into college with initially that idea.
And thankfully, the prerequisites for pre-med and optometry are not very different.
And once I started into that, and during the summers, the first couple of years of undergrad. [5:25] I was working at an optometrist’s office.
And I think in the second summer, I just started feeling like, if I want to go into optometry, maybe I want, or if I’m interested in eyes rather, that I should try to take my education to its maximum sort of limit, which would be to become an ophthalmologist.
And so, that was my initial… [5:53] Sort of thought that I want to go into medicine. And so that’s really was the first step.
And then once I got into medical training, I think that’s when I started to sort of re-evaluate the whole thing.
And that’s when things kind of shifted. Do you think that shifting of your priorities in terms of where you wanted to be in medicine, do you think that had anything to do with the fact that you were in an osteopathic school rather than an allopathic school?
Not so much. There’s a, there’s, I, you know, I shifted gears, so to speak, several times.
You know, it was much later that I, it was in, you know, actually the latter part of residency where I really started to lean more and more towards the integrative alternative sort of aspects of things and utilizing the osteopathic manipulation.
I was, you know, an undergraduate even though Ohio University has an osteopathic school and I, you know, I grew up in Athens, Ohio where the school is and, you know, I went to undergraduate school there because that’s where my father was a professor. [7:06] I, you know, I had really not no clear understanding of what an osteopathic physician was or the distinction of a DO.
You know, we, our pediatrician was a DO, our family physician was a DO, but there wasn’t anything that would, you know, tell me, you know, in those visits that I’m seeing anybody that’s different from any other physician I’d ever seen before.
And so, it really wasn’t until I was, you know, at the, you know, further in the undergraduate process where, you know, I’m thinking about applying to medical schools where, you know, said, well, what about osteopathic schools? You know, there’s one right here. And I was like, you know, oh, what is that? You know, and that’s really, and so, it’s interesting. And I think that’s kind of the dilemma of the osteopath is that we kind of have an identity. I don’t know, if crisis is the word, but we have an identity deficiency. You know, most people don’t really, most patients at least, really have no idea what an osteopath is or what, you know, distinguishes a DO from an MD. I think a lot of MDs have that same issue. [8:16] Definitely, definitely. Now that has changed some, certainly it started I would say maybe even a little bit before I was in residency, which was in 2001 to 2004 time range. I did an MD residency at Carolina’s Medical Center here in Charlotte, and at the time there were, were, I was the only DO in my class, but there was a DO in each of the classes before me, and there were a couple, and there were DOs in a couple of classes that came after me as well.
So, that kind of, I could tell there was some. [8:53] Infusion of osteopathic sort of influence into the training.
But really, I think the main shift is in just the last few years when the ACGME merged with the osteopathic graduate training.
And now I think there’s a lot more, at least general understanding of some of the uniqueness of osteopaths.
And the other thing that I’m always fascinated with is once you got into medical school, you know, here you’ve been dreaming about and making plans and you visualized yourself in your future.
Once you got into medical school, did you feel like you were in the right place? [9:40] It took a little bit of time. It’s interesting.
As I mentioned, I really didn’t have any prior to get the application process, I didn’t really have any understanding of the difference. And, and the way that it was sort of explained to me back then was, well, you know, if you, if you really are interested in, in, in, in clinical research, and more becoming a specialist, you should go to an MD school, if you want to be a primary care physician, you should go to a DO school, not that you can’t become a specialist, if you’re a DO or become a primary care physician if you’re an MD, but if you have that leaning, you should think about one or the other.
You know, I, at that point, I just, I just wanted to be a doctor.
So my thing was, you know, I’m going to apply to a handful of schools and I applied to both MD and DO. Right.
And, you know, and one of the things that really was a decision point for me was that my senior year in high school, my father had a stroke. [10:44] At a very young age, he was 52, he had a spontaneous dissection of his internal carotid, which at the time I had no idea what it was, but this is, you know, in retrospect.
And I’m the oldest child in the family, I’m the oldest child in the family and so that took a big portion of my consideration of where to go for medical training. [11:14] And it didn’t hurt that I was going to have very low tuition because my father was an employee of the hospital. So, there’s a lot of different things and then I could stay at home, be close to the family, not have rent.
I mean, there were a lot of different things, but really the biggest piece was that I would be close to my parents and be able to help as needed.
Some other things that sort of fascinate me about your educational history, when you finished, when you got your DO degree, were you pretty sure that family practice was where you headed Or did you need to do some more thinking about that?
No, no, this, so there’s a lot of twists in the story. So I started thinking, like as I mentioned, that I was interested in ophthalmology.
And then as I started with all the didactics and everything, pretty soon I thought, wow, you know, I think I, maybe I want something different.
And my interests shifted to orthopedic surgery. [12:16] And I’d had some, you know, I’d injured my knee, I tore my ACL playing soccer and just became fascinated by orthopedic surgery.
And so then that was my shift and spent a lot of time really through most of my even third year of medical school thinking I wanna be an orthopedic surgeon.
And I just remember in one of the extra elective rotations that I had, one day it just sort of clicked in my brain like is this really what you wanna do? [12:47] Day in, day out. And at that time, also in my own personal sort of journey, I had, my knee that I had the ACL surgery for was not doing well.
And I was having some issues and continued swelling and some instability.
And so I think, you know, and my interaction with the surgeons were not great, you know, trying to kind of figure out why I’m having continued issues.
And so I think that just fed into my notion of maybe, you know, I don’t know if I really wanna be an orthopedic surgeon.
At that point, my interest became, sort of switched to radiology, actually.
Because, you know, during, as you know, in orthopedic surgery, you look at a lot of images. [13:31] And so, and I’d been fascinated by that aspect of it as well, and MRIs, everything.
And so. Absolutely. So I thought, well, you know, maybe radiology is for me.
You know, it’s broad, it covers all specialties. You know, the lifestyle is great, the pay is great.
You know, just things that you kind of think about as a medical student.
And going into my final year.
That’s what I ended up applying and matching into a MD residency program at Winthrop University Hospital in Long Island.
And so that was, when I graduated in 2000, that was where I was, you know, thought I’m headed, was into radiology.
As you know, you have to do an internship here before you go into specialties like radiology.
And so I did that at Henry Ford in Detroit. there was a dual osteopathic allopathic residency that where I spent six months at Henry Ford and six months at this small osteopathic hospital, in Trenton, Michigan.
And it was a wonderful experience. I honestly, I couldn’t have had a better experience, I think, because I got to see both the tertiary center where you’re seeing remarkable pathology. [14:54] And you have an ER where you’re seeing in Detroit where you’re seeing gunshot wounds and everything else, to this small sort of suburban osteopathic hospital where there were no residents, there were interns, and then there were attendings. And so the interns got to do everything.
And so I was doing ABGs, putting in central lines, we were doing everything.
And so, it was an amazing experience to be able to kind of have a little bit of both of those things.
But what happened during that year, that internship year, was that I would go and spend, you know, any little bit of free time I had with the radiologist at the osteopathic hospital just to kind of hang out and see, you know, what my life is going to be when I, you know, after I’m done with residency training.
And again, I had this sort of…
Thought that, I don’t know if I want his job. It just all of a sudden, one day, it just dawned on me that like, I just, you know, I don’t know if I just, you know, I mean, I thought I loved radiology, but I just don’t know if it’s for me.
That started another sort of little mini, you know, dilemma, so to speak.
And at that point, I really had no other thoughts of what I wanted to do in medicine.
You know, I just, at that point, I mean, first ophthalmology, then orthopedics, then radiology.
And so, at that point, I was sort of left, you know, thinking like, gosh, you know, you came this far, like, and you don’t know what you want to do. [16:24] Like, what are you doing? You know, what are you, or do you even, is medicine even the field you should be in?
And the reason I say, bring that up as a question is because, you know, and I don’t know if this happened to you at all, but I had, in my little circle of classmates in medicine, In medical school, there would be these grumblings over the years of, gosh, we went into medicine, we’ve devoted all our life, our life is on pause, look at our friends, they’re starting families, they’re in finance, they’re making all this money, here we are racking up debt, and all that kind of thing.
People are like, did we do the right thing? a sort of a little side noise that had, you know, periodically sort of entered my mind.
And then now all of a sudden- You were even, you were, you were literally questioning whether or not. [17:21] There was going to be some place for you to make a living in medicine.
Yes, yes. And then the other thing that happened that was really consequential for me was, and you know, this, I think, I think this, you know, I’ll give you my perspective.
I don’t, you know, certainly, I don’t want it to be a reflection on.
That, you know, the Henry Ford healthcare system, okay, but it was my experience there is that the staff seemed really burned out. And particularly the nursing staff, and they were just there were there were different experiences that were really off putting to me where they were just not very nice to the patients. And and this happened enough over my this the course of the year that it really started to paint a a certain picture for me that medicine is just going to be unfulfilling for me. [18:17] And so once that seed was planted, which is not a very good seed to have in anything that you’re pursuing, combine that with this second guessing of what I wanna do for residency, you know, and the other part of the story with sort of parallel lives of friends that are not in medicine. [18:31] Then I really just started to have this sort of, you know, early career crisis where I’m just trying to think about what is it that I think I want to do.
It, it happened that at the time, my brother, my younger brother, he had he graduated from Duke and, and went into investment banking, and had worked in Charlotte for a few years. And, and, and since then had moved to New York, and he when he was in Charlotte, he had worked with a firm with at First Union Securities, which is a bank that now, you know, is a part of Wells Fargo. And he was doing healthcare, corporate finance. And so he was working with financing, you know, mid to large, you know, biotech medical device companies, that sort of the sector that his group focused on.
And so he would periodically call me up and say, hey, you know, we’re talking to this company who’s in this, you know, first round, second round, whatever trial of, you know, new biologic or whatever therapeutic, you know, and what do you know about that?
Can you tell me anything about that?
And so he would ask me these things. And I would, you know, I’d love to answer his questions.
And it was very intriguing to me. And I’m like, you know, he’s making a lot of money doing this.
And he doesn’t even have any healthcare understanding. I’m like, maybe this is something that I could use my health care training for. [19:54] And so, I ended up having some conversations with him and he connected me with First Union Securities with their health care group and they offered me a job.
Well, you know, I saw that little line in your bio and it’s literally one sentence.
As you can imagine, what went through my head was, I want to know the rest of this story.
And it’s a pretty good story.
So you were having exactly the same feelings that I would say at least 50% of medical trainees, are having at that stage of your development, and you did something that hardly anybody dares to do, and that is you hit pause, and you went and did something somewhere else that was totally different, and obviously you came to the decision that there was a better place for you in medicine than there was in finance.
Have you got any idea of what it was that pushed you over toward health care?
So when I finished my internship here in July of 2000 and started at the bank a couple of months later, September of 2000, so this would have been, I’m sorry, 2001.
And as you know, September of 2001 is when 9-11 happened. [21:11] And so, that actually played into the story significantly because the markets, you know, just went completely crazy.
And, you know, here I am a couple of months into investment banking, you know, learning a lot about finance, basically because they hired me saying, you know, you’ve got the medical background, we’ll teach you the finance.
And, you know, we believe that obviously if you have a medical background, you’re smart enough to learn the finance, we’ll teach it to you.
And so, I show up a couple months later, it’s like everyone’s panicking and everyone is kind of like, you know, you’re out for yourself kind of mind frame, right?
And so, it really shifted the experience because all of a sudden now everybody’s in this sort of panic mode. And, you know, I, you know, so being, you know, in this sort of triage and alarm kind of mode when it came to anything, and, and, you know, Charlotte’s, you know, second to New York and banking. And so we were, we were sort of considered. [22:21] The stepchild, you know, in finance. And, and so that made the panic even worse, because you’re like, Oh, well, the The Morgan Stanley’s and all the Bear Stearns and all these other big banks, they’re the ones getting all the deals.
The whole culture of this bank was shaken up and it’s all about just surviving.
All of a sudden, you’re working unbelievable hours.
I can easily say it was much harder than my internship year in terms of the hours that I worked and the unpredictability of it. It was a lot of this sort of.
What I saw at least was this like recreating the wheel, you know, and just people trying to. [23:05] You know, climb the corporate ladder. And I came from medicine, so my background was so different from everybody else. And I’m like, an emergency to me is very different. It’s kind of life or death. And so, you’re all treating this like life or death, but this is to me like, I get it, it’s money, it’s life, livelihood, but you’re, you know, the way you’re treating this and you’re sort of running around like, you know, like you’re at a, you know, a mass casualty scene, you know, I just don’t get that, right? And I just, you know, to me, it’s like I’ve come from the other side and so I’m, you know, I’m not really seeing, you know, what you guys are seeing. [23:42] And also, I also realized that which is part of the evolution to where I am now is that I’m not a great corporate guy. I realized that. And you know, I don’t think I’ve met many family practitioners who are.
Dr. John Bailey And so, yeah, I can see that. And I think, because I mean, you’re expected to be a yes man, at least for a big part of your career, you’re expected to be a yes man.
You don’t ask a lot of questions.
You just kind of put your head down, you work hard, you show up.
And not to say you don’t work hard in medicine, but you’re allowed to question things.
It’s a learning environment. Dr. Milton Harness Expected to, yeah.
So you had a change in attitude toward the world of finance, and I gather you had a change in thinking about what you ultimately wanted your professional practice to be because you were apparently no longer interested in radiology.
It became family practice, and I’m interested to know how that came about.
Well, I picked family practice for two reasons. One was because it was broad, like radiology.
And so, that was my reason going into family medicine. The other reason was that I was well positioned for that.
I had done an internship, a general internship year that could easily apply to family medicine. [25:11] I was living in Charlotte. I liked living in Charlotte even though I was working like a dog, you know, but I liked it and I thought, well, you know, gosh, the first thing I should do is just call up the residency director here in Charlotte and talk to them and see what they have to say.
They had had an intern that had just quit, that had just, you know, left.
And so, the serendipity of all of it was pretty amazing. And so, that allowed me then basically to walk into a second year position and not lose, you know, the year that I had done, you know, know, and my internship here. And so and and they got and they got to have a resident back, you know, they got to fill a spot that they had vacant. [25:57] Today’s episode is brought to you by Doc-to-Doc Lending. Doc-to-Doc provides match day loans of up to $25,000 to fourth year medical students and current residents. These loans are designed to help students cover personal expenses, such as moving costs, housing down payments, and living expenses before and during residency.
With fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and no prepayment penalties, Doc-to-Doc Match Day loans provide financial flexibility and allow students to focus on their exciting journey towards becoming a physician.
Doc-to-Doc was founded for doctors by doctors. They understand the challenges and hard work involved in becoming a doctor, and they support doctors throughout their careers.
Using their in-house lending platform, Doc-to-Doc considers the unique financial considerations of doctors that are not typically considered by traditional financial institutions.
So don’t let financial stress hold you back from achieving your goals.
Doc-to-Doc Lending has you covered. Visit www.doctodoclending.com slash MDCoaches to learn more. [27:15] Hi, I’m Rhonda Crowe, founder and CEO for MDCoaches. Here on Rx for Success, we interview a lot, of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers, how they overcame challenges, and how they handle day-to-day work.
I really hope you’re getting a lot of great information. But if you’re looking for an answer to a specific problem, management or administration challenge, or if you’re feeling just a bit burnt out, like maybe you chose the wrong career, well, then there’s a faster way to get the help you need.
No, it’s not counseling, it’s coaching.
RX for Success is produced by MD Coaches, a team of physicians who have been where you are.
I know you’re used to going it alone, but you don’t have to.
Get the support you need today. Visit us at mymdcoaches.com to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Again, that’s mymdcoaches.com because you’re not in this alone. [28:17] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment, but right now I want to tell you a little bit about Physician Outlook.
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And Prescription for Success listeners can get three months free when you enter our promo code RX4SUCCESS and select the monthly option at checkout. That’s a really great deal on this stunning publication. And now let’s get back to today’s interview. [29:29] Let me ask you then, once you got trained and board certified, it looks to me, looking to me looking at your CV that you did a little bit of wandering even at that point as if you were, looking for the right spot. Am I misreading that or is that kind of where your mind was?
Towards the end of residency and I had some great mentors. So as I progressed in residency, I took that as a sort of foundational piece. The other thing that happened just by coincidence is that.
I just started to use my osteopathic training in my interactions with patients, the osteopathic manipulation aspect, the hands-on part that we are trained in osteopathic medical school. [30:20] And I started to see patients respond to that, you know, to heal. There were people who’d come in with a back strain, I mean the lumbar strain, and expecting a muscle relaxant or something for pain. And I would, you know, get their permission and say, do you mind if I try a little something to see? And I would do a little bit of osteopathic manipulation. And they would, you know, leave there either not even wanting something for pain or just asking for maybe, some ibuprofen as a, you know, just in case things sort of flare up. But they walked away from the visit, from the interaction, markedly better than when they walked in the door. And, you know. [31:02] I have to say, I feel like most of us in medicine don’t have that satisfaction.
People come in, they have a condition, you maybe prescribe something, and then you hope that it works. But when they’re leaving the office, you still don’t really know if your approach is going to be effective or not.
Dr. John Barker Yeah, I think you’re exactly right about that.
And particularly in the super specialties, you know, you’re trained to the point where, you kind of know how to do one thing.
Once it’s done, you’ve done all you can do, or at least apparently that’s the feeling.
And I think that is exactly where the importance of people like you really starts to emerge.
Would you agree with that?
I do, and I certainly don’t want to take anything away from… [31:54] The satisfaction that I think all physicians get from caring for patients and our intention to help people improve their health and heal.
To me, the sort of the immediate gratification of having somebody walk away from the interaction, feeling better is a very different feeling that I can’t really compare to other aspects of when I would see patients, for example, somebody, a diabetic comes in and you’re like, well, we’re going to tweak your meds, do this, do that.
And we’ll follow up in whatever timeframe.
And then it’s not until then that you can really see if they were even compliant with what you had advised them to do. And if they were, did their health improve in kind? [32:43] And so as residency went on, I started to incorporate, operate when appropriate osteopathic manipulation.
And so, by the time I finished residency, I knew that osteopathic manipulation was going to be a part of my practice.
I came to the realization fairly quickly that I didn’t want to go into traditional family medicine where my sort of freedom to be able to do osteopathic manipulation would be, you know, would be manipulated, it would be affected. And you actually clearly began to study some. [33:24] Even more involved in some would say exotic forms of intervention as well, such as acupuncture and trigger point injections and things of that nature. How did that come about? Well, a lot of that started actually at that integrative medicine clinic. So it was called Carolina’s was integrative health and Russ Greenfield was the medical director. And so, when I joined, there was an acupuncturist, there were massage therapists, there were yoga instructors, a, nutritionist, somebody who did meditation, sort of mind-body work. So, it was really sort of a full-service type of environment from an integrative medicine standpoint. And that was my exposure to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine and just other things like cupping, like reflexology.
Dr. John Barbera And so what does your practice environment look like right now?
I’m operating more as a specialist of sorts. So I don’t really do primary care. In fact, I. [34:44] Tread very lightly to not switch into primary care mode so that I don’t step on any toes of my colleagues that refer patients to me.
But my role really is in the community now, I feel like especially if I’m getting referrals from colleagues, it’s because they’re seeing patients that they’re becoming either frustrated with or they’re just not sure, you know, what is happening with this patient, you know.
So, they either have a diagnosis but they’re not responding to the typical treatment approaches. [35:28] Or they just can’t come up with a diagnosis.
You know, I would say that having the training in the, you know, in Chinese medicine, I did train in hypnosis as well.
And so just having more of this holistic approach where I have a foot in both worlds, it really allows me to kind of think in a way that people who sort of are isolated in one side or the other really don’t get to do.
Can you tell us a little bit about the financial implications and how you can operate a practice like this?
You know, when I established my practice in 2014, I went into it knowing that I’m not going to accept insurance and sort of having to live with the, you know, the conflict that would limit some people from coming to see me.
It was interesting. I’ve had several mentors that at the time when I opened the practice, came to me and with some healthy and respectful skepticism, that, hey, you know, like the hospital systems here in town both tried this approach and it didn’t work. [36:54] So, are you sure this is what you wanna do in terms of the integrative medicine part of it and not taking insurance?
As I mentioned, I had worked at one of these clinics that was part of the hospital system, and they did ultimately, about three years after I had joined after residency, they closed because it was not making money.
But I had learned a lot about what I, in my opinion, they had done wrong, you know, things that I would change. And so when the opportunity came years later for me to do my own thing. [37:25] I felt like I had an idea of how to do it differently.
And a big part of that is basically creating a low overhead model.
And so, you know, I have the luxury of being able to really manage my expenses so that even though I.
You know people pay out-of-pocket. It’s reasonable enough that that people in this community can afford it You know at least a lot of people can well that makes a lot of sense if you don’t have if you don’t have to deal with a lot of, high dollar employees and, Invest in a lot of high dollar equipment. I can understand how that would make the process a little more manageable, but You know, you’re clearly a pioneer here and it it sounds to me as if you’re taking us back to. [38:19] And I hate to sound so melodramatic but a kinder gentler time when there were no CPT codes and there was, Health insurance was for catastrophic things that time I I thought had faded away and would never reappear again, but it sounds like you and those like you may be on the verge of bringing it back and I think it can only be a good thing for us.
Babak, I’ve really enjoyed the conversation up to now and I could continue to pick your brain for hours. I find this very fascinating.
But what I think we should do is get me out of the way and let’s do what we came here for so, Audience, i’m going to close my mic for just a few minutes and dr Babak mccurry is going to give us his personal prescriptions for success, my prescriptions for success, uh, Or I I wrote down a few things in in uh preparation for this uh, and uh, you know, the first thing would be, you know, having people that have been, influential in my career, in my life, and there have been many, but I had to really kind of narrow it down to some of the most impactful people in my life, and the first ones I would say are my parents. [39:44] Being immigrants coming from halfway around the world really taught me that you can make big changes in life and face adversity and you can still, you know, if you have the foundations, the knowledge, the drive to succeed, you will find a way forward. The resilience of sort of the immigrant is a real thing and I hope that it’s something that I will continue to not only apply in my own life, but hopefully be able to pass it on to my children.
The other part of the influence of my parents, especially my mother, I would say, is what, my leanings, you know, towards the alternative medicine side.
Some of it’s from the, the Iranian Persian culture, but really some of it is just from her own health journey and issues and having a difficulty, you know, finding answers, you know, she’s sort of the stereotypical difficult patient or challenging patient rather. [40:49] That’s allergic to so many things and has, you know, any, any written, you know, you know, side effect in the PDR she’s going to have to almost anything.
And so, over the years, it’s always been interesting trying to navigate her health issues.
And once I became a physician, really, I’ve been more of an advocate in that role.
And so, I’ve just learned so much over time about the sort of, you know, nutritional mindfulness, you know, exercise sort of portion of maintaining one’s health.
Another person that really has been influential in my career has been Dr. Dale Waxman. [41:28] He was one of the attendings in my residency training. He’s trained in hypnosis and that was really my first exposure to hypnotherapy was seeing him perform it on patients.
And really, it was just remarkable in the outpatient setting all the way to during the the OB rotation and just seeing how just his calm presence and his sort of hypnotic language would calm, you know, a patient in the midst of labor and just lower the temperature and you know, for any situation.
Whether it’s a patient who’s having you know, difficulty in their experience you know, and they’re unhappy and sort of creating a scene, he just had this ability to just be able to just neutralize the situation, listen to the patient, let them feel heard. [42:22] And really, that type of experience and my exposure to him led me to really embrace that behavioral medicine aspect of healthcare.
The best advice I ever got from colleagues was actually from a plastic surgeon in California, which is a long story in itself, it was a shadowing experience.
Summer between first and second year of osteopathic medical school in LA.
And his advice to me was, again, very much in line with my experience with Dr. Waxman. [43:02] Was learn psychiatry.
Learn your psych because it’s going to serve you in any field of medicine you go into.
And it’s interesting coming from a plastic surgeon, but you know, in his, at the time when I was with him, he’d been in practice for 12 years, had never been sued, you know, which for a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills was sort of an unheard of kind of thing.
And so, and he really attributed it to his ability to be able to communicate with patients, to be able to quickly discern if a patient is going to be challenging, if there’s somebody, especially from a plastic surgery standpoint, would just be never satisfied with whatever they were that he had performed.
So, I took that and again over time. [43:49] I found that it really was the truth. The other influence for me was actually from the book Who Moved My Cheese, which was taught to us in residency in our practice management, practice development curriculum.
It really taught me and it reinforced something that I had already started to do to some extent, Which was one’s ability to pivot.
When things are challenging or when there is a major disruption in what you thought was the way you were going to lead your life or lead your career or your practice, be willing to pivot.
Allow yourself to be afraid a little bit and think about what your options are instead of just sort of lingering and staying stagnant where you are and potentially over time just sort of suffering, you know, whether it’s in your professional wellness or personal wellness.
And finally, what I’d like to leave everyone with is the mantra that, you know, everything will work out. [45:10] And some of this is sort of interwoven with the other things that I mentioned, especially with my influence from my parents.
But the notion that I’ve always carried with me is that, you know, life will work out.
You know, I, you know, I have the. [45:27] The capacity, the wherewithal, and the faith that, you know, things, even if things don’t work out exactly the way that you thought they would, they will work out, you know, have faith, and ultimately, you will reach a different place, and most likely a far better place than where you are at the time where you’re questioning things.
And so whether that’s a belief in a higher being, belief in yourself, all of the above, it’s something that has been central to my approach to life, and I think it’s served me very well. [46:07] So with that, I’d like to really express my gratitude for being able to participate in this podcast, and those are my subscriptions for success.
Well, Babak, you have clearly accumulated a very impressive list of influencers and mentors and much to your credit, you have paid attention and I think have probably made all of them very proud and I thank you for being here and sharing your wisdom with us today.
Before we go, I want to give you an opportunity to tell our audience where you can be found and how they can contact you if they wish to do so.
Sure. The easiest way to reach me is through my office email, which is Healing Art Medical, 1, so the number 1, HealingArtMedical1 at gmail.com.
That email is also on my office website under the Contact Us page, and the office website is HealingArtMedical.org.
Dr. Babak Mokhari, it has been a pleasure having you with us today.
Thank you so much for being a guest on Prescription for Success. [47:20] Thank you so much for listening with us today. If you enjoyed the show, you can help us reach more listeners by leaving a rating and a review, especially on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
And if your app doesn’t have that option, just leave us an email or a voicemail through, Speak Pipe at www.rx4successpodcast.com. You can also help by becoming a Patreon member.
That link is in the show notes. And we hope you’ll also follow our companion podcast, Life Changing Moments with Dr. Dale Waxman. Special thanks to our producer, Craig Clausen, our promotions manager, Marianna Rodibaugh, and to Ryan Jones, who created and performs our theme music. And remember, be sure to fill your prescription for success with my next episode.