The Health Architect: Siatta Dunbar, DO, DipABLM

Dr. Dunbar is double boarded in Family Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine with fellowship training in Sports Medicine. She entered medicine as a second career after spending 10 years as a Project Manager in commercial and retail construction.  

The CME experience for this Podcast is powered by CMEfy – click here to reflect and unlock credits & more:  https://earnc.me/Uj8ZJB


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Her commitment to developing meaningful relationships that are focused on creating health and increasing quality of life, led her to start her own lifestyle medicine and health coaching business, Saravit Wellness.  It is built on the premise that healthcare should be 1) collaborative, not prescriptive 2) should educate individuals that they have control of their health, and 3) that restorative sleep, regular exercise, clean nutrition and wholehearted connections are foundational to achieving and maintaining health and vitality.

Dr. Dunbar’s Prescription for Success:

Number 1: Stay open and flexible.

Number 2: Seek out and invest in your personal development.

Number 3: Make time for play.

Connect with Dr. Dunbar

Email: drdunbar@sarivitwellness.com
Website: sarivitwellness.com

Notable quotes from Dr. Dunbar’s interview:

Tomorrow is not promised.

Am I truly living the life I’m intended to live? Am I honoring their memory?

I really enjoy the collaborative relationship – Being able to talk to people on a consistent basis – because we don’t get that opportunity in traditional healthcare.

If we could help people be and get to and maintain a healthy weight, we could potentially reverse a good majority of what we spend our healthcare dollars on.


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Access the Show Transcript Here

Transcript

[0:11] If you’re ready and willing to change this one metric you can then have a greater impact on all these other diagnosis does that interest.

[0:23] Paging dr. Kirk paging dr. Turk dr. Kirk you’re wanted in the o.r. dr. cook you’re wanted in the.

[0:36] Music.

[0:55] Hello everyone and welcome to prescription for Success I’m dr. Randy cook your host for the podcast which is a production of them D 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 MD coaches on the web at my MD coaches.com because you’re not in this alone.
And don’t forget see any credit is available when you listen with us just look for cmf I in the show notes to learn how.
My guest today turned to medicine as a second career after a decade working as a project manager in commercial and Retail Construction.
Today she’s a highly visible advocate for wellness and healthy lifestyle so let’s hear dr. siatta Dunbar tell her story.

[1:53] And what a pleasure it is for me today to be speaking with dr. siatta Dunbar out in,
the Western portion of the United States and what part of Washington are you in dr. Dunbar I’m actually in Portland Oregon I work in Washington but I physically reside you might know the host would mess it up
okay well now that we have you geographically fixed we can go on with our conversation I’ve really been looking forward to speaking with you you’ve got a great story and really unique compared to.

[2:30] Most of the Physicians that I talk to and I think we’ll start as we always do at the beginning which is a little unusual for you medicine was not actually.
Your first career choice was it tell us about that yeah so actually went to school for architecture at the University of Virginia.
Did construction management for many many years so medicine is truly kind of.

[2:54] My second pass at life so to speak but yeah I started kind of in the you know doing architecture and on the job site building Office Buildings and Retail Parks so quite a shift,
and can I just ask you who where did that interest come from how did you get interested in that as a youngster,
you know it’s interesting when I was pretty young once I once my family came to the states and I started going through kind of you know my formative years of education I was really drawn to.
Building models and Drafting and those sorts of technical things
so for whatever reason I just kind of gravitated to that
that concept of building spaces that people can occupy and really enjoyed getting into the details of Designing and Drafting and then.
Being able to have something materialize out of whatever was in my brain so that’s kind of what led me towards architecture and you mentioned your parents and I gather.

[4:00] They were not native to the US and then maybe you weren’t either what’s the story there yeah so I was actually born in Monrovia Liberia,
my mom’s family is from Jamaica st. Mary’s parish my father’s is from Liberia they met
back there so I was born in Liberia and then.
Moved or immigrated to the United States in 1980 when the first of.
What ended up being many sort of military cruising in Liberia so we sort of fled the country in 1980 yeah,
and were they were there any medical types in your family at all not at all and I think that’s part of the reason you know medicine never even seem like a.
Like even an option to be honest with you yeah I had no one in our family that had done it yeah so I was the first
well that’s even more intriguing so here you are a well educated very capable architect,
making a pretty good living I assume,
and where did the notion come that it would be a great idea after 10 years of that too.
Go to medical school you know when I think about my past I think I’ve just been sort of nudged along the way I you know when we got to the states I started to develop.
You know an interesting.

[5:26] You know whether it was things on television or you know wanting to get a little got a little intrigued about okay what is medicine about but never even fathomed I could be a physician like that was just not even on the radar.
So I actually started volunteering on the run like my local Rescue Squad and that was kind of for me.
This was as good as his I was ever going to get or as close as I was going to get to anything medical it totally infuriated my mother,
she was my mom went to finishing school in Switzerland so she was very much kind of the.
Very prim and proper and I was a bit rough and tumble for her I think and the fact that I was sleeping at the rescue squad on the weekends was just I was that was some challenging times but.
But that’s kind of where I started was just volunteering and series of.
You know things in my life and yeah some pretty significant losses just kept kind of you just kind of get noticed and I think being open to.

[6:34] What if is kind of how I ended up you know pursuing medicine.
So it sounds like you’d had the opportunity to at least to see the inside of a hospital from time to time at least from the,
emergency department area and that just piqued your curiosity and you decided to take a leap right yeah
I think I was pushed I think I was pushed pushed a marshalling well I think it was an emotional push you know I mean there was really no one that said oh siatta you should do this it was really just my sister,
died of metastatic breast cancer going through that process with her and then four years later my mother died of a heart attack.
And it was just it just became I don’t know if you can call it.
I don’t know if I want to say Divine but it was just sort of you know things just started really stacking up to say siatta are you really doing.
What do you not call but really tugs at your heart and it.
It was just that that constant knowledge and just that sort of re-evaluation of what are my choices is this leading me in the way I want to go and.
I think my you know my mother died very suddenly and.

[7:59] One of the things that I carried around with me was tomorrow is not promised and although it took me many years to still go you know too.

[8:09] Quit my job and go back to school because I hadn’t done any Sciences I had to go back to post back.
It was that it was that thought right am I truly living the life that I’m intended to live and my honoring their memory am I am I doing what you know I’m really really feel passionate about and it took it took time but but then I got and I got there.

[8:29] Yeah that’s a very powerful story and and you mentioned that your previous back of your lario degree didn’t really,
give you enough science to make you a viable candidate for medical school and so you actually did another two years right indeed yeah of undergraduate work what was what was that like for you did you find the science.

[8:53] Easy enough to handle or was it overwhelming what was the story at that point I was hanging on as tight as I could most times what have I got myself into it was tough
right I mean I was in I worked and you know I’m coming back to school a little later in my years and doing science is that,
you know that I hadn’t really had any exposure to so it was it was challenging and I feel do you ever did you ever doubt your decision during those couple of years,
not to the point that I would stop I certainly you know had moments where I was like man really is this what I’m doing,
but it was never to the point where I would say oh this is it I’m walking away I’m going I’m going back
never to that degree I have to admit that if you told me no I never had a doubt I might think you were a little goofy but it sounds like you were
pretty realistic about it.
And then later on you got into medical school in an osteopathic school once you were there.

[10:04] Did you immediately have the feeling that you were in the right place where did that take some time as well I knew I was in.
The right place in the sense of this path could,
could allow me to honor what I felt was honoring my mom and my sister right this was an opportunity for me to,
you know prevent someone else going through that loss it was an opportunity for
in a lot of ways for maybe a little bit of you know selfishness to say gosh I’ve made something out of myself my mother and my sister’s life was not in you know their death or life was not in vain so all of that right so from that perspective yes
it felt like the right thing I enjoyed the learning but again it was tremendously difficult for me.
It didn’t come easy yeah well the volume of the volume of Steel is built with it was it was challenging and.

[11:05] It was almost a new way of learning I mean the way I learned for architecture was very different than what I had to do for medicine I mean the amount of repetition in the volume in the you know I had all my little and I’d be made fun of how many times I rewrite my notes and it was just it was it was tough it was tough
yeah it sounds like you’ve been to medical school or I,
so once you got to the finishing point was there was there any doubt about
whether it was going to be family medicine or did you,
toy with some other ideas at all I learned pretty early that I really enjoyed the breadth of Family Medicine.
But I also was really intrigued with.

[11:54] Sports medicine because through my sort of that two years of doing post back and figuring out you know where I wanted to go I had.
Started doing Taekwondo I really changed my own health so I was really intrigued with athletes and being,
fit so I wanted I was really interested in sports medicine and wanting to,
figure out a way that I could tack that on so as I was going through medical school and looking at residency I was also thinking about okay,
how do I fit the sports medicine thing in there but I knew I wanted to come at it from that Foundation of Family Medicine.
And and and,
similar question once you got there you did your Family Medicine Residency in Milwaukee Milwaukee Minnesota by the way I was not aware there was a Milwaukee Minnesota but.

[12:52] Did you feel once you got there that you were really headed in the right direction yeah I really yeah Family Medicine was definitely.
Where I where I wanted to be it I enjoyed that connection developing that relationship having some continuity of care.
I enjoyed that a lot yeah very yeah very much.
You mentioned in your CV that you had a particular focus on Sports and Integrative Medicine what again why do you think you were drawn into that area.

[13:32] The integrative Medicine peace I think spoke to my my need or my desire for prevention.
Looking at things may be a little bit holistically and I think that just sort of came out of.

[13:48] Could I have done something different for my mom and my sister or could the system Healthcare had done something different for them.
So I think that’s what drew me to Integrative Medicine,
and the desire to understand what else could I put in my toolbox besides just the clinical knowledge.

[14:08] And then sports medicine was just again I really sort of enjoyed being an athlete and working with people that were motivated so those two things were really what fed that those two additional interests.

[14:23] It’s nice to work with people who want to be healthy isn’t it yes it makes a difference yes it does yeah it really really does.

[14:32] Hi I’m Rhonda Crow founder and CEO for empty coaches 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 now it’s not counseling it’s coaching,
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[16:38] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment but right now I have a message about the upcoming D PC conference.

[16:46] You know pre authorizations reimbursements administrators and EMR clicks are robbing your time with patients and challenging your clinical judgment.
Physicians you don’t have to be miserable in medicine you didn’t pick the wrong profession just the wrong practice model.
Thousands of Physicians have opened independent direct primary care offices around the country.
Patients pay a flat monthly subscription for everything a local doctors office can offer.
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[17:39] So check out DPC conference.com for tickets to our next conference.
First time physician attendees receive $200 off thanks to a grant from the Physicians Foundation.
Visit online at DPC conference.com and now let’s get back to our interview now let’s get back to today’s a.

[18:07] Well let’s talk about some of your first few.
Practice situations you state and Minnesota I’m not familiar with the location of Burnsville but imagine it must be close by to where you trained and you were doing sports and Orthopedic care how was that for you.
I enjoyed it it definitely appealed to you know I was able to kind of bring in because I was focusing on ultrasound and doing some procedure so I think it I started to see okay all of my.
Some of the things that I enjoyed about architecture kind of that detail that high-end coordination kind of.

[18:44] Conceptualizing all of that all of that sort of came to play when I was able to do ultrasound guided procedures so I really enjoyed that I really enjoyed.
At least initially some of the coverage that was involved Minnesota gets bitter cold during football season so that,
that love was challenging at times and I’m not a cold-weather person haven’t come literally from the equator
it was like me what am I doing out here but I like the relationship I really enjoyed it I mean I enjoyed working with the trainers and we I function really well in a team environment function really well and,
you know supporting people towards their ultimate goals I really really it was a great experience.
Clinically and my growth as a physician and I enjoyed it the weather man I could have I could have done with that Minnesota winters but otherwise,
well now you’re your move to the Northwest was that in some way.
Catalyzed by the need for a climate change or was it something else entirely certainly part of that and we did it you know the sort of the beginnings of covid or shortly you know after covid because we were just to the point,
Health Care was looking really different my wife is also a physician yeah really was.

[20:10] The weather was brutal I had gotten to the point where I didn’t feel like I could stretch as much as I wanted to.

[20:18] In my current position I’d also really started to get involved in lifestyle medicine and again getting back to my roots of how do I help people prevent disease or certainly,
I think acquired different level of Health which I wasn’t doing in my day-to-day practice and our kids were still pretty young so we did a lot of thinking and said look if we’re going to go now it’s probably the time to do it,
and we had actually looked.
Out this way for fellowship and I didn’t get in so we said hey my wife found a job and then at that point really well I guess we’re moving so then we picked up and moved,
in once again a little bit of a change not only of then you but the nature of practice you were actually on an Urgent Care environment is that right.
Yeah that’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been here yep and how did that strike you I mean is is.
Was that something that you really really enjoyed or was it a matter of something must be missing here that led to your evolution in to see reviewed Wellness how did that come about.
It just further highlighted in my opinion how ill-equipped.

[21:36] Health Care is right now to truly keep people healthy and to treat.
And in most cases you know reverse chronic disease so from that perspective it became exceptionally challenging to go to work.
And function in that environment that was truly the opposite of what I was trying to build with CeraVe Wellness while it you know I think it helped me grow individually it gave me time to kind of noodle on,
how I wanted to develop serve eat what pieces and parts I wanted gave me some latitude to do some personal development.
And it just reaffirms that what I’m doing would serve you Wellness is truly where I’m supposed to be yeah.

[22:22] One of my mentors during my residency was fond of saying that we don’t have a Health Care system in America what we have is a disease care system would you agree with that,
attitude absolutely wholeheartedly.

[22:39] Absolutely so tell me a little bit more about the evolution in the establishment of CeraVe this is,
truly another great leap almost as much of a blind leap I should think then leaving architecture and going to medical school but,
this is an entirely different way of thinking about,
Health Care at least from the way that I see it and I’m wondering if you agree and if you can give us some of the details about how you’re going to make that happen
and it’s just been sort of this,
as you call it an evolution because when I when I started doing coaching and that sort of the Crocs are sort of the foundation of Sabre beat when I started doing it was in Minnesota when I was doing sports medicine
because again I was seeing people and their quality of life wasn’t changing,
and I would give my sort of you know 10 minutes peel or 5 Seconds should be on the in the clinic setting about what I thought could help them
but I didn’t have a plan I didn’t have a structure I didn’t have a system.

[23:55] And I started looking I had been following the American College of Lifestyle medicine just sort of a very very periphery cursory way and then I really started to dig in a little bit more when I was in Minnesota and when I
really got into it in the mission statement I,
I was just like yes these are my people this is what I’ve been looking for and.
That right it was like ah this is fantastic and that was.

[24:29] Designing surveyed around the principle of the lifestyle medicine was what I started with now I am no way had and I’m still.
Sort of evolving and sort of growing in the business and figuring out what’s the best way and when I started then it was just,
making myself available after hours right if somebody had an interest if I could figure that out on my normal Clinic encounter I’d have a conversation with them kind of offline and then we do coaching on our own,
work with them and that just blossomed into one person two people word of mouth and.
I attached a name to it which is the blend of my two kids my two girls ones so sarit and the other is a be tall so I blended their two names and that’s Sarah Vite.

[25:24] And just created The Entity and I continue to just.

[25:28] Put together pieces and parts learning to run a business is a completely foreign concept learning social media is.
There have been so many things that I have learned,
continuing to learn but just again you know being open to gosh what if right what if this is where I’m supposed to be.

[25:51] It’s been I gotta tell you Randy It’s been a.
It’s been a lot of fun it’s hard but I wouldn’t trade it for the world it’s been amazing that’s good to know.

[26:04] Yeah I’m a good for you can you tell us a little bit more about what it looks like to,
to be the kind of healthcare provider that you have become two people come with you with,
complaints or do they come to you and say here I am please make sure I stay healthy,
just what does it mean to go and see a physician had a Wellness Center most people find me.
Because they’re not healthy and they want to either.

[26:40] Correct some current disease you know they’re diabetic and they want a different way they don’t want to end up you know adding another agent or
you know their document telling them they need to change and they don’t know how to do it so most people find me with with some disease process that is motivating them to change their lifestyle emoting motivating them to even have a conversation,
and that’s usually where it starts is just a conversation and all this is done virtually so I haven’t established a brick-and-mortar.
Because I think it opens up more opportunity to help and then there’s a cost right anytime so I right now it’s all virtual and it just starts with a conversation and it’s just really me trying to understand where they are,
and where do they want to go.
And then we sort of come up with the quote-unquote lifestyle medicine prescription right what is their nutrition look like and maybe I’ll give a little bit of context can I if I can just you know what is lifestyle medicine for.

[27:38] Yeah if folks don’t know what that is so please do yeah lifestyle medicine is essentially using evidence-based,
research in nutrition science to say you know what how can we support people to in most cases.

[27:56] Prevent.
And even reverse chronic disease and that you know that bucket includes diabetes hypertension high cholesterol and then all the downstream sequelae of those entities and the pillars.

[28:10] Music.

[28:18] Kisses having good social connections.
So those pillars are what we’re at people with and the nutrition can look a little bit different depending on what disease state were trying to reverse supporting people on how we.
The Institute and maintain regular physical activity how do we modify our lifestyle to support.

[28:42] Good restorative sleep and we can manipulate our nutrition we can you know there’s a lot that goes into sleep physiology more than I ever recognized so it’s developing that prescription for that person,
to get them to their end goal and it’s very much a collaborative relationship which.
I really enjoy and I think that’s what speaks too.
You know when I think back going into sports medicine I really like that team environment I like that collaborative relationship and as I.
Practice in the traditional system it was very you know sort of prescriptive I just sort of sat there and just said okay this is what you should do.
As opposed to walk what do you want and let’s come to an agreement on how we’re going to accomplish those goals so I really enjoy.

[29:31] That collaborative relationship and that coaching right.

[29:38] Being able to talk to people in a consistent basis because we don’t get that opportunity in traditional Healthcare right we see most of our patients,
right mmm yeah every once in a blue we order some Labs we identify a disease we give them a medication and then maybe we could go see a nutritionist or oh,
go over all your but we don’t really develop and talk to them longitudinally and support them so I just it’s just so awesome it’s awesome.
I really don’t like to,
make this program about me but I’m going to tell you a little story about me and get you to comment on it a little bit I spent the last decade of my practice after I stopped operating I was the medical director of a chronic wound care center,
pay as you might guess the vast majority of my patients were type 2 diabetics and the typical scenario would be that they show up,
with a difficult wound we would see them weekly.
And check their hemoglobin A1c every time and of course when they first showed up they’d be in double figures and over the next six to eight weeks sometimes,
two or three months after those weekly visits,
their hemoglobin A1c would be within normal range there wound would be healed and they would be discharged.

[31:01] And within six to 12 months later they would be back,
in my wound clinic so what they needed was a share of eat Wellness Center it sounds like in order to help them perpetuate,
those,
behaviors that we were unable to sustain once they were gone and that’s funny that’s exactly kind of that that Gap that I want to fulfill right because it’s challenging the way our system is right now
to be able to do what I have the luxury of doing and if if I can fill that void.

[31:43] So that we really can help people change their quality of life and that’s I would tell patients again back in Minnesota we can’t always Define our quantity.

[31:52] By God we can change our quality of life.
If we have the right you know you know the knowledge but then the support is the key thing yeah I can’t remember what the,
figure is right now but I know that the average,
total body weight of Americans has continued to increase and I forget what the percentage of officially obese Americans that there are but there are a lot of them,
and yet we don’t even we don’t even enter obesity as a diagnosis code many times when patients come in to see their internist or their family practitioner and,
how do you propose that we do something about that one problem which I think would change the entire state of health care
America and that is the problem with overweight
and to be honest that’s kind of part of the root cause I mean there are things kind of Brewing under under the you know under the surface that sort of snowball into that but I think if we could help people be and
get to and maintain a healthy weight we could potentially reverse a good majority of what we spend our Healthcare dollars on and where,
morbidity and mortality lies I think.

[33:14] You can spending time understanding why people have gotten where they’ve gotten because it’s multifactorial understanding are they are they do they want to change are they ready too.

[33:27] And then identifying a plan that supports them long-term and that requires time and we you know the way our system is structured right now there’s not enough time to do that there just isn’t I mean I don’t know.
What do we get 15 minutes 20 minute visits and that’s not all face to face.
The first 10 12 minutes is all rooming and vitals and,
doing all the Epic clicks and make sure their meds are uploaded and all their social history right the actual face-to-face time with your clinician is so small to have that kind of connection.
This challenging so it’s almost like we have to you know the physician has to or whomever the provider is.
Has to be willing to bring up that difficult topic because it can be a difficult topic.
And say if we could change this one metric if you’re ready and willing to change this one metric.
You can then have a greater impact on all these other diagnosis does that interest you.
And if the answer is yes then you plug them in with whether it’s me or you find another one like me or another you know somebody that then takes it from there.

[34:44] And sees them to the end.
Well doctor siatta Dunbar I think we can identify you as a true Pioneer one that hopefully will be only the beginning of something much better for
citizens of the United States and hopefully across the world because I know it’s not just an American problem
I want to thank you for taking the time to let me pick your brain and find out some details about you that’s been,
fascinating hearing about how you came from
being an architect to to to being a physician that’s really a fascinating story but we’re at the point where I’m going to
close my mic and get out of the way and we’re going to give you an opportunity to speak on your own so audience this is Doctor siatta Dunbar with her prescriptions for success
I would say there are three things that really jumped out at me that I think of
sort of helped me navigate sort of all these iterations of myself number one stay open and flexible.

[35:50] My life has truly shown me time and time again that opportunities.
Have come to me when I’ve been open to the possibility just just the possibility of something.
You know as I’ve talked about I studied architecture and never in a million years did I ever imagine that I would end up becoming a physician.

[36:13] And then when I got there seemingly the holy grail and then life showed me again being open to what if.
Has blossomed into what I feel so blessed and honored.

[36:29] To be able to do now which is really just a coach and help people truly acquire Optimal Health and long-term vitality and be.
The Gap that I wish my mom and my sister had number 2 I would seek out.
And invest in your personal development.

[36:49] And this doesn’t matter your age or your years of experience we all.

[36:57] Can and should really should continue to grow.
You should constantly be looking for people that can push you to be better not do more but to be more.

[37:12] And then third I would say make time for play and this is something that is a newer concept for me and I’m implementing as often as I can
because it’s truly shown me that I can be my most productive and creative when I increase.
The time that I allow for play and that can look really different right it can be making sure I’m carving on enough time just to.
Be with my kids and letting them dictate what we do just unencumbered no phone no nothing right just.

[37:49] Kids kids know how to play we forget how to play as adults we are just so focused on our goals and just putting that aside and just being
yeah just being able to laugh I mean think about your kids right they can laugh just that guttural laugh so make time to play
you know go for a run whatever your thing is but just carve out that time to play it truly does increase your productivity and your creativity so those would be my top three sort of recipes or prescriptions for success
well doctor siatta Dunbar you have accumulated quite a bit of wisdom
in your relatively young life and I want to congratulate you for the success of Sarah feet wellness and I want to thank you for sharing your story with us today before we go I want to give you an opportunity to tell our audience where they can find
you and more about you if they’re so inclined I’m always available for a conversation the easiest is probably just to email me.
And it’s dr. Dunbar at Sarah Vite SAR IV it Wellness all one word.com.

[38:57] And then my website is the same survey wellness.com you can read a little bit about me and what I’m trying to do and again this is a man
I’m a work in progress so the website changes as I as I fine-tune how I can be of,
the best service to the people that are that are ready and willing to sort of change their outcomes and change their quality of life so be happy to be of service to anyone,
well doctor siatta Dunbar it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and I thank you for taking the time it has been truly my pleasure rainy thank you.
Thank you so much for joining us today.
We’d really appreciate a review from you and to five star rating gives our podcast much more visibility that helps us reach many more.
You’ll find exclusive content on our patreon page including membership only material like personal rapid fire Q & A sessions with our.

[39:53] To be sure you never miss an episode visit our website at RX for success.

[39:59] Calm to subscribe and while you’re there learn how to get CME credit from cmf I just by listening.
Special thanks to Ryan Jones who created and performs our theme music and remember be sure to fill your prescription for success with my next episode.

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