The Pathfinder: Alexandra-Lukianoff, MD

Dr Alexandra Lukianoff had a promising start in the healthcare field as a Nurse Corps officer in the Navy. After leaving active duty, she was hired by DoD to the be the Patient Care Coordinator for the Division of Vascular Surgery at NMC Balboa in San Diego. It was during this time that she decided to become a surgeon, and so the long path began.

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During her time as a surgical resident at UCONN, she was determined to pursue a path to surgery. Her interests vacillated between general surgery and plastic surgery. She ultimately decided to go into trauma and critical care, but was able to do extra training and research in plastic surgery. During her chief year of surgery she had the life changing experience of breaking her back in a car accident. It took multiple operations and 10 months to get fully back on her feet, and back into surgical training. She was accepted into the trauma and critical care fellowship of her choice, and steamed forwards. Unfortunately she herniated two cervical discs during a lap chole, and for a time lost function and feeling in her dominant hand. She managed to complete her general surgery residency and decided to take the following year, after even more surgery and recovery time, to step away and to rethink her future. It was at this time that serendipity stepped in once again, and she became the Local Medical Director for a very busy wound care center in Connecticut. Over the next 3 years she became a physician mentor, and then a regional medical director offering education and training, as well as mentorship, and coaching to hundreds of physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses over the following years.

Over the last year she has decided to work towards establishing a wellness practice in Franklin, TN. Over the years she has seen a great many patients and loved ones struggle with day to day health, self image, and weight loss with very few options available, and very little support in the area. She recently opened the doors to Taproot Total Wellness. She is starting a small individual practice, and is establishing a Wellness Network in the area to bring like minded physicians and businesses together. She has also just started a blog called ‘What is Wellness?’ In this she is pulling together leaders from all different industries and walks of life to gain their perspectives on what wellness is to them, and how they implement it into their person and professional relationships.

Dr. Lukianoff’s Prescription for Success:
Number 1: Don’t be afraid to take big leaps and make big changes.

Number 2: If things do not feel right for you, they are not right for you.

Number 3: Value your health.

Number 4: Maximize your downtime.

Number 5: Stay open to new ideas.

Number 6: The only constant is change – but you can handle it.

Connect with Dr. Lukianoff

Phone: 615-465-0015

Notable quotes from Dr. Lukianoff’s interview:

Don’t be afraid to take big leaps and make big changes.

If things do not feel right for you, they are not right for you.

Value your health.

The only constant is change – but you can handle it.

Access the Show Transcript Here




[0:00] So I called him, I said, hey, I had an accident and my back hurts. Well, actually, there’s a little bit more there. I went to the hospital and operated first. I operated for about 14 hours and then I couldn’t move my right leg. And then I called my friend and said, I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I had an accident and I can’t move my right leg And my back’s killing me. Can you admit me? And he knew me from previous things. So he knew I wasn’t I wasn’t a wimp. And I wasn’t crying wolf. And he said, Oh my god, get your butt in here.
Paging Dr. Cooke. Paging Dr. Cooke. Dr. Cooke, you’re wanted in the OR. Dr. Cooke, you’re.

[0:50] Music.

[1:13] 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 MD Coaches on the web at 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. Well, my guest today has a path to success story that follows anything but a straight line. Some of her choices were deliberate and others were a result of unplanned events. But in all cases, she took control of her circumstances and not the the other way around. So let’s hear my conversation with Dr. Alexandra Lukianoff.
I’m really excited today to be having a conversation with Dr. Alex Lukianoff, who I believe is coming to us from Franklin, Tennessee. Is that right, Alex?

[2:29] I live in Spring Hill, but I’m practicing in Nashville and Franklin right now.
Okay. Spring Hill being in Tennessee as well?
Yes, I’m just south of so you’ve made the move. Oh, yes. All right terrific Well, you got such as a really fascinating story here And I’m gonna take you back prior to the material that you have provided for me I know that you are a former Navy officer But I’m interested to know what your life was like prior to the Navy and what got you into the Navy to start with. Oh.

[3:02] Oh, yeah, I love to talk about that because it’s really related to my parents.
My father is an old Russian man. He was born in 1926 in the Soviet Union.
Really? Yeah. Yeah. Wow.
So if you know anything about that age group in Russian history, men who were born in 1928 had a 20% survival rate post-World War II.
So he was really fortunate in some ways to have made it through, but he had a very difficult upbringing and it’s hard for him to even tell a story of his childhood that doesn’t in some way involve war or hunger or somebody dying at the end of his stories.
One of his earliest memories was they’d emigrated to Zagreb and literally one of his earliest memories as he was out on a.

[4:03] A patio area and there was an air raid and his grandmother and his younger brother were, killed in trying to get protection in a doorway. And he- My goodness.
Saw it all. So right, he’s been through so very, very much. And my mother, similarly, but in England, she grew up, she was born in 1938. So she grew up just outside of London.
So her early childhood memories are just peppered with the Blitz. I bet.
BT. One of her earliest memories was putting on her Mickey Mouse gas mask when she was a little girl. And she and her brother were, it was just the two of them and their parents, they were nearly evacuated in one of those children’s evacuations boats. And there were several of them that were sunk. So it was her mother who brought them to the ships to send them off to safety and she didn’t have the heart to do it. So they stayed together during the war.
My father came to the United States as a displaced person. And they were sort of reunited at one point at a a detained persons camp in Germany right after the war. And my father was sent to the United States.

[5:26] And landed in Wisconsin. And he did not know English, but within five years of landing here, he had a master’s in economics from the University of Wisconsin.
Right? So he was able to bring over his mother and his younger brother, my uncle, And, you know, they- Pretty smart guy.
Yeah, he’s pretty clever. He’s, you know, he met my mother at a singles club, singles international club in Manhattan, and that’s where they met and married and had us.
And then I love his story because it comes around full circle. I think it just, it inspires me whenever I think about it. He, you know, here he is, a displaced person. He had started an anti-communist faction in his, what would be the equivalent of like junior high school back in the day. He came here, he worked as an interpreter, he picked up nine languages along the way, and his most enduring employment was as an interpreter for the State Department.

[6:30] And he ended up working in, you know, Reagan-Bush era treaties against the Soviet Union.
Wow, in the heart of the Cold War. Yes, sir. With the Strategic Arms Limitations, Assault Treaties, IMF Treaties, START Treaties.

[6:47] So, I think we really got to see a real cross-section of life and what you can become and how you can live on principles and hardship builds character. And it was really our discussions at the dinner table, my entire upbringing were about war and politics.
And I just felt this call to service. So, you know, I was from a middle-class town in Connecticut, right outside of Manhattan. Girls my age really didn’t say, hey, I’m going to go join the Navy.
But I just really wanted to. So I was in my nursing program at Salve Regina in Newport, which is a very Navy friendly town. And I wasn’t going after scholarship. I just really wanted to serve. And a good friend of mine found out about these scholarship programs. I just intended to, you know, get my nursing degree and go run off with the Navy. But it turns out I figured out in my freshman year of college that I was academically intelligent. I never thought I was dumb, but I just didn’t find high school that interesting, I guess. I really was more interested in my my jobs. I you know as a cheerleader I had clubs and everything in school. I was involved, but the academics weren’t that appealing, I guess.

[8:14] But I had a job, like every job I’ve been in, I’ve kind of been put in a leadership position. So, I worked for a chain of gyms, local gyms in high school, and I was 17 years old, and I just really knew how to keep that front desk organized. And I guess I organized the cooler better than anybody else. So at 17, they made me the regional manager of the front desk employees of this series of four gyms. Yeah. So it’s just always- That’s a really great story.
Oh, thank you. It was a lot of fun. It was such a great experience at that age.

[8:54] And I gather it’s easy to sort of infer, but I’m presuming that it was your mother’s profession that sort of led you into the medical field.

[9:07] It definitely was. So my mother, before she came to the United States when she was 22, she’d already finished a nursing degree in England.

[9:17] And when she came here, she came from a town of 600 with her best friend on a ship after cancelling an engagement straight to the heart of Manhattan.
So pretty brave woman, pretty bold. She knew she wasn’t going to be happy with a small life.
So she went straight to the heart of it. And she and her best friend worked as nannies for a time and met, married, had a bunch of kids. You know, things were hard when I was younger.
My dad’s work was not always consistent.
So my mother went back to nursing school when I was probably five.
I think I was in kindergarten or first grade and she was able to get through.
She had honors, GPA, she’s raising four kids. My dad traveled a lot.
It was always reassuring to me in some way that you could get a degree like that and have employment.
I’ll be honest, I just knew if I was a nurse, I’d always have employment.
But I was her test pilot, you know, sitting on the kitchen table.
She learned how to listen to her stethoscope and auscultate lungs on us, her kids, and we were part of it.
It’s always been healthcare for me. For a time, I thought maybe physical therapy.
So yeah, when I became a nurse, I thought I would be a nurse forever.
And I had very strong…

[10:39] Academics in college because I figured out I was smart and I could do it. So I graduated with almost a 4.0 GPA and everybody would ask, oh, when are you going to go to medical school? I was like, I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to be a doctor. Famous last words.

[10:55] Exactly. So while I was in the Navy, it was my first real exposure to physician education, physician training. I didn’t even know what a resident was. Yeah. And I was put on the OB floor. And I saw the residents come around and, you know, make their rounds and talk about what they were doing. And it seemed so interesting. And I was like, these guys have the coolest job.
Like they get to just be smart about what they’re doing and take some time. I didn’t know what else it entailed. And I just remember there was a Colonel Kopelman and, you know, just the way he was able to take care of patients and teach and they were able to learn. And I just fell in in love with it. So I knew within a couple of years after graduating from nursing school that I I wanted to pursue medicine. So it started that early. It did. It started pretty early. I had my obligated time because you have to serve a minimum of four years active once you sign up.

[11:55] But I knew I my duty station was changed from Washington DC back up to Connecticut and I knew I was going to get out at the four-year mark at that point or at least I was pretty sure. So I started trying different things out and I thought maybe I’d be a nurse practitioner.
So I went and I took my first nurse practitioner, like master’s nursing course was theories in creating a therapeutic milieu in nursing history. I almost passed out from boredom.
Yeah, that sounds really riveting. It was. I was like, nope, I’m not gonna make it through this.
Yes, money back on that tuition.

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[13:57] 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.
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I know you’re used to going it alone, but you don’t have to. Get the support you need today.
Visit us at to schedule your complimentary consultation. Again, And that’s, because you’re not in this alone.

[14:59] 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.
I’m interested in knowing at what point in medical school that you decided that surgery was going to be the way that you wanted to go. Did you ever think about anything else or was it pretty much your target from the beginning?

[16:23] Yeah, I pretty much had blinders on and I still could appreciate all of the other rotations for what they were, but I was very driven in that direction.
And I did fairly well, I wasn’t a star academic in med school, I was solid, I was strong, there were no demerits, but I wasn’t the superstar of the class or anything, but I held my own I remember there was a professor who we all loved, and he was invested in all of us, and He was just this funny, unique guy.

[16:55] And I wasn’t sure. The only question I had was whether or not I was going to do general surgery, planning to go to vascular surgery, or plastic surgery, planning to go to plastic surgery. You could do the combined residencies in plastics, but not in vascular at that time. So I had all these rotations booked. A lot of people were taking time off, and I just was doing extra rotations in each of those to figure it out, and extra projects and all these things. And our last, my last rotation or clerkship in my third year was an inpatient internal medicine rotation. And it was the second or third one of the year. And I just, I lost my focus and I didn’t do very well on our last exam. And Dan Henry, our professor said.

[17:43] Alex, I’m very disappointed in you. You did really rotten on this exam.
I said, in my defense, Dr. Henry, I didn’t study at all. So he thought that was hilarious.
And it was really because I was just so geared towards all these other things.
But I promise I did learn all those internal medicine things too.
Yeah, I bet you did. And it kind of shows up in where you went from there.
But ultimately, you did decide that surgery was going to be the route.
I gather you felt comfortable once you got into that training program, but toward the end, you ran into a little trouble. You wanna tell us about that?
Definitely, you know, a make or break point in a person’s life where I was doing well, I decided to go trauma and critical care, which really surprised me, and I had just started my chief year, and it was all positive, it was all good, it was going to be a great year, and I’d slogged through the first 60 months or whatever.
So there was a light at the end of the tunnel and I had my first weekend off in a very long time.

[18:55] And I was driving to my mother’s house, I think it was Sunday afternoon.
And I just took a little turn on the highway and the traffic was dead stopped in front of me.
And there was a truck behind me that ran into the back of my car.
So I made a lot of mistakes. I had broken L5S1 vertebrae.
I did not want to go to the hospital because I didn’t want to be a trauma.
So I ended up sort of managing my own trauma by calling a friend who was, you know, he’d been a chief when I was, I think a med student, and he was running one of the services on the general surgery side.
So I called him, I said, hey, I had an accident and my back hurts.
And well, actually there’s a little bit more there. I went to the hospital and operated first.
I operated for about 14 hours.

[19:47] And then I couldn’t move my right leg. And then I called my friend and said, I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I had an accident and I can’t move my right leg.
And my back is killing me.
Can you admit me? And he knew me from previous things. So he knew I wasn’t a wimp and I wasn’t crying wolf.
And he said, oh my God, get your butt in here.

[20:10] So we just worked up my lower back I didn’t get the pan scan and all the other things that I probably would have had if I’d come in as an activated trauma. And sure enough, I needed decompression, laminectomy right away. There was just no question that I wasn’t going to finish and that I wasn’t going to get back right into it, that I still had pain after the laminectomy, but my leg worked. So I was like, well, my leg works, I can go back to work now. So I wanted to take three weeks off. My program wanted me to take six weeks off. I think we settled on four weeks. And then I was back out. There was this reservoir that we all used to run and jog at. It’s a big loop and it’s a big hill. And the farthest point in the walk is the highest point. And I was at the farthest highest point and I felt something just crunch and snap in my back. And I had to drag my right leg the two miles, mile and a half back to my car. And that was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.
I bet it was. And it was scary. It was painful. It was awful.
It was more than just a little trouble.

[21:19] It was more than just a little. Yeah. I called the neurosurgeon who operated on me.
So I called him. I said, something has happened. So we got an MRI the next day. And sure enough, There was a bone shard through a nerve root and that’s when I needed real reconstruction and fusion. Then it was, we’re looking at six months out of the program, three months in a body cast with like no bending and twisting and it ended up being 10 months out of the program altogether.

[21:50] And that was a very difficult time. I sort of realized there was not much I could do other than heal and there was not much that I controlled other than what was going on in my brain.
So I actually got really into Buddhism. My younger brother had sent me a couple of books and that’s, I really think, what got me through. Unfortunately, that same year, I grew up in in Danbury, Connecticut, and Newtown and Sandy Hook were right next door.
And I went to the Catholic high school in that area. So most of my classmates and my best friend from high school were all from Newtown, Sandy Hook.
So that fall, my accident was in July, surgeries were that fall.
And yeah, Sandy Hook happened. And one of my best friends lost his godchild.
I don’t wanna go too much into that, but it was devastating.
It was just- I can’t even imagine.
It’s hard to describe. I mean, there was so much loss, loss of life, but loss of hope for so many people.
In a way, I consider the time that I was down with my back to have been another sort of weird serendipitous thing.

[23:13] I won’t call it luck, because that’s not what it was.
But I was able to be there for the community and we did fundraisers for the police station.
We did fundraisers for the fire department.
We did food drives. Here I am in a body cast lugging these things around trying to make something decent out of absolute tragedy.
So that was a very challenging time, not just for me, but for everybody I knew.
That is a very powerful story. I feel it. Yeah, I bet you do.
But rather than just sort of clock out and start all over again, you did eventually get yourself back into your surgery program, right?
I did. I knew that I had one chance to heal properly, so I took the time to heal properly so that.

[24:03] When I went back, I was ready to hit the floor running, and I didn’t want to weigh the team down and all the things.
So I went back to one of the smaller hospitals, and you hear smaller hospital, you think less work, but no, sometimes the smaller hospitals are more work because there’s fewer people around.
So I’ll never forget, Jim Flaherty was like, you’re going to do this.
This is going to work. You’re going to be awesome. And he was always a great role model for me.
He was trying to get my confidence back under me. So on my second Monday back, we did an esophagectomy and a Whipple in one day, and I think the next day we did another Whipple, and he’s like, see, you’re back.
So that was- That’s a lot of time stooped over an operating table.

[24:50] It absolutely was, and I was exhausted, but I had some more tools in the toolbox than I would have had before the accident.
I knew better how to take care of myself rather than not take care of myself.

[25:05] So, you were still, you were not through dealing with unexpected injury, right?
You had another event to finish.
No. It’s so crazy.

[25:18] So, I was all back in, I went through my fellowship applications, I matched the fellowship program I really wanted to go to in trauma and critical care, and I was off cadence with the rest of the cycle.
So I was set to finish in April. I was at Hartford Hospital, which is one of the busiest surgical hospitals in the Northeast.
So you’re never not busy there. We just happened to not be busy that day.
And we did the world’s best gallbladder. It was a 20 minute gallbladder, lap coli.
And it was like, this is amazing. We’re done at noon. It’s a beautiful day. This never happens.
But as we were finishing up that case, I felt like I had a bee sting.
I really thought that something had stung me in the operating room on the right side of my neck.
Looking around. So I know the moment that it happened. And somehow in that call period, I didn’t get a single other call to the ED. I didn’t get a single other surgical consult.
It’s never happened in the history of Hartford Hospital. So I was able to get some sleep in the call room. And when I woke up, my right arm, my dominant arm was really heavy. It’s hard to know that you can’t feel because it’s applying a negative. But when I went to wash my hands, I couldn’t feel the hot water on my dominant hand on my index and middle finger. This is a problem.

[26:38] So, my neurosurgeon had said, you know, he had basically a three-day rule. Any severe symptoms, you know, anything really debilitating, take care of it right away, obviously, but sort of nebulous symptoms, things like that, give it three days. So, I was trying to apply the three-day rule, but it was obvious that something was going on to anybody who knew me. Because I was like, oh, no, you go do that case or, oh, no, you go do that case. So it didn’t take long for, you know, the senior surgeons to figure out something was happening to me. And they were just wonderful. They were scary people. You didn’t want to cross them. But when it really came down to it, they really took care of us. So I was literally walked into the emergency room and introduced to the head of the ED, who, of course, I already knew. And he walked me to to MRI, I was like, wow, this is something, and I had blasted out two discs in my neck.

[27:34] Whether or not that was related to the accident, we’ll never know for sure, but- Dr. Darrell Bock That was going to be my next question.
Dr. Jennifer Lixton We’ll never know. I kind of think that it was.

[27:43] Dr. Darrell Bock It’s hard for me to think that it wasn’t. Dr. Jennifer Lixton Exactly.
Dr. Darrell Bock You know, you don’t, those vertebral bodies don’t just come apart for no good reason.
Yeah. So we really, we tried to do the physical therapy route, you know, my, my personal neurosurgeon now that I know him so well, because I’ve got, I’m on the frequent flyer program. He said, you know, there, I know we’re going to feel compelled to rush, but it’s even more important now that we know we have to go through the steps, you have to do physical therapy, we’ve got to do some cervical traction, because if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, then you’re you’re gonna need pretty good surgery there.
So that was the end of April and conservative treatment is six weeks.
So now we’re in the middle of June and I’m supposed to start a fellowship July 1st.
We scheduled surgery for June 24th and I had kept my fellowship program director, the guy who ran the program, he knew every detail all the way through.
And I told him, I said, surgery is gonna be June 24th.
I think I’m gonna need to take maybe like six weeks off or something.
And he went ballistic. So I won’t say what program it was, but he said, I don’t give a…
If you have surgery on June 30th, you are showing up here on July 1st.

[29:00] This is after saying, don’t worry, you’re part of the family, we’re gonna take care of you.
So that just sent a chill through me. And I said, you know something, now that you said that I’m not coming at all.
I’m not gonna be able to work for you if you’re gonna treat this that way.

[29:16] You know talk to the governing boards and I was within my rights to withdraw from the program That was hard. I mean even though I bet it was Clear that it should happen. It was still a very.

[29:27] Scary scary. Yeah, given what you learned about this person. I’m very inclined to think you did exactly the right thing Yeah, everything i’ve heard since and the stories the anecdotes that came out after I made that decision from people who very well Could have told me in his hands were very telling.
And what’s happened since then has reassured me that I definitely made the right decision.
Yeah, and so let’s go ahead and get into that chapter. What was the next turn?
So I was intending to take a year off and just heal my body and my mind to an extent because that’s all trauma right there.
I didn’t recognize it as such at the time, but looking back, that was a couple years just full of trauma.

[30:11] My good friend who’s a colorectal surgeon said, dude, I have known you for a while, please don’t take a year off, you will go insane.
So she’s like, do something clinical, do something light, do some research, but don’t take a year off.
So I went to the, not exactly local, it’s like one town over, I just didn’t happen to train at this hospital, I trained at all the other ones around, but they had this huge wound center.
So I went over there and said, I’m thinking maybe I’ll do some wound care one afternoon a week.
And they took a look at my background as a vascular nurse prior to med school who did some wound care and ran a whole department of the hospital.
And then I was a surgeon now and all the things and they asked me to be their medical director.
And I said, sure, but what’s that?

[31:05] And that’s how I became acquainted with Rhonda Crowe and she was just absolute brightness and light in that moment, you know, really encouraging and really positive about it all.
So I did what I typically do, and I said, OK.
Folks, I’ll be your local medical director as long as I can become a regional medical director within two years.
I had no idea what I was saying, but I liked the words. And it was a little presumptuous.
It’s my first job after training, but yeah, I’m going to be your regional medical director within two years.
So sad to say it only took three years.

[31:49] I became a mentor for other wound care physicians within that first year.
And then within two years of that, I was promoted to be one of the regional medical directors.
And that was, it was very challenging. It was a very steep learning curve on all sides, you know, the hospital operations, the leadership, the politics, the payers, the policies.
It was an incredible experience. And I was never not tickled.
I was in clinic half the time and traveling half the time.
I ended up being the regional medical director for pretty much the entire East Coast.
I think I never took over Florida completely, but there were 140 physicians that I was there to help.
We considered ourselves to be more in a coaching and mentoring role than discipline or real oversight, because you can’t really do that.
We’re not privileged or credentialed in any of these hospitals, but I did have to have some very challenging discussions at the C-suite level to save some positions and rethink some other positions for our doctors.
If I hadn’t taken that step into wound care and decided to not take that time off for me, I would never have come into that position.
And I mean, my life certainly went down a different road than I thought it would have been, but it’s all been valuable and all been for the best.

[33:12] What do you think it was about wound care that caught your fascination?
I’ll tell you honestly, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it when I went to do it.
I think it was something to get me out of my apartment off my couch and keep me touching patients.
But when I started to do it, I didn’t think I was going to like patients who could talk to me, and I didn’t think I was going to like seeing the same people every week.
And it turns out that’s exactly what I ended up enjoying about it. It’s still procedure-based, but it’s, it really is, you know, they’re saying it won’t care. We don’t just take care of the whole of the patient, we take care of the whole patient. And it is absolutely true. And there is joy in it. And, you know, when you see somebody come in, they don’t know anybody else who has an 18 centimeter venous leg ulcer. So they think they’re a freak of nature and it hurts and it.

[34:01] Smells and they’re embarrassed. They’re depressed. They’re not going to work. You have to take care of all the aspects of that human and to see them get better and be able to manage and their wound gets better measurably week after week. And as you know, the physician or nurse practitioner or whoever’s managing the care, you get to do cool things to make it better. And ultimately, you get to see them heal. It is very, very rewarding. And I found myself, you know, trying to dive in a little bit deeper into other aspects of their care. It’s very hard to get bariatric services for patients. It’s very hard to find addiction counselors for patients.
And a lot of these patients come with those and, you know, maybe their PCP doesn’t know it or anybody else because we see them every week. So we see a lot of these patients more than anybody else in the community or anybody else in their family does. So it’s a very different level of responsibility to their life, not just their condition. And it’s definitely moved me further in different directions. I have not met anyone who shared circumstances similar to yours and mind and there have been lots of them. You know people had never dreamed that they were going to be involved in chronic wound care and to a person they tell me that.
It’s just an incredibly rewarding experience, and it sounds like it was exactly that for you.

[35:28] It absolutely has been. I still really enjoy the patient care aspect of it. And, you know.

[35:35] It’s you take it to heart when somebody doesn’t get better, and you take it to heart when somebody does get better. So, it’s, yeah, I don’t think you see that anywhere else, because, you know, we talk about it sometimes, and it’s, you know, internal medicine is the heart attack that they they don’t have or the cholesterol that doesn’t rise.
You measure it, right? You measure it from week to week.
So you really, really get to see it and participate in it and know that you affected change. And you don’t think you get that in most, hardly any other area.
And I believe you have, I almost forgot, I knew that you were doing something truly different, in your latest endeavor down in Franklin, Tennessee. Do tell us about that.

[36:17] So, I’m partially inspired by the areas that I’ve observed in my wound care patients where they just can’t get help. And my history of vascular surgery, my history with an interest in plastic surgery and aesthetics, I felt like it would be great to bring those all under the same roof, basically. Both of my brothers are entrepreneurs and they had said, you know what, you should be your own boss at some point. And it never occurred to me that I could. And then I started to envision a wellness practice. And I just really started thinking about it fully about a year ago. It’s one of those things I do really do believe in putting things out to the universe. And that’s exactly what I did. I told some trusted folks that I had an interest in moving over into a wellness practice of my own, and expanding it out to, you know, a real destination where people could come and experience all the joy that is in wellness so I’ve named it Taproot Total Wellness.
And I just opened my doors about two weeks ago in Franklin. And I’m starting small, I’m trying to be sensible. I’m keeping my day job. And I am starting with weight loss medicine and a.

[37:30] Comprehensive health and nutrition weight loss program, but also involving medications and taking a sensible business model. I’m starting with Botox as well, which is a new skill set, but I have to pay my rent and keep the doors open. And it makes people feel better. So we’re doing that. And then the plan is I’m building something called the Greater Nashville Wellness Network, where I’m working with other physicians, providers, other sort of more alternative, therapies in the area and putting us together in exactly that, a network where we can refer.

[38:06] Clients back and forth and, you know, get up-to-date education on what’s out there to to make people feel well.
I’ve also started a what is wellness blog where I’m talking to people in all different spheres of life.
So healthcare, sure, but all different industries about what do they consider to be wellness and how do they implement that in their personal lives and how do they bring that to their employees, their families, their direct reports, whatever’s pertinent to them.
So it is a practice, but it’s also, I feel like a little bit of a movement.
What a great idea!
Oh, thank you so much. I mean it really is. And I’m interested to know one of the things that struck me the most, And that I found so frustrating. Uh when I was doing chronic wound care is that so many times, Uh, those chronic wounds are a direct result of lifestyle issues, that really should be Controllable did that did that enter into this dream of yours at all? Oh, absolutely. Yes It’s all consuming and all encompassing, you know I could not believe, and I don’t think I really realized until I was in wound care and having to have talks with patients on a regular basis about nutrition. And there are very, very educated people who don’t know the difference between a carbohydrate and a protein.

[39:30] Yeah. So, to really bring it down to those basics, I was pretty stunned. And you can’t expect somebody to be well without those tools. It’s a labor of love for sure, and it’s definitely something that’s bringing me joy right now. It’s definitely a stress. Definitely jumping off a cliff, but I have very big dreams on this. Well, I’m glad you do, and I’m really hopeful that this attitude is going to grow that this understanding of the sorts of things about our lifestyle that breed disease have to be addressed. It’s just something that you can’t manage on a 15-minute office call and write a prescription and be done with it. And I’m sure that you’re going to find it incredibly rewarding. And I wish you great luck in the process.

[40:24] Thank you. I think some of it, now that you mentioned it, was born of COVID, too, to just, you know, the folks who were suffering the most and who were dying were exactly the folks who get less attention in healthcare to begin with. So true. So true.
So it’s from my soul. That’s where this is coming from.
Well, Alex, I really enjoyed this conversation.
I do want to give you an opportunity to share some of your wisdom while I stay out of the way.
I’m going to close my mic and Dr. Alex Lukianoff is gonna share her personal prescriptions for success.
Thank you very much. I have very much enjoyed this conversation as well. So when I thought about this question and looked back at where I have felt like I was moving in the right direction, it’s hard to gauge success. But I think my first tidbit would be don’t be afraid to take big leaps and make big changes.

[41:22] I think it’s easy to feel stuck sometimes, complacent other times, or like there isn’t something better out there. But with great risk comes great rewards. It’s the same thing.
You have to make big leaps and big changes. And don’t wait until you feel ready to do some of these things. Because if you wait till you’re ready, you might never do anything.
Another thing which I’ve had to face a few times is that if things don’t feel right for you, they are not right for you. If you’re feeling out of sorts, if you’re unhappy in what you’re doing, if it doesn’t align with your values, it’s not right for you. And don’t be afraid then to take the big leap and make your life your own. Don’t forget that you deserve to be happy and fulfilled.
Happiness is an inside job. But if all the factors on the outside are lining up against to your internal happiness, it’s going to be more challenging. And we as human beings on this earth.

[42:20] We actually do deserve to be happy. Value your health. We only get this one life with this one body. And you know, it can take one bad day, one speeding Ford Explorer to utterly change your life.
So while you have it, value your health because you may not always have it. I think it’s really important to have balance. So maximize your downtime, make sure you’re reading, reading topics that you’ve never heard of before. Have hobbies, do something that’s completely separate from work and pursue other passions because life is not just about work. Also, one thing I think that gets overlooked, especially right now with how polarized we are and how much people think they know, I would challenge you to stay open. Stay open to ideas, stay open to new experiences, stay open to opinions that you don’t think you agree with, stay open to change, and stay open to.

[43:19] Changing perceptions of yourself. If you look back and you are the same person that you thought you were going to be at 22, maybe there’s more out there for you because life is going to throw you some curveballs and change your path and be open accepting that path. And I would say, Just remember that the only constant is change, but you can handle it.
And, I think that’s all I have, Randy. Well, there is a lot of wisdom and all of that. I have in my notes have the courage to take chances, listen and be aware of your feelings, believe you’re deserving, value your health, maintain balance in your life, keep an open mind, and always be on the lookout for change. A lot of wisdom in that, Alex, and I really appreciate you sharing with us. Would you mind, telling our audience where you can be found and advertise anything that you’d like to.

[44:18] Advertise, whether it be websites or personal appearances or whatever. What do you have to share with us? So right now my website is hopefully going live by the end of this week and it’s just Blog posts will be starting probably next week and I hope to build that into a podcast as well, the What Is Wellness podcast, because even the initial, conversations have led to so much and such interesting discussions. I’m open for business at 99 East Main Street in Franklin, Tennessee. So right on Main Street in Franklin. My phone number is 615-465-0015. So call anytime. Love to have you. My plan is to grow into something of the Canyon Ranch of Middle Tennessee, all about wellness and enjoying life and nature and grounding ourselves and feeling good because we deserve to. Dr. Alex Lukianoff, thank you so much for being a guest on Prescriptions for Success. Absolutely my pleasure and my honor. Thank you so much for listening 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 SpeakPipe at

[45:43] You can also help by becoming a Patreon member. That link is in the show notes as well.
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, Mariana Rodibaugh, and to Ryan Jones who created and performs our theme music. And remember, be Be sure to fill your prescription for success with my next episode.

[46:12] Music.