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6 Steps to a ZERO WASTE Functional Medicine Career

Here are six ways that you can start understanding and creating your own zero waste policy in your holistic practice!

When you are working with a patient or client, your one goal is to help them improve their current reality. This can feel like a difficult mission because you’re actually asking your patient or client to inherently desire the same goal. 

Consider the analogy of bringing your car to the mechanic. When you bring your car to the mechanic, they perform diagnostics and identify problems. They fix the car and return it back to you in a new and improved condition. You pay for the transaction and drive away. 

What a mechanic doesn’t do is provide an education on how to drive safely or minimize the wear and tear of your vehicle. They aren’t ultimately responsible for your driving. Mechanics simply expect you to return at certain screening checkpoints (like changing your oil). 

Sound familiar?  This is exactly what we would do in modern primary care.  We aren’t teaching patients how to achieve optimal health or practice staying healthy.  Many practitioners eventually resign from conventional medicine to practice on their own terms as a functional or holistic provider.  And yet—

Functional practitioners often demonstrate the same car mechanic model as patients pay out-of-pocket for their holistic healthcare services. They might show up for their timely appointments, but patients can feel unsupported if their physician is not teaching.  Patients need to learn actionable ways that would allow them to apply healthy, holistic knowledge for growth and health. Otherwise, they’ll end up back in an appointment with the health professional, stuck again.  We need to teach them how to drive better and avoid the potholes so the patient AND health practitioner don’t waste precious energy and time on unnecessary wear and tear.

Here are six ways that you can start understanding and creating your own zero waste policy in your holistic practice!

1. Stop the 3 Hour Intake Sessions

Think about your intake sessions like a university class. In a 3 hour class, your eyes glaze over and your butt hurts from sitting. This is why most classes are less than 1 hour long! If you are taking 3 hours to do an intake, there’s something inefficient in your system.

2. Automate the Mundane

Reduce the amount of tasks you are doing in your intake. Some things can be automated. If a task does not require your high level of training or expertise, hire a virtual assistant or a staff member that can help deliver these non-essential nuggets of your intake process. Consider creating an onboarding orientation course to save time. You wouldn’t get up at 9am to sit and listen to the professor talk about their boring terms and conditions or grading policies, would you?

3. Set Collegiate Expectations for Learning/Growth

Foster a relationship with your patient or client similar to a university setting. While you may not have a syllabus or a student grading handbook, you can set expectations and loving boundaries that promote growth and assurance of support. Yet, when we step into the medical entrepreneurship role, many of us overdeliver in an attempt to deliver premiere service. Stop answering portal messages at 10pm at night!  You wouldn’t expect your professor in college to wake up at 2:00 AM and answer a question you had on homework, right? 

4. Keep it Simple with Visuals

Always keep it simple when it comes to your visual aids. I use infographics all the time in my practice. Better understanding can truly impact a patient’s care. I can talk verbally during a patient visit, however, they aren’t always going to retain the information. Patients really love to anchor the message to a visual aid. With better depth of understanding, they’re more likely to align and latch onto the treatment plan.

5. Provide Consistent Nudges in Group Settings

Setting expectations in a health journey can alleviate a lot of angst and wasted time. Patients are often anxious. They have thoughts that occur after their office visits. Most of the time these questions are very similar across patients along the health journey. The smart way to create zero waste is to not waste your time doing one-on-one care. Instead, strive to show up once a week in open office hours (like a professor would). By doing so, you will avoid those endless portal messages. Also, make sure you’re recording those open office hours! Don’t worry, you can do this with HIPAA compliance. By keeping a recording, you can refer back to it in a treatment plan for future patients.

6. Make Space

I have a personal rule that goes something like this: “No empty drawer, no new clothes.”  I don’t buy clothes or shoes unless I have cleared a space for them. A lot of times we fall into the habit of seeing something bright, new and shiny and we impulsively purchase it. That could be new clothes, but that also can be a conference or a new mentorship coach. If we haven’t made space in our lives to accept AND APPLY this new knowledge or material, you’re driving your car directly to the onramp for burnout. 

Instead, build a habit of worshiping your calendar. For instance, if you plan to attend a conference, make sure to make space in the next week where you can repurpose what you have learned. You can even reuse knowledge immediately for your patients. Don’t sign on for another tutorial, webinar, training program or mentorship until you’ve made space in your life that you can apply and implement that kind of career growth. Otherwise, you will fall down that same burnout path.

Right Brain Recess!

Watch a replay of Episode 21 of Right Brain Recess! Don’t forget to watch LIVE on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn at 8:00AM CST on Mondays.

If you’d like to learn more, check out my YouTube channel where all of the Right Brain Recess episodes live. You can also sign up for my Creative Medical Professionals Facebook Group. It’s a private group where I share a lot of my tips and tricks that help you blossom and grow using creative flow state. 

And if you’d like to try a single Mentoring Session with me, we’ll chat for an hour to keep your car running smoothly, avoiding potholes.  I’m the only mentor that keeps notes FOR YOU and sends them in an organized Google document after our sessions!

Keep coloring outside the lines!

Dr Lara Salyer Blog Author Photo

Dr. Lara Salyer

I am a Functional Medicine Physician, Speaker, Author and Mentor located in Monroe, WI.


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