3X4’s new Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight series features interviews with practitioners, consultants and functional medicine thought leaders to explore everything functional medicine practitioners need to know about successfully building, managing, and growing their private practice.
What can you tell us about your practice?
JS: My name is Dr. Jenn Simmons and I am a functional medicine physician. I started off my career as a breast cancer surgeon. I worked as a traditional physician and reached the pinnacle of my career just before the age of 50. It was then that I got sick and learned about functional medicine. I used functional techniques to heal myself and after doing so I knew that I had to share my knowledge, experience, and superpower with the world. I founded Real Health MD in October of 2019 with the purpose of providing the breast cancer community with a road map and a plan to achieve health before, during, and after a breast cancer diagnosis. My practice is 100% virtual providing me with the freedom to help anyone who is looking for the kind of services that I offer. Currently, I work with people one on one, and provide group programming. I have an online course, “My Answer to Breast Cancer” which is offered both in a live, group setting or as a stand alone course. Real Health MD also offers coaching programs to help people at any age or stage in life achieve their health goals.
What surprised you the most when you started your practice?
JS: The further I am away from it, the more shocked I am about the shortcomings of our traditional health care system. We actually do not have a health care system. We have a sick care system. Essentially, in order to have any involvement from physicians or health care providers, you have to be sick. Physicians and healthcare providers are not trained in the area of Wellness and therefore do not know how to promote it. That makes helping people heal within the confines of traditional medicine nearly impossible. Therefore, well intentioned physicians and providers do what they were trained to do. They manage symptoms. The hardest thing I often have to do is facilitate unlearning in my patients and the other treating physicians of all the things that they understand to be true that simply aren’t.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it?
JS: As a breast surgeon, people were funneled to me automatically. As a functional medicine physician, there is no automacy. I can be amazing at what I do but unless people know about it, no one will come. The way that you become known, liked, and trusted is through social media platforms. Prior to my transition to functional medicine, I participated in ZERO social media platforms. I had to learn about them, learn how to use them, learn how to identify the person that I’m speaking to, and learn to speak to them in a way that they hear me. Navigating the world of social media is a full time job in itself. I am not sure that I have overcome this hurdle yet but I’m working on it.
What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice?
JS: Spend the time developing your avatar. Know who you’re speaking to and speak only to them. As a functional medicine practitioner, I know I can help a lot of people. However, if you’re trying to speak to everyone then you’re speaking to no one. You need to be one person’s hero. Decide who your person is and serve them. I help a lot of people with a variety of diseases but when I speak, I speak to the breast cancer population.
What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?
JS: I know that functional medicine is the medicine of the future. This new generation coming up is well informed and does not want to be dictated to or spoken at. They are ready, willing, and able to participate in their health. Gone are the people that just want to take the pill at whatever cost. That generation of helplessness is dwindling. People like me, facilitators of health, are going to be what people are looking for. I feel so lucky that I discovered functional medicine when I did so that I can be on the ground floor of this monumental movement. I will always be enamored by the opportunity to create health rather than manage symptoms.
Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?
JS: Five years from now there will be many Real Health MD’s. My program will be sought after and synonymous with what you need to do if you are anywhere on the breast cancer spectrum. My books will be bestsellers and I will continue to spearhead the health and Wellness movement and prepare the next generation for a better healthier existence than this current one. I will be well known as the doctor with “The Answer for Breast Cancer”.