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Functional Medicine Practitioner Spotlight: Kathy Campbell

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. 

The following is an interview we recently had with Kathy M. Campbell, PharmD, Clinical Community Pharmacist, CEO of DrKathy Health, LLC

What can you tell us about your practice? 

KC: My name is Kathy Campbell, PharmD and I am a clinical community pharmacist that has been practicing in Owasso, Oklahoma for close to 30 years(1992).  In 2001, my husband and I dove into business ownership when we opened Medicap Pharmacy at the corner of 76th and Main. I have had the privilege of serving and supporting the health of now 4 generations and have known many of my patients as long as I knew my mother.  We are a full-service, problem-solving pharmacy focused on assisting our patients in having a great life. Our services have traditionally included compounding, delivery, medication and nutrient management, wound care, and medical equipment to name a few.  

Over the last decades, the problem needing to be solved was the problem of true health-or, more closely, not needing medications.  Medications are often only approved as an “adjunct to diet and exercise.”  It was from our attempts to best optimize our patients outcomes that in 2015, DrKathy Health and DrKathy Weight Loss were born. DrKathy WeightLoss is a pharmacist-led lifestyle and weight management initiative.  These initiatives have included everything from a 12-week personalized health coaching program, health seminars, cooking demonstrations, to the growing and dispensing of organic produce and recipes. Over the last six years we have empowered hundreds of patients in managing their health, slowing the onset or progression of chronic disease and finding sustainable long-term, foundational health.  

What surprised you the most when you started your practice?

KC: Who knew how much business knowledge one would need to stay in business!?  When I began my practice 30 years ago, the business model paid me for my expertise.  The dispensing fee model was adequate to support the pharmacist being the most easily accessed and knowledgeable health care professional.  I was able to focus on what my patients relied on me to be-the best clinician and communicator I could be.  Patients also had the freedom to choose their pharmacy professionals based on the quality of care they received.  As medicine/pharmacy began to be owned and run by corporations and not clinicians, patients were steered away from and economically punished for choosing the local pharmacy. The positive margin in the dispensing model began to turn negative.

This created quite the dilemma-“How do you be a pharmacy and not fill prescriptions?”  This, plus my intense desire to see my friends/patients be well and not need medications, forced me to evolve.    

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you built your practice? How did you overcome it? 

KC: The biggest challenge I have had to overcome is the perceived value of a pharmacist to the patient. The evolution of healthcare has all but removed the “chemistry expert” from health care. It was not long ago that every patient had a personal relationship with a pharmacist and every physician had a pharmacist-partner in taking care of the community.  For hundreds of years, the pharmacist was a critical contributor to individual and community health.   Humans are consuming more complex chemistries than ever in human history, and a therapeutic relationship with a pharmacist, THE most highly trained chemistry clinician, has largely become extinct.  Through marketing, teaching, and ultimately, delivering the value of a Pharmacist’s care to a patient’s health, perception is being altered.

What advice would you give to other practitioners considering launching their own practice? 

KC: Entrepreneurs solve problems.  A practitioner launching their own practice should get very clear about the problems they wish to solve.  One should do an in-depth audit of the skills they uniquely bring to their practice. 

My lifelong “study” of weight (TEDx Tulsa 2018), coupled with my lifelong passion for science and chemistry, has brought to my practice a unique understanding, empathy, and solution. Do not be afraid of bringing your personal passion to your practice, it actually can be a critical piece. 

Many health care providers hold ourselves to an all-or-nothing, perfectionistic standard.  While this may be required in say dispensing the correct medicine, it is debilitating in business.  Critical in launching your practice is…launching your practice!  It will never be perfect, never be 100%.  You will never know enough.  You can always do more.  Do not let that stop you.  Do what you can, with what you have, right now.  There is a patient out there that needs your help.  

What excites you most about the field of functional medicine?

KC:   As a pharmacist heavily trained in chemistry, biochemical pathways and mechanisms of actions, I had been programmed to think functionally.  Functional medicine just made sense.  What was exciting and incredibly effective was evolving this foundational knowledge of pharmacology to include “food pharmacology” and the much more complex “stress pharmacology.”

When I began studying functional medicine over a decade ago, I remember thinking to myself “Duh.”

I do not want patients to need medications, and medications are tools in a tool box.  Due to the cultural neglect of foundational health over the past decades, we have decades of disease progression and a very sick society.  Functional medicine represents the exciting potential to address the foundations of health and reverse or delay the onset of chronic disease.  I want each of us to have a great life and health is foundational. I want this for myself, my family, my patients, my community. I want this for our culture. I want this for our future.  The possibility of this excites me and fuels my passion every day.  

Where do you see your practice 5 years from now?

KC:  I will be leading conversations for health and generating a culture that produces health.  I have no idea, nor am I limited as to how that will look, but I am up for that journey. 

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