Written Aug 19th, 2014 by Franco Varriano
Practitioner Spotlight: Dr. Carly Snyder, M.D.
This is a blog series profiling the philosophies, practices, and work spaces of integrative health professionals. This week we spoke with Dr. Carly Snyder, M.D..
Carly Snyder, M.D. is a psychiatrist in New York City with a focus and expertise in Reproductive Psychiatry. Dr. Snyder is the Clinical Course Director for the Reproductive and Perinatal Psychiatry Program at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center. Dr. Snyder serves on the Board of Directors for Postpartum Support International as the Research Chair, and is a member of the Women’s Mental Health Consortium in NYC. Dr. Snyder also sees patients in her private practice located on the Upper East Side of New York City. She received her undergraduate degree from Emory University, attended NYU School of Medicine and completed her General Adult Psychiatry residency at Beth Israel Medical Center, with additional sub-specialized elective training at Weill Cornell’s Payne Whitney Women’s Program.
Dr. Snyder’s treats women experiencing emotional and psychiatric challenges at any age. Her approach uses a combination of traditional psychiatric methods with integrative medicine-based treatments to optimize the whole body, mind and wellbeing. Dr. Snyder provides individualized treatment that focuses on improving a woman’s physical and emotional health. In addition to more traditional psychiatric modalities, she has extensive experience treating patients with natural supplements, either alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A PRACTITIONER?
I wanted to be a physician from a young age, but had some difficulty deciding on a specialty during medical school. I was initially drawn to surgery, but found that my greatest interest lay in helping at the bedside. I soon realized that my calling was psychiatry, specifically focusing on women’s mental health.
After completing training, I began my private practice while also working embedded within the OBGYN outpatient clinic twice a week.
I saw many women who were suffering emotionally, but were wary to take medications and instead wanted to modify their lifestyles to affect change in their moods. I knew very little about alternative and complementary medicine at the time, and decided that I needed to learn as much as I could in order to be most helpful for my patients. As my understanding grew, I increasingly relied on integrative-medicine based practices in addition to and sometimes in lieu of the formal psychiatric modalities learned in training. I now work with every woman on the connection between total body health and emotional stability, with the goal of improving all aspects of health.
WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS?
I am fortunate that I have had several talented clinicians as mentors throughout my career. All of my mentors are intelligent, compassionate, and extremely accomplished physicians. My first and ultimately greatest mentor is my father, Alan Wachtel, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Manhattan. He has a passion for helping his patients, and a love of his field that has inspired me since childhood. Catharine Fedeli, an adult psychiatrist in NYC, is another mentor whom I respect, trust and have turned to for feedback and advice for many years. She is empathic, thoughtful and extremely smart, and brings these along with many other wonderful qualities to her practice daily.
Mallay Occhiogrosso is a brilliant reproductive psychiatrist who has been an endless source of support and insight for me. Catherine Birndorf is another physician whom I respect, and count as a mentor and friend. She is exceptionally smart, thoughtful, and pragmatic in her approach to treating women with mental illness. I have endless appreciation for their guidance and mentorship.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BLOG / INFORMATION RESOURCE?
I often refer to Aviva Romm’s blog as well as her textbook, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. I value her unique perspective as a medical doctor, a midwife, and an integrative physician and herbalist. I also read the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health blog religiously and keep up to date with all the major journals in my field. Whenever I am not with a patient, you can find me reading and doing research to expand my knowledge, to better guide and assist my patients.
SOMETHING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
In my practice, I use data and facts to guide my suggestions; I listen intently, spend many hours reading, and work hard to master as much of my field as possible. I am not cavalier, nor am I reckless. However, put me on a ski slope, and I become a different person. Thanks to having started skiing shortly after I learned to walk, I am completely fearless and literally leap without a second look while skiing. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough and comfortable enough on skis to join me heli-skiing.
DESCRIBE YOUR PRACTICE
I am a solo practitioner, working primarily with female patients, ranging from age 18 to post-menopausal. Many of the women I treat are either planning pregnancy, going through fertility treatment(s), are pregnant, or post-partum with either a history of / or current mood symptoms that need to be addressed. I have a cohort of patients who are in their 20’s and 30’s, managing life decisions and relationship stressors; I also see many mothers dealing with the changes and transitions that come with motherhood. I treat several men for various mental health concerns. I work with all of my patients using an integrative approach to care along with psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, if indicated.
HOW DO YOU DELIVER PERSONALIZED CARE?
My combination approach using traditional psychiatric principles along with integrative-medicine based techniques enables me to cater to each patient on a highly personalized level. I utilize psychotherapeutic, holistic, and pharmacological treatment modalities to address each person’s unique issues. I provide all of the different options for treatment and encourage my patients to make autonomous decisions in order to take control of their bodies and minds. Ultimately, each person must decide what is best for him or her; my role is merely to help facilitate by providing any relevant information that may assist in their decision-making process.
Prior to making any definitive suggestions, I spend several sessions learning about a person on multiple levels. I explore their past, present and future goals, as well as all relevant prior treatments and outcomes. Based on this information, I order personalized labs to better grasp what is happening internally and to help guide treatment.
Once I have a sense of each person’s strengths, their physical and emotional health status, and areas that would benefit from changes, I provide a concise but detailed conceptualization about potential causes and remedies for the emotional concerns that led them into treatment.
We work together to devise an appropriate, manageable treatment plan. I provide suggestions for personalized supplement options, dietary recommendations and lifestyle modifications to enhance health and wellbeing from the inside out. Following this comprehensive treatment plan session, I write up a detailed explanation of all supplements recommended and lifestyle adjustments proposed, and attach the document to a Fullscript virtual prescription.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH PATIENTS TO HELP THEM FEEL SUPPORTED WITH THEIR HEALTH GOALS?
Patients set health goals initially during their treatment-plan visit, and I always check in on how they are doing with these goals in subsequent visits. I also check in on patients who may not be coming in for regular visits, to let them know I am available if they need support in the future. I respond to all emails personally within 24 hours at most. I set reasonable boundaries, but always contain and address anxieties quickly and establish relationships with my patients based on trust and mutual respect.
DESCRIBE YOUR WORK WITH OTHER PRACTITIONERS:
I enjoy working with other practitioners on a daily basis, both at Beth Israel Medical Center, and also in my private practice. I always follow up with my patients’ other treatment providers, and remain in touch to coordinate care on an ongoing basis. On a more global scale, I am on the Executive Board of Directors for Postpartum Support International (PSI). We as a Board work along with volunteers in the 50 United States as well as around the world to affect positive change for women’s mental health. Our aim is to increase understanding about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and to increase access to treatment for women struggling.
WHAT SOFTWARE OR OTHER TOOLS DO YOU USE IN YOUR PRACTICE?
I use Valant software for my electronic medical record as it enables me to have a very centralized and consistent source of information about every patient. Fullscript is another indispensible tool for my practice. It not only helps me provide personalized care, but also helps increase the chance that my patients are taking clean, toxin-free supplements rather than buying them from an unknown source.
By emphasizing the dynamic interplay between brain and body, and empowering patients to make positive changes to enhance their health and emotional wellness, I am able to assist in lasting, beneficial growth and healing. I truly love my job and find it profoundly rewarding every day. I suggest structuring a practice to maximize time spent with patients, not doing paperwork; for example, hiring an assistant was one of the best choices I made early in the growth of my practice. Investing in a website that is visually appealing and easy to navigate is key also.
I am in the process of retooling my website to be more comprehensive and user-friendly. Most importantly, to enjoy work I believe you must also take a break from it - enjoy family, friends and try to always place emphasis and value on your time. Growing a practice is tough, but is profoundly rewarding and satisfying.