Written Jul 22nd, 2014 by Franco Varriano
Practitioner Spotlight: Dr. Corey Schuler
This is a blog series profiling the philosophies, practices, and work spaces of integrative health professionals. This week we spoke with Dr. Corey Schuler, MS, DC, LN, CNS, CNP, CHN.
Why did you go into healthcare?
Funny story actually. I was a chemist, studying synthetic inorganic materials and interning at NASA when I had a “safety incident,” the kind they have to change the sign for outside of the lab. Carcinogenic chemicals spilled all over me and a senior scientist. About that same time, my father was dealing with years of farm chemical exposure and it made me really dig deep. I ended up working for a non-profit putting on events around the country for college-aged men to learn about healthy habits rather than risking their life and future with alcohol abuse and risky, yet common, undergraduate behavior.
After a few years, a mentor of mine, a breast cancer oncologist in Southern California suggested I take my interest in healthy living to the next level. However, he told me point blank that allopathic medicine would be the wrong choice for me. I chose chiropractic college at Northwestern Health Sciences University for my initial training after attending a Dr. Jeff Bland seminar and sitting between two chiropractors (and a fair bit of thought and attention). After completing my training in chiropractic medicine, I subsequently completed an MS in nutrition from University of Bridgeport and achieved several different certifications and licensure. Becoming a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) was a highlight. I’ve now moved into behavioral medicine and will complete a doctorate from Arizona State in the next 2-3 years. I won’t lie. Somewhere along the line I developed some sort of post-nominal addiction that I hope to eventually recover from. I started practice in 2007.
Do you have any mentors?
I’m a mentor fanatic! Early on, Dr. Robert Rakowski was a major influence on me. Later, Dr. Lise Alschuler took me under her wing. More recently, Dr. Sara Gottfried, Dr. Pedram Shojai, and Dave Asprey have helped me take my next steps. I’ve really been fortunate to be amongst world-class peers and colleagues who have given so generously of their time and talents.
What are your favorite blogs, books or information sources?
I like to put health information into context for others and that begins with my own understanding of how published science and opinion comes to be. That means I have to draw from numerous sources all the time. I’m constantly reading Pubmed either for a presentation or article I’m putting together or just because I’m down a rabbit hole. For example, the other day, I found a principle investigator in Brazil who was doing some work on circadian rhythm and pain so we emailed back and forth until I had what I wanted and he had his next project! I was glad I had Google Translate for that conversation because I don’t read Portuguese well at all!
I’m the guy who finds an interesting study and instead of relying on the abstract, I tend to jump to the references section and also look up the authors to see what else they’ve done. On my desk right now are Gaby’s Nutritional Medicine, Guyton’s Medical Physiology, Glanz’s Health Behavior and Health Education, and Lord’s Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine. I usually have my Gropper text (Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism) but I think my intern has it.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
I’m a country music fan. I don’t just listen to it, I go to local shows, try to see any headliners that come to town, and follow the industry trends. It’s a hobby I share with my wife and son, who plays acoustic guitar and tries to teach me.
On the career side of things, I like to keep my work varied. Outside of clinical practice, I teach a graduate course in nutrition assessment 2-3 times per year, am on the board of directors for the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and an advisor to the Certification Board of Nutrition Specialists. I recently became a reviewer for the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. I write and consult for some wonderful companies in our industry including Integrative Therapeutics, Emerson Ecologics, and Natural Health International. I speak at 20+ medical events each year.
You sound busy, what is your practice like?
I am certainly not ever bored. My practice is set up to suit my interests, needs, and time. I travel a lot so I have set up my practice to be flexible around that. We have two office spaces—one near Minneapolis and another near St. Paul. I have a collaborative practice with three interns and several other practitioners who use the space and we share marketing. I wouldn’t consider us a large clinic. Everyone has their specialty. I focus my practice on metabolic conditions that also have a mood component. I offer phone consultations and provide recordings, as requested, of the sessions. In one of our locations we have a nice restaurant on the first floor (we are on the 9th). Occasionally, I’ll take a client out for lunch especially when I think food decisions play a significant role in their case.
To be sure I’m using my time effectively, we use time tracking software (Toggl) and dashboards so if I’m wasting time, it shows up and I can’t hide.
What other tools do you use in your practice?
I use getresponse.com for my newsletters and auto-responders, TimeTrade for scheduling, Authorize.net handles payments, Practice Fusion for EMR and, of course, Fullscript! I’m on a new iteration of my website and brand but I used a designer who worked on a robust (at the time) Wordpress platform. I rely on GoDaddy for hosting. I recently told an executive of a large nutrition company that I’ve worked out a lot of things in my practice to not have many headaches. And now, most of my headaches went away when I started using Fullscript. I think it’s just fabulous. My family has even noticed I’m in a better mood. Previously, I’d recommend nutritional supplements and hope the client got the right thing. Now, there is very little room for error, I can track what is going on in regards to ordering and shipping, and the user interface has been simple enough for even my least tech-savvy clients.
It’s so easy to get run down and burnt out from the non-healing “stuff” of practice. Life is too damn short for that. I remember sitting at a physicians’ leadership forum totally geeking out about web traffic, patient funnels, launch calendars, and scores of other things that I used to be frustrated and upset about. At that table were top-pedigreed medical physicians and researchers and we were all excited, scared, and curious about the same stuff despite some of our philosophical medical differences. I’ve since received referrals from each of them. That’s awesome sauce, right there!
Lastly, do you have any advice for new practitioner?
Quickly find the balance between your confidence and humility. I’ve been to restaurants where I’ve overheard new grads insist upon being called “Doctor so and so”. Yes, you’ve worked hard, but realize that these attempts at respect and authority often look like insecurity and arrogance. On the other hand, realize that your patients, the public, the licensing board and your school have conferred upon you a great responsibility. That same responsibility is shared equally by all members of the healing professions. You should be as confident in your skills and what you can reasonably do for a patient as the veteran physician of 25 years is of their own. Admittedly, they probably have a few skills you don’t have but that’s cool.
In regards to running your business rather than conducting yourself personally and professionally, I suggest keeping expenses down. Too often new grads look to the “top line” of business rather than the bottom line. You don’t want to practice in a dump on the wrong side of town, but as an inexperienced professional, you also don’t need the best of everything (anything). “Keep it small, keep it all” is the mantra you should be telling yourself at least for the first few months to first few years. Grow organically, just like your carrots. Do you really need that fancy new certification? You’re still a rookie and the new training won’t change that. You’ve spent a lot of money already and opportunity cost getting your degree and license. Use what you’ve learned so far to start out and keep adding to your tool box. Getting out of the student mentality and into the entrepreneur mentality as quickly as possible will provide the fastest returns.