Written Jul 2nd, 2014 by Franco Varriano
Practitioner Spotlight: Dr. Richard Maurer, ND
This is a blog series profiling the philosophies, practices, and work spaces of integrative health professionals. This week we spoke with Dr. Richard Maurer, ND.
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN ND?
After high school in Flemington, NJ; Temple University in Philadelphia, where I completed my bachelors in music performance along with chemistry/pre-medical studies, I conferred the degree of B.M. I realize the initials are sort of funny, but believe that carrying a BM is better than having the B.S.
For fun, throughout the 80’s I read nutritional textbooks and fell upon Carl Pfeiffer’s work, Mental and Elemental Nutrients. I practiced nutritional chemistry on myself - becoming less and less healthy as a vegetarian and macrobiotic, but my guiding query was simple: “What is a healthy diet?” The study of chemistry led to further courses in nutrition and in 1990, to Portland Oregon, home of National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM), it was here, while assistant teaching physiology and working in the lab, I saw blood tests as a unique, personalized viewing-window to understand metabolic health and disease. I graduated NCNM in 1994.
DID YOU GO RIGHT INTO PRACTICE?
Within a year of leaving the west coast Portland for the east coast Portland, I established a private practice with my wife; acupuncturist Alexandra Strawbridge Maurer.
In 1994, Maine did not license the practice of naturopathic medicine, so I along with three colleagues, submitted a bill for licensure for the practice of naturopathic medicine. By 1996, six ND’s in the state were present to see the governor sign the bill into law.
DID YOUR PRACTICE GROW QUICKLY?
In an unlicensed state, every patient was new to naturopathic medicine; none had previously seen an ND. This meant we were constantly explaining who we were, but it also meant we were in the paper and in the news, especially with licensing efforts. Our group practice was popular, we were speaking regularly in the public and patients referred friends and family based upon their positive experience. I had to be a generalist in the greatest sense of the word. A can-do attitude allowed me to see all ages for both acute and chronic conditions.
HOW DID YOU AND YOUR PRACTICE EVOLVE?
After about five years, I had a full-time practice but was burning out. Fortunately I met up with Joe Emerson, of Emerson Ecologics, and subsequently worked part-time with several nutritional companies, writing and lecturing throughout the U.S. These years allowed me to hone my skills of discernment and more smartly choose nutritional products for my patients and myself.
On a personal note, in my early forties, despite being lean and active, I was erring toward pre-diabetes with a creeping HgbA1c. My personal and strong familial trend toward type 2 diabetes strengthened my work to study and resolve metabolic disease through effective, personalized dietary, nutritional, and fitness habits.
Twenty years and 10,000 patients into practice, I published my first book, The Blood Code, Unlock the secrets of your metabolism (2014). Audaciously, I offer readers the tools they need to become their own expert—allowing people to reverse type 2 diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure and blood cholesterol problems. It is essentially an owner’s manual that unlocks the door to metabolic health, vitality and disease prevention by understanding and acting upon the map of blood test results and skin fold caliper measurements.
HOW DOES YOUR PRACTICE LOOK NOW?
Lean. I have a lightweight laptop computer and a wireless printer. I use Square for in office transactions and an online scheduler, FullSlate, that takes payments at the time of booking. I see people through Skype and in a simple office. I share space with a group of trainers now, the space appears more lifestyle oriented and less medical.
I carry very few supplements in my room now. Back when I worked for Emerson, I sent the message to practitioners to keep their operations lean. In business, a good distribution facility goes through 90% of their product every 3 weeks. Yet I, like most naturopathic doctors twenty years ago, carried products on our shelves for years, and we threw out thousands of dollars worth over time. Using an online system like Fullscript allows my patients and me to access what is needed, when it is needed. My practice goal going forward will remain lean and personalized.
WHAT SOCIAL WEB CONNECTIONS DO YOU HAVE?
My business has a professionally developed website, TheBloodCode.com and I blog through this site on WordPress. I post at least five times per week on my Facebook page and Twitter account. My YouTube account is part of Google+ and provides another branded location for all video uploads.
As an author, The Blood Code is available on Amazon, which has my Author’s page, in paperback and kindle and most other ebook platforms such as Googleplay, iBooks, B&N, etc.
TELL US 3 THINGS YOUR PATIENTS DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU.
- As a trumpet performer, I diversely played in Trenton Symphony Orchestra, The Tropicana Jazz Band in Atlantic City, and a Baroque masterpiece at my own wedding.
- The first concert I attended was Maurice Andre in Lincoln Center, New York; my second concert was, ashamedly, Loverboy (at least they’re Canadian).
- I am a card-carrying certified beer judge, since 1989, from the American Homebrewing Association.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU GIVE TO NEW ND’S?
Hone your message and present it to as many groups as possible. In my early years, I presented to Rotary clubs, at fairs, in health food stores and at hospitals. If you are a good story-teller, tell some great stories about yourself and your audience will trust you more as a doctor. Whether you are experienced with decades of practice or not, people go to see you, as a person, so engage and be yourself.
The relationship of doctor-patient is uniquely and preciously personal. So don’t be afraid to share a little about yourself and your process, it will help build trust and relationship. It helps if you specialize in something that is personal or dear to you.
Use technology to improve doctor patient communication. After an office visit, if I discussed a supplement, I’ll send the patient an email through Fullscript with a personal note and link to related supplements. This extra communications shows I am still thinking about them even after they left the office. Every communication should be genuine. Trust is the glue that holds a professionally and financially successful practice together.