Written Mar 27th, 2014 by Brad Dyment
Practitioner Spotlight: Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND
This is a blog series profiling the philosophies, practices, and work spaces of integrative health professionals. This week we spoke with Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND.
Isabel Sharkar is a Naturopathic Doctor and has a private practice in the heart of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. She attended SCNM in Tempe, Arizona.
Why did you become an ND?
I have grown up around medicine so it was no surprise that I naturally pursued it. However, going to conventional medical school didn’t resonate with me because I felt something was missing. Naturopathic medicine addresses and integrates the mind, body and soul. By solely focusing on healing the body without addressing the mind, there is an obstacle to cure and true healing cannot take place. I have always been fascinated with the power of the mind and how thoughts become things. Healing the mind and reprogramming it for success is integral to healing the whole person. There must be harmony within the mind, body and soul. I want to empower people mentally, physically and spiritually and not be inhibited to talk about all of these things.
How do you measure success as a practitioner?
Success is when my patients’ health concerns are successfully addressed and treated, leaving them feeling better, cheerful and happy. This is the most fulfilling aspect of being a doctor, when you patients tell you they are able to live normal lives doing the things they love to do. Success is when my patients are spreading the word to all their friends and family, who are excited to come in and address their health concerns.
Who are your mentors?
My mother is the most amazing mentor I could ask for and we get along so well. I am incredibly grateful to have such a partnership. She is filled with knowledge and experience that is integral to our practice.
Other mentors and role models I am inspired by are Dr. Jim Sensenig and Dr. Garry Gordon. Dr. Sensenig set the stage for naturopathic medicine and ingrained its core values. Dr. Gordon, whom I had the privilege of meeting at the Restorative Formulations Conference in San Diego, is very cutting edge and has amazing resources for treatments.
Tell us a bit about your practice.
I practice with my mother in our private practice located in the heart of Georgetown in Washington, DC. We specialize in adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders, hormone imbalances, gastrointestinal disorders, food sensitivities and boosting the immune system with IV therapies, especially for patients with Lyme disease and cancer.
We have a small clinic with a reception area, an exam room and an IV room. Since there are two of us, we currently do not have an office manager. When appropriate we cater to our clients and do home visits. On occasions, Dr. Kirt Tyson who specializes in diabetes sees his patients in our clinic.
What are the essentials for a successful practice?
The essentials for a successful practice are a positive out look, action, patience and a good support system.
In the midst of opening a private practice, it is very important to take care of ourselves - mind, body and soul. We are in it for the long haul and building a successful practice takes time.
There are ups and there are downs and a positive outlook and a healthy body are essential to oversee any obstacle. Since opening our practice we have come to the realization that there will always be a million things to do. We have started to embrace being in a constant state of over-flowing with an endless things-to-do list.
Do you have an rituals to get ready for a busy day?
To get ready for a busy day and week I schedule some “me time” to get connected and feel centered. I get weekly IV’s, practice yoga, meditate, drink green juice, eat healthy food and visit Spa World once a week. These things are essential for me to work 12 hours days. We have to embody health and build our practice in ways that support healthy living.
I am big on practicing what I preach; otherwise I feel I have no credibility. It is hard to motivate my patients to be healthy if I do not feel or look healthy myself. If we are healthy, happy and glowing then others will resonate with us and will be inspired to do the same.
Many practitioners neglect themselves and put everything and everyone else first. I strongly believe in physician- heal thyself. As health practitioners, we should partner up with others practitioners and build a strong community to help one another stay healthy. We have so many services we can exchange to support our common interest of serving humanity. Even the best doctor needs a doctor.
What software do you use in your clinic?
I have been using Fullscript since it first launched and it is an amazing tool to have for either when I don’t carry an item in my dispensary or run out of one.
I am an avid Mac user and am in the process of transitioning from paper charts to PracticeFusion. I use Schedulicity for scheduling appointments, allowing patients to schedule online. Quickbooks for accounting and billing and Square for receiving credit card payments. I use Shopventory, which is connected to Square for keeping track of inventory. ConstantContact for getting out my monthly newsletter. For my daily Facebook posts, I use HootSuite to write posts in advance. WordPress for my website and blog. Lastly, DoctorBase has a HIPPA compliant e-mailing service I am currently looking into.
What’s in the future for Indigo Health Clinic?
Now that I have been in practice for two years and am getting a better idea of what patients need and are looking for, I am formulating a concierge medical practice plan. I hope to incorporate this plan into my practice within the next two years and will start gradually. There will be three different program plans offered to patients depending on their needs. I am in the process of writing my first book and it will go hand in hand with how the concierge part will be tailored.
What are your favorite sources of information?
Epocrates, WebMD, The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine. I have found that talking to a lot of the neutraceutical and lab representatives is extremely helpful. They are very knowledgeable, always educate me and leave me with plenty of information to read. I also love going to conferences for continuing medical education. The F.A.C.T section of the Gordon Research Institute is extremely helpful in staying current with cutting edge medical breakthroughs.
If you weren’t an ND, what would you have been?
If I weren’t an ND, I would have been a writer, a painter and a fashion designer. But even as an ND, these are my hobbies. I have no regrets about being an ND, I am happy, whole and complete and wouldn’t change a thing.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have double majored both in biology and business. Specifically business, to learn about marketing and financing. If I knew then that I would be returning to Washington, D.C. and running my own practice, I would have had a solid business plan to execute when I graduated.
We really don’t realize when we are in medical school exactly how important it is to have a road map of how to operate, market and finance a practice. Medical students need to realize and accept that aside from practicing medicine as doctors, they are businessmen and businesswomen.
I would have kept a list of all the supplements, botanicals and homeopathic remedies I would like to carry in my medicinary as well as patient handout sheets. Start brainstorming what the perfect medical practice embodies and hold a strong vision of it - from the website to the logo.