Motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “Our ability to handle life’s challenges is a measure of our strength of character.”
Have you ever faced adversity to the point where you thought you might give up? As healthcare professionals, we become accustomed to facing challenges — everything from trials in medical school to burnout in residency. Sometimes, things just do not happen our way, and dealing with that can be really difficult and disappointing.
If you listened to the first episode of the Millennial Doc podcast, you’re familiar with my story of never giving up on my dreams, despite all the difficulties I faced to get here. As I faced challenge after challenge — retaking the MCAT, not matching into dermatology the first time, etc. — I learned what resilience truly means. It shaped my character for the better, and when I look back on it all, I’m so thankful for every single challenge I faced because they made me the strong woman I am today.
My guest today went through a similar experience in medical school, but he used those challenges as opportunities to grow and expand his impact:
“When things are going bad[ly], your ability to handle them gracefully or to stay positive and to stay moving forward in those really tough times is very important. … So when you’re going through a very difficult time, use it as an opportunity to grow, see it as a challenge, see it as a stepping stone, as a chance for you to grow, because the times you really grow are in those really hard situations.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
Dr. Rami Wehbi is a Family Medicine Resident Physician at UMass, podcast host, and an all-around inspiring human being. I am so grateful that he joined me on the Millennial Doc podcast, and I’m excited to share with you all his wisdom about facing trials, entrepreneurship, and educating the world on health, medicine, and beyond!
Who Is Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO?
Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO is a graduate from Michigan State University and a current Family Medicine Resident Physician at UMass. He completed his intern year of a Family Medicine Residency at Penn Highlands in DuBois, PA. Dr. Rami is passionate about serving the underserved, particularly the refugee population, and is committed to helping those in need.
He hosts the Beyond Medicine podcast and is on a mission to share thoughtful and inspiring conversations from leaders in medicine and beyond. Through his podcast, Dr. Rami relays a holistic view of health that addresses both human experience and medicine. After reading this post, I encourage you to check out the Beyond Medicine podcast and start listening to all the wonderful interviews he has available!
Today’s episode is for you if you want to learn about all things beyond medicine. In our interview, Dr. Rami talked about how to handle trials and tribulations in medical school and residency and how to use a difficult time as an opportunity to grow. We also talked about our common passions of integrative medicine, functional medicine, innovation, and thinking outside of the box. If you are in medicine and are intrigued with entrepreneurship, then this is the episode for you!
Dr. Rami’s Unconventional Journey Through Medicine
Like my own journey, Dr. Rami’s medical journey is full of twists, turns, and unexpected opportunities. As a child, Dr. Rami remembers visiting his uncle’s dentist office, seeing the cool fish tank in the lobby, and realizing how his uncle was respected in the community.
“And I thought, ‘I really want to be like that one day. I really want to have that kind of impact. I want a fish tank in my lobby too!” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
As he grew older and graduated high school, Dr. Rami began to shadow his uncle to get a closer look at dentistry to see if it was something he was actually interested in. He was interested in dentistry as a possible career but was open to several fields, including sports medicine.
He was always really into sports and had experienced all sorts of injuries, including tearing the meniscus in his PCL in college, so he was familiar with the discipline. His multiple injuries are what initially got him interested in sports medicine. After deciding that he wanted a career in medicine, Dr. Rami transferred to Michigan State University and thought about pursuing orthopedic surgery, but he hadn’t found his path yet:
“I went in with one intention, and it’s totally evolved as I’ve gone through it. I went in purely with the sole intention of doing orthopedic surgery, and that’s all I had wanted to do. And then, as I went through medical school, I was like, ‘I’m not that excited about working in a hospital all day.’ There [was that entrepreneurial [spirit] in me that [wanted] to go out and build something and create something. … So I knew I had to choose another field that would still align with my goals and allow me to do the things that I [wanted] to do down the line.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
Dr. Rami pursued medical school, was accepted, and the time came for him to be matched into his discipline. He initially applied to physical medicine and rehab specialties, but he did not end up matching. For a while, he really struggled with understanding what to do with his life and if medicine was right for him. He was around 300K in debt after finishing medical school, and while he had a doctoral degree, he had nothing to show for it.
After some reflection and mentorship from people he respected, Dr. Rami decided to pursue family medicine, but this choice wasn’t without its roadblocks:
“I spent about three or four weeks calling programs every single day around the country. I must have called and emailed maybe somewhere between 400 and 600 programs during that time and got rejected hundreds of times until I could finally find a residency program that was unfilled.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
Dr. Rami could have easily given up. After changing his mind multiple times and then not matching into the discipline he wanted, it would have been easy for him to say, “Oh well. I guess medicine just isn’t for me.” But he didn’t give up — he pushed through those challenges to create new opportunities.
If you’re struggling in medical school right now, I want to encourage you: Yes, it is hard. You will face trials. But if you know you are meant to do something, don’t give up on that. Keep moving forward, keep learning from setbacks, and you will get there, I promise you!
What Is Integrative Medicine?
Now Dr. Rami is transitioning into integrative medicine, which is all about treating the patient’s health from a holistic perspective and using alternative ways to help people live extraordinary lives.
“That’s where my interest is sort of shifting now. … I’m really interested in longevity and how we can preserve our [bodies]. … How can [we] better preserve [our] joints? How can [we] better help [our bodies] last into old age? … So that’s the evolution of my journey.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
If you’re interested in integrative medicine, definitely check out Dr. Andrew’s Weil’s program, based in Arizona. You can take online coursework while you’re in residency, and this training takes about a year to complete. After completing the coursework, you can apply to a two-year fellowship after you finish residency. Tons of physicians across all disciplines are becoming board-certified in this field because it involves a deeper understanding of the patient’s health as a whole.
“Basically, what they teach you is how to treat the person as a whole and how to use alternative therapies. … There’s a lot of behavioral health involvement — [a] very holistic process [and a] very holistic methodology. And to be honest, I think it’s probably going to be the future of medicine … at least primary care.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
Dr. Rami is starting the integrative medicine course this year, and I know that he’ll excel — he is passionate about taking care of the whole person, not just their “issue.” If you’re interested in learning more about integrative medicine, definitely check out Dr. Andrew’s Weil’s program to learn more!
Direct Primary Care vs. an Insurance-Based System
The patient’s experience goes beyond the office visit — it includes insurance as well. Something that Dr. Rami is interested in recently is direct primary care, which replaces the insurance-based system that we’ve operated by for so long:
“Direct primary care is basically membership-based practice [and] value-based medicine. … [It’s] kicking out the insurance-based system that medicine has been intertwined in since the beginning of Western medicine. What we’re finding now is that it brings much more value to the individual and to the physician because you pay a low monthly fee … and you don’t have to get full spectrum insurance coverage. You ultimately are able to get much better care for the amount of dollars that you are putting forward every year, and [it] ultimately leads to better outcomes because you are getting more investment from your physician.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
Healthcare can be so expensive, especially if your employer doesn’t provide it for you. Direct primary care reduces that cost considerably by using third-party organizations to provide services at a reasonable price.
“[For] MRI scans in the insurance-based model, you can pay anywhere up to $3,500. … You can do it through a diagnostic center [and] through a membership-based practice for a fraction of that — maybe $200.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi
Dr. Rami is an entrepreneur as well as a physician, and his goal is to help solve the healthcare crisis and bring the direct primary care model to life. In fact, thinking about this project sometimes keeps Dr. Rami up at night because he’s so excited — it’s possible to mutually benefit the economy and people with this model! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, so feel free to leave a comment below or tag Dr. Rami, @beyond_med, and me, @drnikoleta, on Instagram!
How the Beyond Medicine Podcast Was Born
Before we finished up the interview, I was so excited to hear about Dr. Rami’s podcast and how it all started!
“I started it in my fourth year of medical school. And basically, for me, the reason I started it was because I was already on social media at this point, and I was seeing all of this clutter and a lot of this information that was being spread by people who weren’t necessarily credible sources. … I [was] surrounded by all these incredibly intelligent people, all of these doctors … [and I thought,] ‘Why, why aren’t they … putting their content out there? Why aren’t they spreading their message?” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
Dr. Rami saw a need for credible health information, and so he decided to fulfill that need by launching the Beyond Medicine podcast. It’s called “Beyond Medicine” because it includes much more than your standard medical information.
“I’m not necessarily totally subscribed to the traditional medicine model, right? So things that are ‘beyond medicine’ to me would be like integrative medicine, functional medicine, thinking outside the box, new ways of trying things, [and] innovation. And so I wanted something that could encompass my feelings towards my aspirations, and so that was where beyond medicine was born.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
I’m blown away by Dr. Rami’s mission, and what’s more, I’m so impressed that he created this podcast during medical school — one of the craziest, busiest times of his life! He officially launched the podcast right before he started residency. He bought all the audio equipment, made t-shirts, and began promoting the podcast to family, friends, and influencers to build his brand. He went all in — and built better relationships with people in the process.
I really admire Dr. Rami for his entrepreneurial spirit. He started this podcast in a time that was probably most inconvenient for him, even after he didn’t match into his specialty, and created something informative and inspiring! There will never be a “perfect time” to launch an entrepreneurial project — you can always make excuses as to why you shouldn’t do something. Today, I want to encourage you to go for it despite any self-doubts and create something beautiful like Dr. Rami did!
Step Out with Confidence® with Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
I hope you got as much out of this interview as I did! I could have kept talking to Dr. Rami for hours, and I’m definitely going to tune into his incredible podcast!
For one last piece of inspiration, I’d like to leave you with Dr. Rami’s answer to what an exceptional life looks like in medicine:
“I would say an exceptional life would be taking the risks … going after those really, really big ambitions that I have and going after them full-force, fail or not fail, [and] at least trying to make an impact and affect people’s lives for the better.” – Dr. Rami Wehbi, DO
When you face challenges in the healthcare world, always remind yourself of the work you’re doing — you are changing people’s lives, and this is something that you should be proud of. If you’re struggling with limiting beliefs, please reach out to me on Instagram. You can also check out my website for more resources to help with burnout and Step Out with Confidence®.
I appreciate every single one of you. Thank you so much for reading! Check out the full episode with Dr. Rami, and tag him, @beyond_med, and me, @drnikoleta, on Instagram with a screenshot of the episode and your greatest takeaways. And if you enjoy the Millennial Doc podcast, it would also mean so much to me if you could give it a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts so we can spread the word!
Until next time, Step Out with Confidence® and go rock your life!
Disclaimer: The Millennial Doc® Podcast is advertising/marketing material. It is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor on these topics. Copyright Dr. Nikoleta 2019.