Dietitian Boss Coach Heather’s Story—A Day in the Life of a Telehealth Dietitian
Welcome to Dietitian Boss. My name is Libby Rothschild. I'm the CEO and founder of the Dietitian Boss Method. Our company is here to help you get started in private practice, even before you think you're ready. I've created a proprietary process to help you increase visibility and create organic content.
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Hello and welcome. I'm here today with telehealth dietitian coach Heather, and I'm super happy to share her journey, her story, and a little bit about how she aligns with our value of balance and what her life looks like. Welcome to today's episode, Heather. Super excited to share conversations with you.
Thank you so much for this time, Libby, so I can chat a little bit about this journey that I've been on.
It's a pleasure and I say it all the time: I'm so fortunate to work with you, and thrilled that our clients get access to your vibe and aura of empathy, relatability, and kindness. I would say you’re just an amazing coach, so it's just a pleasure to have you here and to be able to work with you. Can you share a little about your background? And this is a two-parter, so we're going to share another episode about your telehealth dietitian experience in private practice. Today I just want it to be a little bit of an overview because you have a really cool business and role-modeling personality that is so aspirational for our clients and for the community at large of dietitians.
Yeah. Thank you so much. You know, I just want to say that it is a journey, and being entrepreneurial, starting a clinic, and starting a business has so many aspects of self-learning and self-healing.
But just a little bit about my technical background is that I was trained as a naturopathic physician, and that means different things in different states and different countries. So depending on where you're listening from, that could mean something different. But where I practiced medicine was in the state of Arizona, so I was a primary care provider. I could prescribe medicine, I did IV therapies, and I could do minor surgery. And our scope is very broad in Arizona, so I practiced as a naturopathic doctor, but I also specialized in naturopathic oncology. I was one of the few board certified naturopathic oncologists in North America.
There's about 150 of us in all of North America, so that was some specialty training I did. I was able to do a residency in a hospital, which is very rare as a naturopathic doctor, so I can really resonate with Dietitian Bosses out there who are doing their clinicals. I know that hospital life experience and maybe being a square peg in a round hole kind of a system, so I totally resonate with you guys on that.
I was part of that system and I was also a square peg in a round hole. From there I started private practice and I also taught at the medical school that is currently Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, but they're going through some renaming right now as a university. And I have been teaching oncology at that medical school for over a decade now.
So, I bring some of that kind of experience of teaching, including understanding the struggles of being a student, being in clinicals, and being in residency. I resonate with you guys and how to support ourselves in that path.
Then I got into digital marketing. In private practice, as you guys know, it's so important to have a social media presence, and I understood that from the get-go in starting my own clinic. I really took a deep dive into marketing and social media marketing, digital marketing, digital platforms, and all of those things that can really make you dizzy. And I feel like I got even more specialty training in marketing and social media marketing than I ever spent studying oncology because it was such a foreign topic for me.
Thank you for sharing that. And can I ask a few questions? Was that because digital marketing is still considered innovative? Only 16% of businesses are fully remote, so it's still rare to have a fully online business. And there are a lot of pieces to digital marketing that can feel overwhelming, which is why at Dietitian Boss we break it down and have you do one step at a time. I appreciate you sharing that journey. I'd love to learn more about what timeframe that was like. Was that five years ago?
I first started virtual practice in 2009, so that's when I was doing virtual consultations. Back then Zoom didn't exist, or Google meetups. I was doing it old school over a phone that plugged into the wall with a headset.
That's amazing. You're an innovator of your time and you're ahead of the game. And our clients are grateful because you have been able to share the experiences of seeing a lot throughout the last 10 plus years in online spaces. So you've been in the online space for over a decade, just like our director of operations, which is why it’s really cool to work with you, and for the team and to be able to work together and collaborate because you have such robust experience in the online landscape.
There are a lot of pieces, and I'll say I had a completely virtual office starting in 2000 and maybe at the latest 2015, because that's when I started having remote people be my front desk staff and be the people who answered my email. I had a brick-and-mortar clinic, but I was the only physical body in that brick-and-mortar clinic besides my other clinical provider.
I had an acupuncture psychotherapist and massage therapists in my clinic. It's amazing. So we're going to do a full additional episode and go deep into that experience and the pros and cons and reflections on private practice, because I think that's really interesting. So thank you for sharing that. Can you talk more broadly about it since you now live in Peru?
Yes, I know I fast forwarded quite a bit from 2009!
Are you comfortable sharing just a little bit about your trajectory with private practice in the big picture, and then what you're doing now? That would really share just a bit of the story of you, which is cool.
Yeah, absolutely. So the reason why I went into digital marketing pretty early on in my private practice career, and in my career in general, was that I always had the goal of being a location-independent telehealth dietitian. At the time, my ideal was to practice on one of the Hawaiian Islands, preferably Maui. I knew that people who lived on the islands did not have the same income stream as people who were mainlanders in America.
I knew I had to somehow set up revenue from mainland America to provide care for people on a remote island. It just so happens that I didn't end up in Maui. Instead I ended up in Peru. But that same model applied for being a location-independent telehealth dietitian and being able to serve people and generate revenue. But what ended up happening with my practice is I started serving people all over the world, because there's only 150 naturopathic oncologists in North America, but in the world, statistically, there's even fewer of us.
So, I ended up supporting people in different countries and creating a practice that was not only location-independent for me, but location-independent for my patients and clients. That was really important for serving people who had a problem that I could help solve, which was cancer.
Thank you for sharing that, Heather. I'm hearing two things that I want to highlight. Firstly, you niche down, and that's something we teach so I appreciate that. Your role modeling is also incredible, in that you said a hundred or 150 of you are in the business. I want to talk just briefly about the mindset to do that, and then secondly, how you decided to go fully remote to be location-independent a long time ago, and how you achieved that goal. That's in complete alignment with Dietitian Boss, and fantastic role modeling.
I want to start with fully remote. That's a really big motivator for our clients and for a lot of people—it's a big sell. What motivated you enough to do that? Is it the experience? The travel? What made you so dedicated enough to actually make it happen?
I saw problems that I didn't like about how practices were run, and I wanted to solve those problems to have a better experience for my patients. Going fully remote with my front and back office was more about my patient experience than location independence. It happened to naturally feed into location independence.
But my experience as someone who supported people with cancer in my personal life was that, when they were at checkout, the front desk person was always distracted. It was always this push and pull between answering the phone and paying a hundred percent attention to the person on the phone or dedicating themselves to the person standing in front of them in the practice. And so I had decided early on that, before I even opened my own clinic, I never wanted the phones ringing in my office. I felt it was distracting. I felt it was rude to the people who were there in person and they wouldn’t feel well cared for.
As a first step, I took phones out of my office.
Wow. It's really inspiring to hear that you did that. That's still not common in a lot of private practices, so you are truly innovative. I just want to highlight—and I feel this working with you—you're coming from a standpoint of always putting the client first.
So, your impetus for going remote and becoming a telehealth dietitian was primarily based on the client having an amazing experience, and then secondary was for you to travel. A lot of people reverse it. And no judgment about your order of priorities for those who are more interested in having a drink at the beach or however you want to spend your time!
It's always a balance of both, right? So we want to be client-centered, and you can have access to more people. Of 150 people, I'm sure you have more access as a remote worker than if you were to be in person, right? Because that would limit you as well. So I can see where there's so many benefits to the end user, meaning a client for you to have a remote business. But it's one thing to dream it and then to actually do it, and you actually did it.
That's super cool. Thank you. Can you share a little bit about the niching down process? Is that something in your digital marketing education, or is that what you learned or what got you. Did that feel scary for you or natural?
No, that was completely natural for me, unlike a lot of my colleagues. A lot of naturopaths are jacks-of-all-trades, right? They do general practice, they do general medicine, family medicine, etc. So, it's rare in naturopathic medicine to niche down the way that I did. The reason why I applied to naturopathic medical school was because of my personal experience of my dad dying of stage-four colon cancer, and I knew that it was the problem I wanted to solve.
I saw so many problems in the way people with cancer were treated, and I also saw a lack of dignity in the dying process. I wanted to be part of a solution within the context of conventional oncology, which is also why I did a residency in the hospital. I'm not anti conventional medicine. I wasn't standing in that space of the conspiracy theories or other things that go on with natural cancer care
But I saw some problems in the current system that I felt needed to be shifted in order for people to experience cancer with health and dignity. So, I decided from day one that I was going to be going in this niche, and then every step that I took in my training was about how to be the best that I could be in that particular area of expertise.
That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing that, and I love you sharing your story. I have so many more questions. Luckily, we'll have a lot more time together to unpack bits of your story. Let’s talk about today's intro to you a little bit: tell us who you are, and about the life of Heather and Peru, how you're operating, and how Dietitian Boss is involved with that. Could you share just a little bit about what your life is like? Almost like a day in the life, right?
I would love to share a day in the life, and actually, anyone's invited to enjoy a day in the life in Peru, because part of what I've started here is an invitation to my old self to experience my new life.
And some of you guys might resonate with this. In my old life I was running my own business. I was seeing patients anywhere between 8 and 12 hours a day, plus running my digital marketing, plus writing a book, plus, plus, plus, plus. So, I was working about 14 or more hours a day.
I would start working at 6:00 AM and I would end at seven or eight o'clock at night, which is not a recipe for health and wellbeing. And so now, how that's translated into my remote life and my current life is, I sleep until I am ready to get up, which is usually around 6:30 or 7, I have a very calm breakfast, and then I get to enjoy the mountain views that I have around me.
As a telehealth dietitian, 9:00 AM is when I either start working with our Dietitian Boss clients or start doing things to support the people who opened a little retreat house, and so I'm supporting the people who are staying here in our houses and giving advice on where to eat and have fun in Peru.
And then I'm also just enjoying my surroundings here in a beautiful natural area. I get to walk to town and go grocery shopping in our huge mercado which is all full of local food. It's like a farmer's market dream on steroids, and that's kind of a day in the life. I support our clients for a couple hours every day, give some feedback, and then I'm able to wind down and go to bed and rest and take care of myself, like by cooking real food,
I actually have time to cook. It's just the complete opposite of how I was caring for myself, my body, and my home when I was working privately.
Thank you so much for sharing that, Heather, that was such a special recap of your adventures. I know we didn't even touch the surface of you, but I really liked sharing a little more about you so that our audience can learn what you're up to and who you are and what you represent and your story, and I think that's really powerful.
We are going to record another episode that I want everyone to listen to. That'll be more about your experiences in private practice, things that you regret, or things that you felt really good about in private practice. So we're going to go a little deeper on that piece of the story. So make sure to check out that next episode!
And thank you so much, Heather, for your time and your energy today.
Thank you, Libby.
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