With skyrocketing costs, an OB-GYN decided to make a change in her career which led her to preventive medicine and keeping patients healthy rather than treating what was already wrong.
Change begets change — at least that’s the way it was for Jennifer Landa, MD. As a practicing OB-GYN in New York City shortly after the turn of the century, Landa found that everything around her was skyrocketing, especially the cost of malpractice insurance.
“[The rising costs] decreased my practice enjoyment, and upped the terror quotient, so to speak,” she recalls. “I felt like it was affecting the way I was practicing medicine.”
Landa began exploring ways to financially make practicing medicine more viable, and became certified in laser therapies for the skin. But that was just the start of a paradigm shift in the way she practiced medicine.
“I started to realize there was this whole practice out there of preventive medicine,” Landa says. “And I say, if you don’t look good on the inside, you can’t look good on the outside.”
Focus on hormones
Landa vividly recalls being taught in residency that hormones were the greatest thing since sliced bread. Her residency director was obsessed with protecting residents from lawsuits, and would tell her and her colleagues, “If you don’t offer a menopausal woman hormone therapy and she has a heart attack, she can come back and sue you for not offering hormones, which could prevent heart disease.
But that perspective changed in 2002 when the Women’s Health Initiative announced an increase in the incidence of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes among women receiving hormone replacement therapy.
“In my head, as a doctor and scientist, I had to reconcile those two points of view,” Landa says. “And if you really look in-depth at the research, the WHI shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. Studies have been around since the 1980s that showed these things.”
However, Landa found European studies combining estrogen with micronized progesterone and not a single one of them showed an increase in the risks of heart disease and breast cancer.
Landa’s focus turned toward bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She realized that she could make people “feel better, look better and actually be healthier” by employing preventive medicine and using a combination of hormone replacement therapy, nutrition changes and nutritional supplementation. This new approach to medicine differed from what she had been taught in medical school, which was “a very disease-based way of looking at medicine.”
Proactive, not reactive
Landa soon moved to Florida where she opened a practice — a franchisee of BodyLogicMD — in Orlando. BodyLogicMD’s affiliated physicians integrate bioidentical hormone therapy with nutrition and fitness for those suffering from hormone imbalance. Eighteen months ago, she became chief medical officer for the parent organization, serving as the voice of BodyLogicMD with responsibility for maintaining training and education standards among all its affiliated physicians.
“We spend so little time on nutrition, which is shocking, because I look at food as medicine, and I’m constantly re-training people how to eat, and it makes a huge difference to their lives as to how they feel, and their health,” Landa explains. “This is a revolutionary, new paradigm in medicine. And really, when most doctors hear about it, they’re fascinated. They say, ‘This is exactly what I went to medical school for.’”
The Sex Drive Solution for Women
Landa’s experiences, both professional and personal, have led to a soon-to-be-published book. (Atlantic Publishing Group Inc., January 31, 2012), is based not just on Landa’s early career frustration as an OB-GYN unable to help women suffering from a reduced sex drive, but her own experience as well.
“When I was about 28 and fairly newly married, I felt like I had no sex drive anymore,” Landa recalls. “Why at 28 would I lose my sex drive? And I didn’t have kids yet, so I had everything going for me, and I should have had a good sex drive, but I didn’t.”
She embarked on a study of what causes reduced sex drive, and learning about the negative impact of birth control pills, as well as the interactions between stress hormones and other hormones.
“I’ve worked hard in my own life to cultivate my sex drive, and I want women to know it’s something you can succeed in if you’re willing to make an effort,” she says.
Active, rewarding lifestyle
Landa says she counsels patients on the need for balance in their lives, and she makes it a point to walk the walk in her own life. She monitors her time well, and maintains a solid fitness routine, often training for half marathons and triathlons. She also enjoys wakeboarding — water skiing on a board — and works out several mornings a week with a personal trainer. She also spends quality time with her husband and two children, ages 12 and 10.
Focusing on preventive medicine means there are few, if any, emergencies, so Landa finds she’s better balanced now that she no longer has to take emergency calls. She adds that the most rewarding aspect of her practice is being able to change someone’s life.
“Delivering somebody’s baby was a very gratifying experience, and you play such a big role in their life in doing that,” she says. “But believe it or not, it’s amazing that I found something that I can have just as big an impact, if not bigger, on patients, and still feel the same overwhelming gratitude from them; that I had such a big role in changing the course of their life. And the best thing a patient can tell me is, you saved my life.”