BEYOUROWN Meet Dr Gayetri Chudasama

Dr Gayetri Chudasama employs a full-body, system based and holistic approach to heal complex, chronic illness and health conditions. Functional Medicine practitioners, like Dr Gayetri, consider the whole person holistically when looking to treat illness and disease. Dr Gayetri takes the time to look at every aspect of your life, arrange appropriate Functional Medicine tests, and assess the results to create a tailored effective treatment plan for you. Here, she shares her background story.

Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?

I’m Dr Gayetri, founder of Dr Gayetri Functional Medicine. I qualified as a doctor back in 2009 but quickly felt frustrated that I wasn’t able to help my patients truly heal themselves. After getting burned out as a doctor in A & E, I started on my own health journey. I reflected back to my childhood in India, where I was exposed to yoga and ayurvedic medicine and sough to find a way to combine this with my training as a conventional doctor. Then I came across functional medicine. The principles resonated so strongly with me, that within a month I was on a plane to start my training in Chicago. By 2018 I had set up my own practice and I quickly realised that my patients were improving far more effectively that I had experienced in my 9 years as a conventional doctor. 

I still work in the NHS as a GP in order to keep my skills and knowledge up to date with conventional medicine, however the majority of my work and my true passion most certainly lies in my Functional Medicine work.

 Can you take us through your journey to where you are now? 

After years of working as a GP, I realised that many of my patients were just “getting by” — and sometimes even accepting their ill health as an inevitable part of life .I thought to myself that, “There just has to be another way, a better way!” Not only were many of my patients not truly getting better, but I was starting to become as ill as they were!

I was working crazy hours in A&E, there wasn’t a day that I didn’t feel overwhelmed and stressed. My sleep patterns were totally irregular and meals were usually of poor quality – the fast food, microwave-ready kind of meals. I worked most evenings and weekends, meaning I had no social life. I missed my family and friends, and frankly, felt quite disconnected. I started to gain a lot of weight, I was tired all the time, I became depressed, irritable, exhausted and I had migraines for the first time in my life.

Thinking like a medic, I surmised that I might have a thyroid dysfunction or maybe I was anaemic. I saw my GP, who, when the usual tests were normal, told me there was “nothing wrong”. But I felt far from normal; I didn’t feel like myself at all. I knew that if I kept going down the conventional route, I’d end up with a diagnosis of something like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia.

I had to take a new direction. I decided to pay close attention to what worked for me and really took note of what made me feel better. I wanted to know what improved my sleep, what gave me a clearer mind, more energy — what made me feel like I wasn’t just “getting by” but thriving. 

Then, in 2017, I happened to stumble upon a medical speciality that validated everything I was learning from my own experience. Its principles resonated so strongly with me, I immediately realised this was the type of medicine I was meant to practice!

Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

I started off on my own, then quickly realised I needed admin help and so hired a Patient Manager. Since then I have brought on board a nutritional therapist who also acts as a health coach too. I realised that to truly heal, one has to not only make physical changes but also mindset, behavioural and habit changes too. This year has also seen me expand the practice bringing on 2 new doctors to keep up with demand. I don’t think  I have fully cracked the code for mind-body-spiritual healing but I’m getting there, that’s my goal!

Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

I haven’t had specific mentors, as such, but I am a big believer in personal growth. I’ve completed many programs from mindset optimisations to health hacks. All of these have helped me through my personal and professional battles, from leaving a salaried doctor role, to believing in my abilities in order to become an entrepreneur. More recently, I have had help from a fabulous business coach who is joining the nuts and bolts of our business to make it truly viable!

What outlets do use for marketing?

For the first 3 years in my business, I had no formal marketing strategy. Luckily for me, patients that were experiencing benefits first hand were telling their friends and family and this is how my practice grew. Over the last two years, I have realised I wanted to do more to raise awareness of the fabulous benefits of functional medicine. Whilst I can only help a certain number of patients myself, I realised that by having a voice on social media I could help other women struggling with their symptoms.  This has seem me become much more active on social media, using the platform to share hints and tips to help women improve their health. 

Which methods are you using to build your own support network?

I am lucky to be part of a few different professional doctor networks. These are invaluable when sharing best practice and knowledge, especially in the functional medicine world. In medicine having a strong network is really key and I have always made an effort to build my connections with other professionals in different specialisms across the world. Friends and family also form a huge part of my personal support network. 

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

It has to be “invest in yourself” and “ be a lifelong learner”. Back when I initially qualified as a doctor I thought that was it, studying was over. I soon realised that it had only just begun! In fact the process of learning went from being a chore to a passion for me. I realised that I actually love learning and continuously growing. It is this combination which has really helped me develop as a person, stay ahead of the competition and grow my business. An added bonus to this is that I can then be 100% sure that I have done everything in my power to help each individual patient. 

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

As someone who did suffer with burnout whilst working as a full time doctor, I have taken this aspect quite seriously. In fact, it was one of my catalysts to start looking for alternative ways to heal.

I make sure to follow the advice I give to my patients; work reasonable hours and take the time to rest actively, take holidays, find joy in life, live every day in a state of happiness.   These are just a few of the strategies I apply to my life. I realise now that applying these strategies means I work much more effectively and if I don’t feel like this I stop, take stock and work out what is going wrong.  

In the past I use to relate a lot to my career driven and passionate patients who are just driven by achieving goals. I realised that this quest for happiness was never quite fulfilled as you just move onto the next goal. I now say to these patients, “you’re missing out on life!”.

 I believe that true happiness come from actually enjoying where you are now, yes by all means – have goals, work to achieve them but don’t forget to be grateful for everything you have achieved so far. Most importantly find time to feel the joy in your life right now! 

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

The moment I became a GP and in my eyes “successful”. I soon then realised that I wasn’t actually fulfilled in what I was doing, in fact I was getting more and more frustrated.  It forced me to look outside of the box and focus on the Japanese principle of “ikigai”. That search and focus led me to Functional Medicine and a change in the direction of my career.

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

Being a doctor is a privilege which I have never taken lightly. Patients trust you with their life, their stories and their ups and downs. I was always drawn to this aspect of being a doctor, being able to have a positive impact on a patient’s life. However, in reality I felt quite limited in my conventional GP role and ultimately quite frustrated. 

Moving to Functional Medicine has been transformational for me. I have acquired so many more skills with my functional medicine certification, I am now able to guide any person, who is willing to make changes, to a better way of living a healthier, happier life. Seeing how this impacts their lives brings me so much satisfaction. 

I had a review from a patient once who said that “ my daughter says “I got my mum back” …. how do you put a price on that!  

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

Mark Hyman, Chris Kressor, Kara Fitzgerald – they have all done remarkable things to raise the profile of Functional Medicine.

How do you define your own success?

Success for me is waking up and being happy about how the day will unfold.  I see my patients and it lights me up, I feel in flow and I just want to do everything in my power to be able to help them!

Success for me is also having the freedom to be my own boss. Being able to work as and when I want and having the time to enjoy the other aspects of life too. l Life and success isn’t just about work for me, I believe to be truly successful, you need to achieve satisfaction across all dimensions of life – be that career, health, quality of life, finance, family, purpose, spirituality and on a social or emotional level.

Finally, What can we expect from you this year?

I am looking to forward to expanding the business. I have been practicing Functional Medicine alone for the last 4 years with a very small team. My belief in Functional Medicine has skyrocketed as my own practice has evolved and patients have drastically improved. In order to be able to serve more patients we have expanded with 2 new doctors joining the practice. 

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