Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Susan Baumgaertel.
You recently published a book called The Menopause Menu. Where did you get the inspiration?
I drew inspiration from caring for women in my practice over the past several decades.
It was clear that more information is needed about the entire menopause journey, and that this information needs to be evidence-based, yet also holistic. I developed a weight management and wellness program, Menu for Change, that ran from 2012 to 2019.
Nutrition, movement, sleep, stress management and many other health-related categories were emphasized. It seemed a natural extension to frame information about menopause and midlife transitions with a menu-based theme and so I launched a free website, MenopauseMenu, in late 2020. This all led to the foundation for my book.
Check out the book page here.
Tell us about the writing process. Was it hard to do? Any tips on how to make this more seamless for busy doctors?
The ideas had been in my head for so many years, much of the content just gushed out into my writing.
I organized my writing into chapters using the writing platform Scrivener, which ultimately transferred easily into Word documents as I got into the editing and copyediting phases.
I structured each chapter with identical sections—Introduction, Amuse-Bouche, Appetizer, Entrée, Palate Cleanser, Dessert—so it was easy to keep track of what still needed work.
I had given a survey to about 80 women prior to even starting my writing, and so I had a lot of great quotes that pertained to each chapter’s symptom or condition.
I even had all the survey participants sign agreements allowing their quotes to be used in a potential future book, so when it came to getting the book in shape to be published the permissions were already done.
I wrote when feeling inspired, and sometimes went several weeks without writing anything.
This dry spell would typically be followed by several days of intense writing—like an artist working on a painting who doesn’t want to be disturbed.
I really respected the creative process and didn’t force it.
How do you market your book, now that it’s published?
Initially, I was caught-up in the fast lane of rushing to get the word out since I am self-published.
But, my goal was never to make money or be famous. It was to get my book out far and wide and help women (and men) everywhere.
That takes time, and I’m fine with that.
So, I’ve been enjoying the grass-roots marketing process.
I added an author/book page to my website, and made sure it had a Press Kit.
I had a book launch party at an amazing local nonprofit, Cancer Lifeline, that I’ve been connected to for many years.
I had a book table at a local Seattle farmer’s market in front of a bookstore, and it was a blast (I love supporting women-owned small businesses).
I have been doing a lot of podcasts and videos interviews with colleagues all over the country and in different countries.
I have private book club parties, restaurant events and other organic events springing up as I write this.
I’ll also have a booth at the Northwest Women’s Show at the Tacoma Dome in March of 2024.
I am brainstorming ideas that may connect my book to AI-supported nutrition advice with a colleague’s company in Toronto. Another colleague in San Francisco is having me contribute menopause content to an online lecture course. So, the word is getting out!
Any learning lesson you picked up along the way, publishing your book?
Yes: Self-publishing is the way to go!
I wanted full control over how my book was edited, what the front/back cover looked like, when it was released, what it would cost, and the only way to do all this was to form myMDadvocate Press.
I hired a general editor, a copyeditor, a proofreader, and a designer (interior).
I also had an attorney specific to the industry.
I already had a website, so it was easy to have my web designer add an author/book website page.
I quickly learned that many publishing companies wanted to make money off of my book—but then it would no longer be my book.
I invested in my book no different than others investing in a nice vacation or a new car. It’s a great feeling to own the entire process.
Your YouTube page says your channel is a helpful resource for navigating health care and medical systems. In what way does it accomplish that?
My professional business is called myMDadvocate. I serve as a medical consultant and advocate for patients, and I also support and promote my colleagues.
I love the fact that I can be a “safety net” for patients who are in-between physicians or are having a hard time accessing care.
I have over 30 years of experience in navigating medical systems and it is such an honor to help people in times of need.
Healthcare is a mess these days, and systems are often broken. It’s a really good feeling to reach out and be there for my patients in a different way than I used to in primary care. I have a number of videos on my YouTube channel that speak to this.
Dr. B’s Youtube page is here.Healthcare is a mess these days, and systems are often broken. It’s a really good feeling to reach out and be there for my patients in a different way than I used to in primary care. Click To Tweet
In “Harmed By The Electronic Medical Record“, you say the EMR is an “epic” failure. We love that pun. In what way(s) has EMR failed us?
Oh boy, where do I start?!! I was part of the team that heralded the EMR in my (former) large organization, and was even a “Super User” and an “Epic Power User,” helping colleagues at-the- elbow with all things EMR-related.
I was very efficient with use of this technology in my busy practice. The original intentions of the EMR were to share information, have one record for medications and allergies, have better access to test results (labs, imaging) and improve communication between physicians and other health care professionals—all to support better patient care.
This is not happening today.
Medical records are cluttered with junk notes (pages and pages of incorrect or irrelevant data, making it almost impossible to find good information), problem lists are incorrect or outdated, medication lists are never (yes, never) correct—I could go on and on. Plus, physicians are now slaves (data input, clicking boxes, template completion) and even when “scribes” are hired, the data is still subpar.
Medical records r cluttered w/junk notes (pages & pages of incorrect or irrelevant data, making it almost impossible to find good information), problem lists r incorrect or outdated, medication lists r never (yes, never) correct.. Click To Tweet
It’s a mess, and greatly contributes to burnout. The EMR has forever changed the physician-patient relationship, and not for the better.
Read the article “Harmed By The Electronic Medical Record” here.
In “Please Stop Saying ‘Provider’!“, you describe cringing when you’re wished a “Happy Provider’s Day”. Should medical doctors be celebrated separately? Why?
Yes. All other medical professionals get recognition (nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, pharmacists, and so on)—they often get weeks or months of recognition.
Physicians get one day, and not even a day because they will be called a “Provider” and other providers will be included. What a racket!
Let’s recognize physicians for the 10+ years of training (or more) that they bring to their professions before even starting their first day of practice.
I say this not from a place of ego, but from a place of basic respect.
Transparency and patient safety is at risk of being significantly and negatively impacted if we lose sight of this.
Read “Please Stop Saying ‘Provider’!” here.Let’s recognize physicians for the 10+ years of training (or more) that they bring to their professions before even starting their first day of practice. I say this not from a place of ego, but from a place of basic respect. Click To Tweet
You recorded a multi-video series with SoMeDocs. Do you have any suggestions for doctors who also want to create video series? Any tips/tricks?
I loved the process of doing a Netflix-style video series, and SoMeDocs was an amazing partner and curator.
It was a challenge at first to think of each of eight episodes being 10-15 minutes in length—like a mini lecture—especially since we live in a sound-bite world that embraces 30-60 second reels and caters to scrollers. But, it was a breath of fresh air to showcase my medical business and take the time to talk about a lot of different topics that I have clinical expertise and experience in. So, it was definitely worth the time and effort.
I made sure the lighting was good. I used my iPhone and had a consistent intro/ending to each episode.
I did not read off of a computer screen but had some bullet notes printed out in front of me. I tried to talk from my heart/head and not just read things.
I tried to relate to the camera as if someone was sitting right in front of me and I was talking to them—my “pull up a chair to listen” style of talking.
I saved all my videos on my Vimeo channel and imported to my YouTube channel. I made the thumbnail pictures using Canva so all eight episodes had the same look/colors.
(Dr. B’s series, called Navigating Your Health (with Dr. Susan Baumgaertel, can be found here.
You posted recently on Linkedin about getting your blood drawn. Your story had a great message to it, about the value of human-human interaction. Do you feel like we can restore this type of magic? If so, how?
Yes, I do.
I think medicine is currently going in many different directions, including what is called Direct Care (DPC = Direct Primary Care). This practice style reinforces the human-human aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. I take great pride in connecting with my patients as another human—I am a patient too!
I know what it feels like to not be heard or not be respected. I want to be sure I extend myself via my Telemedicine sessions to my patients, so that they feel valued and cared for. The computer “melts away” and I can be of service to them, even though we are in separate locations.
When you share about your life in posts, as above, how do you tie in learning lessons? Is there a magic formula you follow, as an author?
I am always looking for the “little things” in my life experiences, and also looking for the art and beauty.
I love to weave art and nature into what I do.
I think the learning points just rise up and declare themselves—I don’t set out to prove anything ahead of time.
I try to turn ordinary moments (like waiting for my blood to be drawn) into special, magical stories—everything is a story to me!
I try to watch, observe, listen, and absorb things around me.
Your profile lists you as a “patient advocate.” How do you advocate for patients and how can other doctors become involved in such advocacy work?
Continuing from question 5, I can help patients in many ways.
Often they need someone to interpret test results (lab results, imaging reports, pathology reports, consultation notes, etc.) and I can go over these very carefully and answer questions. I can support what their physician or specialist has told them and expand on the discussion.
I can help them find a new physician or navigate new insurance coverage (where to go, whom to see).
I can counsel them on dealing with caregiving issues, dealing with chronic illness, accessing acute or urgent care. I
can help with cancer support. I can help with mental illness and dementia resources.
I can partner with their loved ones to better support them in their current care team.
I can communicate with their physician to expedite urgent needs or concerns.
I can be a safety net and fill the gaps. I’m not sure how to advise other physicians how to do this, but there are wonderful state and national advocacy groups that have lots of learning resources.
How can our audience help spread the word on your work? What is your “ask?”
I would love to have more people promote my book, The Menopause Menu.
You can buy it on Amazon at here—and please leave a 5 star review! It’s an all-in-one giftbook, medical guide and recipe book for navigating menopause—perfect for the upcoming holidays, because everyone knows someone who is going through menopause.
I also have my free website MenopauseMenu for those who are interested, with 16 sub-pages under the Information Tab and three blogs (articles, videos, recipes). My YouTube channel needs more subscribers, so please subscribe. Lastly, for those in Washington state, I’m delighted to help patients in my business myMDadvocate. Thank you!!
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