We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Dave Gordon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Dave, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
Closing my long-time primary care practice in 2017. I started a private practice in 2003, just out of residency. It grew over the years and took on various forms as my medical philosophies evolved and I adapted the practice business model to meet those needs. However, despite the various iterations, I still had a single private primary care practice for my entire career. Beyond that, having a small private practice was always what I envisioned my medical career to be so in reality, I was living the singular vision I had since even being a kid.
I have dealt with emotional health issues for most of my life; more often than not they have been managed adequately. In no way did I look at my practice as a cause for my issues; however, there were aspects of my professional situation that were certainly exacerbating my issues. There were also new experiences and challenges that I wanted to have but couldn’t find ways to incorporate them into my world.
I had a fairly severe 6 month period of anxiety and depression that caused me to re-evaluate many things. In retrospect, I feel that flare-up was needed to force me to bring the option of closing my primary care practice on the table. In fact, once I accepted that it was an option, my flare-up resolved fairly quickly. I spent the next several months thinking about it but then decided I wanted to make a major professional change and closed the practice I had spent 15 years build. It was difficult for me to change paths after being on a singular vision for most of my life but also heartbreaking to feel like I was abandoning my patients that had been with me.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
There are several things I’m really proud of. From the get go, I’m proud of myself for recognizing the status quo / establishment in medicine as it pertains to chronic disease prevention, reversal and treatment is severely flawed. We’re trained as physicians to think the same about chronic disease as we do with acute illness (i..e single cause, single diagnosis, single treatment) which does not work at all. I recognized this early on in practice and rather than just follow the herd and overusing pharmaceuticals, surgeries and other invasive procedures, I shifted gears and taught myself better ways to work with patients. Most importantly, I learned about how to create health for patients rather than the status quo of just accepting disease and trying to band-aid it. I’m also really proud that as my medical philosophies evolved, I had the courage and willingness to adapt my business model to practice this new type of medicine. This meant ensuring I was more accessible to patients, having longer visit times to counsel and educate them, and doing group education to further this process. I mentioned that I learned so much about having a small practice from the IMP group and took their ideas and expanded on them to create new visions that worked for me as well as others that followed me.
Next, I’m really proud of what happened after I closed my practice. As I mentioned, it was the hardest decision I ever made in life and I made that decision despite not having a plan for what I would do next. Just from a personal growth standing, that alone makes me proud as I was willing to just accept where I was, be mindful of what was out there, and let options develop, rather than creating a specific plan that I had to follow/achieve. And unsurprisingly, I have created and blossomed into a variety of new areas that are both intellectually stimulating to me but also give me the opportunity to help and educate a larger number of people than I could in my small practice.
One area I’ve spent a lot of time in since changing gears was in cannabis medicine. As an integrative doctor I was quite familiar with cannabis as a treatment as well as many other botanical therapies. After I closed down, I started doing a handful of consultations for folks wants to use medical cannabis and needing physician authorization. Pretty quickly I realized there was a huge lack of good education from health professionals in that area and I’ve now spent quite a bit of time trying to rectify that. Over the past 3+ years, I’ve become a leading medical expert in the safe and effective use of cannabis therapies building on what I already had self-educated. I now see patients for consultations but also speak at conferences, lecture to lay groups and practitioners, and consult with businesses in this area. I also use cannabis as an entry point to speak with people about the other aspects of health that I’ve been utilizing throughout my career (what I call the 4 pillars — food, movement, relaxation and community). I also have taken on a variety of leadership roles working as a medical director for different clinics to supervise other practitioners and help them optimize their practices. I’m now looking at doing some formal teaching in the academic setting.
Overall there are many things now that are new and exciting and I’m proud that I was willing to take a risk and shake things up to allow those to happen. Beyond that, I’m proud that I’ve taken on something new and excelled at it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Wow. I hope this question means you’re sponsoring this extravaganza!
I don’t know or care exactly what the itinerary would look like but it would certainly involve the following:
live music – since my 3 favorite bands are no longer (Rush, Beastie Boys, and Pink Floyd) it would have to involve cover bands. Thankfully there are amazing Rush and Floyd cover bands that play in the Denver area every year so one or both of those would be on the agenda.
comedy – I love stand up comedy and I’m happy seeing anyone but of folks I’ve yet to see live, I’m thinking an extended Daniel Tosh show would be in order.
outside – we are going to be spending a lot of time in nature and ideally have some water involved. I prefer summer but would be ok with snowboarding as well. However, hiking, kayaking, and just relaxing by a stream is probably my favorite thing to do
for downtime, we’ll hang around the house watching movies, listening to music/comedy
foodwise, i prefer to be cooking but always down for a good meal out. There will definitely be some smoking of meats at the home and enjoying that. When we go out it will typically be more smoked meats or foods from other cultures (thai, vietnamese, Ethiopian, latin, etc.) – pretty much anyone that uses lots of vegetables, meats, herbs and spices.
finally, the perfect week wouldn’t be complete without some UCLA football and basketball with maybe a New York Mets game snuck in there. I’m going to have to demand victories in advance so as not to put a damper on the week.
Finally, at some point to decompress and just appreciate the beauty of the world and friendship, I’d have a dedicated guided meditation/psychedelic journey probably at the end of everything preparing me to get back to the day to day
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Two things come to mind right off the bat.
The first might be a bit cliche, but I have to give a shout out to my wife. Certainly there are many reasons for that as your partner of 24 years plays a major role in your life. But specifically is the unwavering support and acceptance she had for the major shift in career I undertook a few years ago. As noted previously, I made the extremely tough decision to close my primary care practice. What I didn’t mention is that I choose to do that without having any specific plan for what I would do next, and that included how I would have an income. I had been the sole income generator for our family for the prior 12 years. Not only did she still support and accept my decision but she also choose to re-enter the workforce. This had some specific benefits for her, but also allowed me some time and flexibility to let the 2nd half of my career develop and made the transition so much easier.
The second is a non-profit group called Ideal Medical Practices, and its founder Gordon Moore. The US medical system has grown increasingly difficult and sometimes impossible for someone to have a thriving small, independent private practice. When I started practice in 2003, I was owned by a hospital. However by 2008, it was clear that relationship was unsustainable as my goals and priorities were clearly not in alignment with theirs. Thus, I had to find a way to maintain my practice on my own. I came across the Ideal Medical Practices group which was a collection of private practice owners that build upon a model Dr. Moore started where the practice stripped away much of the unnecessary overhead that was associated with a medical practice and created what is commonly called the micro practice. Using technology, common sense, and a more personalized approach, this group was a wealth of information and experience that I drew from to create my ideal practice. I spent a year absorbing everything others in that group had learned, all of which was given freely. After transferring ownership from the hospital to myself, I built a thriving small private practice when nearly all others were failing. Not only did it allow for my financial success but also allowed me to have a practice where I could adapt easily to my needs and those of my patients. I never would have had the success in practice and made it to where I was today without that group.