Integrating traditional medicine with herbal medicine: Meet Anne Kennard, DO

TransforMD: Describe your traditional path in medicine:

Anne: After completing a Bachelor's and Master's work in Nutrition Science, I completed my residency in OBGYN at Banner-University of AZ Medical Center in 2015. I took a position as an OBGYN generalist and concurrently completed a fellowship in Integrative Medicine through the University of Arizona.

TransforMD: What was the turning point or inspiration for you to make a major shift in your career? What are you doing differently now?

Anne: My major shift in my career came after I was diagnosed with my own autoimmune health crisis and was forced to take unexpected time off. During this time I developed my love of herbal medicine, enrolling in a course to become a Clinical Herbalist, wrote my Integrative Medicine Cookbook, developed a line of herbal postpartum care products and topical herbal shingles relief, and began to ask myself what I really wanted to do (Not work at night! Use Integrative Medicine proudly, rather than working it into my "traditional" practice)! I returned to work in a non-traditional capacity, as a daytime-only laborist teaching in a brand new OBGYN residency program, and as the Director of the Integrative Medicine program at the institution. In this role I teach both family medicine and OBGYN residents labor and delivery skills, culinary medicine, herbal medicine, mind-body medicine, meditation, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and osteopathy. I also became the champion for physician wellness at our institution, working with both physicians and administrators to start to ask and answer meaningful questions regarding physician well being. I also have begun to speak on a national level on women's integrative medicine topics, market my products, and look forward to the upcoming release of my first book.

TransforMD: Did you have doubts or hurdles along the way? What was the biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?

It was hard for me to not practice the GYN surgical skills that I worked so hard to build. I worried about leaving my practice, about abandoning patients that I really cared about. I just had to do it and move forward, knowing that I was doing something else meaningful, investing and teaching the residents how to answer the question "what makes a well person?" for themselves and their patients.

TransforMD: Imagine you could travel back in time and give yourself an important piece of advice. What would it be, and when would have been the most important time in life to receive it?

Anne: GO TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL TO MINIMIZE DEBT (just kidding....sort of)

Med School/Residency advice: Take good care. Eat well. Prioritize sleep. Eliminate stress when possible. Learn to meditate.

New attending advice: Hold firm boundaries for self care. Don't feel obligated to say yes. Believe that you are enough and are doing what you will be fulfilled and happy doing, even if it is a non traditional path.

You can follow Dr Kennard on her website, on Instagram @dr_anne_kennard, and on Facebook @drannekennard.