As a part of my interview series with prominent medical professionals about Strategies To Grow Your Private Practice, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Tanya Kormeili.
Dr. Tanya Kormeili is an internationally recognized, Board-certified dermatologist, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and a leading consultant in her field.
Graduated with highest Honors from both medical school and undergraduate studies from UCLA, Dr. Kormeili Kormeili has received extensive training in clinical research and has been a sub-investigator in various clinical trials presented to the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to numerous honors and awards for her contributions to the field of dermatology, she holds two international awards from the Chilean Society of Dermatology and Venereology, and the XVI CILAD Congress of Dermatology in Colombia.
A frequent speaker to both her industry and the public, Dr. Kormeili has been featured on television, as well as in print and online media. In 2013 she was listed in the Los Angeles Magazine Best of LA, as a rising star in dermatology. In 2017, Expertise recognized Dr. Kormeili as one of the best dermatologists out of over eight hundred dermatologists in Los Angeles. In 2017, Dr. Kormeili was featured as an inspiring story in VoyageLA for her lifetime achievement.
She was the winner of the 2013 listeners’ choice awards for the CallyWood Awards for her professional interview on various rejuvenation techniques for the ethnic skin. She was ranked among The Leading Physicians in The World for 2018.
Dr. Kormeili specializes in non-surgical skin rejuvenation and healthy skin, including diagnosis and treatment of acne, rashes, rosacea and various skin cancers.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell our readers a bit about your “backstory”?
I am a child of immigration. Hard work comes easy when your parents have sacrificed everything for you to thrive! I love family and come alive with interacting with people. I never lose sight of my gratitude for the life I have.
What made you want to start your own practice?
We needed to expand to keep up with our patients’ needs and fill the gaps where traditional healthcare clinics could not. I had a vision that patients will get the best of dermatology and plastic surgery under one roof. I wanted patients to have the ease of picking up the prescriptions without waiting in crazy lines in a pharmacy. I wanted patients to have the state of the art access to Operating Rooms without the cold impersonal touch of cold surgery centers. I think of my patients as family, so I build us a great home!
Managing being a provider and a business owner can often be exhausting. Can you elaborate on how you manage both roles?
I accept that there are times I am not going to be perfectly balanced! I try to be present in what I do. When I am with my little daughter, I put away all phones and work stuff. I am 100% mommy and attentive, however little time that is. When I am at work, I trust that the many people I have in my daughter’s life are caring for her well, and I stay focused on my patients. Of course, I schedule a great dinner and a spa date with girlfriends or hubby to fight the boring routine at times. I overall just feel so grateful that I am a dermatologist and I get to do what I enjoy everyday. My patients’ gratitude honestly lifts the exhaustion!
As a business owner, how do you know when to stop working IN your business (maybe see a full patient load) and shift to working ON your business?
I have protected scheduled time to be a business owner and scheduled time to be with patients. I try not to do too much switching because it leads to errors.
From completing your degree to opening a clinic and becoming a business owner, the path was obviously full of many hurdles. How did you build up resilience to rebound from failures? Is there a specific hurdle that sticks out to you?
The path is less important to me than the product! I just focus on the vision I have. NEVER EVER compromise quality or my own integrity. Getting into UCLA for medical school was a big hurdle and matching into a dermatology residency was against all odds. I just worked hard
“What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Grow Your Private Practice” and why?
- Be yourself. Be authentic. Be vulnerable. Be a confidant. I think this may seem really basic but often there is a impenetrable membrane between the doctor and the patient. We are told to be a certain way as a doctor, and we try to hide who we really are to please everyone. For me, I was always myself. I share with my patients about my life, my struggles, my fears and my everyday stories. We chat like families would at each visit. They get to know the real me. Like attracts like. After a decade my patients have referred all their friends and families to create a thriving practice, that has required no professional marketing! Best part of it: I love my patients because like attracts like!
- Be inclusive but have a niche: I had been exposed to 5 languages and had lived in 3 different continents by the time I was done with High School. I spent my every chance in college, medical school and residency (and every penny too!) on traveling and learning about the different types of people on the planet. I fell in love with diversity and ethnic backgrounds of everyone. It led me to be an expert on ethnic skin. When people think ethnic, they think dark skin. But, the truth is that the features on an Irish female (as well as her skincare needs through the ages) are different from a Middle Eastern female. This love for diversity made me cultivate the niche for natural skin rejuvenation. From injectable treatments to lasers, creams and skincare, I custom plan each person’s dermatological needs based on their skin type. This gave me an edge like no other dermatologist, as most textbooks of dermatology were written by really old white men who treated mostly white skin. I had to take my education to the next level, and learn everything from the perspective of my patients, no the textbooks.
- Lead by example with your staff. It is obvious that your staff makes or breaks you. When you are in private practice, you can not be in every room and listen in to every phone call or spy on every interaction between your staff and patients. So, you really want great staff. Staff that truly cares, truly extends themselves to the patients, and have excellent manners. I found that the best way to get that staff, is to treat the staff like a super VIP. I always try to pay them competitive wages, be flexible and compassionate with them as their family issues interfere with their jobs, and to care for them as I would my own family members. I treat them to various incredible products and services we have in the practice so they have first hand experience with the things that I am passionate about. Most importantly, I know what their goals and dreams are personally, and try to help them reach those goals. I try to be a mentor and not just a boss. In return, I expect them to treat my patients, who are also my extended family, to be treated like gold. It has really helped with patient retention in the last decade.
- Keep your integrity at all cost. There are so many financial pressures in the healthcare industry today. It is so easy to be lost in dollars and compromise quality or want to cut corners. I lead by example. I personally vet every single procedure, product or claim made before introducing anything in to the practice. I don’t try to follow silly fads that can be risky. I wait and do my research until all the “kinks” have been worked out and the best results are seen using that technology. When I am sure I would personally use it if I were a patient, then I introduce that service into the practice. Patients have learned to trust me as a result of that. I value their trust more than any dollar amount. That integrity has been the reason I stand out among the tough competitive market surrounding me. I have patients who travel from around the world just to be treated by me. That level of confidence in my integrity is priceless.
- Laugh! Sounds silly but it is true. I think medicine is seriously serious and making the experience light is crucial. But, who are we kidding, I love to laugh! I laugh all day long whether at work or with friends. Mostly because I crack myself and the patients up! Patients always know which room I am in from the sound of my laughter. I love that. I love to see people smile and get a moment of connection between us. We have fun together always and that creates a synergy for success.
Many healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization”. How did you overcome that mental block?
Money comes when you meet people’s needs. Chasing money is futile. I just try to do a great job each time. I don’t trust the care of my patient’s in the hands of those not qualified to do medical procedures because they are less expensive on payroll. I never break the law. It is amazing how keeping your integrity pays off. I routinely turn people down from procedures they are willing to pay for because I think it is either harmful to their health or their wallet.
What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
I call a lifeline! I have great friends, husband and family who help me feel secure in life again. I also take big breaths and even cry when I really need to! I am not scared of feeling my feelings so they pass by easily. I have always been a very focused person even as a child. I usually have to remember to relax a bit more and enjoy the process!
I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career – None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?
I agree wholeheartedly. I have had so many mentors. My grandmother was a lioness of a woman. She was a natural healer and knew everything about using plants to heal people. She was a great mother and an amazing human being. She early on showed me how to be feminine yet strong. Along the path, I have had so many men and women who have helped me learn various lessons in life. I think the key is not to always get a formal “mentor” but to look for everyday people who have so much to teach us collectively in various areas of life. Some of my patients have been my mentors in that way. They have helped me see how I can balance motherhood and a big career, while fighting the guilt that comes with not spending every minute with my baby.
What resources did you use (Blogs, webinars, conferences, coaching, etc.) that helped jumpstart you in the beginning of your business?
I love audible! I just look to learn new things. There is literally no reason to be ignorant in this world with so many great resources. I always do more CME (Continual Medical Education) than needed. I keep myself humble and see how other colleagues do things. I love Tony Robbins as my motivational speaker when I need a little boost. I have learned so much about the psychology of healing from Luise Hay. I love learning and expanding my understanding of the world.
What’s the worst piece of advice or recommendation you’ve ever received? Can you share a story about that?
My grandmother always said: “When you are in a position to help, go ahead and help. When you need help one day, God will send you angles. Don’t worry so much about if that person will directly give back to you.”
Literally, the smartest spiritual statement of my life. When I embarked on this huge construction project to build out our new office, hire new staff, change my electronic medical records, design operating rooms, in house pharmacy, a new website, all new equipment and hundreds of little things, I just felt flooded with “help!” All the goodwill in the universe came back to me in abundance.
Please recommend one book that’s made the biggest impact on you?
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. Profound understanding of all the ways we are touching each other’s lives and all the parallel universes we can explore.
Where can our readers follow you on social media?
For other incredible interviews, please check out our podcast: Healthcare Heroes.
A special thanks to Dr. Kormeili again! The purpose of this interview series is to highlight the entrepreneurs, innovators, advocates, and providers inside Healthcare. Our hope is to inspire future healthcare providers on the incredible careers that are possible!