This time we sat down with Dr. Erin Wadelin, owner of Nurture Chiropractic & Family Wellness located in Downtown Dunedin. Not only did Dr. Erin decide to open her practice in the middle of a pandemic but she also moved her family from Ohio to Florida to enjoy more of that Florida sun. She is extremely passionate about her approach to helping family live a healthier life, especially when it comes to women during their pregnancy phases. Listen as we talk with Dr. Erin about the challenges of moving out of state to her experience and passion in helping families.
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Dr. Erin Wadelin | Nurture Chiropractic and Family Wellness
In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Erin Wadelin, Owner of Nurture Chiropractic and Family Wellness, located here in Dunedin, Florida. I’m super excited to talk with Dr. Erin and learn more about her transition to starting a business and moving her family from Ohio to Florida in the middle of the pandemic. Let’s jump right into it.
Thank you for joining us. I appreciate you coming on the show. I know you’re busy and have a lot going on, as we were talking about. First off, tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m a chiropractic physician trained in the National University of Health Sciences up in the Midwest near Chicago. I have a background in chiropractic but I also practice acupuncture, as well as functional medicine. That’s a little bit about me professionally, which I’m sure we’ll address in a little bit. Me as a person, I’m a mom, a business owner and a wife. I try to juggle all the things and hopefully do it successfully.
Some days are better than others but it’s been a fun experience. We moved here from Ohio. We moved at the end of August 2020. My husband, my daughter, and I have been eager to get to know the Dunedin area, Palm Harbor area and Pinellas County in general. We love being near Tampa and a major market again since we were in the boonies prior to this. It’s great to be near a big metropolis again, grow and develop as a little family.
You guys moved out of state in the crazy 2020 in the middle of the pandemic and stuff. What was that like?
It was stressful. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. The most challenging part was realizing that there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding my husband’s profession and my profession. We’re in the place in our careers where we realize we need to make a change now or never. The catalyst of job changes propelled us to say, “Where do we want to be for the rest of our lives?” Something about this area spoke to us from having visited it.
We had confidence in where we were moving. We didn’t know what it would look like when we got here with the changing scenery of the businesses open and the ability to have my daughter interact with other children and establish ourselves in the community with new friends and family. There were a lot of uncertainties about who would be our support system, where would we find our financial stability moving here initially, with me opening a practice. We seem to have made it work. It was hard to leave, but we’re happy to have a fresh start for the three of us.
What brought you down here?
It’s a mixed bag and I don’t want to get into all the boring details but my husband needed a new job. We realized that he needed to be near a major financial market due to his industry. No offense to where we were living, but there weren’t many major cities for him to be successful near where we were in Ohio. We realized that a major market was important. The East Coast was ideal. A warm climate was the best situation of all of them. Tampa spoke to us. We had known about the energy and the family atmosphere of a lot of the areas in Pinellas County. We were like, “Let’s do it. Here we go.”
I’ve talked to a couple of people that have made that transition. It seems like a lot of people have done that because of job changes, uncertainty and where they were at and stuff, or finally realizing like, “This is more important to us than we originally thought. Why not go do it?”
We have been happily supported by our family since we got married. We were originally in Chicago, near my husband’s family, and then we moved to Ohio near my family. This was a huge move in terms of a support system. We up and left everybody. We knew a duo of friends who had no children and that they were local, but we didn’t expect them to be our only friends at the end of the day. We did take a leap of faith, but I can tell you now, in retrospect, it was a great decision because we were happy having been here. We’re happy to be part of this area.
I’ve thought about it personally because I was born and raised here in Florida. At one point, I thought, “I need to get out of here and go do something else.” We realized how special this area is and how much we love it. I’m glad we stuck around.
It feels rewarding for health practitioners to be happy with how they work and live each day. They must educate patients about this and lead by example.
The energy living here is noticeably different. What my husband and I were lacking is that our culture in Ohio was great to have the people around but it wasn’t the lifestyle that we envisioned. We’ve made the most of that since we’ve lived here.
I’m sure that’s a hard decision to make. Let’s go back to talk a little bit about your career and the backstory behind your career. What brought you to this medicine? Where did that come from?
Most chiropractors have a great story, I don’t. I do but it’s not life-changing. Most people will say, “I was injured. I had this thing. I needed chiropractic care. I became a believer. This is why I went into chiropractic medicine.” I got to witness it. I didn’t experience it. My brother and his wife in Ohio, where we were living, opened a practice in our small town in Ohio when I was still in high school. I had the opportunity to work for them at their front desk, see their patients daily regularly. It was a great opportunity to see the backside of how the office works and get to experience what it was like to see people under holistic, natural remedies versus conventional medicine.
I valued that experience. I went off to college at Ohio State. I didn’t know what I wanted to do aside from being in some type of healthcare field. I knew that I didn’t quite fit in with the pre-med group. It wasn’t quite what I believed in. I felt a lot of the hustle and bustle associated with it. I wanted to help support people. I didn’t feel like that was going to be the right avenue for me.
I said, “Chicago sounds close. Let’s apply to chiropractic school.” I did and got in. That was the story from there. My history and love of chiropractic come from experiencing it from a side perspective. I value some of those memories that I have. They have reminded me why I do what I do. I practice differently than I witnessed several years ago before I went into school.
It’s cool because this profession allows you to have the autonomy of a physician without feeling pressured to prescribe. The cool thing is I don’t prescribe, I don’t even have the right to but I do have the opportunity to diagnose and evaluate as a primary care physician if I choose to. That opened the doors for me to see more than just musculoskeletal cases. That’s where my practice passion has niched itself a little bit. I would love to touch on that at some point. That’s where I got to where I’m at right now.
Talk about your approach to medicine and what brought you to this.
My big practice focus is supporting families in any way, shape or form. I have seen firsthand now that I’m a mom, I’ve been pregnant and I have a toddler, how important it is to have options. My biggest promise to my patients is that I will always give you options and be transparent with you because I’ve seen too many people who come to me at the end of the journey.
They feel disgruntled and angry because they’ve been given one option and it’s medicine. That might be a good option for some people, but it might not be the first option necessary. I always love to talk to people about where is it that we can improve your quality of life and how we can do these X, Y, Z first steps before we get to the need for medicine. That’s where my functional medicine background comes into play.
Functional medicine is a little bit different than traditional medicine because it’s a root cause approach to how we address healthcare versus, “I have a symptom. Here’s a medication for a band-aid. Here is surgery or an injection to mask your symptoms.” I’d rather figure out what’s the underlying reason for somebody’s symptoms, what physiology is imbalanced, where do we need to support the body in terms of this whole tree approach, not just, “Let’s look at the symptoms on the branches?”
“What’s going on with the roots of the person? Are they nutritionally void? Are they under too much stress that they can’t manage? Are they having difficulties sleeping? Are they struggling with all of these things or a combination of things from the past?” When you look at somebody as a whole person versus an organ system approach, you understand a little bit more of the why and how it creates all of these random things for people.
My biggest hope is that when somebody walks into my office, they’re going to understand the why behind their symptoms. The cool thing is I have natural remedies at my disposal. I say, “Let’s focus on herbs as an intervention. Let’s talk about your diet and what foods might be triggering you. How can we change your sleep cycle and your lifestyle and improve your quality of life in these other categories?”
It’s great when you see positive outcomes. You do a little cheer inside because you know that somebody achieved their goals and they feel better. It’s not just a matter of, “Here’s a side effect.” Let’s understand and support you as a person. That’s the functional medicine aspect of my practice but I do love to work with growing families. I love to see women who are working on natural conception assisted with reproductive artificial methods and supporting them with acupuncture and/or nutritional lifestyle changes.
Chiropractic care is powerful for women who are either going to get pregnant, are pregnant and want to alleviate discomfort pain. It helps optimize the baby’s position for birth and delivery, which is something I’m super passionate about, and then helping them into that motherhood transition to support their children. I make sure their children are well, growing, developing properly and managing some of those things for their family members as well. I like to think of myself as your holistic family doctor that doesn’t have the MD behind my name but I do think I practice somewhat primary care for a lot of people.
That transition going through pregnancy and stuff can be a challenging time for families. It’s good to have someone there to help you through that time.
Having the education. Although not everybody does this, I thought it was important for me to take additional training. I do have some additional credentials and training behind my name and practice style for pregnancy. Webster’s Technique is the term that comes up pretty often, but I have seen babies and moms have great birth outcomes because if you support the body, some good things happen as a result. I personally experienced the need for that. I was thankful I had chiropractic care in my life at the time. That was a big influencer for me being a pregnant woman. I can only imagine that other women need that support too.
Going back to your approach, the holistic medicine and stuff, do you think that is something that has been more accepted, whether it’s technology or the general public has the ability to look up symptoms and google, “What’s going on? What can I find out?”
It caused people to think outside the box more than they ever used to. I will be honest, there are so many large names out there that are doctors who practice functional or holistic medicine and have a great online presence. They have new list letters, blogs and video channels. The information is available. The key is that somebody might know that something’s a little bit off. They might know that they don’t want to go the conventional route and talk to their primary care about it first but then they don’t know what to do first.
My role is taking all this information that’s on the internet sifting through what’s valuable to people, what’s useful, what’s not useful and implementing it in a proper order because if somebody came in and they needed 3 or 4 different pillars of their health addressed, if I throw four things at somebody, they’re going to feel overwhelmed and not be compliant with what I recommend.
I try to understand somebody’s long-term goals and say, “What are your goals? What is your budget, realistically? How much time do you have? How much money can you spend or afford to spend on testing labs, interventions like herbs or things that aren’t covered by insurance?” I do provide that customized approach because no two people have the exact same circumstances.
Although people have all this information, they have to apply it in proper order or they might waste time and money. I’ve seen a lot of people come in and say, “I know I need to do these things, but I don’t know where to start. Can you guide me in which area to start?” I thankfully have gotten off on the right path with a lot of people. There are always people who aren’t the right fit for the more holistic approach. That’s when that theme of approach comes in handy.
I might be a chiropractor who practices acupuncture and functional medicine, but they might need those prescriptive medications from their primary care. That’s an MD or a DO. The cool thing is that if a patient that’s open-minded to it, we can have that conversation about who’s necessary at what point in time.
Do you have an ideal client that you target or you either find that is attracted to you and your practice?
When you see positive outcomes, you do a little cheer inside, knowing somebody achieved their goals and felt better.
If I had to do a synopsis of all of my patients in my healthcare system right now that I’ve met since I’ve been in practice, it is mostly moms. They typically are somewhere in that preconception range where they either want to optimize their fertility. They are ready to have a baby, but they need to make sure their health is in order. That’s probably the least of them.
The next most common is probably pregnant women because they see that I have been through that. I’ve experienced it. I talk a lot about it. I am relatively very knowledgeable about it because I read up on it so much. It’s a huge passion of mine. The most ideal case that I could support is a woman who is already a mom.
She does have some of these symptoms that she has never experienced before because she’s never had her hormones go through such dramatic changes or never put somebody before herself with her diet, sleep, and exercise. Those are all things that go out the window when you’re lacking in time. I understand and identify with those women strongly. They see that. That’s who finds me too. It’s a beautiful thing. Those are people I love to support because I am them. I get it. I live it every day.
I loved every practice I’ve ever worked as an associate doctor, but I always hated going to work. I don’t want to get out of bed. I’d rather stay home. I don’t feel that way anymore. It’s a game-changer in terms of my mental happiness. Although we do have a new lifestyle, that’s a little bit more challenging financially with new business concerns, a daughter and less support.
I feel happy every day I go into the office because it’s the way I want to practice and take care of people. I fully 100% believe in it. There’s nobody telling me how to do what I do. It means that what I’m giving to somebody is the best recommendation I can give because it’s what I believe in. I feel so passionately about that more than I ever have before.
I can relate to that as far as working a job that you were necessarily passionate about and then getting into real estate. I didn’t know if real estate was my career or something, but I fell in love with it when I started it. That’s what I’ve learned over the last several years. I’ve had that thought several times where I enjoy what I get to do and I don’t have that thought of, “I don’t want to go to work. I don’t want to go do this now.” It’s cool that you’ve found that.
You never know what’s going to happen anyway when you open a business, especially you don’t know what’s going to happen when you move to a new place with a pandemic of concern. It’s been very challenging sometimes to fall asleep at night, but that’s maybe where I need to listen to my own recommendations and do some of that lifestyle support.
I do need to practice mindfulness, journal and be thankful and grateful for what I do have because even though it hasn’t hit the ground running 0% to 100%, I don’t expect that. I also have to remember that the people that are finding me see something in me and they want that support. That’s the most humbling thing to ever hear.
It’s even more humbling when they tell me, 1 to 2 months later, how much better they feel or how much better their quality of life is. To piggyback on what you said, it’s very rewarding to be happy with how you work, practice finally, and live your life each day. I try to educate patients on that too. I hope I can lead by example.
Moving to Florida and opening up a business, why open up a business when you moved to Florida? Why not come here to work your job? Is it because of something we talked about?
The people that find you as their healthcare provider see something that they believe in. In my previous practices, I was happy. I was seeing people I cared about. However, I think that people came to me out of convenience. I know I was a doctor. I was available. I had appointments that day. It was more so the flow of those offices and the style. When I sit down and create my content for social media or work on those blog posts that I’m supposed to be doing, I’m thinking, “Who is listening to this? What do they need to hear right now?” It’s super important to identify with who you’re trying to help. That’s why we, as business owners, have to put the people that we’re serving in the forefront of our mind when we’re conveying information and content for them.
I knew that when I moved here if I would work for another practice, I wouldn’t have that platform to do that and to share that information. A perfect example is my family practice in Ohio. I was 1 of 5 doctors that worked there. My brother and his wife own the practice. They had three associates that all worked mostly part-time.
Even then, in the three years that I was there, I became the go-to for young moms and pregnant women. The people identified that with me, but I didn’t have the platform to necessarily dictate a lot of what I wanted them to be doing based on what was available, what insurance covered, what the opportunities were like in that area, even with co-management with other physicians and doctors.
I knew that when I was going to put myself through this whirlwind of chaos and stress, I’ve only wanted to do this once. I am here, planting my roots and I love my office. I’m going to establish myself as the person that I know I was meant to be. That comes with a little bit of questioning. Am I narrowing down my target market too much? Maybe. Am I excluding people? Am I making them feel excluded?
There’s something to that. I also think that people want to see somebody who’s passionate about what they do. If I were seeing things that weren’t in my wheelhouse, I don’t think I’d be as passionate. People would notice that. They did it in my other practices. Those people that saw me out of convenience maybe weren’t the right people for me. They figured that out. What you put out there is what comes back.
I think about narrowing down your target market. I don’t think that limits you in what you do. That’s the focus of like, “Here’s who I want to focus on.” People are going to see that you’re passionate about what you do and stuff. They’re going to be attracted to that, not necessarily just because you’re focused on one niche.
I try to remind my husband of that and he teases me about that. He says, “Men don’t want to see you.” I said, “That’s not true. If their dads have children and their wives tell them to come, they might come.” They’re not who I’m marketing myself to. They’re not the people I’ve focused my training and specializations on.
I do see musculoskeletal care, standard pain, discomfort, joint dysfunction, and muscle tightness. That’s not where I think the longevity of my profession will take me because I want to set myself apart. I want to be the best at what I do. I have to pick one thing to be good at. I picked it and that’s what I’m going to do.
I want to talk more about opening up the business. Did you always have that motivation or dream to be a business owner?
I would probably be much more complacent if it wasn’t for my husband. I love him. He’s pushed me professionally. He’s very supportive of me earning, believing, running and doing things the way that I believe that they should be done in my mind. He wouldn’t practice the way I practiced if he was a chiropractor. He straight up told me that. He’s like, “I’d see different patients than you see.”
I said, “That’s fine. You’re a male. You have different focuses, goals and hobbies. It’s okay.” I never envisioned myself being a business owner this early. Maybe that would have been something that, if we had stayed in Chicago, I would have eventually done but the market was saturated there. I didn’t feel like I could do that right out of school with the experience that I was lacking at that time.
Having had five-ish years under my belt practicing chiropractic, I knew that this was the right time. What other experience am I going to gain if I’ve already worked for three different style practices? I have seen cases from 0 to 90. I’ve seen a wide variety. I have the breadth of experience. I knew that this was the right time for me to narrow in on what I wanted to do.
The parts of opening a business that they don’t teach you about were the hardest parts. All of the backends of the business, you don’t want to have to wear a business hat and a doctor hat. You want to take care of people and wear the doctor hat. One of my biggest struggles since moving here is finding a way to identify with separating those two things.
At the end of the day, a business has to generate enough money for it to continue to move forward. I have to find that sweet spot between I love spending all these hours taking care of people but I still have to do my chart notes, send stuff to my accountant and have inventory for the office, and all of the marketing that goes into it, as you understand. It’s been a juggle.
A business has to generate enough money for it to continue moving forward. Find that sweet spot between doing what you love and doing chart notes and accountant stuff.
It’s always is a juggle until you get to a certain point. You’re juggling a team. What I’m going to ask you is if someone were in your shoes, what advice would you give them to either they’re starting their career or thinking about starting a career in medicine?
If somebody was undecided as to which avenue they wanted to go down, I would recommend that they shadow as many different practice styles as possible. I am so happy with where I landed, but I feel as though I could have been easily persuaded to go in a different direction had I not seen what I’d seen. I love chiropractic and being a chiropractor, but it’s not well advertised in the collegiate realm.
Had I not seen what it looks like firsthand to have a private practice that’s family-oriented, holistic, supportive care, I wouldn’t have even known that was a common option. Nowadays, people are wanting holistic options. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be in business. Nobody would come to me if they didn’t believe that. The cool thing is that there’s this transition right now where people are asking for help outside the box. My practice is an avenue to do that.
To somebody starting out, shadow, look at what it looks like in an allopathic setting and in a pain focus setting. Do you want to be a musculoskeletal type of doctor, physical therapist or exercise trainer? There are so many realms in which you can support people and help them along their journey to healing. You’ve figured it out. There’s a very specific passion that I have. It oftentimes revolves around female concerns. A great place to start is knowing what options are out there, making sure that you’re doing your due diligence to see what that looks like.
It doesn’t always come down to money but can you afford the cost of school compared to the outcome of your profession? That’s a big question for a lot of people looking to go into graduate studies. Research and shadowing are the two things I would always suggest to somebody if they’re uncertain of where they want to land in the healthcare field.
How do they go about doing that? Is it reaching out to the practice?
Most major health care systems probably have some type of flowchart of how they accept applicants for shadowing different places and specialties. A lot of times, if you’re already enrolled in an educational program, those faculty members might have those connections with people to get you in the door. A lot of times, if it’s a private business, whether it’s a DC, a DO and MD, if it’s any physician who practices independently, they have the right to say yes or no. I want somebody to come in and see somebody.
I have never been approached. I would be open to it, but I know that one practice I was at, they didn’t allow people to come and shadow and that was their personal preference because of the patient’s confidence and comfort level. If you can get in the door, go see it because it’ll open your eyes to what different styles are like.
That’s good advice. It changed where you wanted to go with your career too. Is there one thing that you wish you would’ve known at the beginning of your career or going back like starting a business, one thing you wouldn’t know?
This is one of my goals for 2021, now that I’ve had a quarter of business to reflect on. I needed to block off time. Time management, especially being a parent, is critical. To anybody who’s reading that does not have children, do whatever the heck you want luxuriously. I wish that I would’ve been able to see early on how important it is to set aside time, whether it is for business, personal or neither. You need to know what your time is being spent on. A perfect example is when you open a business. Social media is this free advertising. It’s getting your name out there.
I spend an hour on the couch after my daughter goes to bed, making one post. How many hours of my life do I want to waste creating one post? I’ve realized that you need to think smarter, work smarter, not harder, and outsource when you need to. The biggest recommendation that I have is to pick what you’re good at and what you can do in a time-efficient manner.
If you can’t, save up money and find a way to pay somebody else to do it because your time will be better spent doing other things, or even taking the day off and getting lunch with a friend. Sometimes we need that time to decompress. I did not realize that in the beginning. That’s my new year’s resolution and/or moving forward business resolution.
That’s a struggle when you’re in business for yourself and making your schedule. The advice that I’ve always been given is to outsource when you can. If you know how much money you make per hour, and if you can pay somebody 80% of that, pay them to outsource it and have them take care of it. An hour to make a social media post or to make your post for however long a time, that’s not something we always enjoy doing.
That could have been the hour I painted my nails for myself for once or sat and talked to my husband about our lives. Things that get put on the back-burner. That’s something that I am promising myself I’m not going to let continue. It was the chaos of moving new home, job and business. We had a lot on our plate, but moving forward, I know that’s something I need to change. I’m excited to start doing that.
How can people find you? You’re on social media. Where is your practice located?
My practice is located right near downtown Dunedin. If you’re familiar with Skinner Boulevard, it’s at 424 Skinner. We are right next to the Pinellas Trail across from Kafe Racer. It’s a very easy spot to notice. It’s a little building right there, closed, but lots of parking. My office hours are probably going to be changing in the future, but all that’s visible on my website.
The best way to get ahold of me if you have specific questions is to reach out via my website. My email and my phone number are posted there. I do have a direct booking widget on my website. It’s easy to take people who are inquiring about services right to that appointment to book. Being a solo business owner, I pay $0 for extra help. I pick up my own phone. If you call and get a voicemail, don’t be alarmed. I’ll call you back. I’m probably dealing with a toddler. Internet is great. Facebook and Instagram both have media pages for my business. Any way you feel like connecting, reach out.
I was on your website beforehand. It’s super easy to get information about what you do, book appointments and everything. That’s pretty clearly laid out. Go check her out if you’re reading this and you’re interested in what Dr. Erin is doing. Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you for having me.
I hope you found some value in that conversation with Dr. Erin. One thing that stood out to me was her approach to medicine and the fact that she is looking at the problem and dig deeper into that problem, “Why is this happening? What is the root cause of this problem?” I like that because that’s a good approach to a lot of things, not just in medicine, but in life and in your business if you’re a business owner, or in your job too. If you have a problem, why is it occurring? Instead of looking for that quick fix to put a Band-Aid on it, dig deeper.
Ask the right questions to dig deeper, understand the problem a little bit more, and figure out what is the root cause of that problem, and then go about fixing that. That’s a great approach for many things, and something I try to do in my business and in life as well. I appreciate her sharing that. Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode. If you enjoyed what you read, do me a favor and hit that subscribe button whether you’re on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or YouTube. If you’re on YouTube, be sure to click that bell and get notified when I post a new episode, if you want to read any of our other episodes, head on over to our website, PalmHarborLocal.com.