Dr. Advaita Manohar - Owner and Director, Pine Valley Medical Center

Dr. Advaita Manohar completed his Undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the City University of New York. He then joined the University of Toronto and completed his MSc, followed by his PhD in the Department of Biochemistry with a focus on molecular biology and gene regulation. As he was completing his PhD he made a natural transition to Medicine. During the first 2 years in medicine, Dr. Advaita Manohar was involved in a post-doctoral program in protein engineering using his skills in molecular biology. He worked on a project to custom design a DNA sequence to produce a protein that eluded researchers in USA, Japan and other countries due to its extreme toxicity in vivo. The success of this project was notable as it led to the first steps needed to design drugs to stop Vancomycin resistant enterococci. This is a serious threat to hospitals as it caused closures in hospitals in Toronto and other countries. Dr. Manohar is a scientist at heart. His work in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is highly recognized by the scientific community and published in internationally renowned scientific journals.  Dr. Advaita Manohar’s work focused on understanding the genetic regulation deciphering the signals responsible for the unlocking of nature’s secret to turn on and off protein production – the key to rejuvenation and health.

Dr. Advaita Manohar transitioned from biochemistry and molecular biology to focus his attention on the completion of his MD and CCFP with a special focus on emergency medicine. Soon after graduation he started as a staff emergency room physician at the Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto. He found emergency medicine to be very rewarding, as he enjoyed the many challenges and demands of treating acutely ill patients. During this time he was asked to assist his mentor who was helping out at the long-term care facility for the City of Toronto. Dr. Advaita Manohar was then selected to be the medical director for two homes that needed medical leadership. This was another challenging experience in optimizing care for those who have served our communities and deserve our best care.

He now applies his knowledge and diverse experience in primary care with a focus on health promotion and illness prevention. Dr. Advaita Manohar has a strong commitment to support his patient population to understand that health is not based just on attention to body illness, but instead it is an outcome of understanding patients’ physical, mental and socio-cultural determinants. By allowing patients to understand these dimensions of themselves and how to best optimize and integrate these various aspects, patients are able to attain a wellness that is sustainable.

How did you choose your career?

At an early age I was fascinated by how things work. In a way, I saw chemistry as an important field to explore my curiosity about things. Later, as I completed my undergraduate degree in chemistry, biological molecules became a great fascination. Thus I transitioned to biochemistry in my postgraduate studies. The dawn of gene regulation and its significance in basic research was one that captured my attention in a major way leading to my PhD thesis. Taking all of this into context there was a natural evolution to enter into the domain of medicine. Medicine for me was an unknown domain as I spent most of my career in academia, but I had a great fascination for medicine as my career was unfolding. I was pleasantly surprised at the natural fit of medicine for me as I started my practice. It was an instant hit for me. I related well with my colleagues, staff and patients. I felt very privileged to be given the opportunity to offer what I have learnt in science to promote positive health outcomes of patients. It also provided a wonderful opportunity to experience firsthand the full spectrum of science from basic research to acute care application.

How do you make money?

This is a great question! I am not good at figuring out how best to make money with a product. I have learnt early in life that once you work hard and serve others (customers or clients) with respect and in a way that makes them satisfied with your best efforts then one will get compensated. Another great saying that resonates with my personality is from an eastern thinker who said that you should find work that you love, and then you do not have to work for the rest of your life.

I do feel that money is a consequence from hard work, but hard work should not be motivated purely by money.

How long did it take for you to become a successful in your career as a Doctor?

I was successful from the time of graduation. I started within a short time to work in Emergency Medicine and other areas of medicine which was rewarding in many ways.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

I do not recall doubting myself. Perhaps because my approach was one of hard work and holding the principle that knowledge is a great asset. I am sure, I had my doubts about certain “what ifs” all students are burdened with, but, I cannot recall them, as I may not have given it much attention. My way of dealing with lack of commitment (a product of doubt) is to review what I am doing and realizing that it is important for me to stay my course especially when the workload is hard and demanding. I always felt that the harder I work there will be a natural order of  “action and reaction” or  “I will reap what I sow.” These sayings seem to have profound meaning to me as it is evident in every exam I prepared for and many other aspects of my life once I fully apply myself.

How did you build your medical practice?

When I took over my office the doctor was seeing about 20 patients per day. I reflected on a single thought – what is it that would make me, as a patient, return to this clinic. I sat in the waiting room and started a critical view on all aspects of the clinic. The details are many as you may guess but the principle is one and the same – place myself as if I am the patient and orient my thinking and approach from that perspective. Therefore, provide a physical space as an experience that resonates with people. Interact with patients in a manner that is professional and skilled. In addition, maintain a decorum or body language implying “I am here to help” while removing all traces of judgment and smart comments. Finally, focus on the content of the patients’ concerns and address them with attention and in a manner that the patient knows their concerns matter and are being attended to.

The outcome for this transformation of the clinic led to patient flow that required 2 shifts per day and hiring 6 doctors to join me to keep up with the growing demand.

What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

I find that the best marketing is from those who know you best. I get most of my referrals from existing patients who refer their family and friends looking for a doctor. This is very powerful as new patients come in with a cordial feeling at first contact as they already have an inside view as to the nature of the doctor and his approach to medicine. The doctor-patient relationship is established with much ease and there is trust in the delivery of care.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make?

The decision to end resuscitation on a patient who is in cardiac arrest is profoundly tough on physicians. This has been one of the most difficult calls of duty for me. I was exposed to this situation a lot as I worked in the emergency room and took call for all “code blue” in the entire hospital during my overnight shifts. The decision is harder when you know that family are sitting outside with hopes that their loved one will make it through our medical efforts. Speaking to families and feeling their agony and sharing the pain of their loss bring home the realization of our limitations as humans and this is very humbling.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I feel I have an eagerness to learn. This is supported by my openness to reflect and review new ideas, and philosophies including spirituality. I feel that we are given the ability to think with the faculty of reasoning and it is very important for our evolution as an individual and perhaps as a society for us to be open to new thoughts and ideas. I feel it is important to use the power of our intellect to integrate relevant ideas into our life in a way that makes us better when the opportunity presents itself. Being closed-minded by dogmas and blindly following beliefs imposed by others is quite limiting and restricts growth of the individual and society. We are given the same power of thought as enjoyed by the greatest of thinkers or spiritual personalities, therefore, we need to harness and optimize that innate power and use it to make us, and thus our society, better. This has been my life story – keep learning and improving most notably when faced with challenges and adversity.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

It is quite a remarkable satisfaction to be a coach or facilitator to assist in the processes that lead to the physical and mental wellbeing of patients.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

The future like the present is dedicated to the focus on wellness and health promotion. The message is that physical wellness needs the support of mental wellness. But it is clear that both of these are affected by socio-economic determinants. I am hopeful that I can do more to help my patients in the many aspects of wellness.

I am excited to explore my own experience and experiments with mental wellbeing using the various methods from the ancient form of yoga and mindfulness approaches. Once I have some level of personal experience that I seek, I look forward to offer such experiences to those who may benefit through social media platforms.

What books have inspired you?

Books on understanding the dimensions of mind and thought; it is clear from a simple process of inductive analysis that our life outcomes are affected by the quality of thought and mastery or lack of management of our thought process. The basic concept of self-discipline originates from mental discipline. For example, self-discipline or mental discipline is the most important determinant in one’s choice of food, attainment of mental quietness needed for good sleep and the management of the incessant flow of thought that demands us to go after pleasure filled activities despite their known negative effects.

Thus, it is our mind that primarily shapes who we are. Yet we know so little about its various dimensions and how to optimize its functioning to better serve our higher ideals for sustained wellbeing and happiness.

What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?

A state of the art computer system and highly acclaimed software in the health care field that has digital integration using electronic medical records which leads to great work flow efficiency for patient care.

What is a gap in medicine if addressed will make a significant difference in health outcomes?

I think it is not a gap of medicine alone, but a gap in our collective awareness. We are focused on physical attainment and wellbeing. This is certainly important, but what is missing is the awareness that in order to truly enjoy the material prosperity one has to attain a state of self-awareness. In other words this is “mindfulness”. Thus, it requires the “skill” to appreciate the present moment and what one has attained, rather then follow the incessant call of the mind to keep “hunting” for more. This is not complacency, but it is a change of attitude to give greater value to gratitude and self-awareness that are fundamental to inner happiness. It is indeed a skill to be learnt, as it does not come to us naturally unless one’s culture is rooted in such values. A great way to access this skill is from various practices that emphasize mindfulness, respect for self and appreciating the value for the collective good. This can be attained by many paths, clearly yoga has become a leader in this awareness and I am a practitioner myself, but I want to emphasize there are many good schools of wellbeing that teaches similar approaches.

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