Op-Med is a collection of original articles contributed by Doximity members.
With its private yoga studio and large, open layout, Be. Women’s Health & Wellness Center hardly resembles your typical OB/GYN office. The walls are tall and white, filled with inspirational paintings, and there are no barriers between patients and staff.
“You can see me if you need me — we don’t hide anything,” says Dr. Heather Bartos, founder of Be.
Dr. Bartos is a thought leader in the field of women’s health, with a uniquely holistic approach to medicine. An active practicer of “mindset medicine,” she integrates aspects of mental, physical, and emotional health to best cater to her patients.
In addition to the standard duties of her specialty, she encourages patients to take ownership of their own health.
“I try to put patients accountable for their health. You can direct your life through your thoughts and your mindset. And, after telling patients this, they start to do really well. It makes people feel powerful; it gives them a sense of control over their life.
“It’s also about being present with my patients as a healer and as a person. Certainly, I do normal things as a medical doctor — I check for high cholesterol, I do small procedures, I deliver babies. But, I think integrating more of the holistic mindset style is essential these days. I’m not saying it’s the cure to everything, but it certainly makes a difference.”
Under this approach to medicine, Bartos carefully guides each of her patients through key decision-making processes that can affect their overall wellness. She works to understand her patients at the human level, beyond the walls of the office. And, along with necessary medications or procedures, she also recommends alternative forms of therapy, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, pilates, and even archery.
But, this was not always the case for Bartos.
After a few years in the U.S. Navy, she spent some time in the world of corporate medicine. She worked long hours in crowded hospital systems. Though she was able to apply her medical knowledge to treat illness and disease, she felt detached from her patients.
“It’s wasn’t just a job, it was something that we did all the time. I found it kind of stifling for me. I liked it at first, but it became very regimented. To truly get through to a patient, to talk to them, it took about seven channels.
“I wasn’t happy as a corporate physician. I didn’t want someone else calling the shots, and I thought that I could do it differently. I wanted to truly talk to patients and get to know them.”
It was at this time that she started making changes in her personal life as well. She began listening to her body and reframing her thoughts around health and wellness. Slowly, she realized this shift in mindset was having an impact on her own well-being.
So, she decided to open her own solo practice that would focus on a more integrative, patient-orientated style of care. By sharing experiences from her own life, she hopes to connect with patients while guiding them along the track towards wellness. She believes it all has to start in the mind.
In addition to her job as a physician, Bartos is also a pilates instructor, public speaker, and renowned author. She actively advocates for mindset medicine across the country and encourages other physicians to become involved as well.
“I’d like to see physicians take more of a stand on this. We’re healers, and we should do everything we can for our patients. And, I hope that in the future all doctors will be accepting that this is something that can be really good for patients.
“But, the truth is, it’s not for everybody. And, if it’s not your thing, don’t force yourself to do it. It’s okay to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t do that,’ but refer your patients to the right person. We should realize our different strengths as doctors and work together to treat our patients. But, I do hope that this style of medicine becomes a viable option for all physicians to explore.”