It Takes a Village
Dr. Waibel opened her practice four years ago and over the past two years brought in Jacquelyn Dosal, MD, and Kathryn Kent, MD, to help her handle her growing patient base. “The biggest challenge right now is we’re growing so fast and we’re all so busy. You have to stay on point, you have to be organized and you have to work together. Medicine is a team sport,” she says.
The practice, which is 50% cosmetic and 50% general dermatology, is currently conducting 13 clinical trials. “In addition, I’m breast feeding my fourth child, Dr. Dosal is pregnant and two of our medical assistants are pregnant,” she says. “You can’t bring that to work, you have to handle it. But we can all support each other in recognizing that part of womanhood.”
Early in her career Dr. Waibel did a mentorship through the Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) with Tina Alster, MD, and Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, in Washington, D.C. “I come from a family of stay-at-home moms, so I didn’t have a role model for how you can be a busy doctor and have children and make it work,” she says. “I spent time with Tina and Liz and also Mary Lupo, MD, in New Orleans. To this day, they have been great mentors to me. I can pick up the phone to ask a question, and they will be there.”
In addition to helping her grow her skills as a dermatologist, these mentors helped her decide that she could run her own private practice. “Just seeing that you can be a married mother and run a successful practice gave me a lot of confidence,” says Dr. Waibel.
She purchased an existing dermatology practice and began building her own patient base. “The thing that surprises you is how much work it takes to run a business. There are so many moving pieces, and it takes years to make a fabulous office,” she says.
On the advice of a consultant, Dr. Waibel hired a cosmetic coordinator to help her create a booming aesthetic practice. “Derm offices move really fast, and we have a huge conversion rate from our general derm to cosmetic patients,” she says. “One thing we noticed is that a patient would come in for a total body exam and ask about fillers or neurotoxins, and my response would be, ‘We can book another appointment for you.’ The consultant said, ‘No, no, no. You never want an interested cosmetic patient to leave your practice.’”
Today, the cosmetic coordinator can be called in to speak with the patient and discuss the practice’s treatment options. “Then the physician goes in and makes specific recommendations, and the cosmetic coordinator wraps up the appointment,” says Dr. Waibel.
The practice’s clinical trials are also valuable in building patient loyalty. “We don’t use clinical trials to bring in new patients, we use them as a reward mechanism,” she says. “I’ve done three laser resurfacing trials in the past year—and these treatments cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000—the patients get it for free, so it’s a really nice perk. And it’s my passion. I like being in that innovative space—working with new technologies and seeing where the industry is going.”
Building a Team
As the practice has grown, Dr. Waibel has created several administrative positions to help her manage the facility day to day. She has a practice manager, Michael, a clinical trial coordinator, a VIP patient coordinator and a burn patient coordinator. “Michael has been in the industry for 10 years, and he really runs the operations—we call him the operations guy,” she says. “He has regular meetings with all associates and he is the point person for all the doctors to make sure they are happy and don’t have any issues.”
Photo by Tom Clark.