DR. BETTY WANG
"Becoming a doctor is a long road, and not easy, but I tell pre-medical and medical students my story to inspire them. If I did it, anyone can."
- Dr. Betty Wang
Dr. Betty Y. Wang co-founded BW Primary Care in Eldersburg, MD in 2008, then opened a second office in Owings Mills, MD in 2017. She earned her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from St. Joseph’s University, with an emphasis in medical services and health administration. She completed the Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital residency program in internal medicine in 2006 and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. While concentrating on preventive care, Dr. Wang enjoys helping patients proactively and effectively address chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, heart disease, and anxiety/depression. She recently received an additional board certification in Obesity Medicine and serves on the Membership Committee of the Obesity
Medicine Academy (OMA). This complements the evolution of the nutrition, wellness and lifestyle subsegment of her practice named The Body and Wellness Program, which provides essential coaching for patients to gain the knowledge and tools to reverse disease and promote energy. Outside of her usual practice, Dr. Wang is on the board of directors for LifeBridge Health’s Clinical Integration Network (CIN) and serves on several advisory committees. Her other interests include volunteering as the Medical Director for the Annual Cherry Blossom 10 mile Run in Washington D.C, recreational tennis, international travel and family time. She resides in a DC suburb in Maryland with her husband and 2 children.
When and how did you decide you wanted to become a doctor?
I had an internal drive pretty early on to pursue becoming a doctor. Surprisingly my parents would often suggest an easier career due to concerns about a woman in medicine being “too difficult.” We had major financial constraints that began after my parents lost their businesses when I was in high school. So, I had to figure out how to keep to my goals while working to support myself monetarily. I worked about 30 hours a week in a restaurant beginning at age 15, then added on jobs and internships with good exposure to healthcare after I started at University of Maryland. These jobs include working with a blind physician as her typist and aid in writing book chapters, a research fellowship in Malaria with Howard Hughes Research Institute, and staffing a free-clinic for the underserved. Due to the hardships, I am the only person along my siblings to have graduated college. Life happens the way it is suppose to. I didn’t get into medical school right away. I took three years off after college to work on paying back my student loans working in cardiology research and took that time to explore the philosophy of osteopathic medicine. On weekends, I shadowed different osteopathic doctors who taught me how osteopaths look at the person as a whole, emphasize preventive medicine, are open-minded about alternative modalities, and learn the art of hand on manual medicine. It’s philosophy resonated completely with how I wanted to practice medicine. I entered Philadelphia College of Medicine in 1998 and decided to tack on one additional year to earn a MBA at St. Joseph’s University. Becoming a doctor is a long road, and not easy, but I tell pre-medical and medical students my story to inspire them. If I did it, anyone can.
Tell us about taking that first big step to founding your practice, Bridge to Wellness?
This is where you have to count your blessings from the universe for opportunities that arise beyond the outcome of hard work. The opportunity to own my practice came when my mentor, Dr. Randi Braman, who I had met as a medical student and shadowed as a resident, asked me to join her in establishing BW Primary Care. I was working for a large group in Baltimore for two years out of residency but I was ready to establish and manage my own practice. It was a huge mental leap going from an employed physician to being a co-owner of our own business model. Ten years later, we have evolved to two offices, 16 providers (physicians, NPs, PAs), and over 50 staff members. It has been a lovely adventure!
The common American diseases (heart disease/type 2 diabetes/hypertension/obesity/asthma/depression) – do you feel these conditions are over medicated? How is your approach different?
At every opportunity I have, while reviewing a patient’s risk and disease profile, I take the additional time to discuss that every condition out there can be improved with good lifestyle changes. Every meal, every choice on activity, every option to learn and practice relaxation techniques, etc can drastically and effectively assist with one's well being. Medications may be required, but we work on the least amount necessary. We developed The Body and Wellness Program as an adjunct program so that people can learn the practical points on nutrition, behavior change and movement benefits. It is a pride and pleasure to witness people learning and growing from such knowledge that transforms their physical and mental health.
Can you explain the approach to integrative care v. standard health care?
We believe in our philosophy that conventional medicine is not the end all be all. Nutrition and gut health, sleep optimization, stress reduction with mental wellness, hormonal assessments, body composition, and individualized other tactics are very impactful to prevent and treat disease. In addition, we are listeners as much as advisors. This level of open-mindedness is essential in an integrative approach.
Does any eastern philosophy practices such as yoga/meditation/acupuncture fit into your preventative care?
Absolutely! While we do not have such practitioners embedded in our practice, we have a long list of resources outside our walls. I also collaborate with Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) who have a docturate equivalent in evaluating and advising on herbal/nutritional supplements. Therapeutic massage, acupuncture, yoga practice, mental health practice and regular aerobic exercise are all so very beneficial when someone notes physical pain. Generally, we discourage opiate use, especially with its masking and addictive qualities. In addition, there are many fantastic tools at people’s fingertips via podcasts, apps, and websites.
Can you tell us about laser treatments and pain relief?
The high intensity laser treatment (HILT) is a modality that we added to our practice a year ago. It is using ultra-violet energy to heal at the cellular level. It is incredible how much this technology helps with healing, anti-inflammation, and pain relief. We get to avoid or lessen medications in the process of healing more effectively.
Tell us about some obstacles/challenges you face running your own practice?
One of the challenges for our practice is meeting the demands of so many patients calling our office for appointments. We have quadrupled in size over the 10 years due to demand but often still have a waitlist. In the process, we have built a call center to be able to answer phones and better communicate with patients. We leverage technology with our portal messaging capability as well. It is a good problem to have as people say, but we want our office to always be able to accommodate patients, so operationally we are constantly working on improving things. Another thing to point out is that the economics of medicine has been going through major change over the last decade, which translates to extra stressors on the practitioners. Doctors are being asked to hit metrics, jump through hoops to get reimbursed, and to report on things outside our control. Of course, we have to also consider the well-being and overall health of our providers as crucial to keeping patients healthy. That’s the balancing act we all face.
What is the greatest reward?
Honestly, every day is a reward. When I can celebrate successes with patients, such as after they try a new nutrition plan, or when they feel better than the last time they came in. When I can help my dying patients choose how to transition with comfort and integrity. When my long standing patients and I get to catch up on each other’s families and life events. When I know that I have done my best despite it being a hard day. I am so blessed to have this platform to help others.
What is your Mantra?
The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible! - Winston Churchill
Dr. Betty Wang shares a favorite soup recipe
(from cooking classy.com)
AVOCADO LIME SOUP
with chicken or chick peas
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts* OR 2 Cans of rinsed chick peas
1 TBS. olive oil
1 C. chopped green onions (including whites, mince the whites)
2 Jalapeños, seeded and minced (leave seeds if you want soup spicy, omit if you don't like heat)
2 Cloves garlic , minced
4 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium broth
2 Roma tomatoes , seeded and diced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 C. chopped cilantro
3 TBS. fresh lime juice
3 Medium avocados, peeled, cored and diced
Tortilla chips, cheese (dairy/dairy-free), sour cream/cashew cream for serving
In a large pot heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add green onions and jalapenos and saute until tender, about 2 minutes, adding garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing.
Add broth, tomatoes, cumin, season with salt and pepper to taste and add chicken breasts or chick peas. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
Then reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has cooked through 10 - 15 minutes (cook time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts). If using chick peas, the cooking time will remain 10-15 minutes.
If using chicken breasts: Reduce burner to warm heat, remove chicken from pan and let rest on a cutting board 5 minutes, then shred chicken and return to soup. Stir in cilantro and lime juice.
Add avocados to soup just before serving (if you don't plan on serving the soup right away, I would recommend adding the avocados to each bowl individually, about 1/2 an avocado per serving). Serve with tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream if desired.
*For thicker chicken breasts, cut breasts in half through the length (thickness) of the breasts, they will cook faster and more evenly.
To find out more:
The You-est You Podcast with Julie Reisler
The Power of a Holistic Approach to Self-care and Medicine with Dr. Betty Wang
- LET FOOD BY THY MEDICINE -
THANK YOU BETTY!
STEPHANIE, SAVI AND MARTY