We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Shenkman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I chose to start my own cardiology practice because I wanted to combine my interest in interventional cardiology and my passion for lifestyle, while having the flexibility to practice medicine when and how I want. It has been three years since I left my job at a large managed-care organization, and I only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Fear held me back — starting a practice from scratch seemed daunting. In fact, the trend in medicine is for physicians to join large hospital groups. I had no idea how to start a business, that’s something we learn nothing about in medical school. My athletic background as a triathlete and passion for plant-based diet set me apart from other cardiologists in the area, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I could successfully create my own practice.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I practice what I consider to be Interventional and Preventive cardiology — which means I perform invasive procedures to open blocked arteries, and yet I am a strong proponent of lifestyle medicine to prevent heart disease. I’m a triathlete, and have completed two Ironman races (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 miile run), along with over a hundred running, cycling, and swimming events of all distances. I’m also an advocate for plant-based diets for heart health, and have been vegan for 16 years.
I’m grateful to have the independence that allows me the time to spend with my patients. While knowing a patient’s past medical history is important, I like to know more about my patients’ lifestyles, their eating and exercise habits, and the aspects of their work and family life that promote or hinder those choices. By being a good listener, I can be a better doctor, and provide more tailored guidance for improving heart health.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We’d have to stop at Griffith Park, stop at the Observatory for the view, maybe take a bike ride from Travel Town up there. We’d eat at some of my favorite vegan restaurants, like Vinh Loi Tofu for great Vietnamese food in Reseda and El Cocinero, the Valley’s only vegan Mexican restaurant, in Van Nuys.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents — for believing me, and pushing me to take big scary steps to follow my dreams