Pamela Ross loves medicine and can’t imagine being anything other than a doctor and a healer. As a board-certified doctor of adult and pediatric emergency medicine, she spent 17 years in the University of Virginia Health System in various roles, from treating patients in the ER to serving as a hospital administrator.
After serving many years on the front lines of healthcare, Ross realized there was more to be done and not all questions were being answered by Western medical systems. “I wanted to address gaps in the way that current-day medicine treats patients,” she says.
So it was a natural segue when, midway through her career, Ross applied and was selected for a fellowship in the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, founded and directed by Andrew Weil.
The internationally recognized fellowship is a 1,000 hour, two-year distance learning program that teaches a new way of caring for patients. The emphasis is on the individual, as well as disease — and on prevention, not just treatment.
“I was researching healthcare reform when I learned about Weil’s program,” Ross explains. She knew right away it was for her. “It gave me many, many tools, in order to care for both myself as a healthcare professional and for my patients,” she says.
The emphasis on treating the whole person by incorporating Western with Eastern and modern with ancient and traditional techniques resonated with Ross. During her fellowship, from 2009-11, she collaborated with other physicians around the country who shared her enthusiasm for this healing philosophy.
After graduating, she was refreshed and filled with a new perspective for treating her patients. Soon after, motivated by her own changes, she left the hospital and founded her own company. Since 2013, she has been CEO of Holistic Medical Consultants in Troy, Va., where she offers personal wellness consultations for clients with a variety of healthcare needs, including diabetes, coronary artery disease, and women’s-specific concerns. After consultation, each patient is offered an individualized “prescription” for health.
“We employ conventional medical approaches in addition to evidence-based holistic and botanical care,” says Ross. Whether it is designing a dietary strategy or recommending herbal remedies, she and her team “combine the modern day with evidence-based complementary medicine and try to determine the best balance of holistic therapies for the unique patient’s need.”
“The warmest moments come when the patient has an ‘a-ha’ moment,” Ross shares. “Maybe I am trying to explain how their body or a drug works, and then suddenly, you feel a connection. They understand, and they become literally empowered to make the changes and improve their own health. That’s a really good feeling.”
As she advances her own practice, Ross plans to incorporate new services that underpin the holistic viewpoint she learned at the University of Arizona. “The UA helped reinforce the fact that medicine can be a noble profession,” she says, “and there is still a great deal of hope for the field, for both the patient and the healer.”