Interview with Dr. Cherisa Sandrow

In today's podcast, Dr. Cherisa Sandrow explains how she created a life with freedom of time, place, and means (money). 

In Episode 222, Cherisa offered her expertise in telemedicine. Now, she has created a comprehensive program with didactic lessons, and group and individual coaching to teach doctors how to live lives of purpose using telemedicine as a tool.

Family physician Dr. Cherisa Sandrow spent 15 years practicing traditional family medicine, including obstetrics, after graduating from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

She made the switch to telemedicine in 2015, leaving her busy office-based practice behind. After completing the Maxwell Leadership Certified Team Coaching, Speaking, Leadership, and Training Development Program, she joined the John Maxwell Team as a speaker and instructor. And she began coaching and teaching other physicians to use telemedicine as a temporary or long-term option to gain more freedom and flexibility. 

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Life with Freedom of Time, Place and Means

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow will be launching a new course called, “From Here to There – Leveraging Virtual Medicine“. She was inspired after participating in the Empowering Women Physicians Programs.

Sandrow Consulting gives physicians tools to create a life with freedom of time, place, and means by using telehealth to replace income; especially physicians who are exhausted, stressed out, burned out, or who need flexibility and independence for other reasons.

This new course lasts for 10 to 12 weeks and is supported by a dozen other career transition experts.

Dr. Sandrow will assist you with upgrading your résumé, LinkedIn profile, and bio as part of the application process. The program includes instructions on how to set up the telehealth workspace, the medical component of telehealth, what to expect from physical exams, and then how to document properly and efficiently.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow's Advice

We live in this world of mentorship and colleagues… there are people that have done what you want to do that can guide you… and that's always been my mindset… the other thing is that we all have this incredible resilience…


Telemedicine is a proven solution. However, it is not necessarily the end goal. With the freedom and flexibility it offers, we can create space to rediscover our passion and sense of purpose in life.

You can learn more about From Here to There: Leveraging Virtual Medicine by going to

NOTE: Look below for a transcript of today's episode.

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Transcription PNC Podcast Episode 266

Create a Life with Freedom of Time, Place, and Means

- Interview with Dr. Cherisa Sandrow

John: I'm always looking for new programs, courses, books, other resources that will help physicians find more freedom and satisfaction in their lives and maybe also transition to a newer career that builds on their background in medicine. But anyway, that's why I'm bringing back today's guest who's been here before, and she's going to tell us something more about what we spoke about last time and some new things going on. So, with that, I'd like to welcome Dr. Cherisa Sandrow. Hello, and welcome back.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Hi, it's great to be back. It's great to see you again.

John: What you taught us last time and talked to us about last time was so practical. Now it's been almost a year and you've got a new program coming up. And so, I just wanted to catch up with you and kind of figure out what's going on and how it might benefit you, my listeners out there. So, tell me a little bit about what's happened since we last spoke almost a year ago.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah. Great. The world has opened back up which has been awesome. COVID was such a time of isolation for so many. And so, my family and I moved from the Portland Oregon area to Bend, Oregon, which has been our vacation place. It's been one of our favorite places to visit over the past 10 years.

And so, the move is awesome, but also has been a little challenging in regards to community. Between working from home and moving to a new town and COVID, it's challenging to create community, and I know I'm not alone. I actually just saw a post on a Facebook page about a similar situation. I feel like so many physicians and I can speak more directly to female physicians. So many female physicians just feel isolated and are seeking connection. And I'm sure that's true of everybody.

When I in the fall had decided I wanted to put my curriculum onto video, I had been listening to Sunny Smith coach on a semi-retired MD course that I was taking. And as I was listening to her coach, I decided that I wanted to enroll in her summer EWP, the Empowering Women Physicians coaching course. And so that just wrapped up, and it was such a powerful summer of connection and community.

During that course, actually very early on in the course, I was inspired to create this entirely new direction for my consulting business. And so, I'll be launching a course called From Here to There - Leveraging virtual medicine. And I am just in such a different space going into it. I actually was saying I'm feeling like I am lacking joy and connection in my life. And now I feel like I have this entire community and I feel so much more inspiration in my life. So, that's really where I'm at and my girls are just starting school this week.

John: Nice. A little trivia here for the listeners. I'm going to quiz you on this maybe six months from now, but I actually have been in Bend, Oregon once and I was rock climbing with a coach or a guide. It's the only outdoor climbing I've ever done in my life. I'm not a rock climber per se, but Bend, Oregon is an awesome place. It's just like you are living in constant vacation, aren't you, when you're in that part of the country?

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: That is why people move here. The people that move here are avid outdoor adventurists and love to be active. Basically, it's a town of people that are wanting to live in that environment. And it's grown so much, especially during COVID. Many people from California have moved here, which I think that Californian have moved everywhere.

John: Well, it's a rock-climbing Mecca from what I understand. So, you and your whole family has to learn how to rock climb if you're not already doing it.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: When we moved here, it was almost one of the things, not the highest thing on our list of reasons to move here, but it was on that list. So, my oldest daughter is a little rock-climbing prodigy. And so, when we put her on a rock wall a couple years ago, she just went right to the top and we were like, "Holy cow." And so, she rock climbs regularly. She's on the rock-climbing team.

John: Oh boy. Yeah. You're going to have to send some photos out on LinkedIn or something.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Okay. I'll do that.

John: All right. But let's get back to the matter at hand here. Now you have been going through a lot of different things, but one of which is creating this program and kind of expanding it from what I understand.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: I'll start with why me, why would I be the person to teach this? So many physicians are wanting to transition to telehealth in the last couple of years. COVID just brought it to the forefront, but it's challenging to know how to even get started and how to make it lucrative, how to actually replace your income with it. And so, I'm a family practice doctor for the first 10 years of practice. I practiced full spectrum family medicine with OB.

And I started working in telemedicine in 2015. I stayed before it was cool and I was doing a little bit of telehealth on the side. And so, I I did that for a year and a half where I was just working with one company, like moonlighting with them, essentially. And in 2017, I transitioned to telemedicine full-time and I was able to not only replace my income, but essentially double my income and cut my hours that I was working in half. And that's what physicians want to do.

And in 2020, I had a lot of physicians that were reaching out, asking me how I did this. And so, I decided to create a curriculum to teach others and I have been coaching one on one over the past two years with using this curriculum. And so, I've created this freedom and flexibility in my life, and I'm super passionate about teaching other physicians who are burnout and wanting a change, how to reclaim and transform their life.

Sandrow Consulting is the name of my company. We help physicians acquire the skills, the tools and the mindset so they can leave their practice and use telehealth as a vehicle to replace their income and give them more time and freedom to figure out what else they want to do in their life. And so, I will take people through all of the steps in the process to get up and running and actually replacing your income will provide the one one-on-one end group support through that transition.

My husband is actually going to be partnering with me on this next phase of our journey. He's been kind of the silent partner as of now, he's been foundational for me though in creating the success that I have. He also is a recovered burnt-out sports med chiropractic physician. He owned a practice, and he has been in the coaching space for the last eight years. And his focus has been really functional medicine and wellness, and his expertise that he's bringing is this is business ownership mindset productivity and system creation, and creating a sense of wellness. And so, our goal is to help physicians just rediscover our purpose and reignite our passion.

Why we went into medicine? We went into medicine because we're super passionate about serving and helping other people. And there's a deep sense of purpose that got us there because in order to get into medical school, we are the top. We go above and beyond. Then you get there and you just spend more than a decade in training and you sacrifice your life and you put everything else on hold and you go into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt thinking that after you're done with your training, life will be awesome.

And then we get there and life doesn't feel awesome for a lot of physicians and we feel trapped because what else are we going to do? We have all this money to pay back and how else are we going to make a quarter million dollars a year? And we don't realize how much we actually are capable of doing and how many opportunities are out there in the world, which is why I love everything that you do because you start planting seeds and opening people's eyes.

And so, I had my husband go through a program with Caroline Leaf, who is a neuroscientist. She wrote a book called "Switch On Your Brain" and another book called "Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess." She has this neuro cycle program that helps us change our toxic thoughts and rewire our brain. She's studied neuroplasticity for 35 years. And so, she started a facilitator program this year. The goal for me having my husband go through this training is that cleaning up those toxic thoughts and helping people rewire their brain is foundational in recovering from burnout because we just get stuck in a certain way of thinking. And actually, if somebody were to change from a clinical practice or a hospital practice where they're burnt out and they start doing any other thing, if they don't change the toxic thoughts and the patterns that we've developed that is like this work course, just drop work till you drop sort of mindset, we're just going to do the same thing in another field. And so, along that journey of transition, a huge piece of the transition is changing the way our mind is working. And my husband is going to bring that element.

And then the other piece of it is prior to the transition that we made, we were struggling. I mean, we were so close to divorce and we had two children. And my older daughter has some high needs and special needs. And so, through this transition, we were able to heal our marriage and just redefine our core values and redefine ourselves, our own way of thinking. And we are functioning in the world, we are showing up in the world. And so, we are such a great example for other people who are kind of in the same space.

John: Yeah. That gives me a pretty good idea, I think and the listeners too, what kind of got you here. I will say this, that it's funny. Physicians become so desperate to leave, but it's funny because they feel like they're compelled to do something. And the question I get all the time is "I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do."

And I think by addressing all the issues you mentioned in addition to what to do as far as the actual job, but to have the job included, look, here's an easy... Well, it's not easy. It takes work and it takes learning, but here is a proven solution, telemedicine. You can make the same amount of money unless you're a multimillion-dollar high RVU interventional something or other. And you're going to make good money and you're going to have flexibility and freedom and time if they do it the way you do it.

So, I like it. It's not going to be perfect for everybody, but it's going to get people into something quickly and to still pay their bills and pay back their loans. And then if they even want to shift, it sounds like they could do something a little different later, but they have a solution right now.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah, that's absolutely my vision. Telemedicine is not necessarily the end goal. It's freedom and flexibility in our lives and reigniting our own passion and purpose. And telemedicine is a vehicle that I've used. And so, I can teach other people. But then once you get that time back in your life and you heal a little bit from the burnout, then you have the capacity to explore what else you might want to do.

And truly telehealth, the future of telehealth is way more than what most people realize. The American Medical Association adopted a policy back in 2016 that was aimed to ensure that med students and residents learn how to use telemedicine in their clinical practice. And so, this has been like even before COVID a plan for the future of our healthcare system. And in that, they had said as innovation and care delivery and technology continued to transform healthcare, we must ensure that our current future physicians have the tools and resources they need to provide the best possible care for their patients. And for sure, I think once people get into the telehealth world and they start to realize how many opportunities are available, it starts to become more clear how much telehealth and the virtual medicine world is really going to be able to transform our healthcare system. And so, that's definitely exciting.

John: We're talking about, "Well, you could be burned out, you could just be unhappy." What have you. But I'm assuming in your mind, you have a clear picture of who is this ideally, the program you've already been doing with your coaching and so forth, who is the ideal person that would take advantage? I'm sure it's not someone who just had a thought like, "Oh, I'm just a little unhappy." It's probably someone who's really kind of... They don't necessarily have to be burnt out. Tell us about that. Who would be the ideal person?

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah. I feel that it's important for people to be in practice a few years before transitioning to telehealth. And so, I don't know that I will turn somebody away who is straight out of residency, but I'm absolutely going to encourage them to do some in-person practice in addition to telehealth, if they want to start doing telehealth early on. And so, really my work is geared towards helping physicians that have been in practice and are struggling to balance work, family and their own life, their own wellness. I think that's most of us though. But not everybody wants to leave practice actually. There's a lot of people that are not even considering the options.

My client is the person who's tired, stressed, and burnt out, or needing flexibility and freedom for some other reasons. When I first put the course together, it was during COVID. And so, my mindset was maybe they're caring for an elderly and they don't want to be exposing them to COVID or maybe they need to be available for their kids that are homeschooling. But there's always life situations that happen and our typical practice doesn't give us the freedom and flexibility. Maybe it's a single mom, a newly single mom or newly single parent, who just has to have more flexibility than our typical practice allows.

John: Yeah. It seems obvious, when you think about telehealth or telemedicine as opposed to traditional practice, one of the big differences besides being on call and having going to the OR in the middle of the night or something is just usually at 08:00 to 06:00. I wouldn't say 09:00 to 05:00, but there's set hours. Whereas I think in most forms in telemedicine you can choose to have more flexibility. You can be taking calls on the weekends or at night or different time zones. So, that part of it, that's where it sounds like it's very flexible, but you have to be disciplined, I would assume.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah. That's actually very true. Well, we are so used to being so busy with somebody else controlling our schedule that when we transition to probably a lot of remote work, but when we transition to business ownership, we have to create our own schedule. Or we will either end up just doing the same thing, working like never leaving your office or you won't ever get work done, because you'll do laundry and you'll have this appointment and that appointment and you want to work out. And so, it is important to learn how to create a schedule, which is actually something that I teach. I think it's important enough to focus on and learn. We don't learn that.

John: The other question that I come across this fear of the unknown is that the physicians that are looking to make a change, they can't really envision what the steps are. They don't know what they should do. "Should I do a CV? Should I start looking? What do I do?" And I think when they have someone like you that can sort of walk them through the steps, there's certain milestones or things that you'll be looking along the way. So maybe I'm assuming that your program kind of addresses those. Are there some big major milestones that people have to kind of get through in this process?

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah. Absolutely. And we do all of that. State licensing, getting licensed in multiple states is the thing that kind of takes the longest. And so, we start that process. We help people start that process really in the very beginning, because that is really the piece that we're going to be waiting for at the end is for those licenses to come through. And then we help people first figure out "What your vision is for your life? What do you want your life to look like? What do you want your practice to look like?" And that helps guide us as to where we're going to go with what companies and what direction we're going to go. And so, we focus in the beginning on rediscovering what our strengths are, what our purpose is, what we're passionate about and how we want to show up in the world.

And then we start identifying what the telehealth business vision is and what our goals are. And then setting up a business foundation is huge. And so, I'm going to have a telemedicine lawyer come in and speak. I have a small business accountant who will come in and speak and a bookkeeper who will come in and speak. I will help people with the things that need to get done. And so, setting up an LLC and talking about business ownership, tax write-offs, that kind of stuff. And then we're exploring the companies and which ones to apply for, which is very overwhelming. There's so many. How to review the contracts with the different companies to make sure that you're aware of what you're committing to.

And non-competes are an issue with a lot of the companies. And it's a reason why I never took a job with any of the telehealth companies, because most of them have these non-competes that make it difficult. If you sign a non-compete in the telehealth world, you can't do anything anywhere in the country. And so, I know that a lot of physicians are struggling with their local non-competes and I think it's really important that if somebody wants to transition to telehealth, then they are looking at taking a job with one of the telehealth companies that they're aware of the implications of the non-competes that they may be signing.

And then as far as the application process I help with updating your resume and updating your LinkedIn profile and creating a bio, and then setting up the telehealth workspace and all of the medicine part of telehealth, what's expected from the physical exams and then how to document. And so, all of those pieces along the way, I'm walking somebody through. And so, yeah, there's actually a lot of pieces in the transition that can become very overwhelming if you're not supported through that transition.

John: I was kind of chuckling a little bit because I had this vision. I have a friend and I think you know this friend I'm talking about. I thought the place where you do this is in a chair on the beach or something.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: It could be.

John: It could be.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Actually, if you're not doing video calls, if you're taking phone calls or with asynchronous telemedicine, you can be anywhere. And so, if you're doing video or phone visits, you still want to have a HIPAA compliance sort of space and privacy, it still applies.

John: Okay. Well, it sounds like there's a lot of pieces here and it's probably not all crammed into one week. So I'm just curious how does your program look right now in terms of trying to get through this? And not to get through it, but they have time to digest it, maybe ask questions. So, what kind of a timeframe are we talking about that people would commit to, if they were to pursue this?

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: It will be 10 to 12 weeks. And I have about a dozen experts that I'm bringing into speak that will help encourage everybody when they're hearing other physicians that have create... It's not just me. There are others that have created this similar success in the telehealth world. And hearing other people's stories and how other people were able to create the success and what their journey looked like is of course encouraging. And then we'll have Q&A time with all of those experts as well.

John: Well, that's 12 weeks, basically, if you're saying to go from A to Z, to go from not even have ever set foot in telemedicine, so to speak. And then at the end to be able to do telemedicine, telehealth, whichever version of the approach you're taking. That's quite a transition in a quarter. But it sounds like there's enough time to really dig into each topic and optimize it and make decisions. Because like you said, I'm getting that there are just so many different versions of telehealth that you can choose from. And I know in our last interview, people should go back, I'll put a link to that, but you explained in detail how to overlap some of these things, or it's not really multitasking, but if there's a downtime in this, you've got this other one you can adjust.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Like how to stack them.

John: Stacking. Exactly. That definitely is something that you want to learn as early as possible, but it does take time I'm sure, once you get going to get that experience and to feel comfortable and to become efficient.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah. I think the important thing though to know is that medicine is still the same. And so, the practice of medicine is still the practice of medicine. And we know that, we've been doing that. The delivery changes. And so, we need to learn, there's a lot of mindset shift and there's a lot of belief that has to happen, but the core skill set, we have that.

For me, the business ownership piece of it is important because we are not trained to be business owners and you can take a job with a telehealth company, but you're not going to have as much freedom and flexibility and ownership of your life and you're not going to be as profitable if you take a job with a company because then you are only able to work in that job. And so, teaching business ownership I think is a huge piece.

John: No, that's absolutely critical, I think, to have that freedom, otherwise you're just kind of back in a rat race to some extent, and you're controlled. And when you were talking about the issue of non-compete, that applies probably to both whether you're employed or even if you do have your own business, if you don't sign the right contract. Because you can get stuck with a non-compete, even if you're an independent contractor.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Yeah. We have to read the contracts and be careful with them, but it can. I think the intention of the telehealth companies with the non-competes is that you're not working with another telehealth company. There is only one company that I've encountered that only required that non-compete of physicians and leadership position. And it was around proprietary information, which makes sense to me. But when a company says you can't work with any other telehealth companies, then if that company is slow, and if you're not busy, then you can't do something else. And then in a lot of them, that non-compete limits you if you decide to leave that company. So, then you can't continue doing telehealth. It's just important to be aware of that.

John: Let's see. Let me refresh the audience's memory here on your site. Your website is They can go there and see where things stand. If they want to use a link that I can provide, that's And that will take them also to that now. I am helping to promote it. And so, I'll probably come up with some kind of bonus for someone to use that link, but either way they can definitely track it down and I'll put that in the show notes. And yeah, I would love to hear the results of some of your clients, customers four or six months down the road. We'll have to track some of them down and maybe I'll get them on the podcast.

Anything else you want to tell us about the program or any other words of advice or wisdom or encouragement you'd like to give us today?

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: I just want to encourage physicians to recognize how well trained we are as physicians, but our preparation is to be an employee. And so, we have this really extensive training, but then we end up being put into a job where we're the clinician, we're the practitioner. And that's amazing, but it makes us feel like that's all we can do.

And I want people to understand that there is so much, there are so many opportunities that are available, and there are so many experts that are in these different areas that are available to help guide them. And our whole training model is in this mentorship model. Throughout med school and residency, we're mentored. And even going into practice, we run things by our colleagues all the time. That's how we work. You get another set of eyes to go look at your rash, or you review an X-ray with a colleague or you call the specialist to run something by them.

We live in this world of mentorship and colleagues, but then if we decide to transition out on our own, we think we need to figure it out on our own. So, there's a plethora of information on the internet if we start trying to figure it out on our own, but there are people that have done what you want to do that can guide you. Whether you're wanting to go into pharma or coaching or whatever, real estate, there's these mentors. And I think that's something that I valued always.

And so, when I first started out, I reached out to people and I hired Tom Davis to help me when I first started creating my curriculum because I knew I didn't have some of that business skills. And that's always been my mindset is to hire other people to help me because that's how we're trained, but not everybody realizes the value and importance in that. And so, I think that's really important.

And then the other thing is that we all have this incredible resilience just from going through our training, let alone the rest of life that we've experienced. But as physicians, we are resilient beyond belief. And so, what we have proven in our life that we've already overcome and that we've already have achieved, can get us to whatever that next phase is of our life that we want. And so, I think that it's important for us to recognize that we can do it, whatever it is that we want to do.

John: Yeah, absolutely. We've got the brain power, for sure. We just need a little help and some of these steps to learn things that we're not really aware of or have been exposed to. Physicians are somewhat resistant to coaching in general. They feel like, "Well, that's like asking for help and I'm not supposed to." It doesn't make any sense really. Companies, big hospitals and insurance companies, they've been using business coaches for years and years and they love it. And it's what helps them progress even quicker in their career transition.

So, that's what physicians need to learn. It's that by getting some coaching or training or online courses, or what have you, in a particular field, you could just accelerate your progress so much more. That's why I love bringing out guests like you that have created something that is really valuable and can answer a problem or solve a problem for physicians. So, I really appreciate you coming on today Cherisa and explaining this and dropping a few pearls along the way. That's always useful.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Thanks so much for having me.

John: I encourage everyone to go and listen to the previous episode, because you really gave a good overview of telemedicine and telehealth at that time. This is just a lot of misconceptions about it, for those that haven't done it before. Again, thanks a lot for that. And I will put these links in the show notes and I wish you the best of luck.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: And can I just add that you are going to be one of my guest speakers? That is exciting too, I'm really happy about that.

John: I'm looking forward to that because I love talking about this stuff and I'm going to try to dispel some myths from my perspective, as well as give the thumbnail of career transition and how I would approach it briefly. But basically, it just echoes what you've already said here today and that you're teaching in your course. So, I think it'll be fun. It'd be great.

Dr. Cherisa Sandrow: Well, thanks so much. It was great to see you.

John: All right. You take care. Bye-bye.


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