Physician Spotlight: Deborah Ann Ballard, MD

Ballard_Deborah_MD copyMeet Deborah Ann Ballard, MD, an integrative medicine physician with KentuckyOne Health Primary Care. Dr. Ballard is a board certified internist whose 22 years in medicine spans primary care, endocrinology, clinical research and prevention and wellness.

Medical News:  Why did you become a doctor?

I became a doctor because I wanted to serve others and I love science.

MN:  Is it different than what you thought? How?

I was disheartened to find that traditional western medicine does not focus on healing and wellness, but on sick care and mostly ignores the fact that chronic illnesses can be prevented or reversed with a healthy lifestyle. This is why I practice integrative medicine now.

What is the biggest misconception about your field?

Many people think that integrative medicine means prescribing compounded hormones, chelation therapy, magnets or vitamins and supplements. I do not do this. I strive to provide only good medicine, not push products or procedures. I prescribe evidence-informed therapies from all healing traditions to help people get well. I focus on the basics of good health — stress reduction, diet, physical activity and avoidance of toxins. People think pills, supplements, gadgets and surgeries can make them healthy, but this is not true. Pills and surgeries may correct some problems and relieve some symptoms, but a healthy lifestyle makes people well.

What is the one thing you wish patients knew and/ or understood about doctors?

Doctors do not make you well. You make you well. Your doctor is your adviser and helper, but she can’t live your life for you. The best technology cannot overcome bad health choices.

What is your opinion of managed care and how will this affect you and your practice?

The United States healthcare system needs to move way beyond the limited concept of managed care and into integrative medicine. We need to quit focusing on “managing” and “controlling” diseases and the cost of treating them. Instead we need to focus on helping people live well.

What’s one thing your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

I love physics.

What’s the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you?

The best guidance I ever received came from the Dalai Lama’s book, The Art of Happiness – A Guidebook for Living
(Hodder Mobius, 2002). He said, “The purpose of life is to be happy.”

What is your motto?

I can choose how I respond to anything, and I choose to respond in a way that makes me happy.

Who are your heroes in healthcare?

Adam Perlman, MD, executive director, Duke Integrative Medicine and Mimi Guarneri, MD, co-founder and
medical director, Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine.

Who are your heroes in real life? 

My tenth grade chemistry teacher, Susan Vaughn, who encouraged me to go into medicine, is my biggest hero.

What’s the last good book you read? 

Einstein, His Life and the Universe by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

Favorite daytime beverage?

Ice water with cucumbers and mint.