Ali Ghahary

Family Physician

As a family physician currently practicing at Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Dr. Ali Ghahary believes in empowering people with the practical tools and knowledge necessary to improve their physical and mental well-being. In addition to attending to the diverse needs of his patients, Dr. Ali Ghahary also aims to provide people with relevant, informed, and educational content on everything health and medicine through his website.

Dr. Ali Ghahary currently lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia, but has studied across Canada. He began his medical career at the University of Alberta from 1999 to 2003, where he obtained his B.Sc. in Medicine and also received his M.D. with Honors in Research. In 2005, Dr. Ali Ghahary moved to Montreal, Quebec, where he completed his Family Medicine residency at McGill University.

Ali Ghahary first began his career as a physician in 2005 with over 100 months of locum work at Prince Albert Minor Emergency Clinic in Saskatchewan. Eventually making the move to British Columbia, where he currently resides, Dr. Ali Ghahary worked at a full-service family medicine practice in Chilliwack from 2008-2009. In 2010, he practiced at Port Moody’s Newport Medical Clinic as well as Louis Brier Home & Hospital where he cared for numerous long-term care residents.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

From a young age, I have always had this deep desire to help people. This interest, in addition to a love for science and human physiology, motivated me to pursue my B.Sc. in Medicine at the University of Alberta— the rest was history. My career allows me to create real, long-lasting value for my patients, which is what gets me up in the morning.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Since the start of the pandemic, there is no such thing as a typical day. From COVID-19 testing to telephone visits, our team always has their hands full. To deal with the increasing demand and pressure, I start everyday by checking in with myself. I make sure to attend to my own personal needs before making myself available to others. Whether it is weightlifting, a bike ride, or a run, I always engage in an activity that grounds me in my body. If I can, I also take time to read, meditate, or journal. If I do not attend to my own personal needs, I am less able to show up for others.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As a physician, I listen attentively to my patients. From their personal needs to concerns surrounding care, I do my best to be a resource for them. When a patient comes to me with a list of symptoms, we work together to find a solution. When a patient comes to me with concerns about accessibility, I listen to their needs and try to improve our quality of care accordingly. Bringing ideas to life starts and ends with my patients—it is a collaborative process!

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am excited by the growing possibilities of telehealth. Prior to the pandemic, advances were being made, but at a very slow and unresponsive pace. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink how to best accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse population. For example, immunocompromised patients who do not feel safe visiting our clinic can now speak with a physician from the comfort of their own home. As a physician working to accommodate as many people as possible, telehealth is a very exciting trend— the possibilities are endless.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I take care of my physical health. Your body and mind are very closely connected, so, anything that benefits one is likely to benefit the other. Staying active is one of my top priorities as a physician. Movement is a fantastic way to increase your focus, reduce stress, and maintain energy throughout the day. I truly believe that movement makes me a better physician. The key is consistency. Do your best to do something for your physical health every single day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To care less about what other people think. So many of us have fallen victim to comparison, a fear of failure and rejection. In the past, I have made decisions that were guided by what I thought would please everyone else. I overcame that habit/feeling by confronting it head on. I write down my fears and become cognizant of those thoughts when they arise so I can catch them before they gain too much momentum.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Nutrition and food play a major role in treating physical illness. Depending on the situation or circumstance, I find this to be true in most instances. A vast majority of the diseases that plague us today can be tied to the food that we eat (For example; cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, etc.). While more physicians are starting to take a holistic approach, many are not. It is my hope that all physicians will start to look at everything from stress to diet as a potential source of physical illness.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I take time for myself. In our fast-paced society, it is easy to get caught up in the idea that the work you do determines your self-worth and value. I have learned over the years that if I do not take care of myself, everything else falls apart. In order to serve our loved ones, patients, and community, we have to take care of ourselves.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

In my practice, I care deeply about my patients and connect with them beyond their health needs. When you make ‘connection’ and ‘helping’ your primary goal as a business owner, everything else falls into place. Patient don’t only want someone who is only competent, they want someone who genuinely cares. I do my best, in all aspects of my practice, to let compassion lead the way.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I don’t know if I have ever experienced ‘failure’. My belief is that if you get kicked down, you get back up again— I have always gotten back up. When you do your best to remain open to criticism and feedback, you allow yourself to continually improve and grow. To me, that is success, not failure.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love to see an integrated health care approach and database that allows every health care practitioner in Canada to access patient history. From medication to diagnosis, this integrated approach would help to reduce some of the harms caused by our current system (over prescribing, misdiagnosis, etc.). While it isn’t a new idea, I do think that it would transform our industry.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently purchased a weighted blanket, and it was a great investment. Weighted blankets, while shown to have positive results for several conditions including autism, anxiety, and ADHD, are very calming. In these unprecedented and anxious times, I will take all of the comfort I can get!

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I have used a couple of project management tools in the past, but I currently use Trello. This service allows me to organize my thoughts, especially when I am writing content for my website and videos. It is extremely intuitive and allows me see my ideas laid out in various formats (checklists, brainstorms, charts, etc.).

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

There is a book by Gabor Maté called “When The Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress”. In short, it details the profound impact that stress has on the body and how it correlates to ADHD and other physical illnesses. For anyone who has experienced high levels of stress throughout their lives, this is a transformational read.

What is your favorite quote?

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. – Marcus Aurelius

Key Learnings:

  • Take care of yourself before you take care of others
  • Follow your intuition, don’t live your life according to the opinions of others
  • Eat well to stay healthy
  • Get moving, movement plays a major role in improved mental and physical health