Dr. Wendy Arnold
DR. WAVE. The name itself implies serenity. It goes beyond the notion of a medical professional, conjuring images of a holistic, cerebral experience. And that is exactly what Dr. Wendy Arnold intended when she created Dr. Wendy’s Achieve Vitality Experience—DR. WAVE, Inc.
Dr. Arnold, better known as Dr. Wendy, is a leadership coach, and while you might jump to a conclusion about what that title means—think again. She’s anything but the traditional coach who simply tells you how to be successful in your career. She is dually board certified in family and integrative medicine with a surgical fellowship, an expert on nutrition, an acupuncturist, and an award-winning educator who has spent 24 years as a Marine and Naval officer. With accolades that include being named among the Top 100 Healthcare Leaders by International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare and honored as Top Integrative Physician of the Year in 2020 by the International Association of Top Professionals, she is, quite literally, a proven authority on leadership. In short, Dr. Wendy has the knowledge, skills, and experience that make her the best at what she does—melding together medicine, leadership, and emotional well-being to help people perform at their best. Or, as her motto suggests, “Developing leaders to their full potential.”
DR. WAVE Inc. is a “whole person” approach to maximize health and vitality, designed to teach executives and upcoming leaders how to improve their performance and quality of life. “I really enjoy helping people,” Dr. Wendy shares. “I’ve always been a teacher at heart—from guiding young resident physicians to leading teams of drill instructors as a series commander and executive officer in the Marines.” And few places require more leadership than in combat, especially when you’re a woman. Dr. Wendy was the first female physician to deploy with Marine Corps Special Operations during combat operations, serving in the role of Special Operations task force surgeon. “I believe that my military background provides an advantage because I’m conditioned to take care of those I’m leading and to identify any stressors that might impede their success. Leadership is leadership, regardless of the industry or environment, but the military really homes in on behavior to understand why a person is struggling and identify any barriers to their success,” Dr. Wendy explains.
We spoke with Wendy to learn more about the DR. WAVE program, what it encompasses, and how it’s helping leaders attain the pinnacle of success in their careers—and in their lives.
Wendy, you’ve enjoyed a remarkable career as a military and medical leader. What compelled you to launch your own company, DR. WAVE?
Like so many physicians, I have a strong drive to help people. That aspect of my work is the most satisfying of what I do. In the process of earning my second board certification in integrative medicine, I did a significant study of alternative paths to wellness. This new perspective in helping people, in addition to a luxury often unique to operational medicine in the military, where we have more than 20 minutes to spend with patients, led me down a path where I wanted to help people with more than just lab values like cholesterol. Most people focus their daily efforts on work and personal life, not so much sleep and health. I wanted to leverage my medical education and leadership experience to help a person in their entirety, not just health through the primary care experience.
Tell us a little bit more about DR. WAVE and how it differs from other leadership and/or wellness coaching programs.
I'd like people to understand what's truly unique about my experience and what sets me apart from other coaches. My first career was as a Marine officer, which has a brilliant indoctrination in leadership. Those fundamentals have remained the bedrock of my leadership style over the past 28 years. The most recent 18 years have been as a physician, while still in leadership roles as a Naval officer. Not many career leaders have the benefit of a medical degree and not many physicians have any training or education in leadership. My understanding of life challenges has great depth from my knowledge of the complicated interworking of human anatomy and physiology. It’s a whole person concept of health, which accounts for how past experiences, current challenges, and behavioral choices can influence success. Context and complex interactions are compounding variables that aren't easy to interpret and improve upon without an experienced navigator. Some of the most important components to help clients improve upon are nutrition, sleep, stress, and time management. Most of these issues boil down to behavior, which can be difficult to change, but I believe in small, frequent victories and close interaction to assist with behavioral modification. I also employ an integrative approach to pain management because pain is truly a multifactorial process. Lastly, I advocate for stress management without medication. An important message of mine will continue to be that we have evolved in a way that stress protects us, so I like to leverage the positive aspects of stress and educate people on achieving that balance.
What is integrative medicine and how does it play a role in your approach?
I love this question! I am a family medicine doctor at heart and that will never change. Family medicine physicians pride themselves on caring for people from "cradle to grave." That's me. We are proudly the "jack of all trades," but our craft is honed in a traditional, Western medical model. We learn medicine and consult specialists by organ systems. For example, these systems and specialties are stove-piped into areas such as dermatology, cardiology, obstetrics, psychiatry, and neurosurgery, but integrative medicine blends those systems into a model that is more useful and realistic. Integrative medicine thinks about food influencing gut flora, which in turn influences mental health, immunity, and weight gain or loss. Ultimately, integrative medicine informs how I practice medicine as a family medicine doctor by breaking down the barriers of isolated systems and develops into the "whole person" approach.
How does your experience as a physician and a military leader benefit your clients?
It's all about understanding what's at stake when a person sits at the big table of decision makers. Success in that environment is more than credentials on paper. I have the experience to understand those dynamics and how integrity, courage, and empathy can trump pedigree. I'm grateful for the whole of my experience because, above all, I have learned about leadership.
Dr. Arnold has also received awards for Top 100 Doctor and Empowered Woman. She is involved in the International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare and is a member of Pinnacle Professional.
Dr. Wendy Arnold
DR. WAVE, Inc.