After a quarter-century in health care, Dr. Delane Vaughn couldn’t ignore the fact that many patients are their own worst enemies.
“Eighty percent of what we deal with is self-inflicted, whether it be smoking, overeating or (excessive) drinking,” the Wichita family physician said. “I had multiple internal dialogues with myself about how do we fix this?”
Vaughn’s answer was to start DelaneMD, a life coaching service focused on weight management and disease prevention that she recently launched with her husband, Dan Jacobs.
Vaughn had one more bit of inspiration for the move: She worked with a life coach herself after gaining weight during a pregnancy.
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“I found myself in the same position my patients were in, making bad decisions when I knew better,” she said. “That’s what started me looking for other options and ways.”
Vaughn lost 20 pounds in six months working with a life coach.
Vaughn’s own life coaching program has several aspects. She meets with clients individually once a week, either in person or through video conferencing, and also assigns them a four-month curriculum that educates them on subjects such as healthy eating and why our bodies crave certain foods that aren’t good for us. Clients are encouraged to keep food diaries covering what they planned to eat and what they actually consumed, and all have email access to Vaughn.
Numerous factors contribute to overeating, Vaughn said, and the methods she used as a family physician — from education to “motivational interviewing” — were often not successful in modifying patient behavior.
“It’s not that people don’t know what to do. It’s ‘why aren’t you doing it yet?’ That’s where life coaching gets to.”
Some patients may feel they’re not worth the effort, she said. Others “keep their word to everybody but themselves” on the subject of eating. Another huge factor is biochemistry — the effect that eating certain processed foods exerts on people. “We get this release of reward hormones in our brain, then we crave them and place an over-emphasis on these foods.”
Life coaching helps people realize “that nothing’s going to end if I don’t eat that Twinkie,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn, who grew up in Mulvane, has worked in health care since she was a 19-year-old radiology clinic clerk. She earned a nursing degree from Wichita State University and worked as an emergency room nurse for several years, then earned her medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, completing her residency at Wesley Medical Center. She worked as an inpatient hospitalist at McPherson for two-and-a-half years before spending the last one-and-a-half at GraceMed.
Her life coaching business is separate from her full-time medical practice. Her husband, who has a background in marketing, is handling that aspect of the business. Vaughn said her interest in preventative health care is so strong that she can see herself devoting herself to it full-time someday.
“I always say if you don’t like health care in America, find a way to use the least of it you can.”
Owners: Dr. Delane Vaughn and Dan Jacobs