Blog : Green Collar Careers: Dr. Robyn Giard of Starry Brook Natural Medicine

By Theresa | May 19, 2014 | in

Dr. Robyn Giard, of Starry Brook Natural Medicine, is a leader in the rapidly expanding field of alternative and natural medicine. Along with prescribing medications and ordering labs as a primary care physician, Dr. Giard offers her patients acupuncture, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, counseling, and homeopathy. “When I meet with a patient, I consider more than just their symptoms,” says Dr. Giard. “I think about my patients in a holistic way. What is the root cause of their health issue? Could it be an emotional problem, or an environmental one? It’s important to think outside the box.”

Theresa Conn (TC): What do you like most about your job?
Robyn Giard (RG): I love that I can make a difference in a patient’s quality of life. The old medical model of more drugs for health clearly doesn’t work. On top of making us dependent on pharmaceuticals, we now know it has an impact on our environment through urinary excretion of medications. Starry Brook Natural Medicine offers alternative methods for our patients to get well. I get really excited when patients realize they’re in charge of their own health, and they start to make their own, healthier changes!

TC: Where did you go to college? Does your college education help with your current job? What skills from college most prepared you for the work you do now?
RG: I’m a proud nerd! I went to lots of colleges. I attended Mount Holyoke for my undergrad as well as the London School of Economics. I graduated with a degree in English and Economics. From there, I attended University of Bridgeport for their accelerated pre-med program and finally graduated from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. I use my undergrad training in economics to help guide patients in financial decisions for their health. Having a “healthy” financial business allows me to treat more patients. My English education has also given me communication skills that have been vital for the success of my practice. My medical training at University of Bridgeport and Southwest College taught me how to conduct thorough medical exams and provide diagnoses and treatments. Mount Holyoke and Southwest have strong alumni support systems, which have helped me tremendously. I would encourage any college student to get to know their alumni resources before they graduate so they can continue to use those services well after graduation.

TC: What do you look for in an employee in this field?
RG: I look for someone who is willing to think outside the box. You don’t have to have straight A’s to succeed in this field; it’s far more important to have strong critical thinking skills. If you have a case that you just can’t figure out, you need to be able to look at the problem in a new way. I also look for people who are interested in integrating spirituality and emotional needs into their work. Compassion is important.

TC: What made you integrate sustainability into your business / go into a green industry?
RG: We really try to make our practice sustainable. Using energy efficient light bulbs, keeping an eye out for energy “leaks,” and utilizing recycled paper and toner creates a healthier financial bottom line while reducing waste in our environment. On the patient level, using paint with low VOC (volatile organic compound) levels is important because many of our patients are sensitive to environmental toxins. We never want to continue polluting the air we work and practice in with harmful chemicals.

TC: What are you most proud of in your business as relates to sustainability?
RG: Did I mention I love being a nerd? I’m really proud of how “extended” our sustainability has become. I’ve taught our employees about the breakdown of plastic and it’s impact on our bodies, which has caused our employees to make healthier choices for food containers. Most of us use glass or metal water bottles and dishes. We’ve significantly reduced office waste and have had an impact on our own genetic DNA.