Avery – 00:00

The conversation that I had today with Dr Benita Venardo was so interesting because I could relate to a lot of her experience and I feel like you might be able to as well even if you don’t work in healthcare because Dr. Bernardo burnt out as an OBGYN because she felt like that was the only thing she

could do and that is absolutely how I felt when I burnt out after being in the pediatric ICU that I was in right before I got sick.

And it’s been really neat to see and learn from her about how she sort of changed things around and what she does because Dr V is a board-certified ob-gyn and lifestyle medicine physician and she started her own podcast in November 2020 Office Visits with Dr V where she not only educates women about

their gynecological health And how their bodies function, but also about their overall health and wellness and really how to live a life on purpose.

And this was the seed that really led to Dr. Vernardo retiring from her traditional career of almost 20 years in obstetrics and gynecology in August of 2021. And now she specializes in helping women thrive in their daily lives.

I am very excited for this episode, we touch on a bunch of different things, and I think even if you don’t identify as a woman, you’re still going to get a lot out of this.

Hi, I’m Avery Thatcher, a former ICU nurse, and this is not your standard stress management podcast where we just focus on those band-aid solutions like the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and self-care.


Avery – 01:40

You already know that you need some kind of recovery strategy to deal with your stressful life, But what you may not know are all of the sneaky ways that society, our upbringing and our high achieving nature and so many other factors contribute to our risk of burnout.

That, my friend, is what we talk about here on this podcast because you can’t do something about a situation that you’re not aware of, right?

So if you’re ready to get out of the pattern of burning out, feeling better, only to burn out again, it’s time for us to shut the light on the truth about burnout.

Okay friends, I am very excited to talk to today’s guest because I feel like we come from a similar perspective, but I always love hearing the different side of it.

And so today we have Dr. V and yeah, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you?


Dr. V – 02:40


Hi Avery and hi listeners.

My name is Dr V also known as Benita Vernado.

I’m an OBGYN.

Look, gosh, I came out of residency in 06 and I retired from full-time private practice last year 2021. I suffered burnout.

And wanted to transition out for five years probably, but I learned a lot in trying to figure out what my next step would be.

I’m a mother of two, I’m a wife, actually just celebrated our 18 year anniversary two days ago.


Dr. V – 03:26

Yes, yay us.

And so being a mother and a physician and a wife, I really didn’t have a plan on how those aspects of my life would come together.

And so I’m excited to share my journey on how I discovered how to balance all that out.


Multiple speakers – 03:44

Yeah, I’m really excited to dive into that.


Avery – 03:48

So why don’t you start with telling us a little bit about what burnout felt like and maybe what are some of those red flags that you missed?

And it’s okay that we miss red flags.

I remember hearing something not too long ago, somebody was saying that it’s really easy for us to miss red flags when they’re pointed at us.

So somebody standing outside of us can see them, but because it’s pointing at us it’s still hidden.

So yeah, let us know either in retrospect or in the moment what red flags you saw.


Dr. V – 04:20

That’s a good question.

What did I miss?

Honestly, I, as you say, high achievers, I was a high achiever.

And so there was a level of Denying myself of what I wanted to get to the bigger goal.

And so probably some of those red flags, I assume were just a part of the journey.


You want to be a doctor, you want to be at OBGYN.


Dr. V – 04:50

There are going to be lots of nights that you’re not sleeping.

Uh, you make mistakes.

Of course people are going to chew you out in front of everybody and that’s okay.

Um, but probably when I got out into private practice, um, I won’t say it’s a red flag but I knew I needed to ask for help and I did not and I wouldn’t because that’s not what we do.

So I got behind in some of my charting and well not say behind but it was just always you had to do it all the time over and over and I was on that treadmill.

The red flag, well, this was a red flag that hurt and I knew it at the time.

When my son was very young, he fell or he did something and he ran to my husband instead of running to me.


Dr. V – 05:45

And I was like, ooh, ouch, ouch.

And because I wanted to be a mother, I wanted to be involved with my son’s care.

I never got to the point where I felt suicidal, but I definitely felt sad.

I felt like, you know, I’ve worked so hard to get here and this is not What I envisioned, love my patience, love my job, but I recognize that my inability to separate the two led to sadness.

I was always, always tired and towards the end, I started not to care about my job as much, which is really bad to say.

I still feel like I gave quality care because I’m an excellent physician.

I connect very well with my patients, but I just started to become Indifferent sometimes.


Dr. V – 06:43

And I know my patients very well.

I’ve taken care of them for years.

And sometimes I’ll ask those deep questions and they’ll cry.

And I was just like, I don’t have time for you.

It’s in my mind.

In my mind, I’m like, I’ve got three more patients, you know, they’re waiting on me and I just don’t have time.

And I just really started to, I wasn’t, I wasn’t able to be present in the moment.


Dr. V – 07:05

So those were some of the things that I noticed, um, that told me something’s gotta change.


Avery – 07:10

There was a couple of things that you said that really stood out for me.

And I know that you also work in this burnout recovery space.

So I want to hear if your clients say the similar things, but often people, when I talk to them, especially in the first couple of sessions, they We’re like, I just don’t enjoy life anymore.

I used to love these things.

And now I’m just like, you could take it or leave.

And that’s so unusual for them.

Do you find that that’s the same in your clients as well?


Dr. V – 07:39

That’s very common.

That’s very common.

And part of it is at some point you kind of rationalize that okay maybe this is just the way it is until it becomes too painful and it’s like okay no I really don’t like where my life is going.

But a lot of times when you’ve worked so hard for something, I mean it took me 12 years to become an OBGYN, People just don’t know how to get out of it and when you look around at your colleagues, everybody else is living the same way and doing the same thing.

And so I always applaud those who have the courage to say, you know, I need some help and I want better.


Avery – 08:22

Yes, that was the other thing which I just wanted to highlight is that so many people say there has to be more to life than this.

There has to be something better, this can’t be it.

And if you find yourself saying that, you might be burnt out.

Not for sure, but you might be burnt out.

So it might be something to like dig into.


Dr. V – 08:50

Yeah, definitely probably going down the wrong path for sure.


Avery – 08:53

So let’s talk about that U-turn for you.

So it’s really hard, like you said, to let go of a career that you’ve spent a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of emotional investment into it.

How did it feel for you to pivot?


Dr. V – 09:16

Well I will say I really set it up nicely and I believe in a higher power, I call it God, but prior to my leaving I started a podcast.

And it was only for the reason because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to spend with my patients and I wanted them to know certain things about their bodies, about certain conditions like heavy periods and painful periods.

And so I started that and my patient started to like it and I’m like oh okay this looks good this feels good and as I got ready to say you know what I think I want to go more into education and helping women build a life that looks like what they need and want and It was almost like I was walking

into that podcast world and into the community that I had built.

And so honestly, it felt really, really good.

I was telling one of my clients, it’s something about that resignation letter, like.

I love my job.


Dr. V – 10:22

I love my practice.

Great practice.

But I finally put in the resignation letter and I was, gosh, I had nine more months to work.

But that feeling of saying I’m leaving and here is my exit plan.

It just felt so free and immediately, immediately I was happy.

I was hopeful for the future.

Um, and so yeah, it felt great for me.


Dr. V – 10:45

The pivot was great.

So do you still practice as an OBGYN?


Avery – 10:48

Are you now a hundred percent focused on the wellness space?


Dr. V – 10:55

Yeah well I do something unique and I know like for nurses you all are traveling nurses and we call it locums so when yeah so when for your listeners you know let’s say your doctor went out on maternity leave and they needed someone to take care of their patients for six weeks they will call in a

physician like myself to fill in until your doctor gets back And so what I have done, which has worked out beautifully, is I’ve started to cover for some of the local doctors that are my colleagues.

So if they need to go out of town or heaven forbid, some of them get COVID, I am here to fill in the gap.

And guess what?

I don’t have to leave my home.

I’m still here with my family, which is really, really important to me.

And so, yes, I do that some of the time and then I also work on my business.


Dr. V – 11:46


So let’s talk a little bit more about that.


Avery – 11:49

Why did you decide to pivot?

What was missing besides the red flags of burnout knowing that you needed to change?


Dr. V – 12:00

You know what was missing?

For me, it really didn’t start With myself, I learned about lifestyle medicine, which is a newer branch of medicine that really focuses on teaching and empowering patients to use their lifestyle to prevent their disease and to treat or manage disease.

And when I learned about that, I was like, why is nobody talking about this?

This is prevention.

This is what we need to be doing.

And the more I would go to conferences and the more I learned, I was just like, this is what I need to be doing.

Um, I became a health coach and I started using some of those techniques in my practice and I was heading out to fill that void.


Dr. V – 12:46

Um, because you know, there, I, like I said, I love what I do.

I can deliver babies.

I can do surgeries, but there are also a lot of trained physicians who can do that.

And I really felt like.

There weren’t enough people focusing on empowering patients, which is education, which is telling them the data on, yeah, it really is better if you exercise and you can reverse diabetes.

Really, it’s a thing.

And so that’s what kind of got me going.


Dr. V – 13:16

And then when I looked into lifestyle medicine, I wasn’t doing half of the stuff I was supposed to be doing.

Like you’re supposed to be sleeping, you’re supposed to be spending time with your family and reducing your stress.

And so when I really embodied that, I said, you know what, this lifestyle that I’m living right now is not compatible with what I’m teaching my patients and what I want for them.

And so who needs to be the best example?

You know, I have to live it so that they can see it.

So true.


Avery – 13:49

I did about a year working in public health and worked with the patients that their doctors deemed as difficult or really heavy and had lots of things to manage and so I helped them navigate the system because that could be really tricky if you don’t know how it all works and how to get the kind of

help that you need but a lot of them were saying like yeah my doctor tells me that I need to lose weight but you know they’re 250 pounds so Yeah, I’ll get there when they get there.

And it’s just like, well, okay, but I’m not going to help you.

And it’s also, they just get thrown in this like, you need to lower your stress.

Okay, bye.

And you’re like, okay.

I know.


Avery – 14:32



And I don’t know about your training, but I know for me as a nurse, our one nutritional course was optional.


And I was like, so we’re working with people that have had heart attacks and strokes and all of these things that are linked to diet and stress and we’re not learning how to help them fix that or prevent it in the first place.

It’s just our healthcare systems are so reactionary.


Multiple speakers – 15:11

Drives me.


Dr. V – 15:14

That’s a lot, Avery, that is.

I will say I came out of medical school in 2002 and things are better now, they’re changing.

But yes, when I was a fourth year medical student, nutrition was an elective and it was an elective that you wanted because it was easy.

Not because you learned all this stuff, but it was one of the easier ones.

I intuitively have picked up some of this along the way and patients don’t want medicine anymore.

They’re starting to push back.

It really behooves those who are practicing now to meet the needs of the patient where they are.


Dr. V – 16:00

They’re like, I don’t want to be 250 pounds, so you need to help me figure out how.

And you’re right, our system is not really set up for the how, and even for the prevention.

You know, we’re just here to treat when you get diabetes and when you have that heart attack.

And that’s the generalization.

But for the most part, we really should probably do a pivot and be patient-centered and prevent disease.


Avery – 16:28

And when you look at traditional health systems, like if you go back into traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurvedic practices, especially in traditional Chinese medicine, you only paid your physician when you were healthy and you stopped paying them when you got sick because that showed that they

didn’t do their job properly.

And so then they have to support you back to the point where you’re healthy again.

So what if that dynamic could work now?


Dr. V – 16:59

It won’t, but… Well, yeah, they’re kind of doing something like that because now they’re switching over to a model where you get incentives if your patients are healthier.

So it’s not that you don’t get paid if they’re unhealthy, but if we see that all of your diabetics have an A1C three points higher than they should be, the insurance companies are not going to want to pay you.

They want to shift their patients to another provider that gets better outcomes.

So yeah, we’re, we’re kind of getting there.

It’s kind of, you know, value added healthcare.


Avery – 17:37

I would love if Canada also followed that lead.

We’re a little bit slower on the uptake on things like that.

It’s just too deep into it.

But yeah, that’s, that’s wonderful.

So tell me, What one thing do you feel made the most difference for you as you were really adopting this lifestyle that you wanted to model for your patients?

What was the key difference?

If someone could start with just one habit, One habit.


Avery – 18:12

Take your time.

I know I put you on the spot.

I could see the wheels turning and the smoke coming out.


Dr. V – 18:18

The wheels are turning.

I look, I’m very authentic.

You might have to edit out all the time it takes me because I really, it just started with the decision to know that I could do something different.

Um, Because before that, I really hadn’t given myself permission.

I can’t go exercise because I’ve got all of this work over here.

What was the first thing I did?

Like I said, I started doing the podcast and as I was transitioning out, I started working part-time.


Dr. V – 18:53

I started doing something on Facebook and walking every Saturday morning.

And I was on there just for educational purposes, but the walking actually, I enjoyed it.

I always felt better afterwards and I just really kind of transitioned that into embodying my own personal journey.

I also ran a half marathon in December of 2020 and I started walking.

I’m very goal oriented.

So when I decided I was going to do the half marathon, I started walking in February and it wasn’t until December that I actually ran it.

So yeah, just making time to walk, I would say is probably the first thing I did.


Multiple speakers – 19:33

I love that you talked about the mindset and the choice.


Avery – 19:37

Because often when we feel stuck, it is just stories that we continue to tell ourselves, the belief patterns that continue to run that.

But when we can take a step back from that and actually look for gaps in the day that maybe weren’t there before that we didn’t realize were there, it creates a huge difference.


Dr. V – 19:59

You can, you can.

And that’s what I’ve learned about the new health model that I’m creating is that Behavior changes are hard and lots of the healthy habits that are good for us you know we’re doing the exact opposite and we’ve been doing the exact opposite for a whole entire life and so it’s really going to take

more than just you know a pamphlet or a visit to the doctor and it does start with mindset it really starts with yes I can do this yes I deserve this and it seems very simple but you have got to get your mind right because There’s a challenge ahead when you try to build and create a life that

looks like what you want.

Our society is really not set up necessarily for you to put yourself first and your wants and desires.


Avery – 20:53

Yes, so true.

There’s a lot of learned behaviors that need to be rewritten, for sure.

So tell us a little bit Dr. Yee about how you work with people and how people can learn a little bit more about what you do.


Dr. V – 21:09

Oh, absolutely.

So I have a website office visits with Dr V is, um, office visits with drv.com and they can set up a coaching consult with me.

Um, but I do one-on-one coaching.

I am now pivoting.

I’m creating a model for a group setting.

Uh, and it’s going to be a nine month program broken down into trimester.

So cute.


Dr. V – 21:36

And so perfect for you.

I love that.


Yes, exactly.

So I’m going from birthing babies to birthing dreams and we’ll have three trimesters.

And so working with me means that we are having a space for being authentic and telling the truth.

And really focusing on what we need.


Dr. V – 21:58

Also, one thing that lifestyle medicine talks about is you have to have meaning in your life.

You have to have meaning.

That helps with your mental health.

And so identifying what your vision is for your life.

Okay, I don’t have a vision.

Okay, what am I good at?

What are your gifts?


Dr. V – 22:16

When we focus on that and we give you a purpose and meaning to your life then all of a sudden okay yes I have time and I want to be healthy and I want to spend time with my family and things fall into place so that’s what it looks like to work with me and you have to come ready to be honest but it’s

a space of no judgment and so there are people that look exactly like you that are doing some of the same things I promise you Even though, you know, I’m Dr V and I’m a physician, I promise you I’ve done some of the same things that you are doing.

And I’ve overcome it and I’m much happier for it.

So important.


Avery – 22:54


And that’s why I bring people onto this podcast is to have us realize that there are other people like us having similar mindset, hang ups, having similar issues and The challenges that people have to overcome because often we feel like we’re the only one.

That once we get into that conversation, once we get into a group setting and we share it and we’re just like, oh, you too?


Oh, you as well?


Speaker_00 – 23:23

All of us.

All of us.


Avery – 23:25

Oh, okay.


So it just like helps give your, it helps you give yourself that permission because now you realize that you’re not an outcast.


Dr. V – 23:36



So for my physicians who are listening, we would often have those conversations and talk about how miserable we were and how much sleep we haven’t had, but we didn’t do a thing to change it.

We didn’t do anything to change it.

And so I really want to create an avenue and a pathway out of that chaos and that toxicity.

Because I think sometimes people are very aware that things aren’t right, but they just are sometimes just scared to take that first step to get out of it.

Don’t even know how, don’t even know how to take that first step.


Avery – 24:17

The fear of the process can hold us back a lot because we don’t know what it looks like.

So if what Dr V has said has resonated with you, definitely go to their website.

I’ll link to it in the show notes as well.

And we’ll link to the podcast and some social media also.

Is there?



Multiple speakers – 24:37

Is there anything that you’d like to share before we let you go?


Dr. V – 24:43

I always finish with your spirit nose.

There is a little voice, a little whisper inside that knows what you need.

And we do not need to ignore that.

We do not need to ignore it.

Um, I know something that I’ve said has resonated.

And if you’re a listener of Amy’s podcast on a regular basis, she has all of that good information, but your spirit knows.

And once you acknowledge that you hear it, um, your life really can change.


Dr. V – 25:12

What a perfect way to wrap it up.


Avery – 25:14

I love that.

Thank you so much, Dr. B. I really appreciate everything that you shared today.

My pleasure.

Thank you for having me.

Hold please.

I know that these end of podcast blurbs are generally really repetitive and only say, make sure you’re subscribed.

But this isn’t like that.


Avery – 25:35

Today, I have a little habit challenge for you.

Before you sit down to do your next work block, I encourage you to take five slow deep breaths for five seconds on the inhale and five seconds on the exhale.

Doing this helps us turn off our stress switch which then regains access to our higher level thinking brain which is something that we talk about in the free course that’s included in the productivity partner app which helps you design your pre-work ritual.

And inside that productivity partner app, each day there’s a mini habit challenge where I take 60 seconds to explain something like this that you can do in your day to become even more effective and impactful as a high achiever.

You can try it for one week for free by going to thetruthaboutburnout.com.

Give nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Go give it a try!

In this episode Avery engages in a compelling conversation with Dr. Benita Varnado, affectionately known as Dr. V. Dr. V, a board-certified OBGYN and Lifestyle Medicine Physician, shares her inspiring journey from experiencing burnout to embracing a fulfilling life. The discussion touches upon the parallels between Avery’s burnout as an ICU nurse and Dr. V’s experience in OBGYN. Dr. V sheds light on her pivotal decision to transition to lifestyle medicine, emphasizing the need for preventive strategies. The creation of her podcast, “Office Visits with Dr. V,” becomes a platform to educate women about gynecological health, overall wellness, and purposeful living.

Throughout the episode, Dr. V candidly discusses her burnout red flags, including exhaustion and a sense of indifference. The mindset shift and decision-making process that led to her freedom from traditional medical practices are highlighted. Dr. V shares her unique approach, combining part-time OBGYN work with a wellness-focused business, showcasing flexibility and personal satisfaction.

The role of lifestyle medicine emerges as a key component in Dr. V’s journey, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to health. Listeners gain insights into Dr. V’s coaching methods, which prioritize authenticity, honesty, and a focus on individual visions and gifts. The episode concludes with Dr. V encouraging listeners to heed their inner voice, acknowledging their spirit’s guidance for positive life changes.