Leap Year Jump Number 2

By Terri Pena MD

Jump #2

The year 2012, you may recall, was a leap year. It also was my year to take a major leap. The moment I turned in my resignation as an employee of a large health care system felt like a complete free-fall – a knot-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach, having-no-idea-where-the-bottom-is, and knowing-it-is-going-to-hurt-when-you-land kind of fall. After more than 20 years in health care, I wasn’t out to commit professional suicide; I simply felt forced to leave an environment where I was disheartened and felt I was making little difference as a doctor and a health care leader.

Now it’s 2016, a leap year, and I’m taking another leap! I recently realized that if I ever wanted to practice medicine the way I’ve dreamed of practicing, it was time to take the jump. I became a certified Functional Medicine physician – a 2-½ year process that expanded, shifted, and created my new mindset on health and illness. Through this training, my mind was reawakened to the power of prevention and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. In Functional Medicine, I came to understand the value of an approach that examines and corrects imbalances and focuses on lifestyle. I finally felt like I was part of a collective wellness mindset – one that moves at the pace of science and is evidence-informed, one that embraces food as medicine, and one that upholds a healthy lifestyle as the foundation of living well. During this journey, I also came to recognize the insanity of medicine as I had previously known it, and as is well-illustrated by this quote:


“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,

but expecting different results.“


This was exactly how I felt when I walked away from my position in a larger health care system. The system wasn’t going to change. So, I left to do things differently. I left to achieve results for my patients by finding new ways of thinking about health and wellness and by developing new strategies to help my patients live their best life. And interestingly, in the wake of the ruckus that was made by my first big leap out of conventional healthcare, I began to live my best life too. And I learned this:

If the only way is to make a ruckus, then so be it. Let’s make a ruckus!

Welcome to Ruckus Wellness.


  • Dr. Pena,
    I was so sad (more like devastated) when I called for an appointment as previous practice unnamed and you were gone. Since then I’ve Googled you ever few months or so until today I found you! You were the first doctor I felt I really connected with and that was because you were so honest with me. I didn’t like all of what I heard but after I left I thought “why didn’t anyone else in the last 20 years say that?”. I was so motivated. I started eating better and joined Cross Fit. I was excited for my next appointment to show off how well I was doing. So I’m very happy I found you b/c I seem to need another dose of reality these days. I won’t lie though – I was hoping to find you in a clinic setting – only for financial reasons. Insurance really does come in handy since I’m already paying for it. That said; I completely understand, respect, and applaud your stepping out of the standard healthcare model. I know what you are doing is right. I’m just not sure when I’ll be able to afford to see you. I want the big plan but may have to settle for the little one. Best of luck making a ruckus! We need more of it!
    Thank you,

    • Hi Tara,

      It is really good to hear from you and you are very sweet in your compliments! And you are doing CrossFit!! I’m so happy for you and pleased that you are getting you health on! I am planning on putting on some courses in the very near future so check back in or better yet, like my Ruckus Wellness on FaceBook for updates and to sign up for my newsletter which is launching March 1st!

      Dr. Terri

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