Job title: Co-founder and medical director, Park Integrative Health.
Why she’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: She bridges the gap between conventional and alternative medicine.
Dr. Neeja Bakshi grew up in a family that was science-minded yet spiritual — so she never thought of those two worlds as diametrically opposed.
“I come from an East Indian, Hindu family. My parents are very spiritual. My mother was a physician, my father was an engineer. We were exposed to home remedies if the illness wasn’t too severe — anything from meditation to things that my grandmother would make with turmeric. Things that didn’t taste very good, but you’d feel better the next day,” she says with a chuckle.
This heritage is part of what steered Bakshi to osteopathic medicine — a practice which is based on the belief that the body can heal itself and achieve balance — and to eventually open a medical clinic pairing Western and Eastern medicine.
The Pittsburgh native, a mother of twin girls, was working as a physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in late 2015 when she started having problems with back pain, weight gain, headaches and exhaustion.
Following in-depth conversations with her massage therapist and, eventually, a cofounder of the clinic, Brandon Jacobs, the idea for Park Integrative Health — a place where physicians and allied health practitioners could work under one roof — was born. The clinic opened its doors in Sherwood Park in 2017, and has served more than 4,000 patients so far.
“Colleagues would say, ‘Why are you going to do that?’” Bakshi says. “There’s a lot of assumptions, a lot of myths.”
Bakshi, who continues working at the Royal Alex, is hopeful that through education and awareness more people, the medical establishment included, will come around to a more holistic way of thinking.
“Health care is not just physical health. It’s emotional health, it’s physical health, it’s mental health and how all those factors actually contribute to the physical health of the patient.”