A year ago, Dr. Wendy Pollock took a year off from her chiropractic and homeopathic health-care practice to explore alternative medicine systems in California and in Tanzania. What she discovered was that Maine, with its “ incredible network” of compassionate and innovative caregivers, is a leader in changing the way alternative care is practiced and delivered.
Pollock, 58, who has been a health-care practitioner in Portland since 1984, is certainly part of that change. Three years ago, she created a network of health-care providers, the “Turn the Tide Health Collaborative,” to provide alternative care to people without health-care insurance.
Pollock grew up in western Massachusetts in a family where thinking outside the box and coming up with innovative solutions were the norm. While she thought about medical school, she realized that applied kinesiology and chiropractic medicine, which treat the body in a holistic way, were more in line with her philosophy.
An avid hiker, kayaker and yoga practitioner, Pollock believes strongly that alternative medicine, particularly homeopathy – the utilizing of minute amounts of natural substances to treat imbalances in mental, emotional and physical health – is the medicine of the future. She says she has seen it work wonders in cases where traditional medicine was not working – including with her son, who is now 25. That’s why she is passionate about making sure it is available to as many people as are interested in pursuing it.
While Pollock was involved in founding Turn the Tide, she has handed the reins to others in order to do what she does best: provide hands-on care in her private practice at Inner Shores in Portland.
“I realized my gift was in the doing,” she says. “I love helping people with serious problems, like chronic Lyme or chronic fatigue, get better.”
What do you think are the top characteristics of an innovator – a woman who breaks the mold?
Being passionate about what you pursue, being an “out-of-the-box” thinker and problem solver. Being persistent, not being deterred by a lot of no’s before the yeses start coming. Taking the devil’s advocate position yourself, to consider from the outset what has made previous ventures fail. Finding solutions before problems start, and having good mentors. These are the innovative characteristics that make mold breakers.
Who are your role models?
Pema Chodron, who offers a model of being fully present in the world and remaining centered in the storms of life. Gandhi, who told us to be the change we wish to see in the world and who accomplished great change peacefully. My mom, Anna Bean Pollock, who has led a very full life in her 90 years, successfully rewritten rules for women and unabashedly crossed gender boundaries countless times.
Do you or have you had a mentor, and how significant has this person been in helping you achieve your goals?
Women colleagues and friends have been informal mentors to me over the years, and have offered enormous support and encouragement.
Have you been thwarted by sexism at any point?
A I was one of 30 women in a class of 150 when I went to chiropractic school in the Midwest in 1980; one-third of the students did not pass the first semester. Sexism ruled. Ever a rebel, I risked being flunked to speak up for my beliefs in equality of sex and race.
What can mothers do to encourage breaking-the-mold thinking in their daughters?
Lead by example, listen more than try to teach your daughter, follow your dreams and pursue your passions.