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Conversations with the Inspiring Dr. Kim Bell, DPT

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Kim Bell, DPT.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My journey with dizziness and vertigo started when I was a child. I used to have intermittent, debilitating episodes of dizziness and vertigo, so my mother would take me to the emergency room for care. I saw many different doctors and was prescribed many different medications, but no one ever identified the root cause of my problems with dizziness and vertigo. I have been to the emergency room at least 20+ times for emergency care related to this problem so it was an invisible disability that affected all areas of my life. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy since 2002, I have specialized in learning how to assess the root cause and resolve dizziness, vertigo, balance problems and falls in order to improve my own quality of life and rescue other people like me. I opened my Specialty physical therapy practice in 2014 to rescue misunderstood and mismanaged people with dizziness, vertigo, balance problems, and falls. I make house calls all over San Diego County and the surrounding areas to take care of my patients in the comfort of their own home.

In my free time, I write and play music. I recently started a second business, my own Record Label called “Sister Kimberley Records” and I will be releasing my first original music album soon! The website is sisterkimrecords.com.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One thing I struggled with along the way is trying to do everything myself. I am very capable and a fast learner, so I started off doing my own bookkeeping, I built my own website, I designed my own flyers and newsletters, and I posted on social media myself. All that was in addition to providing direct patient care and executive-level business planning. Even though I was capable of performing all those roles and tasks, I realized that I was wearing myself out and I was not sleeping enough to stay healthy. About a year after I started my business, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune problem and I realized that I had to start delegating some of my administrative and marketing tasks. If I did not particularly enjoy something and the task did not require my specific, unique skill set, then I found someone else I could hire to help me. For example, I outsourced my social media, my email newsletter, and my website design. I also hired a professional bookkeeper. Additionally, I hired a per diem physical therapist to help me cover patient cases, so I did not have to see all the patients myself. Through this process, I learned that building a talented team is an important investment for the long haul – I do not have to do everything myself!

I also learned the value of seeking mentorship. I requested and was assigned a business mentor through both SCORE and the Small Business Administration. I also followed up on leads in the business community as they presented themselves, asking for input and guidance from business people I met and admired. I learned I don’t have to take everyone’s advice because sometimes, it is not right, but I can certainly ask for their honest feedback and opinion.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an expert at analysis and resolution of complaints of vertigo, dizziness, imbalance and falls for people of all ages. My brand is “Kim Bell Physical Therapy” and I have been the Clinical Leader of the San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force for well over a decade. Within the healthcare community, I am known as a leading expert, an educator and an outspoken advocate for better care for people with dizziness, vertigo, balance problems, and falls. Too many people fall through the cracks of the healthcare system with those problems. I believe the reason is because the traditional Western medical model breaks the body down into systems, with providers like Ophthalmologists, Cardiologists, Neurologists, ENTs, Podiatrists, etc. Problems with dizziness, vertigo, imbalance, and falls often occur across multiple body systems, so a patient can spend months to years going from one provider to the next without anyone taking a comprehensive look at the big picture. That’s why I developed my own unique methodology for analyzing these problems, called “The Bell Method.”

After taking an extensive 30-minute history by phone, I spend about two hours performing a comprehensive hands-on physical examination to assess all body systems and determine the root cause of the uncomfortable symptoms. If the problem is with the inner ear vestibular system, the brain, the feet or the bladder, then I can provide treatment to resolve the issues. If I determine the root cause to be with another body system like the visual system or cardiovascular system, then I make excellent referrals to a network of Specialty providers I trust. After my exam, if I think someone needs an MRI or EKG, I refer them to a medical doctor to order the necessary diagnostic tests. By providing expert-level care, offering house calls and spending extensive time with my patients, I am breaking out of the mold of traditional healthcare, but I have many, many happy and healthy patients to verify that I am on the right track. My goal is to help people get their life back!

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
My sister is a source of inspiration for me because she is a Nurse Practitioner and she started a tutoring business for nursing students while she was a stay-at-home mom. Now that her children are older, she has a thriving full-time business! Her small company is now competing with nationally known tutoring services and getting better pass rates on the nursing license exam. She showed me that if I have a good idea which meets the needs of specific people and I deliver it with integrity and consistency day after day, it will organically grow.

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