Double or nothing

A winning pair: This brother DO duo went from wrestling to wellness

Brothers Karl Nadolsky, DO, and Spencer Nadolsky, DO, blend their wrestling background with health care advocacy, combating misinformation through their podcast and collaborative efforts.

National Brothers’ Day is May 24. In advance of this special day, our May DOs to Know column takes great pride in spotlighting two remarkable brothers. Meet Karl Nadolsky, DO, and Spencer Nadolsky, DO, a dynamic duo of osteopathic physicians whose journey is nothing short of inspiring. Raised in a family deeply rooted in education and athletics, their passions for health care and sports were nurtured from a young age. Both excelled as Division 1 wrestlers during their undergraduate years.

Karl attended Nova Southeastern University Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM) and later specialized in endocrinology, while Spencer attended Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) and completed a residency in family medicine.

Join us as we delve deeper into their fascinating story, from their impactful podcast combating health misinformation to their involvement with Weight Watchers, and their invaluable insights on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Tell us about your background and your paths to osteopathic medicine.

Karl: We grew up with a keen interest in science, especially human biology, and athletics. Our father was a high school science teacher with a focus on biology and was a multisport collegiate athlete who continued coaching during his teaching career.

This environment encouraged our scientific and athletic interests to merge as we went through all phases of our education, from high school through undergraduate and medical school, followed by residency training and fellowship.

Our mother (following her parents’ footsteps) was also an educator, so our academic focus was a priority since childhood. She encouraged us from young ages to consider careers in health care or similar fields and, as a second-grade schoolteacher who was embarrassed by our poor penmanship, specifically suggested we become physicians!

Spencer Nadolsky, DO, and Karl Nadolsky, DO

Her younger sister, our Aunt MJ, was a cardiologist and provided more mentorship as we approached the time to pursue post-graduate education and career options. While she had become an MD, her partner was an anesthesiologist and pain specialist who had gone the route of osteopathic medicine and educated us on this path in medicine.

As the older brother, I was first to begin exploring these options and was on the varsity wrestling team at Michigan State University (MSU) at the time. MSU famously has both DO and MD medical schools.

During my time on the wrestling team, we had a team of sports medicine physicians who evaluated and treated us. The majority of these docs were osteopathic physicians also associated with the medical schools. My experiences with them stimulated further interest in the osteopathic medicine pathway, as it seemed to align very well with my background interests of sports, nutrition and exercise.

Spencer: I originally wanted to go to East Carolina University. Not because of how great of a school it was, but because it was the cheapest in the nation and I wanted to have very little debt after graduating. Not to mention that is where my aunts and mom lived. However, with my brother going the osteopathic route, I applied to a few osteopathic schools in the surrounding area, including VCOM.

VCOM at the Virginia Tech campus was desirable because it was a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of wrestling (I was just graduating from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where I wrestled) and I could still work out with their wrestling team and their program had a keen focus on biomechanics and sports medicine. I ended up attending VCOM, and the rest is history.

You are both passionate about exercise, nutrition and weight loss. How did that start, and how have you used your knowledge in those areas to help your patients?

Karl: With my background in athletics, I was always very interested in sports nutrition and exercise. As medical school approached, it became very clear that those interests would be well-translated into caring for patients who have (or are at risk of having) obesity with related disease.

I first heard about endocrinology as a specialty when I was talking to our Aunt MJ, the cardiologist. We were discussing what we had learned about nutrition, insulin, muscle health and adiposity when she noted, “Oh, it sounds like you would be interested in endocrinology!” I had not really even heard of it at that point.

Later, during the initial endocrinology month at NSU-KPCOM, I noticed that many of my friends and peers found the information confusing, but I was very drawn to it. It made a lot of sense to me and set the foundation for my future training.

Spencer: Many people figured I would like to help athletes, but it wasn’t really fulfilling helping people go from a 315-pound bench press to a 405-pound bench press. I just wanted people to start lifting weights and working out in the first place to help treat and prevent chronic disease. Helping people vastly improve their quality of life with lifestyle was and is extremely fulfilling. 

The “Docs Who Life” podcast logo featuring the brothers.

Your passions have led you to start your very own podcast, Docs Who Lift. What does this podcast primarily focus on, and what are your goals for the future?

Karl: This podcast is primarily geared toward patients. It provides lifestyle education and information about disease states, like obesity and related disease, hormones and other related topics. With so much mis- and disinformation out there on social media, we felt like it was our duty to provide an honest platform with evidence-based discussions on topics that we have expertise in. We also bring on expert guests to discuss other health topics.

You have done some work with Weight Watchers recently. Tell us more about how that collaboration started and what you have worked on together.

Spencer: I have been in the nutrition and fitness online world since the year 2000. I have been very interested in how the internet can be used efficiently to spread health and medical information. After medical school and during residency, I saw how efficient the standard medical clinic was. I felt like I was helping more people by sharing information on Facebook during my lunch break than I did after a whole day of clinic.

A startup company, SteadyMD, came to me because I had a decent social media following, and they said I could have my followers as patients via telemedicine. So, I quit my in-person practice and went all online. This was in 2016. After that, I worked with various health and nutrition companies when another startup opportunity came.

A couple of engineers found me on Twitter and wanted to start a telemedicine obesity platform. I had always wanted to do that, so we jumped right in. This program was called Sequence. Because of my social media skills, we were able to grow very quickly within a year.

Weight Watchers reached out because they wanted me on their scientific advisory board, and this is when I told them about the telemedicine program. They looked into it and loved it and decided to buy it. That’s when I became the medical director for Weight Watchers.

How have you found time for exercise and proper nutrition for yourselves, from medical school to now? Any recommendations for medical students on ways to balance school and fitness?

Karl: As it has always been a priority for us growing up, we both were committed to staying healthy, even when our lives got busier. We both feel it is critical to practice what we preach, and we want all of our patients to focus on their nutrition and physical activity along with other healthy lifestyle habits. We also moved on from caring mostly about sports performance to our own long-term health, which is what we are helping our patients with as physicians.

Being Division 1 athletes prior to medical school set us up to successfully balance our academics with consistent exercise habits. We modified our goals with the understanding that consistency was key and getting in some form of exercise daily is easily achieved when considered in the larger context of medical school’s time requirements. At the same time, our interests in nutrition and health as the driving force in our future practice of medicine supported our efforts to maintain good dietary habits through medical school.

What will you be covering on your podcast in the near future?

Karl: We frequently share updated information on obesity and cardiometabolic health, especially on medications that can be taken in addition to nutrition, due to the constant influx of misinformation on social media.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

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