An Interview with Dr. Lori Stevic-Rust
Dr. Lori Stevic-Rust is a Clinical Health Psychologist, an award-winning keynote speaker, the author of five books, and a national healthcare consultant. Holding a doctoral degree in psychology, Dr. Stevic-Rust has both written and spoken on topics ranging from depression to heart disease and aging.
Currently serving as the Director of Integrative Medicine and Senior Services for Lake Health Hospital as well as the National Director of Clinical and Operational Programming for Artower Advisory Services, Dr. Stevic-Rust is one of the highest regarded members of the Northeastern Ohio medical community.
When did you know you wanted to be in the medical field?
I think that I knew from an early age that I would enter healthcare in some way. One of my earliest childhood memories was being in a hospital and being held down for an invasive medical procedure. I was crying, scared and in pain. I didn’t understand what was happening. As I was crying and yelling, I have a vivid image of a woman with long blonde hair, wearing a white lab coat and smelling like baby powder coming into the room. She spoke softly, stroked my hair and told me what was going to happen. She made me laugh and relax throughout the procedure. It was my first conscious association between a white lab coat and comfort. I never forgot that experience with Dr. Theresa. It was at that time that I came to fully appreciate the powerful healing effects of compassion and kindness. I knew I wanted to be part of a profession that could support people through their most painful experiences.
How did you decide to practice with a holistic approach? What inspired you to go this route instead of traditional medicine?
I always loved science and particularly was intrigued by how the brain and the body worked together. The separation of mental health and physical health never made sense to me. The research and science are very clear that we are holistic beings—what we think and feel influences the body and overall health and what happens to our body systems influence our mental well-being. As a health psychologist, my approach to care, training and consulting has always been through the lens of holistic integration—seeing the entire person. Holistic health is about understanding the social situation that a person lives inadequate food, safety, and social connections as well as mental and physical well-being.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in your career?
Starting a non-profit organization in my grandmother’s memory called Nana’s Tribe Foundation. The mission is to bring seniors and youth together to eliminate isolation and bias through generational connections that foster learning and inspires purpose.
Which of your five books are you most proud of?
My very first book The Stop Smoking Workbook gave me my first interview on the Morning Exchange when I was 9 months pregnant. It was my introduction to being a media contributor— I have continued in that role for the past 26 years.
The Heart Therapy book was published internationally with translated copies sold in Poland and India. It was endorsed by Larry King form the Larry King Live Show. He wrote us a personal note of appreciation as he had just had a heart attack himself and found the book “healing.”
Treating Depression in the Medically Ill was our first textbook that was used for training courses. It took several years to write but the writing process left me with many great memories as my co-authors/dear friends spent many long weekends together locked in hotel rooms —-writing.
Greedy for Life started out as a “walk down memory lane” with my dear Nana! We spent many days laughing, crying and reminiscing. She was by my side as we traveled and talked to readers and signed books together. The title of the book is her philosophy of life! We started Greedy for Life part 2 before she died. The notes are still in a drawer.
Put on your Big Girl Shoes was one of the hardest and most rewarding books to write. I had the opportunity to meet and have meaningful, raw and at times painful conversations with many amazing women. Telling the stories of another was very difficult-making sure to capture the details and then put them together in a way that would be meaningful to the reader. Interviewing these courageous women was truly life-changing for me. Endorsed by Madeleine Albright (former Secretary of State)
So, I really don’t know how to answer the question of “most proud”—each book taught me different lessons and left me with unique memories.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I am very fortunate to have been raised by loving parents—I have two supportive sisters, an amazing husband, and two beautiful grown daughters. But the most influential person in my life was my grandmother. She passed away last year at the age of 105yo. She had an amazing mind and compassionate heart right up to the time she took her last breath at home with us. She believed in the power of gratitude and empathy. She led her life armed with both and she inspired others to do the same. Her philosophy for a long and happy life was to Live Greedy for Life—this meant to absorb and savor every moment that life gives us and remain hungry and greedy for more. This philosophy became the title of a book we wrote together.
Many of our clients suffer from debilitating injuries and/or medical conditions and are on disability for the rest of their lives. Do you have any general health tips for our readers? (Any mantras you always say or things you consistently recommend to patients/people?)
Chronic and debilitating conditions take a toll not only on the body but on emotions and social relationships. My guidance is to make sure that all elements are being cared for and nurtured. When our mood is better and we feel socially connected, coping with and navigating life with chronic illness is improved.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel privileged to have a career where I am able to support, nurture and be with people during their most vulnerable moments in life. Knowing that something I said or did may have made a difference in their life in some small way makes me feel proud.
Read more about Dr. Lori on her website.