Naturally Engaging Patients

I spent some time with a Naturopathic Physician recently, when after receiving blood work, my regular Doctor suggested a prescription that I would likely be on for the rest of my life and which would include multiple side effects requiring further prescriptions. 

The first thing I did after hearing this disheartening news was begin researching my particular issue online. I was disgusted by the number of self-help gurus selling their books and instant fixes for “one low price,” but for whatever reason I sat through ads, videos and articles claiming to heal me.

I am pretty good at taking things with a grain (or several) of salt, so that’s what I did. What I found out is that I need to stay away from things like saturated fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol and a multitude of other things. I don’t really understand though, how someone that has never met me, can advise me on these wonderful fixes, with only the results of one blood test and based on the diagnoses of “XYZ.”

Following my research, I contacted a local Naturopathic Physician in town that recently wrote a book. Before my appointment, he also told me to read his book, but he was far more believable and sincere explaining that much of his book discusses several of the issues that I am facing. This is my own PHI I’m talking about, so I’m going to leave out the details and let you dear reader just continue to wonder what’s up with me. Anyway, I bought the book and have been reading it. In addition to being extremely informative, it is entertaining, thank goodness. I would have a terrible time reading it if it didn’t poke fun at itself and its authors among other things.

I also scheduled an appointment and saw him for one quick test, a hair test. Before the test however, he asked me what my symptoms were. I told him those and the diagnoses of “XYZ” and he explained how the blood tests I had taken were read, specifically how the diagnoses is determined in modern medicine and how the various medications offered would affect my body.

In fifteen minutes I learned more about my own health than I have in ever actually going to see an MD. Not that MDs are bad, maybe I just haven’t had good luck. Sure, I now have two very small “bald patches” somewhere on my head and that’s somewhat concerning, but it will grow back, and hopefully it will grow back without the pomp and circumstance of gray hair. That is, once I find my way back to health.

While I was at my appointment I had a chance to talk to Dr. Smith. What I really like about his methodology is that everything he preaches, suggests or advises is something he has tried on himself—not just other patients, but him, and in many instances his wife and kids. Generally speaking he suggests a lot of lifestyle and diet changes. He is also a proponent of the right kind of supplements. He is extremely believable and engaging because he takes the time to try his “cures” on himself. If something doesn’t work, he adjusts it. He schedules regular appointments with patients until the patient actually feels better. He treats the underlying cause of issues and helps patients work through them. He is part psychologist, listening completely to his patients and part doctor and educator, helping people to truly become engaged in their own healthcare.

There is certainly something to be said for this level of patient engagement. It’s not only cerebral, but emotional. And every good salesperson knows, emotions drive sales. He didn’t tell me, “take this pill and call me in the morning,” instead he suggested options, opportunities, and shared his experience and ideas on things that would best help me. He didn’t push any of them on me, instead he empowered me to make my own decisions, based on what would work best for me. The conversation was natural. Hopefully the healing will be as well.