I am fortunate these changes were not imposed upon me. There are several doctors who are forced by state and regulatory boards, hospitals and sometimes lawyers to unwillingly take a new and different path. Usually this reflects a doctor sullied by poor judgment, a broken rule or a criminal action.
Each movement towards the doctor I am today has been of my own accord and by maintaining an eye on the potential we find around us daily.
As a part of this transition, I find myself moving towards a style of medicine (which in my opinion) best assimilates the multiple different modalities that can come together in the delivery of medical care. For many care providers today, the practice of medicine has become sadly compartmentalized into many smaller components. A doctor may specialize in allergy testing and do nothing but this all day. Another may be a crack-shot with a procedure, such as an interventional cardiologist or a transplant specialist. So strong is the lure of sub specialized, procedure-based medicine that Medical Schools are having to practically coerce graduates into a career of Family or Primary Care Medicine.
Too often the medical specialist is only looking at a part of the patient. A component of the myriad number of factors that may be contributing to the patient’s health or state of wellness. This results partly from the fractionated and isolation of the various medical specialties. And partly from the pressures of in-network delivery of care reflected in decreasing reimbursement, decreasing options for testing and treatment and shortened appointment times. The physician is being forced to shuttle the patients through the clinic, with a limited time to really appreciate the complexities of the patient’s presentation.
This is where “modern” medicine begins to fall apart.
The human body is an amazing organism. And with the advent of the Human Genome Project and the Gut Microbiome project, we are getting more and more insight into the factors which influence our state of both health and disease. And the consensus is – things are complex. It is becoming apparent that the human physiology and psyche is a function of both our internal and external environments. And within this myriad association of factors rests the expression of our genetics.
We are a part of a giant web. This web winds both through our bodies, our genetics, our environment and our outward expression of health.
The current paradigm of medical care with brief visits, imposed treatment algorithms and symptom-based approaches to treatment pay little homage to the complexity of the underlying systems. We as physicians need to be able to ask the right questions, obtain the correct testing and prescribe treatments that not only counter symptoms but address the etiology and origins of the condition.
A comprehensive look at the workings of the body and the ability to practice with fewer constraints on time, treatment options and creativity have led to my current path as a Functional Medicine physician. I am now able to honor the teachings of the many brilliant predecessors who have come before me, while keeping an eye on the future that is being borne out in the clinical labs and patient regions around the world.
A more forward thinking and inclusive approach to medicine is rooted in looking to the natural world. The methods, mechanisms and opportunities that our bodies have to heal. This is the realm of the naturopathic physician.
I am not disparaging the wonders and opportunities of modern medicine. If I were to rupture my appendix this evening, I assure you that I will gladly take a general anesthetic, surgical treatment and the appropriate antibiotics to keep me alive. Two centuries ago such a diagnosis was almost fatal. But what about other medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancers? Could there be a way to remedy these chronic conditions without turning to expensive, invasive and often “after-the-fact” treatments?
We have the science and understanding to harness the powers of healing that are found in the natural world in the forms of herbs, nutrients and foods. Herbs and natural medicines have been used for millennia. Now these culturally-based approaches to healing are being supported with science and clinical studies.
We can begin to realize the healing potential of the human body when we are fully able to assimilate both the wonders and technologies of modern medicine with the essential contribution of diet, herbs and nutrition.
Am I an allopathic physician or a naturopathic physician? Maybe the best approach to medical care is a blend of both.
Dr. Scott Resnick