Fortunately, none of these changes were imposed upon me. Sadly 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 is the reflection of a doctor sullied by poor judgment, a broken rule, or a criminal action. For the record none of these categories have influenced my career direction. I have never had a speeding ticket I have had maybe three parking tickets in my life, and certainly never a run-in with the state medical board or local men in blue. Each movement towards the doctor I am today has been of my own accord, and by maintaining an eye on the great potential that we find around us each day.
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 fractionated 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 these days have 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 in part from the fractionation and isolation of the various medical specialties, and in part from the pressures of in-network delivery of care reflected in decreasing reimbursement, decreasing options for testing and treatment, and shortened appointment times. Basically 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 the place where “modern” medicine begins to fall apart.
There is little debate that the human body is an amazing organism, and with the advent of the Human Genome Project, and more recently 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, well, that things are pretty complex. More and more 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.
Sadly, the current paradigm of medical care, with cursory visits, imposed treatment algorithms, and symptom-based approaches to treatment (often long after the proverbial horse has left the barn) pay little homage to the complexity of the underlying systems. To fully appreciate the multitudinous workings that must be considered to care for a human body, we as physicians need to be able to ask the right questions, to obtain the correct testing, and to prescribe treatments that not only counter symptoms, but address the etiology and origins of the condition.
It is through taking a comprehensive look at the workings of the body, and the ability to practice with fewer constraints on time, treatment options and creativity, that I have found my current path as a Functional Medicine physician. In making this change, I am 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 wards around the world.
A more forward thinking and inclusive approach to medicine is rooted in looking to the natural world, and the methods, mechanisms and opportunities that our bodies have to heal. This is the realm of the naturopathic physician. For sure I am not disparaging the wonders and opportunities of modern medicine. Should I be so unfortunate 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. Not two centuries ago such a diagnosis was almost uniformly 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?
The answer is yes. 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 solid bench science and well-designed clinical studies.
When we are fully able to assimilate both the wonders and technologies of modern medicine with the essential contribution of diet, herbs and nutrition, we can then truly begin to realize the healing potential of the human body. Am I an allopathic physician or a naturopathic physician? Maybe the best approach to medical care is an amalgam of both.
Dr. Scott Resnick
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