"One of the first duties of a physician is to educate the masses not to take medication."
-Sir William Osler, Founding Physician at John Hopkins Hospital
Even in the late 1800s, progressive doctors knew it was better to treat people naturally than relying on "snake oil" or "miracle cures." The current prescription drug crisis regarding opioids and benzodiazepines is just a symptom of the challenges patients face when looking for safe, reliable healthcare. And nobody can say we weren't warned. The average American sees nine pharmaceutical drug commercials each day and every one of those advertisements has a laundry list of side effects that includes death. Humans didn't evolve in a world of artificial substances, nor were we manufactured by pharmaceutical drug companies. We were born from the earth and energized by stars. We're natural beings. Mother Nature holds the secrets to our health, longevity, and overall quality of life.
No doctor is ideal for everyone. I'm very clear about this fact. There are certain types of patients I can help extremely well. Others will be better off looking elsewhere, and I'm happy to facilitate that journey for them. Some personalities simply don't work well together and certain philosophies, unless shared, can bring discord between the doctor and patient. Since compliance with a treatment program is monumental in determining a successful outcome, it's vital for both doctor and patient to work together as a team. They should share certain core beliefs and treat each other with respect.
That being said, Mayo Clinic recently performed a study to discover the top seven traits patients looked for in a doctor. After 192 interviews they determined that the ideal doctor is:
- Confident: My doctor makes me feel confident in the treatment plan.
- Empathetic: My doctor truly listens to me and I feel understood.
- Humane: My doctor truly cares about me as a person.
- Personal: My doctor knows more about me than just my health issues.
- Forthright: My doctor communicates directly and doesn't sugar coat.
- Respectful: My doctor treats me as a person of value.
- Thorough: My doctor spends the proper time and effort on my behalf.
These are indeed amazing traits to have in a doctor. They're also difficult to accomplish on an average 7-11 minute office visit. Thankfully, there are many doctors that go the extra mile to be phenomenal examples of what a healer ought to be. Personally, I'd like to add that being committed to "first do no harm" should be included at the top of the list, as well as "licensed in good standing." And why did they leave out "witty, charming, articulate, honest, punctual, lacks halitosis and maintains good personal hygiene?" Perhaps they were embarrassed to include them for some reason...
Unfortunately for me, the the qualities of "endearingly dry sense of humor" and "dashing smile" also narrowly missed the top seven.
For all the effort that has gone into a researching what traits comprise an ideal doctor, few if any studies have been published on the makeup of the ideal patient. Patients, like doctors, are diverse. They come from every background, culture, socioeconomic status and belief system. But are there any particular traits that great patients have in common? My own view of an ideal patient is rather simple: it's someone who is honest with me, open-minded, dedicated to learning and committed to self-improvement. But if I had to guess what most most big hospitals would choose, I'd wager their top seven list version of their ideal patient would be slightly different. It would probably sound something like:
- Has an amazing insurance plan
- Is willing to sit patiently for many hours in waiting rooms
- Doesn't question the traditional healthcare system
- Happily takes multiple pharmaceutical medications
- Enjoys being subjected to expensive medical tests
- Loves to repeatedly repeat redundant previously stated information on multiple different medical forms
And the big one:
- Never gets healthy!
And, did I mention, has an amazing insurance plan? Actually, if we had to boil the list down to a single item, that would be the one.
Even if that list was a joke, the potential side effects of prescription drugs are no laughing matter. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were over 64,000 deaths directly caused by prescription drugs in 2016 alone. For perspective, That's twice the size of the town I grew up in, including Northern Michigan University. Goodbye Marquette, Michigan. Farewell to NMU. And those are only the deaths that were reported, not including the extra hospitalizations and medical care needed to deal with the long list of side effects. The full extent of the recent opioid and benzodiazepine crisis is only beginning to surface. It's a scary thought to go to a doctor to relieve pain and end up dying of a stroke, heart attack or other organ failure due to side effects that we know about but tend to ignore when we let pharmaceutical drug companies gamble our lives away for profit. As they say in Vegas, the house always wins. I guess that makes the public the losers.
That's why I prefer to stick to mother nature. I use safe, natural products that build the immune system and relieve symptoms while removing toxins from the body. The body is made to heal and when it's given the proper building blocks, it does a great job of that. To successfully treat the root causes of disease, it makes sense to use substances that literally grew from roots.
Regardless of the traits that make a patient like their doctor, can we agree that the ideal doctor is someone who is: 1) not beholden to special interests, and: 2) doesn't kill you in the attempt to make you feel better?
Thankfully, there is a growing number of natural medicine doctors to choose from. They realize that medicine is both a science and an art. The ability to help people heal boils down to how skillful and intuitive the doctor is, compiled with their beliefs about what healthcare ought to be. They practice ethically, morally and without the regulation of special interests who put the value of their stockholders over the safety of their consumers. As yourself, does your doctor's philosophy about healing resonate with your vision? Keep this in mind when choosing who to trust your health to.
In good health!