We’ve covered four of the six fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine so far. Now, we turn to the fifth (according to our own order, not that of the AANP House of Delegates Position Paper).
Anyway, here’s what that document has to say about this post’s subject:
“Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.”
Doctor-Patient Relationship and Patient Education
The limitation of the term “doctor” to indicate practitioners within the various disciplines of the medical field is a fairly recent phenomenon. In the academic world even today, “doctor” signifies what it originally meant, going back to its Latin source: teacher. In fact, the ancient Latin word for medical doctor is “medicus.”
Anyway, to be a doctor – in any discipline – is, firstly and fundamentally, to be a teacher of that discipline. Naturopathy highlights this aspect of a physician’s work, seeing the sharing of knowledge and wisdom as paramount among a practitioner’s duties.
This aspect of “doctor as teacher” flows from the doctor-patient relationship. The very fact that the doctor is envisioned as owing the patient a duty to teach presupposes on the part of the patient the ability to learn. In turn, this learning capacity implies personal responsibility. For this reason, naturopathy strongly insists upon the indispensable role of the patient in his or her own health and healing.
How Centers for Healing Applies these Principles
At my office in Scranton, northeast Pennsylvania, we are all about education, both of health professionals and of patients. My team members and I regularly attend continuing education conferences around the country, both to refresh our knowledge of fundamentals and to keep abreast of new developments.
Moreover, a big part of patient education is insisting upon each one’s personal responsibility for his or her health. The toxic world in which we live certainly is the cause of the health problems endured by many of our patients. However, what they do about those problems is up to them! My team can do much to address the causes of some of their ailments, but compliance with recovery and lifestyle directives is entirely in the hands of each individual. I often remind my patients with the simple reassurance: “Remember, it’s your health (mouth, body, life, etc.) that’s at stake here.”
Finally, all my patients are given my personal cell phone number. I call each one of them within 24 hours of any procedure to see how they’re doing. I don’t do house calls, but I do make emergency, after-hours appointments with patients in urgent need of care. Am I saying this to blow the fanfare in my own parade? Not at all. I’m simply saying that I take my responsibilities as doctor/teacher very seriously. Frankly, I don’t see how I could do otherwise.
I hope you enjoy these blogposts, all of which are an extension of my work as a teaching doctor!
All the best,
Dr. Blanche Grube