The best medicine: how and why to build a care team that serves you
As a provider, I’m sometimes asked one of a few roundabout questions about the medicine I practice in relation to conventional medicine. I think what people want to know is the impossible answer to the question: “which medicine in better?”
Well, here’s a secret: No single medical provider has all the answers. And similarly, no medical tradition has all the answers. Where a conventional doctor’s expertise leaves off, a naturopathic doctor’s picks up; and where a biomedical framework falls short, Chinese medicine shines.
A recent trend, even among hospital systems, is to bring together many medical traditions–conventional biomedicine, Chinese medicine, naturopathic medicine, and clinical psychology, to name just a few–so that patients can benefit from multiple approaches. The “which medicine is better” question is replaced with “why choose only one medicine?”
A patient can have an MD specialist who is clear about the best pharmaceutical or surgical options, while a naturopathic doctor can provide support in the form of nutritional supplementation, herbal medicine, or dietary and lifestyle advice. Add to the team a Chinese medicine practitioner who will use a completely separate medical framework, offering a novel approach through herbal medicine, acupuncture and potentially many other tools. With a little communication, the practitioners can support each other to provide improved care to their patient.
Even if you’re not a part of a hospital system, you can build your own care team. All it takes is developing long-term working relationships with your practitioners and informing them of each other. Here are a few tips for developing your own care team:
- It’s ok to shop around for providers. When you find someone you like, stick with them.
- Let your providers know who else is in your care team. Many of us love to work with other providers!
- Expect your practitioners to respect each other, even if they might disagree about some things.
- Bring a current list of all your medications to your visits, including supplements and dosages.
- If you receive a lot of different medical advice, remember that you are the one in charge–you get to choose which recommendations to follow, just be keep your providers informed of your choices.