To your good health: How and why to build a care team

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?”

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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.

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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.
Avatar photo Dr. Lorraine & Dr. Katy (30 Posts)

Drs. Katy and Lorraine have been colleagues and close friends since 2013. More recently, they collaborated on a series of blog posts to get the word out about the most powerful ways to get and stay healthy. Dr. Katy practices in mid-coast Maine and Dr. Lorraine practices in eastern Oregon.

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