Long relying on feedback from not only my patients but also family and friends, I try to continually improve upon how I provide care. A family member points out what they don’t like about a recent office visit and I make a mental note. A patient I referred to a specialist is less than thrilled about the way she was treated, again I make a mental note. Many of my colleagues are much the same in regard to continually improving how they provide care. However, it seems that there has been an increase in patients being disgruntled as if “all” doctors are out to get them.
Recently a post on LinkedIn led to some heated debate. The post stated this: “All doctors prescribe medications instead of alternative therapies to get kickbacks from pharmaceutical reps.” This is laughable. I have never personally gotten kickbacks to prescribe medications nor do I know of any doctor who has either. Another doctor jokingly commented, “A condo on the beach would make me think about it!” He was completely kidding of course.
This led to my comment on stopping the Us vs. Them mentality: Doctors vs. Patients, Allopaths vs. Naturopaths (or alternative medicine providers), and Big Pharma vs. alternative therapies.
I strongly feel that much of this sentiment is because many patients do not have a good working relationship with their doctor. I have been fortunate to enjoy a very rewarding relationship with my patients. You can read this post if you want to know how to get your needs met at the doctor’s office or this post on how to find a good doctor.
Remember, most of us chose this profession out of a calling. Not so we can borrow thousands of dollars to do wrong by a fellow human being. I can think of a lot of ways to make money that don’t include enormous debt and years of sleep deprivation.
The same goes for some naturopaths claiming that we allopaths only push pills. It is an “Us (allopath’s) vs. Them (naturopath) mentality”. Let’s break this down, allopathic medicine by definition (from Wikipedia) refers to the practice of conventional medicine that uses pharmacologically active agents or physical interventions to treat or suppress symptoms or pathophysiologic processes of diseases or conditions. Does it surprise you then that your allopathic doctor would then prescribe medication for your condition?
If you are opposed to medication then don’t see an allopath see a naturopath. If you want the best of both worlds then see a doctor who is practicing integrative medicine or one that is practicing functional medicine.
The first 6 years of my practice were outside of Seattle. Seattle is home to a naturopathic medical school. I was fortunate to have several naturopaths that I could collaborate with. One case was a woman who came to me with what I thought was a uterine mass (later it proved to be an ovarian mass). The mass was large: measuring as a 20-week pregnancy in a postmenopausal woman. My patient was opposed to having surgery let alone an MRI. She wanted to see a naturopath. I told her my opinion and then said that I would be happy to collaborate with her naturopath.
The naturopath called me after the consultation and relayed the outcome of the visit: She had nothing to offer this time. Sometimes the naturopath has better options to offer, sometimes it is a collaborative effort and sometimes allopathic therapy is what is needed. I could go on and on giving examples of when one type of treatment is superior to others but this is not my point. Ultimately, it should be about the patient and what serves them best. Incidentally, the patient later went onto to have the mass resected. Fortunately it was a benign ovarian tumor and she did well.
Let’s stop this thinking that doctors are out to get their patients. It is detrimental to being able to provide care. The beauty of life is choice. For patients, know what type of care you prefer and seek it. For doctors, we are all in this together let’s collaborate as a team. We have nothing to lose and the patient stands to gain.
Rajka Milanovic Galbraith is a family physician who blogs at Expat Doctor Mom.
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