As a student of Naturopathic Medicine I find it refreshing to see an allopathic medical doctor incorporating holistic care into his practice. Dr. Segal writes “As a family physician, not only am I trained to look at my patient as a whole being (mind, body and soul), but I am trained to look at the whole of my patient’s existence within the family structure.”
Naturopathic Doctors are trained to do the same.
Unfortunately this mentality is not common amongst allopathic doctors and Dr. Segal’s idea that a patient can simply share this discontent with their family doctor might not be as easy as it sounds. According to the Medscape Physician Compensation Report 2011, Primary Care Physicians spend an average of 13-16 minutes with their patient. Within this model, a patient is required to share a personal medical complaint with a Physician, who is required to provide a diagnosis and treatment all in a matter of 16 minutes. This scenario begs the question, is 16 minutes an adequate amount of time to build a relationship with a patient, to really listen to them and to be able to provide holistic treatment that encompasses mind, body and soul? I doubt that majority of patients could easily bare their souls in 16 minutes.
A Naturopathic Doctor spends at least 30 minutes with an established patient and well over an hour with new patients. This patient centered approach allows Physicians to establish a foundation with their patient, a foundation that will allow them to be treated holistically. To treat the whole you must first understand all of the parts. Perhaps the reason that individuals seek out “holistic” practitioners is because they are seeking to be cared for by someone who takes the time to listen to them.
I do not believe that the term ‘holistic’ needs to be rescued from practitioners of Alternative Medicine; rather I think the fault in way that the American healthcare model has been set up. Physicians have lost sight of the most important part of the equation: the patient.