“God heals. The physician takes the fee.” – Ben Franklin
This is one of my favorite quotes. It really sets the stage for what seems like a conflict of interest in having a private practice in Integrative Medicine. And whenever we do something different or new, we are taking a risk. It is not easy to establish different patterns or change the way we do things. And yet it is essential for our health and our growth as individuals. For example, think of all the children who have started a new school year recently. There are new goals, or new schools and new friends and new patterns. For many there is a sense of vulnerability that accompanies taking a chance and doing things differently.
That is certainly the case with Integrative Medicine. While the number of physicians who are taking this approach is increasing all the time, it still goes against the grain of the norm. I talked about this is my last post and review of the movie ESCAPE FIRE. Physicians are “escaping the fire” in different ways within academic medicine and private practice. Even the military is finding new approaches through acupuncture and mindfulness. As I develop my private practice here in Austin, there are feelings of vulnerability of stepping off into unknown territory. To help ground me in this, I recently reviewed a 2010 TED talk by Brene Brown on the topic. She describes how her exploration of vulnerability has changed the way she lives, loves, works and parents. True. It has also changed the way I practice medicine.
I really want to practice medicine with authenticity. Having my own practice allows me to do this. I have taken away the protective shield of an institution. It is me and my patients. No buffers. I am learning about the business of medicine as well. I need to let people know what I do, who I am, what I have studied and how I practice. I really struggle with the whole concept of marketing as it seems foreign to my goal to help people heal. However, who will know about me and how will I help them if I don’t have the courage to share? This has come up in particular with my decision to sell some nutritional supplements in my office. But I do think there are some good quality supplements and it can be overwhelming and time consuming for patients to access them in the marketplace. Just as I can offer an economical alternative for some labs tests, I can also offer the service of availability of supplements if a patient wants them. It’s rewarding to make it easier and more affordable for patients to get the tools they need to improve their health.
Someone asked me the other day how practicing Integrative Medicine works with my scientific “doctor” mind. I agree, I love predictability, classifications and measuring certainty. The parts of Integrative Medicine that do that safisfy me. Yet, I know there is more, there is uncertainty and there are no guarantees. It’s a beautiful combination of both sides of the coin. The medical field and healing become numb if it tries to make everything that is uncertain certain.
Brene Brown states in her TED talk that “Connection is why we are here, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” Down to the cellular nature of how our brains are wired , I celebrate this in my medical practice. She also states that “in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to really be seen.” That is the essence of why this practice of integrative medicine needs to be vulnerable. It starts with my willingness to step out of the box and have a different sort of practice. By doing so I hope to model a vulnerability that allows my patients to change their patterns to be the healthiest they can be.
When you come see me, I offer you courage and connection. And we both step into the vulnerability of being deeply seen in order to heal.