Five Tips on Finding a Naturopathic Doctor
Dr. Edward Meiggs, Ph.D., D.G.M.
In today’s times, when insurances premiums are high, people are becoming more and more interested in preventative medicine while taking necessary steps in improving overall health. Oftentimes, this is in an attempt to lower insurance premiums and extend life. We also see that individuals are making a noted effort in decreasing the amount of side effects and toxic overload ingested into their bodies. Therefore, searching for a naturopathic doctor has become more prominent than it once was. Below are five insightful considerations when it comes to searching for a naturopathic doctor.
Number one, training; naturopathic doctors should have had some sort of prior medical experience. If you are looking for a naturopathic doctor, interviewing him or her first, either by phone or in person, is necessary. You want a good fit for yourself and/or your family. But, more importantly, you want someone who understands the medical backdrop of disease and correlation. Some naturopathic colleges do not require this, so it is important to select a naturopathic doctor who has first-hand experience with health problems and conditions.
While it is the most important, medical experience isn’t the only thing to consider. Bedside manner and the experience of other patients and clients are also imperative. This will provide you insight on what types of approaches the doctor may take, which should in turn guide you in deciding whether the doctor is a good fit for you. They are not all the same! Search for feedback online about the doctors in your area. Go to websites, yellow pages, Facebook pages, Angie’s List and forums. The resources are nearly endless with today’s technology.
Specific training in the naturopathic field through proper education is also essential and worth looking into. There are different programs across the world for holistic practitioners. Aside from actual medical experience within the field, learning about the missions in training the doctor from his or her educational facility will give you a more in-depth idea on his or her exact philosophies behind treating each patient. If the naturopathic doctor attended various educational institutions, take the time to learn a little bit about them. The small amount of time it requires in researching these schools is well worth making the correct decision.
There are two types of schools that a naturopathic can get certified or a degree. Online educational facilities are available for people willing perform the work independently. These schools usually demand pre-required courses prior to applying and enrolling. For example, all of the anatomy and physiology or 100-level psychology courses are usually expected to be obtained prior to being accepted. In some cases, prior medical training or work is required as well, since hands-on education may be limited. Secondly, certification can be obtained through actually attending courses from start to finish in classroom-based courses. Some states, due to laws, require naturopathic doctors to take the same exact courses and experience-based residencies as medical doctors – such as Washington – but that is a very small minority. Most in-person educational facilities only educate doctors on the holistic practice and treatment, which limits their ability to understand prognosis of medical conditions properly, while also limiting their capacity to understanding why a primary care provider might have placed their patient on a certain medication. Be aware that this is also possible for on-line educational facilities as well. This is why it is VERY important that you learn about all of the doctor’s experience prior to committing to seeing him or her.
Few states require actual licensing. Most of the nation’s naturopathic doctors, including myself, agree with this absence of interference. When states legislate some sort of training program to demand state licensure for naturopathic practice, these states typically lean toward training and education geared toward the allopathic practice and use of synthetic medication. Like already mentioned, Washington is such a state.
Frontline care, as seen practiced by physician assistants, advanced registered nurse assistants, licensed nurses, and so forth, who have had two or more years of experience in the actual field of frontline care, in addition to their two or more years experience in education, are great candidates in learning and becoming certified in alternative medicine such as naturopathy. Such individuals should seek a program that is very thorough with a broad spectrum of naturopathic holistic treatment methods. Online programs with an excellent foundation in naturopathy, traditional Greek medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and many more usually are very fitting to these already-experienced medical professionals. These online schools, however, should have hands-on internships or programs in which any student must do a minimum amount of hours of training with a naturopathic doctor, homeopath, or some sort of holistic practitioner. This ensures that these individuals have the accurate information pertaining to the fundamentals of alternative medicines.
Number two; be weary of weekend warriors. These naturopathic doctors may practice the profession part-time, where his or her full time job can be in mechanics for all you know! Not safe, not safe, not safe! These doctors may see only one to six patients per month. The problem with this is that no matter where they attended school, how in-depth their training was, how long their training was, and how much experience they had prior to getting their degree or certification, if these weekend warriors are not working in a health-related field as a frontline caregiver, their education becomes lost. All professionals – no matter what area of work – need to maintain current knowledge of their profession. This is exceptionally true for natural health care. Unless the naturopathic doctor spends copious amounts of time reading and going through flashcards and making every effort to stay sharp, it is unlikely they can offer you quality care. In some cases, the doctor may even hurt his or her patients due to lack of attentiveness.
Number three; specialties are important when considering which naturopathic doctor is most fitting for you. A specialty means that this doctor primarily sees people with these specific kinds of conditions. For example, I primarily see patients suffering from stress, tension, anxiety, and depression. This is a specialty area. The types of problems that the naturopathic doctor primarily sees people for is of paramount importance.
It is also very essential to learn exactly what area of naturopathic medicine the doctor focuses on. Similar to allopathic medicine, there are several types of focuses a naturopathic doctor can dedicate himself or herself to. Naturopathy is a very broad and well-rounded practice of medicine. There is Ayurveda, traditional Native American medicine, ancient Greek medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. Subsequently there is also homeopathy, herbalism, and so forth. Find out what kind of specialty and focus the doctor you are considering emphasizes! It may be the determining factor in you scheduling an appointment or not.
Number four; a naturopathic doctor SHOULD NOT be a salesman! If you walk into the doctor’s office and he or she has rows and rows of supplements on shelves, he or she is likely to be a salesman. If you perform research on the specific practice using whichever means – Facebook, forums, etc. – and every other ad is for a multi-level marketing vitamin or food supplement, this is the mark of a salesman naturopathic doctor. He or she will want to get you into a program of buying a supplement on a regular basis. These doctors may even try and get you to sell their supplements, since multi-level marketing gives way for such practices. This acme sort of marketing scheme is how some naturopathic doctors make up for not having enough clients and patients walk into their office wanting to be evaluated or treated. Avoid salesman doctors. They are more inclined to coaxing you into buying their supplement without a consultation than they are to take the time to hear your specific problems and needs.
Number five; like multi-level marketing, programs are usually clear indicators that the doctor is not likely serious about his or her profession. If a doctor wants to put his or her patient on a supplement-purchasing-based program, not a service-based health program, you are not getting the quality treatment you deserve. A popular example of both multi-level marketing and programs that a doctor may put you on includes Juice Plus. Doctors that want to put you on a high-priced food and supplement program, which you must purchase from them for several weeks or months, are not true naturopathic doctors. They have first and foremost put their career in the focus of being salesmen and missed the fundamental concept that changes in lifestyle and diet are more appropriate than taking supplements. If any individual were to change his or her lifestyle, there is absolutely no point in planning on taking supplements indefinitely. Supplements and high-priced vitamins should be only temporary treatments until a patient has acquired the knowledge on balanced eating and healthy living, where organic food resources are more available and proper lifestyle choices can be made. What’s worse about these types of doctors is that they do very little to prepare a patient for the day he or she no longer takes such supplements, or goes off such an expensive program. You are not taken care of with these people, so at all costs, steer clear.
I have had several patients ask me, “When do you want to see me again?” and I answer that I don’t want to see them again. They look at me like I’m crazy, so I state, “I don’t need to see you again unless you have a problem. This homeopathic medicine is helping you, and so long as it does and you get to a point that you no longer need it, I don’t need to see you.” After a patient’s initial evaluation, I require at least one more visit to follow up on how the patient is doing with my protocol of treatment and recommendations. After their second treatment, if their homeopathic or naturopathic treatment is working, I only want to see them when they need me. There should always be an end in sight.
If a naturopathic doctor finds that he or she cannot help you with a problem or give you advice concerning diet, supplemental suggestions, or holistic recommendations, but he or she needs to see you on a program, you should look for another doctor or go back to your primary care provider.
All information in this article is strictly for educational purposes only, not meant to diagnose or treat disease. It is the opinions of the author and no one else. This written work does not reflect upon any business or idea. Any parallels between this article and another place of business are completely coincidental, and should not be considered intended.
Dr. Edward Meiggs, Ph.D., D.G.M.