This has been a vet interesting and educational experience. Before this month I barely knew what homeopathy was, and I am very happy that I had this opportunity to learn. I appreciate your guidance and I hope that many more healthcare providers take the time to educate themselves about homeopathy. I wish you the best.
-Stace Crupi, 4th Year Student, Midwestern Osteopathic University
The primary goal of any healthcare provider should be to promote health. Though this seems an elementary principle, it seems to elude most allopathic healthcare providers. From sterile and often scary clinic rooms to multiple waiting rooms and abbreviated visits focused on pinpointing problem systems, modern allopathic healthcare often alienates patients from the primary goal: promotion of health. Though my introduction to alternative medical modalities was a brief three-week rotation, the impact was profound. Alternative medical practitioners often focus on promoting health first and fighting disease second.
My first introduction to alternative healthcare modalities was at the American College of Homeopathy. Dr. Rowe took time to brief me on homeopathy and gave me some readings before visiting his clinic. What followed was striking: I was allowed to watch two two-hour patient encounters. The questions did not focus solely on the patient’s health concerns, but were opened to the patient as a whole by asking about dreams, hobbies, energy level, and even the environments in which the patient felt most comfortable. Afterward, there was a group discussion on which treatment would best benefit the patient as a whole. Upon leaving, I was struck by the focus on vitality rather than the medical concerns draining the patient. This theme would continue on future visits to numerous modalities. From my education in hypnotherapy to acupuncture, naturopathy to chiropractic medicine, the whole of the patient and the innate healing abilities of a healthy individual was the primary concern of the encounter rather than the specific disease.
These experiences have definitely shaped my understanding of patient care. While shadowing Monica Behling, I received acupuncture and herbal medicine for allergy and sinus problems that have plagued me since childhood. I was reminded of allergy shots that I received for years as a child that severely curbed my symptoms. Upon leaving the treatment I was skeptical – my brain has been biased to question non-allopathic treatment styles – and days after the treatment, I dismissed the treatment as placebo. In the following weeks I continued to struggle with my allergies and purchased Western pharmaceuticals to help with my symptoms. During that time, I noticed that the remedies only worked for a short period and that 4-6 hours later I continued to have symptoms. The root of the problem had not been addressed: I was externally fighting an internal condition which had plagued me since birth. Similar to the allergy shots that I received for years as a child, it would take years of continued treatment to train my body to live with my predisposition to produce massive quantities of phlegm when allergens contact my respiratory system. One acupuncture treatment was the equivalent of one allergy shot; it began to train my body to fight allergies, but would do little without continued vigilance.
One of the most profound encounters that I had was with Dr. McGarey at her daughter’s clinic. We talked for an hour about the principle of living medicine rather than the fight against disease. Dr. McGarey has a way of finding concrete words to describe amorphous ideas and I left with a much deeper understanding of how to heal patient’s maladies. Though I still firmly believe that allopathic medicine is useful for treating acute conditions for short periods of time, my quest to fully treat each patient must not solely focus on patching acute problems. My goal should also be to help a patient accept their condition and learn to live life to the fullest with the condition. In this sense, a physician truly promotes health – focusing on how to live life beyond a condition rather than focusing on how to live life as a condition. I am grateful for these few short weeks and their impact on my education. Additionally, I plan to continue to learn about more modalities in the upcoming weeks with providers that could not accommodate me into their schedule before residency. In this way, I hope to start my residency with a more complete understanding of the healing arts. In this way, I plan to treat my patients to the best of my abilities.
-Andy Gulbis, 4th Year Medical Student