May 19, 2024

Nothing brought a smirk to my clients’ faces quicker than the statement that I valued my medical doctor. It wasn’t that people don’t actually value their medical doctor-it was more that I valued my medical doctor.

People automatically assume that Naturopathic Doctors and Homeopaths do not like medical doctors or medical care. Most of the time, when one discusses natural medicines or care they are called “Alternative” meaning something to be used in place of medical care and medical drugs – i.e. medical doctors.

I doubted that I am so different from my colleagues in how I work with others. But over the years, I guess I have discovered that I differ in my view of medical care. Perhaps it has something to do with my initial college education being in nursing, and my subsequent work as a nurse upon graduation. I learned the value of medical care and medical drugs. And, oddly enough, it was Dr. Suzanne Barnes, my family practitioner, who helped me appreciate the world of medicine, especially when I was ill or in a rough spot.

Sure, there were times when my doctor and I disagreed on my future where my health was concerned; but I always valued her opinion. When I started becoming interested in natural health, Dr. Barnes told me to research the herb before using it-she didn’t discourage me or give me a hard time about it. By that time, she had learned that I was intelligent and that I valued her opinion on health-related matters.

And whenever I was “stuck” in my healing, or listened to bad advice from another practitioner, I always knew Dr. Barnes would help straighten things out where my health was concerned. She listened and she offered suggestions. There had been no “my way or the highway.”

I even referred a few of my clients to her when they either didn’t have a medical doctor or didn’t like theirs. Dr. Barnes became one of my colleagues-and she was valued even though she was a medical doctor.

After not needing her care for nearly a year, I returned to her with a flare-up of asthma that was not able to be controlled with what I knew-I then knew it was time for medical care.

We talked, as usual, about life. I received medical care, and then learned that she was retiring in a couple of weeks!

It is strange when one thinks about it. For some reason, I guess since I was still in practice I assumed she would be too. She was older than I was; I knew that, as when I had first met her when I had moved to Green Bay about 20 years ago. Still, I guess I hadn’t thought about her retiring-I always felt she would be there for me.

Finding a New Doctor

Don’t just open the phone book and pick a name randomly. If your medical insurance covers a certain group of practitioners, it would narrow things down; but you are still, in essence, taking a shot in the dark. Therefore, the best thing would be to research the physician.

So, FIRST THING to do is to decide what you want in a doctor. Do you want someone who listens to you? Respects you? Will not be pushy? Will be pushy? Write down the characteristics you really liked about your current or former doctor. Decide which of those characteristics you’d really like to have in your next physician.

NEXT, talk to friends and co-workers and see who they like or don’t like. Check “Angie’s List” on the internet-a place where people can comment about their doctor, dentist, etc. (Doctors don’t like Angie’s List because people can say what they want to say.)

After Dr. Barnes retired, I set about finding a new doctor. Having been through that before when I had first moved to Green Bay, I knew some of the “hazards” of looking for another doctor, especially if you really liked the one you had. I still met with 2 other doctors before I had found Dr. Barnes!

The doctor I had before moving to Green Bay had taught me that I was the most important person to manage my health-the doctor was there to assist me. Under his care I did a great job taking care of myself.

The first doctor I chose when in Green Bay I had just picked randomly. He was NOT a good doctor for me. He told me that he was the one who decided what I was to do or not do. When I called with difficulty breathing, he said that it didn’t sound like I was having trouble so he didn’t prescribe anything and wouldn’t even see me.

With my former doctor, I had learned when to call for medications, when to seek immediate medical care, etc. So I still followed those instructions; but the new doctor wouldn’t listen.

So I tried another. The same thing happened. This new doctor also “was the boss.”

So I tried Dr. Barnes. Luckily, I had found her.

My Search

Since her retirement, I had to find another medical doctor. I talked to my clients and to friends. Oddly enough, I didn’t get any names of doctors that my clients liked! Perhaps that had something to do with why they wanted to see me?

The qualities I valued in a doctor had been those I had found in Dr. Barnes: a doctor who listened to me, respected me, didn’t get on my case for being a natural doctor, and was willing to honor my decisions (whether I chose to follow their recommendations or not).

I guess I also wanted someone to send my patients to when medical as I had done with Dr. Barnes.

Since none of my family members, friends or patients liked their medical doctors, I had to just pick one and see how it went. I chose a new doctor, a recent addition to a clinic. She was nice, different, but in the end, she didn’t listen to me. In fact she had prescribed two drugs in dangerous doses-had I not been educated in medical drugs, I probably would’ve become very ill if I had taken them as directed. When I had called to tell her about the problem, she was irate and told me not to question her. So I never returned to her care-and didn’t take the drugs as prescribed.

The next doctor I tried was nicer, but distracted. Granted, she was about 8 months pregnant, but after the last doctor, and my recent memories of Dr. Barnes, I looked for a welcoming smile and someone to hear me. But at least she didn’t over-drug me or harass me for being who I was. I feel confident that this new doctor will work out good for me. At least she seems to care about my well-being-this is a quality that I highly value in a medical doctor.

Remember, It Takes Time

We are all very complicated and unique individuals. We all have our little quirks and those with chronic diseases all have little things that are different from others with the same chronic disease.

You have to teach your medical doctor as much as she needs to teach you. The only way any medical doctor can truly assist a person is for him/her to know as much about that person as possible. Research the drugs and recommended treatments-don’t just listen to what the doctor says. Make sure things are right for you. Doctors are human-they make mistakes just as much as everyone else. You have to pay attention so you can catch errors and discuss them with the doctor. If the doctor doesn’t listen, and you don’t feel comfortable about following his/her advice, then find another doctor.

I was fortunate to have two wonderful medical doctors in my lifetime. I hope that this new doctor will be the third, and that she will be like Dr. Barnes in that she will listen and provide me the care that I deserve and require so that I can be as healthy as possible and lead a happy and wonderful life.

Yes, I am a Natural Doctor and Healer. But I know that natural medicines cannot do it all. Medical care is necessary. Together, natural and medical can help people better than one modality alone. Turning your back on the medical profession because you don’t like your medical doctor or haven’t had good results from medical care can be harmful to your health in the long-run. On the flip side, turning away from natural care because your medical doctor doesn’t approve is harmful to your health as well.

It may be difficult to find a medical doctor that approves of natural medicines; it may also be difficult to find a natural doctor that approves of medical care.

Keep looking. Everyone needs both.

I am sorry that Dr. Suzanne Barnes has retired. She was a gem who understood the need for both natural and medical care-even though she favored the medical. But what made her so special was that she wasn’t pushy and she listened. But I think what made the strongest impression upon me is that she cared about my well-being-she actually tried to help me be as healthy as she could help me with the knowledge she had. My care wasn’t about “the bottom dollar.”

I wonder if I will find another doctor that had the wonderful qualities Dr. Barnes displayed in her professional career. I think every medical doctor has the potential to look outside themselves and do what is in the best interest of their patients-this is just something I haven’t seen or heard much of over the years, even when working in the medical field as an RN.