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We are in the age of passive medicine.
Our current medical model reimburses physicians for investigating/making a diagnosis, and managing treatment of that particular diagnosis. Physicians get paid for the diagnosis or treatment, not for the amount of time spent with patients (with some exceptions). This leads to short patient visits and very little time discussing the rationale behind the treatment or the implications of the diagnosis. The result is what I call “passive medicine,” because the patient has almost no active role in the healing process.
The role of the naturopathic physician is to fulfill the original meaning of the word doctor. “Doctor” derives from the Latin “docere,” which means “To Teach”. The process of education shifts the role of participation back to the patients so they can take control of their own health.
Bastyr University describes the principle of Docere as such:
“Naturopathic physicians educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.”
This definition of Docere is really describing empowerment. Naturopathic physicians teach so patients can reclaim authority over their own bodies. Empowered patients are savvy healthcare consumers and are better able to stay safe and prevent mix-ups in the medical system. Educated patients also tend to have more success in completing treatments, and feel more confident in their health.
The concept of Doctor as Teacher is really about shifting the balance of power back to the patient. Personal empowerment is the only prescription that can create permanent change leading to better health.