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Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

Do you feel heard when you visit your doctor? Whether seeing a primary care physician, a specialist, or alternative medicine practitioner, many of us leave feeling a lack of support. Now more than ever doctors are required to adhere to a specific time constraint, usually seven minutes, with each patient. They may also be distracted or overwhelmed with the volume of patients they may see each day. It can be difficult to cover all the necessary information in this time! Another common problem is that there is no one stop shop these days; often we need a referral and those specialists can be booked out up to one year! This is not ideal! Having experienced this first hand, I believe something needs to change and fast! Today I want to encourage and empower you to become your own health care advocate. Our time is valuable and our well being is our top priority.

Educating ourselves as patients, as consumers of medical care, is the key to getting the proper treatment we need and deserve. This is especially helpful with autoimmune diseases on the rise. It’s rare that we go to our doctor with only one thing in mind to talk about. Often there are several symptoms or conditions we want to address with our caregiver. It’s important to remember that your practitioner can’t know every symptom of every condition which is why it is helpful to present your case in an informative manner without “teaching” your doctor. Being patient and straightforward will provide you with the answers you’re seeking. It’s also important to be clear and communicate when you do not feel supported. A good practitioner will listen and take your concerns into account.

Educating ourselves will also teach us the different treatment modalities available and gives a better understanding of the steps needed to take to feel better. It can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Utilizing all the resources available will help you feel empowered in your condition and give you the tools to reach your desired health and wellness goals through diet, lifestyle, and treatment.

When researching treatment methods recently I came across a passage that reminded me how important the time we spend with our practitioners is. The one-on-one time spent must be focused and intentional.

As a practitioner I strive for the ideal of the passage: to listen intently and without judgment to my patients, to be kind, patient, to open my heart and mind to each individual person, no matter where they are in their journey and, so importantly, to ask questions that will enable me to differentiate the truth. As a consumer and patient I want to know I’m heard and understood and that there is hope for healing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and pursue additional resources. You are your best advocate when you are most informed.

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