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Two weeks ago, my wife, son and I traveled to Portland, Ore., to watch my daughter, Kate, receive a doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine. Medicine’s triumph over infectious disease (has) brought to the fore the so-called chronic, complex diseases—heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses without a clear causal agent. As a prominent 2000 study showed, America spends vastly more on health as a percentage of gross domestic product than every other country—40 percent more than France, the fourth-biggest payer.
The medical community knows perfectly well what sort of patient-care model would work better against complex diseases . Medicine has long known what gets patients to make the lifestyle changes that appear to be so crucial for lowering the risk of serious disease: lavishing attention on them. This “healing” approach to patient care clearly isn’t found in the typical visit to the doctor’s office.


Kate and her fellow graduates are committed to the healing approach discussed in The Atlantic, and I believe they have a lot to offer to the practice of medicine and the healing arts. This entry was posted in Health and Fitness, Society and tagged allopathic medicine, natural medicine, naturopathic physicians. Louis, about Kate’s chosen profession, the reaction ranges from curiosity to polite skepticism to, in one case, near hostility. Now that we live longer, these typically late-developing diseases have become by far our biggest killers.
Studies show that visits average about 20 minutes, that doctors change the subject back to technical talk when patients mention their emotions, that they interrupt patients’ initial statements after 23 seconds on average, that they spend a single minute providing information, and that they bring up weight issues with fewer than half their overweight patients. In the West, though, and I think eventually in most of the country, the outlook for naturopathic physicians is good.


Heart disease, prostate cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases now account for three-quarters of our health-care spending. 1 in health-care effectiveness and other major measures, the United States ranked 37th, near the bottom of all industrialized countries. Studies have shown that when a doctor speaks to a patient about quitting smoking or losing weight, the patient is more likely to do it. After that, though, the curriculum spends a great deal more time exploring how to help patients achieve and maintain health, not just how to fight diseases and disorders.



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Comments
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