August 21, 2021

The sacred relationship of doctor and patient

A therapeutic bond between doctor and patient forms as both enter into this sacred relationship.

Sacred? Yes. Dating back to the most important aspect of medicine, the Hippocratic Oath has demanded from physicians for centuries: “First do no harm”. This pledge from the time of Plato in ancient Greece may well be “one of the oldest binding documents in history.”

Not surprisingly, modern research like this and numerous others show how a caring, connected, attentive doctor aides patient outcomes, increases their knowledge of treatment and fosters a more favorable view of the doctor.

Yet too often in modern medicine, the relationship, this sacred relationship that is vital to healing, is an afterthought.

As a restorative physician, it’s the central focus on my practice, as I wrote about in detail here. My curiosity in the human condition and deep desire to contribute to improving it led me to medicine in the first place and continues to guide me today, nearly three decades in practice later.

Discovering the sacred relationship in practice

My love of science led me to medical school, but my family urged (even insisted!) that a degree be sought with a career in mind. Majoring in biology was fine, but as my dad started sending me information on different medical specialties, I began to consider my role as a physician.

I went to podiatry school and became a surgeon. But after graduation, I was disenchanted about the medical model. I felt drawn to different ways of healing. Why did traditional approaches work for some, but others didn’t heal. I realized how deeply I had entered in this sacred relationship with patients who entrusted me to heal them.

I wanted to do everything I could to honor that trust.

I began to explore alternative treatments, even as I fought my own chronic diseases. I was both healer and the one needing healing, which gave me empathy for my patients, even as I shared their anxiety with unrelenting health issues, chronic pain and sickness.

That’s when I truly emerged from a physician to a healer. I wanted to heal people using every method available to me.

Treating the whole person in a caring way

I’m often asked, “what is a restorative physician?”

It’s a unique approach to healing built on the foundation of this sacred relationship. It’s distinct in that as a physician I can draw on some of the best western medicine practices as needed, but also help my patients heal holistically in natural ways. My work is to restore their health and overall wellbeing to the optimum place they can be.

We are in a physical body and we’re here for a reason spiritually, mentally and emotionally. By understanding and treating the whole person, I became a better healer. A significant part of my work became helping people to awaken to themselves while their body healed.

Now, I work with each patient in the context of this relationship. My treatments included time to connect, to listen to their stories, to meet them where they are at and to learn from them as I continued to grow in my abilities as a restorative physician.

This restorative medicine approach empowers me to connect with patients in a different way. I’m not on an elevated platform above them, but sitting with them and talking to them, walking through it, and listening to what they need. Only then can I really guide them. We are on a learning journey together. A healing journey.

It’s the great privilege of my life.

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