I have been working on my presentation for JFK Hospital's Symposium on INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE. My topic is IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME. It is an ideal topic for me because it allows me to explore the metaphysical basis for healing as well as expressing the basic approach that I take in my practice of gastroenterology.
I believe that any physician who has been in a successful practice for many years is already a meta-physician without necessarily realizing it. By definition, such a practitioner understands that in order to treat a patient, the whole person must be considered. This is the real meaning of holisitc, the recognition that the patient is far more than a physical being. When someone arrives for an office visit with a physical complaint, emotional, psychological, sociological and spiritual elements are often at play.
The use of the term Integrative Practitioner is the latest effort to describe someone who incorporates scientifically derived Evidence Based Medicine with the pragmatic concerns of a multi-dimensional being whose problems often transcend such an approach. The world of alternative therapy, mind-body therapy, herbal therapy must be considered as well.
The meta-physician appreciates the complexity of the multidimensional patient as well as their personal choices as to what type of therapy seems to resonate with them. The meta-physician understands the power of the mind to heal and therefore makes use of the placebo effect. [Rather than demean it]. The meta-physician understands that he or she possess shamanic power as regards the healing interaction.
Rather than instill fear, the meta-physician understands the power of compassion and the alleviation of fear. Therapies are much more potent when delivered with such an awareness. Studies have clearly demonstrated that an open and warm interaction between patient and doctor leads to much improved clinical outcomes.
The meta-physician understands that despite the value of scientifically derived Evidence Based Medicine, science remains in imperfect source of knowledge. Science is malleable, capable of self-correction over time. But the patient who confronts the meta-physician must be addressed in the present moment. Science is often inadequate as the only source of wisdom, particularly when it contradicts the clinical experience of the meta-physician.
The meta-physician / integrative practitioner must weigh the risks and benefits of any therapy that is initiated. Each patient is unique. They respond uniquely as well. Practice requires the appreciation that what is required is the patience and intuition of an artist. Trial and observation. Feedback and re-evaluation are necessary tactics.
My wish is that the meta-physician/integrative practioner will become the paradigm for the 21st century medical caregiver.