From Physician to Meta-Physician

A noted gastroenterologist and Mind/Body/Spirit Medicine specialist shares his journey from physician to meta-physician.

By Steven E. Hodes, MD

Physician to Meta-Physician

I was trained to be a physician, not a healer.

That statement may seem confusing or self-contradictory to the average citizen. After all, aren’t physicians by definition healers? At first glance the answer would seem, yes. At this stage in my career, however, I realize that the two terms are not interchangeable at all. My personal journey from physician to meta-physician has been over 25 years in the making.

As a product of the traditional approach to medicine, I was trained to view the patient as a machine; a machine suffering from some undisclosed mechanical failure. My goal was to be the best diagnostician possible, to identify the defective organ or organ system, with the goal of prescribing the appropriate tests and subsequent medication to treat and hopefully cure the patient.

Of course, I was aware, on some level, that the patient had other dimensions to their being; one that included their personal, emotional even spiritual side. Yet rarely, in all my medical training, did any of these factors rise to the level of my conscious awareness. It has only been within the last few years of my medical career that I have come to the profound realization that I have not been a healer at all. To heal means to ‘make whole’ and in the process of becoming aware, I changed. The Greek prefix ‘meta’ signifies transformation.

I became a “meta-physician.”

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