...and what the heck is a "philosophy of care", anyways?
Regardless of whether or not your doctor has written theirs down, every doctor has a philosophy of care.
This is the internal compass that guides their clinical decision-making and shapes your care plan.
It's a set of biases that rules in and out treatment plan options before they even realized they made a conscious choice.
For the more engineer-minded of you, you can imagine this as your doctor's internal flowchart.
So what does mine look like?
Here are the core principles I like to abide by:
#1: Atomic Habits
Make lifestyle changes into small, sustainable habits, rather than making sweeping changes that don’t last
Yeah, there's a book about it!
My partner recommended it to me -- not because they thought I needed it, but because they were surprised to find somebody who had expressed a similar mindset as me. Although the term is new to me, the core concept has been with me my entire life.
Living in Boulder, my average patient here has a tendency to go a little... overboard when it comes to making diet and lifestyle changes.
Many of my patients come to me hooked on aggressive detox programs, restrictive diets, and hardcore exercise regimens.
None of these are inherently bad! But not everyone's body (or finances!) is in the position to start immediately copying their favorite athlete's healthcare routine. I prefer to start with the small, everyday changes that are often overlooked.
You know what my most hardcore patients have in common?
Most of them aren't drinking enough water. It's not glamorous, it's not fancy, but sometimes it works better than 30 supplements and a dream.
Their reasons for not drinking enough water usually aren't complicated, and certainly don't require much time to troubleshoot. But you'd be surprised how many of my patients don't need to come back for a followup visit once they solidify the habit of staying hydrated.
So if you want to save money on your healthcare, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of Atomic Habits from your local bookstore or library, because I tend to repeat a lot of the same advice in every appointment.
#2: Supplement Minimalism
Focus on nutrition through ongoing dietary choices, only using supplements when necessary.
This is a surprisingly controversial take in the natural medicine world.
Most of my new patients come to me with a laundry list of supplements that they either started taking themselves, or due to the recommendation of another practitioner.
Believe it or not, it's safe to assume that most practitioners in the natural health world make a commission off of the supplements they sell you, and those supplements don't always run cheap! In fact, some practices rely on supplements as a fundamental source of their income.
Is this a financial conflict-of-interest? Arguably so.
Ethics aside, I'm of the personal belief that food does a better job when selected with care and precision. It's not always possible to find a food that's high enough in a particular nutrient to completely avoid supplementation, but you bet I'm going to go down the food route first whenever possible.
You'd be surprised how many patients have no idea what nutrients are found in which foods!
Whenever I do recommend supplements, I prioritize cost-effectiveness in my selection of brands when it doesn't affect supplement quality. The regulation in the supplement industry is loose enough that some amount of quality control is important, but usually not to the extent that you have to pay an exorbitant amount for basic supplements like calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C.
(Thankfully, water is almost always free.)