AHHA SELF-HELP ARTICLES COLLECTION
   
Mary Walker Morton is a journalist and author specializing in healthcare issues and a Senior Program Officer and Public Information Director for Nourish America providing vitamins to at risk seniors, adults and children. Mary can be contacted at mary@nourishamerica.org.


The American Holistic Health Association has compiled a collection of self-help articles to support your efforts to enhance your own health and well-being.

This article is part of the
article category
SELECTING AND DEALING EFFECTIVELY WITH A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL
and the sub-category
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL FOR YOU

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There I was--nauseated by a mouthful of obviously toxic solution, feeling disempowered by an electronic machine which snapped my jaws open and shut, humiliated by the dentist's description of my condition as if I were a jaw and nothing else, and angered by the entire office staff's disregard for my humanity. To them, I was nothing more than a laboratory rat. Feeling a little furry, I left the dentist's office vowing never to return. There is no room in my life for such shabby treatment, no matter how good the dentist's reputation may be.

Over the years, I've learned that I heal best when I am treated like a human being. That's why I demand a health professional who treats me like a partner. With a little extra effort, it's possible to find healthcare providers who are as compassionate as they are skilled.

If you are looking for a high-quality healthcare professional, my advice is to begin with a high standard of healthcare for yourself. Then follow these tips to find a healthcare provider who meets those standards.

Your best options

First, look at all your possible treatment options before you make a commitment of time, money, and tissue. Today, there are many distinctly different types of healthcare providers who offer a variety of choices in treatments and remedies. M.D.s, chiropractors, osteopaths, naturopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, and nutritionists are just a few.

If you aren't sure which one is best for you or you wish to know more about your options, there are information centers available which can provide you with information about your choices, ranging from the most orthodox approach to the latest discoveries being reported in healthcare journals around the world. Commissioning a search from one of these organizations will give you an overview of the treatments for your condition and allow you to choose one that makes sense to you.

Once you have determined the types of medicine that interest you, dig a little deeper. Bookstores and libraries carry basic information about each healthcare modality, including the basic philosophy, type of treatments, and what a typical office visit might be like.

High level of expertise

Secondly, make sure the practitioner you choose has a high level of expertise. Each healthcare profession has at least one association which offers referrals to trained and licensed providers in you area. Ask them for a list of possible healthcare professionals. In addition, ask trusted friends and acquaintances for referrals to the healthcare providers that they feel good about.

Once you have a few names to work with, call each office and ask to speak to someone on the staff. With a few well-placed questions, you can determine if this health professional is fully trained in his or her healthcare techniques.

Many professionals now incorporate a variety of modalities in their practice. Inquire about the types of treatments offered and how long they have been using each technique. Ask about their licensing, their board certifications, and the hours of training they've had in each modality. In addition, ask about this practitioner's success rate in treating patients with conditions similar to yours, what you can expect during a session, and the cost of a typical first visit.

Take care of your emotional needs

Finally, does this healthcare professional meet your emotional needs? Studies in mind/body connections show that positive emotions rally your immune system, thereby accelerating your healing process. Are you choosing a health professional you like? One you believe cares about you?

A short consultation with your prospective healthcare provider will give you an opportunity to determine if you can work together. Be honest with him or her about your condition, as well as your ideas and preferences. Former chief of staff at Medical City Dallas, Dr. Larry Dossey warns, "This is certainly not a situation for hidden agendas. To play a "yes" game when you believe the total opposite of what the doctor believes poisons the power of the potentially healing relationship right off. Many patients are afraid of offending the doctor by stating their beliefs. Better to do in the first fifteen minutes than the fourth day after surgery."

Be a partner

Once you have found a healthcare provider with whom you'd like to work, create a foundation that is lasting. Let your healthcare professional know what you expect and what he or she can expect from you. Your cooperation and participation are mandatory to get the result you want.

Nutrition pioneer Dr. Bernard Jensen displayed this sign on the front door of his clinic: "If you're looking for a good doctor, I'm looking for a good patient." Give your healthcare professional the same commitment and communication you'd like in return. You may be happily surprised by the results.


This article was expanded into a book, Five Easy Steps To Selecting the Best Alternative Medicine: A Guide to Complementary & Integrative Health Care. This book is now out of print, but sample chapters are available online.