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How to Choose a Naturopathic Doctor

Today, we’re diving into the important task of finding a holistic practitioner that fits just right for you. It’s not all about Google reviews or their online popularity—even though those can give you some insights. Remember, anyone can create a flashy brand, but it doesn’t automatically make them a great doctor or practitioner. Let’s get into the real deal of what to look for.

They’ve Experienced Pain

So one of the top things that I feel you should look for, because I sought out a naturopathic practitioner when I was really ill, is empathy from life experience. I’m a board certified naturopathic doctor with a doctorate, but my life experience is incredibly valuable. It was 10 or 12 years ago that I was really ill, and naturopathy helped me tremendously. What I want you to really put as number one, and really interview and ask as many questions until you feel comfortable with this practitioner, is to find out about their personal experience. Their number one source of education is not their book learning. It’s their personal experience. That’s number one. You can have the best brand online, be top of the class,  graduate from the best school, but if that  practitioner has not been through some rough times himself or herself with chronic illness and really understand where you’re at, what you’re going through, the ups and downs of depression, anxiety that causes debilitating pain, all the things that  lower your quality of life, they don’t understand that if they haven’t been there before.

Even the most advanced degrees can’t replace the depth of insight gained from personal experience with these challenges. I believe in the importance of such personal experience; I’ve learned significant lessons from mine, nurturing a profound empathy for you. It’s essential to have someone who can empathize and truly comprehend your circumstances.

You Can’t Disappoint Me

I have a saying in my practice that my patients or clients can never disappoint me. You can’t disappoint me. That means no matter what happens, no matter if I assigned you all this great stuff to implement, and you’re so excited about it you may not do a single thing. That’s okay. I’m gonna check back in with you, or we’re gonna solve the problem. We’re gonna figure out what happened. We’ll take baby steps, scrap that plan, start a new one, whatever it takes, you’re not gonna disappoint me because I know what it’s like to have chronic illness, and it’s tough to have follow through sometimes, some days you just don’t have it and I get that. It’s crucial to ensure your healthcare provider possesses a deep sense of empathy. While many professionals indeed mean well, their lack of personal experience with chronic illness can be seen as a drawback, in my view. They may fall short in fully understanding your plight, which is something I consider critical.

Accountability

Another big service that a naturopathic doctor should offer is accountability. When you’re chronically ill, you don’t feel well. One of the top symptoms is low energy, right? Brain fog comes with that oftentimes. So if you don’t have a system of accountability, or somebody’s checking in on you, at a assigned date and time, how do you know if you’re actually getting to where you need to be because you’re in a very challenged state how do you know what’s going on? Are you checking back in? Are your numbers improving? Do you have problems that you can solve that you’re unaware of?

I really have a big problem with doctors that don’t offer this.  If they only follow what I call the consultation model where you come in for the initial consultation, they might prescribe you a few supplements, herbs, a few lifestyle things. And then that’s it. There’s no follow up appointment made. There’s no real plan of care!  Eventually you’re supposed to wander back into that clinic or call him back up at some time in the future. Like what is that time? When you don’t feel well? Are you forgetting some things that you were taught to do  or is there some elements that you’re missing? Plus, how do you assess again, if you’re getting better or not, if you don’t check back in with your practitioner? I never understood that model, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Plans of Care

So I personally believe in plans of care, where there’s a structure to it that can be adjusted. You don’t have to have a plan with military precision, but once a month I want to check in with you in person if we can, if we’re remote, we’ll get on telehealth, and then about every two weeks we’ll do telehealth or get on the phone, and we’ll check in. How are you doing, Hey, how’s that protocol going that I prescribed for you?  Let’s say it has six elements to it,  you did great with four but forgot the other two. No problem. Let’s talk about how you can implement that. Right? If it goes on for months and you forgot those other two, you’re not getting the results, you could get to see.  You have to have accountability.

Not Bossed Around by Insurance Companies

Another question to ask when you’re looking for a doctor- do they have a cash based practice? Now, there are some people that don’t like to hear this. They’re like, oh, insurance should cover naturopathy and holistic medicine, alternative medicine, I  couldn’t agree more, but it’s not going to. I don’t even know if it will happen in our lifetime.  If the system is set up for pharmaceutical companies, let’s just be honest. That’s what’s set up. We’re set up for huge  corporate conglomerates to make a lot of money. So if you’re working trying to find a holistic practitioner, and you’re really concerned if they take insurance or not, you hamstring yourself, you just are and I know it’s  not cheap. It can be an expense. But remember, you’re investing in something that’s going to help you have a higher quality of life and save you hundreds of 1000s of dollars. There are studies that show the approximate cost of out of pocket for chronic illness over the lifetime is $200,000 with insurance!  So a few thousand out of pocket for a cash practice, I think makes sense. I know not everybody can do that. But  just think about it , change the paradigm, change your thinking, open your mind a little bit to this kind of investment in your health.

If you let a corporate person in some office somewhere who’s not a clinician decide whether you should be covered for a  procedure or your labs or a plan of care, and they say no, and you have to choose a different option simply at the whim of an insurance company, then you’re letting that person take control of your health. That’s not okay. If you were an athlete somewhere, and you had to get to x to get better, but you say, you know, I’m not willing to hire that trainer or that person to get me there. You’re hamstringing yourself again, right? You’re letting that person limit you. So a cash practice, I think, is really important. Because those of us in cash practices, think outside the box. We don’t have the limits of the insurance system to hamper us to change our treatment plans. Find a trusted holistic, naturopathic practitioner you can find the unique solutions that are right for you.

Take Care!

I’d love to design a plan of care for you- schedule a free call today.

Dr. Jason McCammon

Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor in Lansing, MI

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