An Allopathic physician has successfully studied traditional western medicine and has the MD credentials behind their name. An osteopathic physician or DO has studied western concepts but also a wholistic approach to issues and learned physical manipulation skills. Naturopathic physicians or ND however studied plant/herb based medicinal therapies.
There are many misconceptions concerning medical professionals especially doctors.
Misconception: Most MD [allopathic] doctors know about health & wellness.
Reality: Most MD’s have trained in disease identification and management, not health and wellness. If you do not have a disease/disorder or you want to improve your health you may want advice from a different type of specialist.
Misconception: My MD can help me create a good nutrition plan.
Reality: Only a very small number of allopathic medical schools teach about nutrition. There are specialists for diet and nutrition.
Misconception: If I want to start taking an herbal supplement, my MD will give me guidance on its safety.
Reality: Most allopathic doctors do not study herbs during school or training years. There is a lot of skepticism in the allopathic medical community towards herbs, including the research that supports it. If you really want to understand herbs you may want to discuss this with a herbal specialist. If you are also taking pharmaceutical medications you will want to see if there is any potential for the combinations of herbs and prescriptions to not mix well and create unwanted side effects. You should still tell your doctor what you plan to take so that your medical record reflects all of your medications and supplements.
Misconception: My MD will tell me what I need to know when I meet with them.
Reality: Your MD will ask you what they think they need to know during your visit. Doctor visits are often not set up to spend time educating the patient. You would do well to start reading about topics and have a say in the conversation during you office visit. There are many medical sources that are written for the average person to understand certain topics. There are also patient portals/electronic applications that may allow you to submit questions to your doctor outside of office visits.
Misconception: My MD will talk to me about ALL of my options to manage a situation.
Reality: Your MD will talk to you about the options they most believe in to manage your situation. There may be other options that they do not know about and therefore will not mention.
Misconception: My MD will connect me with other specialists.
Reality: Some MD’s will try to manage most things and some will refer you to other providers for different problems. Sometimes how many providers are involved in your care depends on the type of insurance you have. Most often you will get the best advice from someone who really specializes in that condition or situation compared to a provider that does ‘everything’. You can always ask for a referral to a specialist. You may be asking, “how do I know which specialist to see for what situation?” One of the aims of Accessible Professionals is to help you understand better which specialists will help you create solutions for your specific needs.
This article was written by: Kia Lannaman, MD