Why My Patients Interview Me Before “Hiring” Me To Be Their Doctor
It may seem to be a strange phenomenon in the medical world; a patient interviewing a doctor before choosing to “hire” them. But that is exactly how it works in my practice.
As a Naturopathic Doctor I work within a part of the medical paradigm that to some lacks definition, but to others is a world of possibility. I seek to heal the root of why someone is sick whilst also aiming to maximize how good they can feel. This moves away from the disease model where each patient is given a disease label, or possibly a few labels, and is then dosed with a corresponding “medicine” to treat each label. In my practice, when a patient walks in my door, I see a person who has been living an entire story I need to learn about. The treatment for that patient, with whatever label(s) they have walked in telling me they have, is unique to the biochemical process I think underlies the symptoms they agonize over. As I continue to treat these patients, whether through the insight testing can afford or through the careful recollection of the progression of their symptoms and/or their progress to feel vital and strong, we learn more and more about how their body works, knowing all along that their biochemistry is as unique as their fingerprint.
That is what I do.
Why do I encourage patients to interview me first?
The world of optimal health, which bleeds into wellness, which bleeds into holistic and alternative practitioners, is a murky world. Within this swampy, ever-changing land of options, that must be navigated in a state of vulnerability because your personal health is a vulnerable part of you, comes an array of practitioners of varying education levels, varying services and varying promises for price. It is a tough world to navigate; there are no maps so trial & error or going on referrals seems to be the most trusted way to travel. Within the profession of Naturopathic Doctors alone there is so much variety between individual practitioners. Personal style of practice (and vibe), clinical approach, tone of speech, services offered, location and setting of the clinic, philosophies on healing - these things vary between Naturopathic Doctors (NDs). These things also vary between Medical Doctors to some degree, but as NDs wade into the water of maximizing how well the body and mind work, much of which exists outside of definitive clinical research and standards of practice for disease models, approach and philosophy come to the forefront and set the tone for the kind of medical care you get with that specific doctor.
When I see a new patient for the first time I assume 2 things:
- They are different from any patient I have seen before and require fresh eyes, a discerning, yet open, mind and a unique approach to treatment. They themselves can likely tell me what is going on, they just need someone to listen, validate their knowledge of their own body, and then guide them as to what to do about it.
- That this patient entrusting me with their health is one of the greatest acts of vulnerability which must never be exploited or undermined. Exploitation in the medical field can be found in different forms, including financial exploitation.
This leads to me to the 2 things I want my patients to feel before before they work with me:
- “I feel like my health is in good hands with this ND. I know she will do the research required. I know she will make choices that first and foremost benefit my health. I know she will be open and honest about everything to do with my care. I know she is in this to help me, and not to make a profit off of me.”
- “I feel like this ND’s approach to treatment resonates with me and now I want to see how it can affect my life.”
For a potential new patient to feel generally comfortable with #1 and #2, they need to get to know me. Some patients book a 15 Minute Free Consult to meet me, either in person or over the phone, learn about my approach & my motivations and ask questions before booking. Some patients comb through my website, read my articles, and devour the information I have up there to see if I will be the fit they are looking for. Some patients come on referral and feel comfortable that I have come from a reputable source. Some do all three.
When a patient books an Initial Visit with me, they are “hiring” me to do them a service. They have chosen me from a host of other options and are investing time and money into the work I can do for them. This is an empowering step, and a huge leap forward in deciding to make changes to something as vital as our own health.
This is why I believe my patients need to interview me first. They need to put me to the test, grill me with critical questions and find out if I can handle the heat long enough to stay in the kitchen and get the job done.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dr. Roberts is a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto & Richmond Hill.
With a focus on biochemistry, brain function, gut health & hormonal imbalance, she works with patients to establish healthy minds and healthy bodies.