This Doctor Doesn't Want You To Rely On Him (And He Has A Great Reason Why)

Photo: @thelegendaryalex

Is going to see the doctor really good for your health? Or, should we be seeking other people to help us heal? The correct answer is the latter. I recognize this is a weird thing to hear from a doctor. And it’s imperative to note, I have no disrespect for the empathetic, caring, and compassionate people who share my profession. But in my experience, I’ve determined the best advice I can give to patients is: Don't rely on your doctor alone.

In medical school, we enter a system focused on pathogenesis, the study of the origins of disease, instead of salutogenesis, the study of the origins of health. The medical model teaches doctors to diagnose and prescribe rather than to prevent and truly heal. The system also puts the full burden on the doctor to single-handedly be able to cure each patient, with zero margin of error, in less than eight minutes per patient visit: an impossible feat!

This "individuality mentality" is a prescription for disaster, for both the patient and the doctor.

Unfortunately, along with many of my colleagues, I succumbed to burnout from the health care system, or more accurately named, the "medical industry," that seems to care more about profits than people. It was time for a fresh prescription for health, for both myself and my patients. And so, I left a "good" corporate job, took a leap of faith, and created my own practice: FRESH Med.

I founded this integrative medicine practice I co-founded with my wife, Julie Graham, a certified health coach, registered yoga teacher, and positive psychology practitioner with certifications in meditation and aromatherapy. We are located inside a larger space, working alongside chiropractors, health coaches, acupuncturists, clinical nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and yoga and Pilates instructors.

The way we see it, when a band of unique specialists, rather than a single doctor, work to decode your personal route to total well-being, we’re likely to get you better—faster.

I try to be a pretty good doctor, but I’m better when I'm part of a larger team. What’s special about our team is that most of us are dual-trained, including me: I’m board-certified in both internal and integrative medicine. So, if you come to me with a challenging case of irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid condition, or diabetes and think I practice only conventional medicine, you might think, Dr. Graham is just going to send me off with a script for a pill. But if you know integrative medicine is "the name of my game," then you’ll know I prescribe a holistic prescription to health for all my patients. If you work with our team of experts, you can rest assured that your care embodies the best of both worlds: conventional and complementary medicine. We practice collaborative, evidence-based health care.

One of my patients, Carly, learned firsthand to love the intersection between teamwork, allopathic, and holistic medicine. She came to us four months out from surgery after tearing her ACL, MCL, and meniscus playing soccer. She saw a doctor, physical therapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors and practiced yoga three times per week. "When I rehabbed a torn ACL in high school, I only ever saw a physical therapist," Carly recalled, "but Dr. Rob prescribed an anti-inflammatory diet even before surgery, which he explained would help my whole body cope with the trauma post-op. And I actually think it made a huge difference, compared to the swelling after my first operation! Julie worked with me on the mental side of recovery, too, and her emphasis on positive psychology changed my perspective when I felt like I’d lost a lot."

"As a patient, it was really cool to see my chiropractors and massage therapists in constant communication with my doctor, health coach, and physical therapists. The collaborative atmosphere consistently reminded me that I had a whole team rooting for me."

In positive psychology, we learn that "other people matter," meaning we cannot do it alone and we need each other to thrive, both personally and professionally. Creating your own health care super team, or family, allows each one of those people to truly focus on their strengths to give you the best care possible.

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