I am a Naturopathic Doctor in Sudbury, Ontario, and I see myself as a naturopathic health investigator. I also see myself as a vehicle for people to access natural but also more comprehensive health care.
My visit structure
I gather all relevant information (health history, medications, supplements, dietary habits, exercise, previous lab results, etc) and then sort through to determine the origin of the patient’s concern. This usually entails a 1 to 1.5 hour intake, blood work performed at LifeLabs and often some additional homework done by the patient (such as a diet and activity log like My Fitness Pal). Once all of the information is compiled the root cause if often quite obvious. It is then up to the patient (with my support of course) to put in the work required to turn things around. The sooner we catch it, the quicker the turn around. It is really rewarding to see such dramatic shifts in a patient’s health with such gentle interventions!
After the initial 1 to 1.5 hour naturopathic appointment I am almost always able to make some initial suggestions to get the ball rolling while we wait for the blood work results (be that dietary, lifestyle or supplement-based). I will then request a second appointment within an appropriate timeline (2-4 weeks depending on the initial suggestions), and it’s in this second appointment that I can really prescribe a comprehensive naturopathic treatment plan. The third visit is usually a quick check in to make sure we’re on the right path (often scheduled 4-6 weeks later), and after that visits are typically every 3 months if not longer… though many patients are completely better by the third appointment and I just ask them to come in if anything new arises.
Why it’s important to make naturopathic medicine accessible
I believe this is how naturopathic care should be. No, we can’t gather everything within a typical 15 minute appointment many of my patients are accustomed to with their family physician, but nor should our patients have to wait three full visits before receiving any recommendations. Naturopathic Doctors are well educated and that wisdom allows us to be able to have a good sense of what’s going on with the patient in the first visit based on the extensive intake. The labs and follow-up should be narrowing down and ruling out.
As Naturopathic Doctors we are THE alternative diagnosticians to the conventional health care stream, and often times our first visit is a patient’s one foray into the natural health realm. We need to make our medicine accessible and useable. Having to wait until the third (often viewed as expensive – though covered by extended health care plans) visit for any sort of explanation of underlying cause or treatment can spook our patients, and more importantly limit their access to our knowledge.
If you have any questions or comments about this visit structure of style of practice please contact me at my practice Nickel Ridge in Sudbury, Ontario.