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How to Be a Good Patient
January 2012
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TERRI EVANS

good_patientBeing a good patient is essential to any successful treatment, especially holistic treatment. Often, people seeking alternative care arrive at a practitioner’s or therapist’s office fed up with conventional treatment and confused by the lack of permanent healing, yet newly expectant of receiving quick answers and recovery. It helps if the individual understands how the two approaches differ and can even complement one another.

With conventional medical care, doctors focus on identifying the disease that is creating the symptoms affecting the patient. The goal is to halt the progression of the disease and/or sustain life.

Alternative practitioners’ goal is a patient’s overall wellness and improved quality of life. They focus on uncovering and alleviating any imbalances that are robbing the individual of their quality of life. A holistic practitioner and patient are a team with a mutual mission. This means they can expect to spend time together completing and evaluating detailed medical histories and lifestyle information sheets, consulting and sharing observations, collaborating in carrying out treatment and cooperating in initial and follow-up examinations. The personal patient/client relationship is generally more intensive than experienced with conventional services.

As with any field, it is important to check a practitioner’s credentials and educational background to ensure that he or she is qualified. It’s also vital that each service provider be a good fit for a patient’s needs, personality and circumstances.

So much information is available today via the Internet that figuring out the best combination of treatment options can be overwhelming and confusing. Informed, friendly collaboration between practitioner and patient produces the best results in restoring and even expanding overall quality of life. Here are some tips on how patients can serve their own best interests.

Take responsibility. Play an active role in improving your own health. Become knowledgeable about options presented by a trusted practitioner. Taking action in spite of possible fears gives you some sense of control.

Partner with your practitioner. Offer regular, precise and accurate reports on your treatment’s progress. With alternative care, treatment is highly individualized and requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment to discern what is working and what isn’t. Follow and continue treatment as advised and exercise patience and compassion for yourself and your treatment team.

Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, sleep until rested and regularly engage in suitable physical activity and gentle exercise. Call whenever you need help or advice.

Stick with it. Expect incremental progress, even in the face of setbacks. Visualize an optimum state of wellness for yourself. Past failures do not need to be repeated when you work in tandem with your practitioner partner(s). Watch for relief, then acknowledge and nurture it by being a good patient. Share all good news with your practitioner.

Don’t own the disease. Avoid scary labels and lists of symptoms in discussions with yourself and others. You want them to visualize health right along with you.

Maintain a healthier lifestyle. Returning to old habits may cause problems to return. Make health a priority in daily choices.

Treat your practitioner with respect. Caring natural practitioners are ready and willing to walk with you on your path of healing. Forego rants about past bad experiences and direct any complaints about lack of coverage for alternative treatment toward the insurance companies.

Remember, your success is also your natural practitioners’ success, and they are invested in answering your questions and earning your trust. Help them help you. Finally, let them know when they’re doing a good job; a little appreciation goes a long way during a day of caretaking.


Terri Evans has a worldwide practice that began in Southwest Florida in 1991. A Doctor of Oriental Medicine and licensed acupuncture physician, she is certified in many modalities of alternative medicine. Learn more at MagnifyYourHealth.org.