17 May Providence and Partnership: A New Paradigm for Patient Care
By Dr. Robyn Prescott, ND
Naturopathic doctors know how critical partnership is to excellent patient care – we can’t support our patients’ health without their active collaboration to implement the solutions we develop with them. I learn from my patients every day and am inspired by their resilience in embracing new behaviours to improve their health.
I feel remarkably fortunate as a naturopathic doctor to also be part of a unique partnership: one with other medical practitioners. It is one that I found almost serendipitously, and one that I think can be a model of care in Canada.
As I child, I lived with chronic back pain I developed from my love of riding horses, and that experience inspired me to practice naturopathic medicine focused on pain relief. So it was natural that, when my husband and I were considering relocating from Vancouver to Kamloops, I began researching similar practices. I was hoping to find a medical clinic that appreciates the perspective of a naturopathic doctor in their care team.
Serendipity struck when I called the Welcome Back MRI and Pain Management Clinic. Not only was Dr. Richard Brownlee, the neurosurgeon who manages the clinic, open to such an idea, but he had actively been seeking such a partnership. We were a match made in heaven.
Our partnership is based on trust and a shared belief in a whole-person approach to care. For example, Dr. Brownlee had a patient in her sixties with back problems, whom he treated with a nerve block and then referred to me for muscle relaxation and support with underlying cholesterol and weight management challenges. Sometimes when I have done all I can for a patient I refer them to Dr. Brownlee. It’s a two-way street, and it’s come to include three neurosurgeons, three orthopedic surgeons and a dermatologist.
We had one patient who had been a nurse and now, retired and in her late sixties, had debilitating back pain that required her constantly to use a walker and enabled her only to spend about one hour out of bed each day. Within a year of our joint approach to her care, she was able to set aside the walker and resume a full life. It was an honour to provide good care to someone who had cared so ably for others for so long.I truly feel it’s providential to be able to practice medicine in this paradigm – this holistic approach to care is why I became a naturopathic medicine doctor and is the kind of care I wish I had been able to access as a young girl.
In my city, an estimated 65 per cent of citizens don’t have a family doctor and I know that’s not unique in Canada. That’s part of why I believe every Canadian could benefit from having access to integrated health teams that comprise a naturopathic doctor. Human beings are complex and can benefit from an approach to care that recognizes that there is strength in varying perspectives and a team-based approach grounded in a patient-centric mindset.
I feel fortunate to have pioneered, partly through serendipity, to this approach to medicine. The doctors with whom I partner and I really are able to provide better health care together. I wish that providence for every Canadian.
Dr. Robyn Prescott is a Naturopathic Doctor based in Kamloops, B.C. Her practice focuses on pain management, personal health optimization, and hormone balancing for all individuals.