I recently sat down with Jill Davies, a genetic counselor who is doing some really interesting work with genomics and preventive medicine in the primary care setting. I won’t get into the details here, as I am hoping Jill will describe her role in her own words on DNA Exchange in the next little while. But our meeting has my wheels turning and has given me some new found inspiration about future career possibilities.
Coincidentally, the evening before my meeting with Jill, I attended my first naturopathic medicine appointment. My new family doctor has a patient share with an in-house Naturopathic Doctor (ND), in which my electronically stored medical records can easily be shared between the two. I’ve always been a little curious about naturopathy, and the pure ease of this system provided the added boost to follow through and try it.
During my hour and a half appointment with the ND we discussed in detail my medical history, family history, health concerns and general health goals. My main reasons for seeking naturopathic services are:
- the prevention of disease
- optimizing my health
As I discussed these goals with the ND it struck me that these very same objectives could drive me to seek personal genome services. I’ve always thought about personal genomics from an academic perspective, and to my surprise, never really put myself in role of the consumer. I’ve certainly thought about the consumers, but always as some abstract group of people most commonly referred to “early adopters.” So for the first time I could envision these services not just as a DTC internet purchase or as a function of specialty medicine, but as part of the primary care setting.
It is not my intention here to debate the efficacy of nutrigenomic products (such as Carolyn’s The DNA Diet, for example) or even the use of genomics in naturopathic medicine, but instead present the current model of naturopathic medicine as a potential model for personal genome services.
People seek naturopathic medicine services for a number of personal reasons. They meet with a professional with specific training in naturopathic medicine, and discuss their concerns. The naturopathic doctor then uses whatever “tools” they feel are most useful to address those concerns. Sometimes the knowledge gained from this service will be used to compliment the patient’s primary medical care, and sometimes not. In settings with a patient-share system with a family doctor, any test results can be easily shared between the two providers to enhance patient care. Generally, the patient can claim at least part of the cost of naturopathic medicine services from their private health insurance plan.
If you read the paragraph above again and substitute “personal genome” for “naturopathic medicine” and “genetic counselor/geneticist” for “naturopathic doctor,” does this seem incredibly plausible to you? It sure does to me.
(initially posted on herNaturehisNurture)
One response to “Learning from the Naturopathic Model”
A lot of people turn to naturopathy out of frustration with what they feel is an impersonal approach to medicine by more traditional doctors. I suspect that could be part of the pull towards personal genomic medicine as well. What is it about the medical profession that feels so impersonal?