Health Care Values
by Dr. Tiffany Keenan
As I return to Family Practice, I have been reflecting more on what Values are important to me as an individual and how that applies to my practice as a physician. Over the past several years, I continue to review my own “Wheel of Life” as I strive to find a personal Work-Life Balance. It only seems logical to me that as I meet new patients and discuss their healthcare concerns, that they have a background knowledge of my own attitudes and beliefs toward healthcare.
I Practice Patient Centred Care
Through my experience in the Emergency Room, I see countless patients who come to me without a knowledge of their health issues. They are sometimes seen by several physicians and have multiple investigations. It can be overwhelming for patients. My goal is to focus on care from the patient perspective. I want to ensure that they are the key players in their own healthcare.
My Goal Is Sustainable Wellness
When I first started working in Haiti, the Mission Statement of the Charity was sustainable health care for our small community. For my patients, the goal is to work with patients to ensure that long-term wellness is reached. Wellness is not chronic disease management. It is not the absence of illness. It is a state of balance for all aspects of life.
I teach patients about nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and appropriate supplements that can optimize the health of their bodies.
I Mentor Patients to Empower them to be Proactive
Through many years our medical practice has been influenced by social, economic and political forces. The role of pharmaceutical companies and the processed food industry has in many ways led us toward being a more unhealthy society. We must “be the change we want to see”. This must start with taking personal responsibility for our own health and the health of our families. We can take small steps each day to improve our health, our society and our environment. No longer should patients wait for doctors to tell them what to do, but they need to be eager to learn more about their own bodies and what it takes to make them well. The Canadian Medical Society has launched a great program for patients and physicians www.choosingwiselycanada.org to assist us with understanding the value of diagnostic testing. Patients need to stay informed.
Wellness is a balance of Mind, Body and Spirit
Our emotions, thoughts, beliefs and social situations can have a huge impact on our physical well-being. All of these components work together, so that if there is underlying imbalances our healing will be compromised. The body has an incredible ability to heal itself when obstacles to healing are removed. The “placebo effect” that we often hear about in medicine is truly self-healing. We all have this power.
Most Disease Cause and Treatment is Multifactorial
Modern medicine through antibiotics has been successful in eradicating many illnesses. However, there is not a “magic bullet or pill” to cure every disease. In 2014, I walked the Camino Santiago, 800 km in Northern Spain. I carried a backpack daily and at one stop I was given a small handout. It asked us to reflect on the weight of our bag and what we could unload. We were then asked to compare this to the weight of our burden in daily life. Patients need to explore the burdens they carry and how they can be removed for healing to occur.
I Practice Root Cause Medicine
We are trained in our conventional practice to treat symptoms as they arise. I call this the band-aid approach to medicine. In the Emergency Room and in Natural Disasters it is required to fix a broken bone or deal with a trauma, however most illnesses have underlying causes. I look for the root cause of illness to determine where the imbalance is in the body. Unless these cause are identified and restored, the individual can continue to suffer from long term health consequences.
Dr. Frank Lipman says:
“You don’t put a Band-Aid over the oil light and drive on. You go to the mechanic to see why the oil light went on. Symptoms should be seen the same way.”
I Believe our Daily Life and Surroundings have Tremendous Healing Power
I follow Dan Buettner from “The Blue Zones” who has travelled the world researching happiness. I read his reports from across the world and what correlates with long life and happiness. I believe happiness and well-being originate from laughter, exercise, family time, connecting with our friends, spending time in nature, quality food, relaxation, gratitude, and having a sense of purpose in ones life. These simple ordinary things can often be much more valuable in restoring our health than the the most expensive medication out there.
Dr. Keenan practices Emergency Medicine at the Miramichi Regional Hospital and works part-time as a Family Physician in Doaktown. She has a Wellness Clinic which Focuses on Weight Management and Health coaching. Facebook: Dr.Keenan Health and Wellness email:
Giv’er Miramichi is about “What’s up, what’s new, what’s happening”. We are focused on building people up, supporting one another and celebrating our successes.