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Natural medicine in a PA's career


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Hi everyone,

Here's my situation:  I've already been accepted to a PA program; however, lately I've been having cold feet about whether this career is for me.  I am a strong believer in evidence-based, natural and preventative medicine but am aware that my curriculum will be taught with the conventional style of medicine.  I have shadowed several physician assistants that I have seen give prescription after prescription, which might cover up the symptoms temporarily but may also not be addressing the root cause of them. While I realize not all PA's have this frequent prescription approach, I do fear that my curriculum will be teaching this style of practice as well. I should also note that I am however also aware and accepting that in many instances conventional medicine is the necessary route.  Therefore, I am not sure if PA is the right choice for me in terms of medical philosophies… are there commonly PA's working in integrative medicine, or practicing holistic evidence-based/preventative medicine? Thanks for any advice.

 

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there are some PAs working in alternative medicine practices. most of these folks had a background in this area before becoming PAs. I know a guy who is an acupuncturist and naturopathic physician who went back to get his PA. he runs an alternative med clinic for a major hmo in the pacific nw, he can prescribe meds, do acupuncture, as well as recommend natural alternatives, herbs, etc or any combo of the above.

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There is nothing alternative about preventative medicine. It is completely science-based. If you are passionate about preventative, science and evidenced-based medicine than there is nothing stopping you from practicing that way, and I hope you do. The word "natural" means very little in this context. Would you prescribe foxglove instead of digoxin to a patient with heart failure? Be honest about what you're looking for in medicine and be specific, which the word natural is not.

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There is nothing alternative about preventative medicine. It is completely science-based. If you are passionate about preventative, science and evidenced-based medicine than there is nothing stopping you from practicing that way, and I hope you do. The word "natural" means very little in this context. Would you prescribe foxglove instead of digoxin to a patient with heart failure? Be honest about what you're looking for in medicine and be specific, which the word natural is not.

 

This.  Understand that many medications we use, such as illustrated above with foxglove/digoxin, have taken more "natural" components and synthesized out the extraneous fluff to create a concentrated, effective and dose-dependent drug that we can predict it's level of activity and duration of effect much more so than handing someone a handful of herbs.

 

In PA school, you might also be surprised at the education that goes in to first-line treatment of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol- they are lifestyle changes before medication should be considered.  Does this always happen?  Of course not, as you've said you've seen with prescribing habits of other providers.  What someone is taught and what they choose to actually do are two different things.

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  • 2 years later...

I don't see a problem going after both. If you are going to try to prescribe herbs and all that jazz ID rather you have the background in conventional medicine than just have a natural medicine background. Id also think about osteopathic medicine. DO programs have the manipulations and seem to be a little more "open minded" which might interest you if you are wanting to incorporate more natural ways to help people. 

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KennA,

 

I suspect there are places you might be happy but it will be a struggle. There are accepted treatment guidelines as to what vaccines kids get and when; I doubt you are going to be able to change them and practicing outside of the standard of care without patient-specific reasons is going to be a hard sell in most practice locations. There are also lifelong diseases that often have to be treated with lifelong medications, so that might make you uncomfortable.

Nothing wrong with having your own morals, etc. On the other hand, you probably shouldn't expect a profession to necessarily be open to them all.

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1 hour ago, KennA said:

I am not 100 percent sure on my feelings of vaccines. I will say I am not a fan of life time medications or  multiple vaccinations at time. I am wondering how much nutrition can be preached to patients as a PA. 

Please don't go into the healthcare field if you do not believe in vaccination.  In pediatrics, I have hard time as it is with anti-vaxxers.  I don't need any professionals playing into and supporting their irrational fears.

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1 hour ago, KennA said:

I would want to propose natural remedies for all conditions before resorting to pharmaceuticals. 

Any good practitioner does this. I always educate on diet, nutrition, exercise, recommend probiotics, eating foods to naturally improve their potassium or iron levels. That said, there comes a point that it’s not good enough and they need medicine. Often for life.

i won’t get on my vaccine soap box, but if you aren’t sure about the efficacy of vaccines and that don’t cause autism, you aren’t willing to believe evidence and should be a naturopath. Also multiple vaccines in one visit have been demonstrated safe and delayed administration has shown to be harmful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to chime in here as an experienced naturopathic doctor, licensed and practicing for 12 years now. I had considered PA school may years ago, and often regret not starting there. If you have the time and inclination, start there or train as an NP, and then attend naturopathic school.  The reason: you will be rewarded with the ability to hit the ground running in your field well-paid and with many opportunities for your career, without focusing on the business end and solo practice responsibilities right off the bat. The financial strain of starting your own practice (as an ND), can be daunting for the first years, especially if you have family obligations. Naturopathic education is strong in teaching how to educate and motivate individuals towards better health with counseling skills; it highlights a doctor-patient relationship that values empathy and ample time with patients, and recognizes the very unique presentation and experiences of each person, and how that plays into how they experience both disease and health. Therefore, it helps guide how you tailor a plan for each. If you could blend the two roles, you would have the best of efficiency in the medical care model of PA and experience in working as part of a team of healthcare professionals, plus the benefits of how to best reach and teach the individual from a wider range of modalities to get your best result. And you'll be in demand in a variety of settings- particularly if you would like to teach wellness topics to groups as part of your work. Good luck!

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  • 1 month later...

I am a physician assistant who practices functional medicine (root cause medicine).  I provide nutrition counseling, prevention, etc.  I was trained in conventional medicine.  I have no regrets and am happy to have found this alternative way of practicing medicine.  It is nice to know the conventional side of medicine as it is sometimes needed and many patients do both.  There are several opportunities for PA's to further education in more natural medicine with probably the best being the Institute of Functional Medicine.  There is also a fellowship through the University of Arizona that can be done online.  These are some things I am currently working towards.  There are plenty of CME opportunities to strengthen your knowledge in functional medicine.  And I agree with an earlier comment that PA's have better opportunities for jobs, etc.  This is also a great way to try and integrate the more natural medicine to the more conventionally minded patients.  I often prefer these patients over those who are already seeking natural treatments as you can make such a difference for them.  Also insurance usually does not recognize naturopathic doctors.

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On 12/24/2017 at 1:19 PM, KMK1102 said:

I would want to propose natural remedies for all conditions before resorting to pharmaceuticals. 

With this type of belief system, you should never be allowed near a patient. Here's why: 

Nature gives us children with disabilities and genetic conditions every day, and mankind in his genius and curiosity has discovered ways to manipulate his environment to help those children, with things like specialized baby formula (my oldest would have died without it.), maintenance medications (because nature left stuff out of her body) eyeglasses (they don't grow on trees!) and factories to make these meds. Depriving people of life-sustaining/life-enhancing treatment because it's man-made is arbitrary, foolish, and has no evidence-based foundation in real life. 

Want to go all-natural? Get rid of your car & get a horse. And good luck taking Clydesdale down 1-95 without becoming roadkill. That's about how easy it would be for the average family to substitute their science-based medical care for the Whole Foods Natural Pharmacy. And there's about as much horse manure involved. 

I lived in a place where home-birthing was "God's Will," and where kids got whooping cough & measles because their parents didn't want to put "chemicals" in them. You should never be allowed near a patient, because you don't have to *live with the consequences* of your quackery, but these families do. 

Good luck, and I pray you re-evaluate your positions on a few things. 

ETA: And now *I* pray I don't get banned. 

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  • 4 months later...

I graduated PA school 20 years ago.  Being under the thumb of someone and dealig with OR nurses wasn't my thing so I went on to do locums for a while. It pays well and they pay for your housing.  Some of you might want to look into it.  And you don't have the "ownership" factor that I found with over bearing surgeons.  

Always having an affinity for natural medicine, I found out about the natuopathic profession and years later went back to obtain my doctorate degree in that.  I also obtained a masters in Chinese medicine and acupuncture.  I've been fortunate to mentor under an amazing physician of naturopathic medicine, smartest doc I've ever met.  He's cures many types of cancers, lyme disease, you name it.  And he's lost some, too.  Not everyone can be saved.  But you don't find these stories in this "evidnce based model" of Western medicine where terms like "cutting edge research" are thrown about and they have been sucking money from people's pockets for the last many decades.  Jerry Lewis Telethon, 5K runs, etc., etc.  And what's changed?  Very little.  I'm unabashed at saying that if Western providers really understood how little they knew about health they would be unbelievably embarrassed.  And should lose sleep at the harm which they have caused unknowing by administering toxic drugs.

Of all my degrees, Western medicine is the most useless, particularly when it comes to treating chronic disease which 90% of the patients are.  Unless it is ER medicine, OB necessary deliveries, necessary surgeries, and life threatening infection disease, Western medicine should not be involved, unless it's doing certain scans and other test, or interventional procedures.  These exceptions do not make up the majority of chronically ill patients.  

You have to ask yourself, what do you want out of your career?  Do you want to truly help people heal or suppress their symptoms giving them the false belief they are getting better?  Tell me one pharmaceutical drug that enhances the physiology of the cell to function better?  You can't because it doesn't exist.  Stimulating vasodilation or blocking COX-1 is not enhancing an organelles function.  Tons of disease are caused by mitochondrial dysfunction.  Do they teach you how to address that in medical school?  Of course not. 

Western medicine is a for profit industry.  If you understand the true nature of why the Flexnor Report of 1910 was created you will understand that it was to end competing interests so that they could monopolize medicine, and they have.  The schools pump out the doctors, the doctors write the drugs, the pharm companies donate to the medical schools which pump out the doctors.  Round and round it goes.  Patient continues getting sicker.  One med becomes two, and two eventually becomes many.  For me, this is nonsense.  And it is befuddling at how someone could study the complexity of the human body and walk away treating it as though it is incompetent!  A single oocyte has the innate wisdom that unfolds through a process over time to mature into what becomes the adult with all of its organs and organ systems, neurotransmitters, nerve relays, etc., all functioning together simutaneously for years on end.  And what does the "good doctor" do?  He/She gives it a drug to "shut it up" or "cuts out the problem".  Yet, they take an Oath to Do No Harm.  The very practice of treating chronic disease violates that Oath.

Many of these people trying to practice "holistic" medicine are actually practicing "Green Allopathy"  Green = Natural, Allopathy = Western medicine.  Taking a natural substance and treating a symptoms is not treating the root cause, your still treating the leaves or branches.  Most people don't truly have an understanding of medicine.  If you wish to learn the fundamentals, YouTube Dr. Dick Thom Organ Development & Bioregulatory Medicine.  And until you can reverse the diseases this guy has, you ought to listen.

Lastly, if had time on my site, I would get a PA degree so you can make money, build a nest egg, and have another safety net as you embark to learn more.  I would then get a degree in Chinese medicine, and then plug into Biotherapeutic drainage courses offered by Seroyal.   And listen to everything you can by Dr. Dick Thom (stuff in the last few years), save yourself the money from naturopathic medical school which you can learn far more from him.  ND school is too expensive and many people are brainwashed by the broken system.   You will be albe to use your PA degree to start your own practice (hire an MD to be your supervisor, many MD's do this).  As an acupuncturist, you can run your own practice and don't need the MD and you can practice biotherapeutic drainage which is ultimately what Dr. Thom teaches and that ND school doesn't which is why I left after 2 years and got my doctorate at a traditional ND school for much cheaper.   The only reason you would need an MD to be a supervisor is if you want to do injection type stuff that you can't do as an acupuncturist.  It's revenue generator so might be worth it if it's your thing.  Chinese medicine... I love.  Powerful stuff.  Chinese herbs are amazing.  There are so many ways to help patients.  Ultimately, if nothing else you should want to learn how to truly help yourself and your loved ones.  But as I was saying, you can use your PA knowledge to help bring people in who are part of the broken system and then begin concentrating on patients who want to spend money out of pocket on medicine that actually heals them.  Over time you discharge others who are not on board with the phiolosophy because ultimately these are not the patients you want.  People who are proactive in their health are the true joy of why you got or get into medicine.  

 

Good luck.

Edited by CatsIncredulous
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Read your post.  Your perspective is alluring, I'll admit--accurate, I can't say. but as soon as you mentioned the biotherapeutic drainage thing, I did a bit of quick research and my downvote soon followed.  Ultimately boils down to the fact that I HATE being advertised to...I appreciate honest, unbiased info here as I try to assimilate peoples opinions and perspectives on this controversial matter and your effort to advertise a product on a PA forum raises an obvious red flag that deserves an obvious red down arrow.

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11 minutes ago, SephONE said:

Read your post.  Your perspective is alluring, I'll admit--accurate, I can't say. but as soon as you mentioned the biotherapeutic drainage thing, I did a bit of quick research and my downvote soon followed.  Ultimately boils down to the fact that I HATE being advertised to...I appreciate honest, unbiased info here as I try to assimilate peoples opinions and perspectives on this controversial matter and your effort to advertise a product on a PA forum raises an obvious red flag that deserves an obvious red down arrow.

Wait, this was a crummy commercial?

 

commer.jpg

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45 minutes ago, SephONE said:

Read your post.  Your perspective is alluring, I'll admit--accurate, I can't say. but as soon as you mentioned the biotherapeutic drainage thing, I did a bit of quick research and my downvote soon followed.  Ultimately boils down to the fact that I HATE being advertised to...I appreciate honest, unbiased info here as I try to assimilate peoples opinions and perspectives on this controversial matter and your effort to advertise a product on a PA forum raises an obvious red flag that deserves an obvious red down arrow.

Advertising?   You did a quick bit of research and then you downvoted because you hate being advertised to?  You sound foolish.

One of the purposes of a forum is to spread knowledge if you have it share.  And the fact that Biotherapeutic drainage isn't taught in ND school means that very very few people understand it.  Thus, the fact that you claim to do research about it and then to assume you can actually know what it is....and then open your mouth to discuss is it as though you do is even more foolish.  And to make this point more clear, Biotherapeutic drainage is a TYPE of medicine, not an advertisement you fool.  It is not a product either! Biotherpeutic drainage has many different remedies within it.  Get your facts straight before commenting.  You should feel quite embarrassed.

Lastly, it was 100% in line with what the person was asking about which is a CAREER as it pertains to the practice of medicine!  Again, do more research next time before running your fingers across the keyboard.

My recommendation of what a person SHOULD learn to be an effective provider will save lives from misery.  Get your head screwed on right.

Edited by CatsIncredulous
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2 hours ago, allthingspa said:

This thread got heated quickly. Can we all try and be kinder to the prospective student? Some of the responses seem pretty harsh. You can be nice and still get your point across..

It actually didn’t escalate quickly. The original post is 3 years old. Let this thread Rest In Peace. Begone necromancers!

naturopathy = quackery

homeopathy = criminal malpractice

prevmed and nutrition is apart of any good clinicians education and treatment.

Thats all there is to say.

 

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