Welcoming Patients for the first time
Having a break from the clinical side of this Blog, and on Lyndal’s suggestion, I am writing this Blog on what it is like for a new Practitioner to see patients for the first time. This will be a somewhat personal story and reflection on what it means.
Why I do it
This last fortnight I had breakfast with my mentor and was feeling a little drained from the week. As a new Naturopathic Practitioner, I have to be a number of things on top of a Naturopath. I need to be a marketer, a dispenser of medicines and a secretary. I am very lucky to have a wife’s support and input, but as she works full-time I need to fill all these roles. My mentor reminded me that it’s important to remember why you started. As I thought about this, it took me back a number of years when I first discovered Natural Medicine and I remember that I truly felt called to use nature to heal and treat the body. [Latin here], the healing power of nature.
When I took my first case half way through my formal studies, I was very moved. My first patient cried in the consult, and the observing student practitioners also cried. The patient had lost a loved one, and also had physical complications. I remember one thing that I’ll always call the consultation space: it is sacred space. Not unlike seeing Pastor or spiritual leader and sharing from your pain, the space is sacred.
This space has become even more real now that I see patients in my own clinic. The night of my first consultation I had mixed feelings. I was excited, nervous but mostly over joyed. It was finally happening. After 4 years of waiting I had arrived. The space we had set up at home felt just right; personal, welcoming and the room did not feel like I was at home, it felt like an office or space at work. All the preparation we did had payed off.
It felt more real now that I was giving out my own prescriptions. I feel confident in my herbal mixes and tonics, but I must admit that I have reviewed the literature more often than not to confirm this. Each patient responds differently to each mix in his or her own way, and time often tells of the outcome. Thankfully, clinical practice unfolds one step at a step and I look forward to seeing my patients achieve their health goals, as that’s my profession.
I have seen many more patients in my first week of practice that I could ever ask for. I am truly thankful for them sharing their stories, taking my medicines and trusting my advice. So where to from here? In the long term I would like to support my self 100% from clinical practice and lecture from time-to-time. Friends have encouraged me with this Blog and it appears to be growing each week. I would also like to edit and publish my autobiographical novel of my own health journey.
In one years time I can’t begin to think of the progress I’ve made. Perhaps I’ll trust the literature I know so well, perhaps I’ll be in full-time practice, but there is one thing that will never change, no matter what the years or decades bring: that space will always be sacred.
And for that I will always be grateful.