I am celebrating my 40th birthday as a pharmacist owner this year. Forty years … It makes you think, and if we are fundamentally and intellectually honest, at the dawn of retirement, we feel this irresistible need to stop, absorb, and analyze with some hindsight, our way of practicing.
For several years, I was thinking of writing an article to share my thoughts on our health system, based in particular, on my 40 years as a pharmacist owner, but also on the fact that I have in turn rubbed shoulders and practiced massage therapy, phytotherapy , acupuncture, and of course pharmacy.
Reading a recent article published in April 2019 in the journal Profession Santé (vol.5-No.4), signed by Dr Guylène Thériault, MD, CFPG, Assistant Vice-Dean at McGill University and family doctor in Gatineau, came to confirm to me that I was not the only health professional to make the recommendation, to quote Dr. Thériault, of “Cultivating healthy skepticism” within our practice. Although the article is particularly aimed at doctors and pharmacists, and deals with overdiagnosis, it encourages health professionals to go find the answers to their questions themselves, and not necessarily to rely on old guidelines imposed by God knows who (Universities, pharmaceutical companies, websites, or others).
Each healthcare professional has their own expertise, their own specialty, and that’s fine. Because each of these areas of expertise has its own “power”, its own potential, and this specialization allows everyone to be an expert in their field. But where are our own limits? Wouldn’t they be where the other’s expertise begins? Indeed, all of these respective areas of expertise come to brush against each other, to cross paths, and this is where we should see an advantage in a certain convergence.
In fact, each type of “medicine” or medical practice has a certain percentage of success. I can guarantee that when I practiced acupuncture in the seventies, I had results at least as effective with certain patients who had joint pain as those that I have seen in my patients who, as a pharmacist, used oral anti-inflammatory drugs … but all without the side effects.
So the actual range covered by any specialty never encompasses the “whole” of a problem, and can never explain everything…
And all these “points of contact” between the different “medical” spheres are the best thing that can serve the interest of the patient.
Wouldn’t the best health solution for a patient be in this situation where, as the various health professionals will cross their knowledge and their skills, it would be logical to think that we could reach new results which have never been considered before? See the disease, health, and the patient in a new and different light.
These intersections of information could lead to new concepts, theories, or treatments, benefits which could only be confirmed or not through experimentation.
Let us be clear: no medicine brings 100% positive results, but each one occasionally can for certain specific patients. So why not consider several types of medicine for the same patient? For example, couldn’t the constraints of one medicine be covered by another?
Instead of looking at what separates us from each other, let’s see what brings us together.
Instead of each medicine “provoking” the other, let’s think about complementarity with the other…
No medicine answers ALL questions, but it is likely that all medicines together would answer almost all questions. Obviously, the psychologist will work with therapeutic listening sessions, (since they cannot legally prescribe), the psychiatrist will often resort to medication, and the physiotherapist will use devices or manipulation, while the orthopedist can resort to medication or surgery, naturopath to supplementation, and so on. Could we not consider that a particular patient could have the best possible result by consulting a psychologist, having physiotherapy treatment and using a supplement? It will never happen if one of the 3 denigrates the other’s practice…
In short, each professional is literally “locked up” in their practice silo, trapped in the “dogmas” of their own profession.
Isn’t it time to open up all these beautiful people? I am deeply convinced that our good old traditional western medicine cannot, by itself, lead my patients to full health.
But you, what do you think?
– André Perreault, Pharmacist