The ideal physician health expert

Take modern physicians with a grain of salt. Their education is not all-encompassing. How can it be? Modern information is too vast.

“A couple of hundred years back, a person who held a Bachelors of Science knew all there is to know in their field. Today, however, someone with a Ph.D. in biology may not even know all that is known about the nervous system of a fish!”

— Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind

Recently one of the media’s go-to physicians who professes on infectious diseases at a big university and has written books on health was interviewed about his personal approach to health. He revealed with a guilty smirk that he is a junk food addict… and he has poor habits around exercise… and he doesn’t take supplements nor does he know anything about them.

Health expert?! Hmmmm. This man is advising people on when to take medicine? Let’s think about this.

It struck some people as being quite odd. It somehow even acted as a little bit of a wake-up call. What is this man’s expertise, actually? Why is he saturating the media? What exactly is a health expert anyway? Who would we want as our advisor?

Being subjected to his advice on health needs modern-age context.

Everybody and everything is more specialized these days. We have to understand an expert’s exact area of influence is actually quite small. It could be ridiculous to take any advice outside of that or to think that they deserve our attention outside of their area.

It would be like a cow farmer taking advice on his herd from an auto mechanic.

No offense, ma’am. Those grease marks tell me you have been working hard. Listen, I’ll admit there are some important cross-overs, like tending to the fluid levels, but there are some important differences too. Am I right?

Let me restate that. It could be ridiculous to take any advice outside of an expert’s sweet spot, which is more and more narrow as the information age exponentially expands.

It would be like a motorcyclist getting driving tips from a truck driver.

(I like metaphors.)

These are just different systems.

If all a doctor knows is one side of health (the approach using medication), and is advising on that one aspect, take his advice with a grain of salt. If the doctor only knows the pharmaceutical approach you have to first make a separate conclusion that you need that aproach. Then you are in the position to learn from him how to take it. You don’t want to learn from him whether or not you need it in the first place.

That would be like asking a rug salesman if you needed a rug.

(I told you I like metaphors.)

Doctors have a lot of their education delivered to them by the pharmaceutical industry which educates relatively narrowly, limited mostly to the relevance of their own interests. Our textbooks don’t drone on about lifestyle approaches. That’s left to the doctor’s ingenuity (aka, left out). Furthermore, advertisements lure the consumer–patient to conclude a pill just might be the answer they had been hoping for all along.

“Keeping it in context” comes from knowing some of these things. Who is benefitting? Who is acting behind the scenes? What’s not being represented?

The doctor who is best positioned to advise on a pharmaceutical intervention is one who not only is free from financial or personal gain from its use BUT also understands the nonpharmacologic approach well.

There are plenty of doctors out there who know the least amount of pharma you need is the right amount. Making a shift using lifestyle is the real thing. We all know it. Using drugs only as an add-on next to maximized lifestyle measures is still the modus operandi of the great physicians out there.

And remember, individual health is different from public health. There is no such thing as one size fits all in individualized health. No diet or drug is right for all people at all times. In fact, no same diet or drug regimen remains right for a single individual as time goes on.

Summary and Conclusion

The ideal physician health expert is a doctor with a strong vocational understanding of the profession and one who:

  • understands natural health 
  • has the minimalist approach
  • knows there’s a lot they don’t know 
  • is free of personal gain from the medications
  • and knows the medications for their accurate, contextualized worth. 

Someone operating with this total package is the physician of the future, free and focused on the pure intention of patient care. This is whose voice we’d like to amplify. Would the well-sponsored news programs even accept them?

Maybe we need a fictitious character to fill those shoes. They would have to have a face for TV and be well-spoken, of course.  In any event, this is the type of person we’d like to see making the rounds on the news channels, representing us, guiding us, advising us, leading the way into the great unknown…’

…boldly going where no news program has gone before.