Some people who are considering seeing one of our North Vancouver Naturopathic Doctors may have never seen an ND before, and may be confused about what Naturopathic Medicine is and what it can do for their health. Others have friends, co-workers or family members who may have given them a run down of what happens in the first visit with a Naturopathic Physician. Here I describe what happens in that initial intake, as well as some questions that patients often have when considering booking an appointment.
The first visit can be booked online through our website, or by calling our office and speaking to the lovely Stephanie. She does a great job of answering any questions one may have during booking, such as costs, parking information etc. There are forms that need to be filled out ahead of your appointment and brought in for the visit. These can be found on our website. The purpose of these forms is so that the ND can quickly determine which questions to ask during the intake. They are a glimpse into your current health status, habits, diet info, family health history as well as your present health goals you have for yourself.
Once we have you in the room, we ask if you know about Naturopathic medicine. Some people say yes, especially if they have seen another practitioner before. Some say no, and we quickly explain our philosophy of practice. We also answer any questions about the intake form. Then we move onto into the details of your current health complains, what you have tried for the condition, if anything has worked, if there has been any investigations or testing done for current symptoms. Some people come in with multiple health concerns. Often we try to understand these on a deeper level, how does one symptom actually tie into the next. Our body is the sum of its parts, and all within is connected. Most of our patients are able to understand this concept by the time the visit is finished.
To gain a greater understanding of health concers we may recommend lab testing or imaging, depending on what investigations have been done already. This can be often done through our office, or we send you back to your MD with a polite note. In the initial visit we also may perform a symptom oriented physical examination. For example, if high blood pressure is an issue, you bet we are going to take it and monitor at every visit. Next we move onto the “treatment plan”. This plan is often multi-faceted and includes dietary recommendations, healthy habit support (sleep, food, exercise, stress management) and often taking some nutraceuticals to correct imbalances that may have been there for a while. Once in a while we consider prescription medication, but not before we discuss the need as well as alternative treatments. Our doctors regularly attend continuing education conferences and seminars to learn good medicine and bring the information back to patients.
Typically we would see again between 1-4 weeks for a return visit. This depends on whether testing has been completed or we need to check in on symptom change. In the short term we try to address acute complains – things that you are most concerned about that are bothering you currently. In the long term we are considering your overall health plan, keeping you healthy and preventing disease. How many visits will you need? This depends on several factors. Some of our patients we see 3-4 times before they feel their issues have been addressed, others we see more frequently and regularly. The plan of “how long” is also discussed during the initial visit.
So there you go. A quick glimpse into the process of our initial visit. Plan to be in our office for about 70 minutes, this includes checkout and re-booking of your next appointment. Hope to see you soon!
Dr. Agnieszka Matusik