Physicians are doing their jobs when they focus on diagnosis and treatment, but — just as Teachers cannot ignore outside factors that impact their students’ learning — Doctors can no longer ignore the environmental, social and cultural aspects of illness and healing.

What needs to change?

  1. We need to take a ‘system view’ in health care – where a patient, their family, their resources, personal goals, relationships and environment are all considered.
  2. We must stop treating symptoms instead of diagnosing underlying health problems.
  3. We need a health care system where patients and caregivers are supported in learning skills they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones
  4. We must stop offering medical solutions for cultural problems.

We have been taught to see healing as an event when it is actually a lifestyle.  Becoming well is often a (non-linear) journey of many months or years. Physicians can offer an important scientific perspective on diagnosis and treatment, but individuals and families must be supported in developing the habits, and skills and good mental health necessary to make choices that consistently support and improve their overall health and well-being.

In a culture used to quick fixes and medical hierarchy, this change may not be easy. I propose a new perspective of health care – one that is egalitarian, and endorses personal responsibility, collaboration, and autonomy.