Awakening the Physician Healer


Re-Thinking Physician Education

At the close of the 20th century, the medical doctor is viewed, perhaps sometimes deservedly, as a technician, a provider of procedures and chemicals. This perception, while not universally true, does tend to distance many people who understand the innate healing nature of the body. Western Medicine is witnessing an ever-increasing number of people pursuing support and teaching from what has become known as "Alternative Medicine."

On a recent television episode, Roseanne, looking into an infant's eyes, said,"We are not bodies with souls, we are souls with bodies." This awareness by our culture and civilization predicates a response from within the healing professions. If timeless belief and ancient cultures are be treasured sources of wisdom, then we must teach future physicians that human beings are rhythmic energy beings, and that we have material bodies that have coalesced around the energy body according to the laws of the physical universe. The allopathic model is a useful paradigm, one world-view. But there are other world-views, other paradigms, that can teach us much, and we must teach them to our doctors.

Many great leaders in Mind-Body Medicine have come forth. Physicians such as Deepak Chopra and Andrew Weil have captivated the interest and attention of our patients. At the present time, however, "ideal care" would require that a person visit their osteopathic physician, acupuncturist, Ayrvedic or homepathic physician, herbalist, massage therapist, etc. on a more-or-less regular basis. This is not time or cost-effective. It is time to come together to create a vision for the future, an expanded medical school curriculum, perhaps requiring 6 years with a 2 year residency program in Integrative Medicine. Physicians must return to touching people with loving, knowing hands.

The word "doctor" means teacher. In order to teach, one must first learn. Therefore the educational process must cultivate personal experiential growth. Imagine teaching anatomy, physiology, massage therapy, hands-on sensitivity, manual medicine in an integrated study block. Physical diagnosis could expanded to include pulse and tongue diagnosis, and other systematic approaches to understanding dis-ease, as well as returning to the basics of careful patient observation (not just tests!) "Mind Medicine" would encompass more than the present paradigm of 20th century psychiatry to include skills of meditation, listening, neurolinquistic concepts, interactive imagery, classical hypnosis, Buddhist psychology and more.

Creating a program in which current concepts from Western medical science are integrated with acupuncture, massage, acupressure, shiatsu, basic energetic practices, reiki, osteopathy, cranio-sacral therapy, herbology, homeopathy, Interactive Imagery, classical medical hypnosis, counseling (medical psychotherapy), biofeedback, Feldenkrais, movement practices such as Tai Chi and Aikaido, yoga, sitting meditations (insight, zen, TM, etc.) will require a great joining of wills and minds. We can re-awaken the physician healer with wisdom and knowledge and the experience of many dimensions. Science as well as love, kindness, presence, and touch, will be the resources of our future great healers.

back to other essays