"In my opinion when each of these professions (unique and important parts of the healthcare body) act in an insular and inward looking way, the entire organism of healthcare is weaker, and the patient who it is actually all supposed to be about receives care which is less than it ideally could be.
It's a funny thing you know, almost a part of human nature that we often look inwards and become protective and even biased towards our own patch of turf. It even happens to countries on the international scale as we have recently seen from the “America First” statements from President Trump. The same is also often true in health care.
There are 10 main registered health professions in Australia, being chiropractic, dental, medical, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry and psychology.
In my opinion when each of these professions (unique and important parts of the healthcare body) act in an insular and inward looking way, the entire organism of healthcare is weaker, and the patient who it is actually all supposed to be about receives care which is less than it ideally could be.
Studies in the past have shown that patient care and health outcomes are improved in multidisciplinary settings where the different professions work together in the interests of the patient.
Imagine a world where “42-year-old overweight unhealthy Fred" attends his local chiropractic clinic because of some lower back pain he developed after lifting a heavy box. The chiropractor may well be capable of helping Fred with his pain but just imagine that with Fred's agreement an appointment with a clinical psychologist or a dietician or an exercise physiologist (or all three if needed) is organised for him and that it is also recommended he attend his general practitioner for a health screening where blood tests are taken which discover things are heading towards future problems.
It is not unreasonable to imagine that such a patient will gain not only relief from his lower back pain which was his original reason for attending but because of a holistic view of health where the strengths of other professions are recognised this patient may also gain help with his depression issue, achieve weight loss because of better eating and education in the importance of exercise. These things then may also lead to improvements in blood glucose levels for example and instead of being an individual who was heading towards diabetes, his body instead heads in a healthier direction. It’s like there was a fork in the road of Fred’s life. One path to better health outcomes, the other just business as usual. Down both paths the two possible Fred’s are very different men with very different levels of health and life enjoyment.
I believe that a patient's life is enriched when they are proactive about their own health. Health is not something others do to you but rather something that you must be involved in doing for yourself. A patient's health needs I believe are best served when the various health professions understand the complimentary strengths of the other professions as well as the limitations within their own.
I have always been an advocate for multidisciplinary care. We health professionals are just parts of the overall health body. The lungs cannot say I want to be the liver. They serve the body by being good lungs. The heart cannot say I want to be the brain. It’s got an important job pumping blood. Each health profession matters and has its important role to play and when these complement the others, healthcare shines. When all is said and done, it is actually all about the patient first and what helps them to be healthier and happier. I believe that is the primary goal of anyone trying to help their patient regardless of which degree they have hanging on the wall.