Build Your Healthcare Team

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“Most people spend more time looking for their next car than they do looking for their doctor.”
-Cleveland Clinic

One of the most important and proactive steps that you can take in your healthcare journey is assembling a healthcare team that will nourish and support all aspects of your health – with you at the center. Oftentimes, we think of healthcare providers as only the standard western medicine practitioners: like doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other providers typically found in a traditional health system or network. These providers are key players on your healthcare team, and they are critical to your success. However, to tip the scales most in your favor, you’ll need to focus on more than just western medicine treatments and protocols. This means incorporating evidence-based practices and lifestyle modifications that will benefit all aspects of your health and well-being. Just as doctors and nurses support our physical health, a wide range of experts in other aspects of healthcare are available to support an integrative approach to health and healing.

Explore the below areas of healthcare to familiarize yourself with some of the types of practitioners that support holistic health. Then, answer the below questions to help you identify your health and wellness priorities and the practitioners that can help you address them.

Which aspect(s) of my healthcare do I need or want to address?

What professionals or expert practitioners exist to help me in addressing these healthcare needs?

How do I locate them? What are the organizations that credential this type of practitioner? 

Our Symbol
Western Medicine Exercise Nutrition Spirituality Complementary Well-Being Support System Stress Management

Western Medicine

The majority of people in the United States receive most of their healthcare from doctors (MDs or DOs), nurses, physician’s assistants (Pas) and other medical providers who practice in in a medical setting like a hospital, medical clinic, or doctor’s office. This system is what most people think of when they hear the term “healthcare”. The Caring Ambassadors Program refers to this system as “Western Medicine”. Also known as “allopathic”, “conventional”, or “traditional” medicine, this is the most common form of healthcare in the United States and the western world.

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Exercise

All aspects of health are connected—exercise can improve your physical health and have a positively impact the mental aspects of your illness. Developing an exercise plan and sticking with is a key piece of your journey and a component of your plan that cannot be ignored.

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Nutrition

You are what you eat. This is a fact of life. Our bodies transform what we eat and drink into the very substance of our physical selves. Diet is one of the most important factors that influences health in our society. A healthy, nourishing diet can prevent the onset of many diseases, slow, halt or reverse the effects of diseases that have already struck, and contribute to a longer life. Every individual, but especially those fighting a long-term illness, should consider making a sound nutrition plan part of their healing process.

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Spirituality

For thousands of years, spiritual practices have been an integral part of worldwide healing traditions. When you open up to spirituality, things may happen that do not seem logical or rational. When discussing spirituality, frequently the concepts of religion and prayer come to mind. Not all individuals take part in an organized religion or believe in prayer, but that doesn’t mean that spirituality is not, or shouldn’t be, a part of their life and self-care. So for our purposes, spirituality is simply defined as the unique connection between an individual and what they define as the source of healing. A spiritual practice can be spending time in nature, being of service to others, reading poetry or inspirational literature, communicating with ancestors, meditating, choosing to practice harmlessness.

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Complementary

Complementary Medicine is a group of diverse medical and healthcare systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of western medicine. Complementary therapies can often help improve quality of life and health outcomes in individuals living with long-term illness.

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Well-Being

Well-being is a broad term that means different things to different people, and for which there is no single definition. Several factors contribute to (or take away from) one’s well-being. A few of these are included in the below word cloud. These individual factors impact our emotional and mental health, which in turn impact our overall well-being state. The CDC describes “well-being” as judging life positively and feeling good. For purposes of My Journey My Choices, “Well-being” is a description of your mental and emotional health.

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Support System

No one needs to face a long-term disease alone. When people with a long-term disease seek and receive help from others, they often find it easier to cope. Developing and nurturing strong relationships is one of the most important steps in healing, and it’s something you can work on right now to immediately benefit your health and well-being.

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Stress Management

Chronic stress contributes to anxiety, obesity, and heart disease, is linked to mental illnesses and pain, and is also a risk factor for substance abuse. Taking control of your stress with relaxation techniques is an excellent way to protect your overall health by counteracting its negative effects.

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It is very important to inform each of your healthcare providers about all of the treatment approaches you are using. This is particularly important if you choose an integrative medicine approach that involves healthcare providers or treatments from several different medical providers.

 

TIP: Download and complete the My Integrative Healthcare Team reference sheet, developed by the Caring Ambassadors Program. Keep this document with your medical records or in the back of Your Healing Planner©. Update it when needed, provide it to your healthcare practitioners or loved ones as appropriate, and refer to it as needed to contact members of your healthcare team or simply as a reminder of the many types of practitioners who contribute to health and healing.