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    Integrative pharmacy: Changing public perceptions

    The New Pharmacy: Revenue Streams, Part 5

    Someone once said, "Don't tell me what yer agin', tell me what yer for." Leaven this with "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." And that’s generally the best approach. But I'm going to ignore that advice now and talk about what you might experience in the form of opposition, disbelief, resistance, and pushback to your New Pharmacy practice, and what to do about it.

    The media

    The first roadblock comes from the media, through radio, magazines, blogs, and newspapers, and their so-called “science” correspondents.

    Every day you can find a piece by some self-righteous blogger whose science education appears to be minimal but who can quote someone who really is a scientist — which apparently justifies calling the rest of us uninformed or practitioners of pseudo-science if we hold views that are not mainstream. If the scientist du jour is from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Johns-Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic, or Mayo Clinic, well, that’s that. Case closed.

    For an excellent recent example of what I’m talking about, take a look at Jerome Groopman’s “Inflamed,” in the November 30 issue of The New Yorker (http://bit.ly/Groopman). Do you see the bias?

    Your patients read these articles, which multiply or go viral on social media with "likes," "shares," and "retweets." My advice: Either ignore them or, better yet, post the truth in the comments section, with a bona fide reference from the medical or scientific literature. Let readers know the shallow understanding reflected in these pieces. Then keep doing what you're doing right.

    Allopathic physicians

    The next roadblock is the opinion of the allopathic doctors in your neighborhood.

    When you start helping patients and getting results, local doctors and nurse practitioners are going to hear about it, and they won’t be happy. At least, not at first. Your patients will be telling them about things you said, advice you gave, drug therapies you want discontinued, supplements or foods that you recommended, and the great results they got from your consult.

    Don't worry. They'll diss and dismiss you for only so long before they stop by your office for a consult for themselves and thank you for all you do for the community.

    You will become a force in your area — a powerful one. So don't be thin-skinned. Praise and recognition will come with time.

    With the 12 to 15 minutes that practitioners have to see a patient and write a script, they can't do what you do. And they're stuck in that model.

    When you communicate your thoughts to your patients' physicians, explain your reasoning with the same patience and respect and simplicity that you show to your patient — but add references. Remember: This subject is new to physicians. They know nothing about nutrition, and even less about herbs, supplements, vitamins, and minerals — even though they and their families take them. (They will be a tiny bit duplicitous about this.)

    Mark T. Burger, PharmD
    Mark Burger owns Health First! Pharmacy and Compounding Center in Windsor, California. He welcomes your questions and comments at ...

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