Re. "Doctor shortage reaching crisis stage" (Coast Reporter, Nov .16)
We are writing with the intention of bringing awareness to an often overlooked health care option: naturopathic medicine.
In B.C., naturopathic doctors (NDs) are licensed primary care physicians who, like family physicians, have at least seven to eight years of post-secondary education, are highly trained in the medical sciences and have the ability to diagnosis and treat people of all ages with a variety of acute and chronic health conditions. They are also authorized to prescribe a range of pharmaceutical medications, order lab tests and perform physical exams.
As generalists of alternative medicine, NDs have a strong foundation in nutrition, botanical medicine and homeopathy, while some have additional training in acupuncture, spinal manipulation and intravenous (IV) vitamin and mineral therapy, amongst others. Treatments also include healthy diet and lifestyle choices and techniques for stress reduction and integration of body, mind and spirit, to promote optimal wellness.
At this time, patients must pay out of pocket for service fees and lab tests; however, many extended health plans do cover a portion of the costs, and MSP offers a small reimbursement for people on premium assistance.
Although only a part of the solution to the doctor shortage, NDs have a significant role to play in health care and could help lessen the burden placed on GPs and walk-in clinics on the Coast. Currently there are four licensed naturopathic doctors who are accepting new patients: Dr. Jane Gartshore (Gibsons), Dr. Loreen Dawson and Dr. Baili Clarke (Sechelt), and Dr. Denise Rochon (Halfmoon Bay).
For more information on the scope of practice of NDs in B.C., contact the BC Naturopathic Association at www.bcna.ca.
Baili Clarke, Jane Gartshore, Gibsons
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