Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What are we teaching health professionals? How does this affect you?

Today I gave a talk to nursing students taking a nutrition course as part of a master's program. When I asked them "How many in here, considering you're all working in the health professions have been trained to use nutrition with your patients?" Everyone shook their head no and I looked out at them and said, "Are you kidding me?" No one? Conversation ensued where they all generally acknowledged it doesn't come into their practice at all!

I then said, "We know that 90% of the health problems are directly connected to the nutrition lifestyles of the client. How can you NOT use this as a cornerstone of what you do with clients?"
I got responses like "its easier to give a pill, the client won't do it, we don't have time or knowledge". It was sad to hear this, but I know they represent the reality of our health care system.

Essentially, we all acknowledged that by and large, we are not taught to know our clients as ‘whole’ people, but as diseases, symptoms or a particular diagnosis. Much of our health training misses significant depths of knowledge—things like good nutrition, exercise, emotional components of health etc. Because we aren’t trained in it, it is difficult to include it in our treatment modalities.

Many in the audience talked about the health centers they worked at—hospitals where the food was of such low quality (or fast food chains owned the concession!), schools that fed our children highly processed lunches, residential treatment centers that do not include exercises and nutrition as part of their treatment model and doctor’s offices where half the staff had significant health problems of their own. It was kind of depressing to listen to these health professionals acknowledge that the “system is a mess”.

Several voiced that ‘they should do something about it” and I said, “They is We”. We have to own the fact that by the time most of us graduate high school and college, we know little about creating healthy lives and we just carry that straight on into the health care system. If ‘something is going to change” it is because we have the courage to do something about it!

This is a huge problem. Because the health care 'system', the people who create it (health professionals) and the clients who access it are all losing. We are spending a fortune and killing ourselves!
What can you do? Take charge of your own life! If you are a health professional--teach yourself about the Life Puzzle model and start using it as you approach your clients--see the whole person, not the disease. If you are just a general person reading this blog--again, take charge. The "system" is will have to take responsibility for your own health and wholeness.

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