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What I Said To The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (conclusion)

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on August 26, 2011

Continued from previous post

AANP Logo In my opinion, ‘doctors who listen’ misses the target of creating an identifiable brand worth of our profession and capable of building mindshare around our identity.

So what is a credible alternative to this descriptive tag, one that gives us a readily understandable brand identity in the minds of healthcare consumers and legislators?  How do we arrive at knowing what to say about ourselves?

In my new book, ‘How To Click With People: The Secret To Better Relationships In Business And In Life,’ I talk about the principle of resonance, of getting on the same wavelength with people, the same page, arriving at a shared understanding, and then speaking to the needs, values, motivations of others.

The motivations of  people who go to alternative medical practitioners are not a grand mystery.  They are readily discernible.  Indeed, in the Consumer Reports article on a survey they conducted into this very issue, we learn that people make this medical choice for the following reasons:

1.  They are already a proponent of the alternative.  They use these therapies because that’s how they were raised.

2.  They’ve gone through a life changing medical experience

3.  They were encouraged to do so by friends and loved ones who are proponents

4.  They believe this is a safer and healthier approach than drug and surgical interventions. In other words, they want to avoid the side effects that complicate so many conventional treatments.

In other words, they know what they’re looking for.  And these are the questions being asked by these healthcare consumers:  How do I find what I’m looking for?  How do I know I’ve found it?  How do I know I can trust it?  What all of this amounts to is, plain and simple, a branding issue.

Now, rather than reinvent the wheel, it seems prudent to me to look out into the domain of our ever more popular natural medicine consuming population to find out how they talk about us.  And just a month or so ago, we were given just such an opportunity.  And it came from Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Dr. Oz, whose show is watched almost as devoutly as Oprah’s show was watched before she finished it, delivers healthcare education to consumers interested in knowing their choices and improving the quality of their lives.  My wife is a big fan, and I must say that every time I have watched his show with her, I’ve been impressed with his knowledge, perception, and authority in delivering this kind of content.  If anyone knows the market demographics for healthcare consumers interested in alternatives to the drug and surgery model of conventional medicine, I think it’s safe to say that it is Dr. Oz.

So when he had one of our naturopathic physicians on his show as an expert and guest, Dr. Pina LoGiudice, N.D., L.Ac., many in our community of doctors, as well as our patients, friends and family members, were excited about the development and watched with interest.  But much to our disappointment, he made no mention of naturopathic medicine, or the fact that his guest was a doctor.

But here’s what he did do.  The way he introduced her went something like this.  He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to pay close attention.  Because we have with us today a world class expert in natural medicine.”

BAM!  It was a blinding flash of the obvious as far as I’m concerned, as he nailed it right out of the gate.  Because that is exactly what our colleges are graduating:  World class experts in natural medicine!  That’s the focus of our education, that’s what we pay attention to, and that’s what we’ve always been about since the birth of our profession over 100 years ago.

And that’s what healthcare consumers are looking for when they seek us out.  They want expertise.  They want natural therapies.  And they want medical outcomes.   In my opinion, for our profession to click with  more healthcare consumers, to click with more legislators in states lacking licensing laws (and thus exposing, through their lack of regulation, their citizens to the dangers of untrained diploma mill customers calling themselves doctors and using dogma instead of diagnosis to sell bogus therapies and pointless products…but I digress) we need to call ourselves what we really are, using language that tells people enough information to at least help them to make an informed decision to come to one of our doctor’s offices.

Naturopathic physicians are experts in natural medicine.  Yes, we listen.  But then we apply our knowledge to help our patients restore and maintain their health, not just manage their illness.

Agreed that this isn’t for everyone.  But if you’re looking for someone to help you sort your way through the smorgasbord of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) and get the help you need, then you’re going to want to find an expert, right?  Well, I know just where you can find  one.

Find a licensed N.D. and get the world class help you need.  For more information, visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians for a member list of licensed professionals in your area.

I’d love to hear your comments and feedback about this series.

Be well,

Rick

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