“You are a doctor, why do you call me a client and not a patient.”
I’ve had several people ask me this question recently, so I thought it was time to answer it here. In all honesty, a part of not calling my clients patients is to avoid being accused of practicing medicine without a license. I am not, nor will I ever be a medical doctor. I have no intentions of going to a medical school where my books and curriculum are dictated by the pharmaceutical industry. I am simply a Doctor of Naturopathy who has years of training, continually seeks further education, and has been board certified. As such, because of the monopoly the medical profession has over certain words and over healthcare in the country, I wish to distance myself from it as much as possible. However, there are some other more important reasons which I will elucidate.
1. Recognition of the relationship
Using client rather than patient acknowledges, honors, and helps you recognize the relationship every doctor has with his/her patients/clients–a doctor is your employee. Yes, I said your employee. You hire them for their expertise and advice, but they are not gods nor do they know all. They perform within your parameters, and if they do not, you have the right to fire them and hire another doctor. You must be the expert on yourself and your body–they are simply experts on various forms of health care.
2. Personal responsibility
By acknowledging our relationship as doctor:client, it helps to clarify your responsibilities within. You have the right and even the responsibility to question your doctor until you understand any suggestions, plans, or treatments. Further, you have the right and responsibility to refuse any treatment that doesn’t align with your best and highest good. It is your responsibility to become an expert on yourself, as I stated previously. Then, it is your responsibility to make sure your doctor sees and understands you clearly. As your doctor, it is my responsibility to honor and respect our relationship and your expertise and to work within your parameters.
3. Mutual respect
As I expect the respect of you calling me doctor, I must respect you in turn. Patient has become a subservient relationship with a wiser person taking charge of a weaker one. Archaically, patient meant someone who is a victim or sufferer. I prefer calling you my client. You use my professional advice and receive the benefit of my education and knowledge, but you are not reliant on me. We are equal and should both be respected. I, the doctor, simply provide knowledge and advice; however, you, the client, must act upon them and incorporate them into your life.
There is a clear and purposeful intention in my calling my clients clients rather than patients. Words have power. By defining our relationship as doctor:client, I empower both myself and my clients. I have the power to work freely knowing my clients are an equal and vital part of our relationship. My clients know they have control over their health outcome because they are an active, key part of the journey I walk with them. As always, intention is everything. My intention is to educate and empower every client who comes into Health Harmonized.
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Note: Everything here is for information only. This is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Seek a qualified medical professional.