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The Element Minute

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Why I love Lifestyle Medicine

July 31, 2020

by April Thomas

A few months back to celebrate Lifestyle Medicine Week our team members each took a minute to share why they love practicing Lifestyle Medicine and I would like to share my answer here for my patients.

For me, it comes down to time.

As a young NP I worked at a small community health clinic where I saw only a handful of patients each day. My patients had complicated medical problems that we were trying to address with very little resources. My patients’ poor health was often the least of their worries as they balanced concerns for food, housing, and safety. But somehow, we were making progress. Little by little people were getting better. We used the resources we had – simple diet changes, improvements in sleep, activity and, most precious of all, time. We had the time it takes to learn what each individual needed to take just one step forward. That job was hard and it was deeply satisfying. It is rare as a medical provider to be given the gift of time with your patients and this gift forever changed me.

Lifestyle Medicine is a practice that is devoted to treating, reversing and preventing chronic disease through lifestyle change as a first-line treatment. This is only possible if we invest the time it takes to develop robust relationships with patients. I love having a practice that makes this investment and creates an environment where people feel listened to, respected and seen. Time allows us to build trust. Once a patient feels heard, they are confident that I have thoughtfully created my suggested plan of care. And, because I get to know my patients well, I am able to see them as the experts they are. This basis of trust creates a shared authority that empowers patients to take control of their care.

People often ask me what my plan is for my practice to grow. My plan is to stay small, to protect my time with patients and honor the gift that was given to me. It is enough to help people find what they need to take just one step forward. No matter how long it takes.

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