General Practice: An Integrative Approach

Life is a process of change. Nothing living can be static. Given that medicine is, or should be, the science of life, it is wonderful to watch the changes that are moving through the medical community at the moment. If you want evidence of these changes you need look no further than a new book that has been published called, “General Practice: An Integrative  Approach”.

The book is written by Professor Kerryn Phelps and Dr Craig Hassed. Essentially what it does is lay down a platform for the future of medicine; an integrated future of medicine. The integration in question is of what we might call orthodox medicine and what is sometimes called “alternative” or “complementary” medicine.

In many ways drugs became the centre of the medical model of the 20th century. Pharmaceutical companies spent billions of dollars developing drugs that were dispensed as magic bullets that could cure everyone. The person to be cured almost became inconsequential in some instances. This is plainly a crazy way to treat illness or seek to create and maintain wellness. That is why there was and is such a strong move toward “complementary” medicine.

Under the complementary model the individual is treated as a whole person, not just the bearer of a symptom that is to be eradicated. Any symptoms are regarded as manifestations of imbalance within the entire life of that person. This means looking at diet, levels of exercise, mental attitudes, spiritual practices and a whole lot more. People have sensed this and after the initial excitement at the idea of a magic medical bullet that permeated the first half of the 20th century there has been a gradual search for something more substantial medically.

Of course, this does not negate the undeniable benefits of orthodox medicine and the pharmaceutical approach. It does however, mean that a system which draws these two medical attitudes together and integrates them into a whole is the future of medicine. If you want to check out that future then have a look at this book, “General Practice: An Integrative Approach”.

As the book itself proclaims, it aims to present a “best practice” model for medicine; not an alternative one. This book is about how medicine should be practised in your local clinic, wherever you are. It examines physiology and pharmacology relating to medical conditions and then addresses therapeutic options including lifestyle advice, nutrition, herbs, supplements, acupuncture,  bodywork, and meditation.

You only have to look at the authors to see that this idea of “integration” has become mainstream; both authors are general practitioners. Professor Phelps (as her title suggests) is a Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW. She is a past president of the Australian Medical Association, a well known media identity, and is the President of the Australasian Integrative Medical Association (AIMA). Dr Craig Hassed is Deputy Head of Department at the Monash University Department of General Practice.

Well done to these progressive authors. The publication of such a major book is a warming indication that our medicine is headed in the right direction.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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