08 May Expanding your Healthcare Team: What To Expect When Working with a Naturopathic Doctor
Guest Post By: Dr. Jennah Miller
Now that you’ve been introduced to all things naturopathic medicine in my first blog post, you may be interested in finding a naturopathic doctor to round out your healthcare team. Naturopathic doctors are capable of working alongside your current healthcare providers (like your family medical doctor or OB/GYN), to provide you with the most thorough and holistic treatment plan possible. Your healthcare should be as unique as you are, and by adding a naturopathic doctor to your team of healthcare practitioners, you’ll be well on your way to addressing all aspects of your health from a physical, mental, and emotional perspective. Patient-centered care is the cornerstone of naturopathic medicine, so you can rest assured that you’ll be an active player in your own treatment plan.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect when working with a naturopathic doctor. As a naturopathic doctor myself, I highly recommend that individuals take the time to do some background research online before choosing an ND. Check out the practitioner’s website, determine if their clinical focus fits your specific needs, and consider taking advantage of free “Meet and Greet” appointments that many naturopathic doctors in Toronto offer to new patients. Take the time to sit down and chat with a few different doctors before committing, since you should ultimately feel comfortable with the ND you end up choosing to work with.
Luckily, Toronto does not lack for amazing naturopathic doctors. After searching online with resources like Google, the CAND, OAND, or independent databases like Find A Naturopath, you’ll hopefully have found a few NDs whose practice style you connect with. Most ND’s offer free 15-30 minute Meet and Greet appointments for new patients, which you should definitely take advantage of. In my own practice, these Meet and Greet appointments allow me to sit down with potential patients to answer any of their initial questions about naturopathic medicine, my practice style, or their specific health concerns. This is a great opportunity for the individual to share their health goals while I give them further guidance as to how naturopathic medicine might benefit them. I also give patients an idea of what treatment avenues we might pursue should they decide they’d like to continue working with me. Ultimately, this appointment helps us determine whether we would be a good therapeutic fit for each other.
Once you’ve chosen a naturopathic doctor to work with, you’ll be scheduled in for an initial consult. These initial appointments generally range from 60-120 minutes in duration, and will include a thorough clinical history (naturopathic doctors are known for asking lots of questions), some physical exams, and potentially a requisition for further testing/lab work. In my own practice, I also like to provide initial treatment recommendations on the first visit, which may include anything from diet/lifestyle recommendations, nutritional supplementation, herbal support, or an acupuncture treatment.
As independent practitioners, many naturopathic doctors often set their own pricing scheme, visit length, and follow-up timeline. As a result, you may find that these aspects of care can vary widely between practitioners. Currently, OHIP does not cover visits to a naturopathic doctor; however, most extended healthcare plans include naturopathic medicine under paramedical services (alongside massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture). Before visiting a naturopathic doctor, you should check with your insurance provider to confirm the amount of your coverage. From working with patients, I typically see anywhere from 50-100% of the appointment price covered at any one time, to a maximum of $500-1000 for the coverage year.
It’s important to note that while most extended healthcare plans cover naturopathic visit costs (which are also HST exempt), they typically do not cover out of office costs such as supplements and lab testing recommendations. Any lab testing requisitioned by an ND must be paid for out of pocket by the patient, although many naturopathic doctors are more than happy to work collaboratively with your family doctor to ensure you get the testing you need. Any treatment received in-office during an appointment (for example, acupuncture or body work) will generally be covered by your insurance provider, depending on your specific extended healthcare plan.
Appointment Timeline & Progression of Care
Once you’ve started working regularly with a naturopathic doctor, your therapeutic timeline will often be discussed within the first few appointments. The number of follow-up appointments and duration of treatment will vary widely based on a number of factors (how adherent you are to treatment recommendations, your specific health concern, the type of naturopathic modality being used, etc.), and this is something that should be well understood when starting your naturopathic care.
In my own practice I usually like to outline the treatment schedule, and then adjust it depending on the individual in front of me. For the most part, we begin with a 60-minute initial intake, where I take the patient’s case and start the initial treatment recommendations. Often the individual will have to order a few supplements or herbal products, fill out a diet diary, or get some blood work completed before out first follow-up appointment. I like to have our first follow-up appointment 2-3 weeks after the initial intake. This gives the patient adequate time to start initial treatment recommendations, and allows us to work through any obstacles or troubleshoot any questions sooner into their treatment timeline rather than later.
The first follow-up is 60 minutes long, and during this time we dive into the nitty-gritty of the treatment plan. We review blood work, diet diaries, and complete the remainder of the treatment recommendations at this time. All future follow-up appointments range from 30-45 minutes in duration, and occur every 4-6 weeks until the individual’s health goals have been reached. Duration of follow-up varies widely based on the individuals’ specific concerns, but you can expect your therapeutic relationship with your ND to be longer term, as you work on a holistic treatment plan together.
With this information, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect naturopathic doctor to add to your health care team. Take the time to find an ND that you connect with and feel comfortable talking to about your health concerns. Stay tuned for more articles in the future, outlining more about naturopathic medicine, women’s health, and how to integrate all of this within the context of your current conventional medical care.
Jennah Miller is a Toronto based Naturopathic Doctor who believes that the strongest step a woman can take towards empowerment, is in taking care of her health. She works with weird, wild, and badass women in co-creating their own unique brilliance. Dr. Jennah understands that women are not just small men, and she thinks it’s high time your health care took that into account. Don’t you?
Dr. Jennah graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine with a special interest in fertility and reproductive health, as well as a passion for teaching women how to love their periods and connect with the shifting tides of their own bodies. With an undergraduate degree in Nutrition, she has an in depth knowledge of how to fuel the female body. She believes above all, that you are important and worth your own time. You can find out more about her and her naturopathic practice at www.jennahmiller.com, or book with her at https://jennahmiller.janeapp.com/
From time to time, we invite guest experts to share their professional opinions and thoughts on our blog. Views, opinions, and positions expressed within these posts are those of the author alone, and do not represent those of Eve Medical.