I approach both orthodox and alternative medicine with a healthy degree of scepticism. Evidence-based medicine is revealing that our long held presumptions of best practice are not always true. Expensive new drugs are not necessarily better than their cheaper predecessors; antioxidant supplements, stripped of their dietary cofactors, repeatedly fail to demonstrate their claims; and new surgical techniques are over-zealously adopted before critical appraisal of long term outcomes. Medical history teaches us to be circumspect.
My own professional performance is not spared the scrutiny and scepticism I cast externally. While a confident and assertive clinician is certainly attractive, a degree of humility and self-doubt is also an asset in your health care provider. Reading in biomedicine more frequently finds me in awe of the complexity and interconnectedness of biology rather than giving me any sense of mastery or dominion. Humbled, I tend to be more aware of what we don’t know than what we do.
That being said, I am trained in, and enjoy a level of confidence in orthodox, allopathic medicine, and it’s through this prism I tend to view disease and treatment. I fully concede, however, there are major gaps in our understanding of many disease processes, and limitations to modern medical and surgical treatments, and complementary therapists may offer more than I.
I prefer empowering owners with the information, understanding, and tools to wrest management of their animal’s medical problem, rather than relying too much on me. This is particularly attractive to owners of pets with chronic disease, and those trained in other medical fields. Collaborating with informed, engaged owners, sharing perspectives and cross-fertilising ideas, is the vet-client relationship at it’s best. Similarly, farmers, permaculturalists, dog trainers and behaviouralists, wildlife carers, and complementary therapists are all valuable parts of a community knowledge-bank from which vets should learn, and contribute.