I believe that it is essential for every physician to have a set of guiding principles that form the foundation of how they offer medical care. As doctors, we must use these precepts to guide how we implement an active treatment or recommend watchful waiting or supervised rest. As a patient, it is important for you to know my guiding principles. It helps you to know if my style of medical practice fits your personal preferences.
Patients come to me because they are no longer able treat a problem alone. If your self-healing systems had the full capacity to correct your illness or injury, then you would not need a doctor. A person comes to my office because they need my expert help because they are no longer able to function without assistance.
The Doctor-Patient Relationship: The groundwork upon which all other principles are ultimately based is the doctor-patient relationship. It is essential that I know and understand your unique medical situation and your context. Context refers to the situation from which your illness or injury emerged. I need to comprehend your unique physical and emotional issues such as past injuries or illnesses, previous surgeries, environmental stressors, social pressures, personal emotional strains, nutritional inadequacies, or postural imbalances that create insidious vulnerabilities. Also, you need to understand me and realize that we work together to help you regain your health or re-engage your natural abilities to creatively compensate.
Individualized Care: Every patient is a unique human being and must not be treated with medical formulas or a cookbook style of care. A patient is not a disease. Rather, a patient is a human being who has a disease and is asking for personal care, not institutionalized assembly line medicine.
Shared Decision Making: When simple or complex medical decisions need to be made I will present the available options and help you to make the best decision possible. All final decisions rest with the patient. I understand that health care and disease management are very complicated. I am here to help you decipher the intricate language of medicine by putting your medical story into an understandable language.
Education: My goal is to teach you how to help yourself so that you can become your own “physician.” If a patient can learn how to better care for their illness or injury then they will get better faster and have less suffering.
A Team-Based Process: It is impossible for one doctor to have all the answers regarding every disease. If there were only one healing system that worked for every disease, illness, or injury then the world would only need a single comprehensive healing institution. Sometimes people need to see a medical or surgical specialist, other times they may need Osteopathic Manipulation, additional situations may require referral to an nutritionist, acupuncturist, homeopath, physical or occupational therapist, massage therapist, Rolfer, psychologist, social worker, or religious advisor. I help people with chronic diseases to create their integrated health care team.
The Family Medicine Approach: Before 1990, the culture of medicine emphasized that patients get the best overall health care if they have a Family Doctor who is coordinating the medical team. It is the Family Doctor that makes sure the specialists don’t isolate the patient. Specialists will rarely look upon a patient as a holistic interconnected human being with complicated needs. Even though I no longer function as a Primary Care Physician, I think like one and offer the best of "old fashioned" integrated Family Medical care.
Thinking Physiologically and Osteopathically: Before attending Osteopathic
medical school I earned a Masters of Science in physiology. I think like a physiologist, considering deeply how the body functions in health and disease. Being a physiologist allows me to reason through the root causes of disease. Being an Osteopathic Physician allows me to have an expanded set of principles that incorporate an absolute respect for the body’s ability to self-heal. Osteopathy recognizes the natural wholism of a human being and works to restore that connectedness in a patient. The Osteopathic system of care also gives me the extra tool of the hands-on healing from Osteopathic Manipulation. I have a deep perceptual understanding of how the physical body feels under my hands when disease or injury is present. My hands are a refined diagnostic instrument that allow me to gain a deeper understanding of a patient’s needs. Osteopathy also brings not only an expanded list of therapeutic options but increases the categories of diagnosis far beyond those found in orthodox medicine.
Expanding the Size of the Box vs. Thinking Outside of the Box: Our culture
values people who “think outside of the box.” I find that many “creative” thinkers begin with a small box and are rewarded for stretching their ideas beyond the box. Once their idea has been realized they retreat back to boundaries of their limitations. Rather than occasionally reaching outside of my box, I prefer to make the boundaries of my box larger. If I can continue to grow, expand, and be inclusive then the walls of my box become bigger and bigger including more options and I then have an enhanced diagnostic and therapeutic creativity that is constant rather than infrequent.
Steve Paulus, DO, MS
I believe that human touch is an incredibly powerful healing agent.