Why You Should Talk To A Nurse Instead Of A Doctor


Alternative medicine has been gaining steam the past several decades, and for very good reason. However, there are so many options for medical treatment. Some go the entirely holistic route while others choose a combination of traditional and alternative treatment. This can be for many reasons: preference, cost or availability, or insurance restrictions. If you are one of those who utilizes traditional medicine part of the time, you know how cold, judgmental, and stubborn doctors can be. Have you ever considered just speaking to a nurse? It might be your best option.


My Friend’s Contrasting Birthing Experiences


My best friend recently gave birth to her second child. Her first was born in a hospital, and her experience was less than stellar. She was suffering from major anxiety the entire time, and everything they were doing and giving to her was making it worse. She didn’t feel in control of the situation at all. In the end, her daughter came into the world, happy and healthy, and everything was fine sans a bit of a cone head from the suction tube. No one even told her that her daughter was born posterior, she later found out when someone noticed from the position of the cone on her head.


Her son was born in a birthing center, with a midwife, a doula, and a comfortable environment. There weren’t a bunch of machines and lines hooked up to her, and she did it all natural. She was informed of what was happening every step of the way and was asked her preferences when there were options. The baby was healthy and the birth flew by way faster than the last. All in all, she said it was a much better experience.


So What’s The Real Difference?


If you think about the contrast between these two scenarios, what would you say is the major difference? You could say a sterile, medical approach vs. a more natural, homeopathic approach, and you would be right. But I don’t think that difference is the reason why one experience was so much better than the other.


If you ask me, patient experience and satisfaction generally comes down to how much time the provider spends with the patient. Doctors are often all business all day. By the time they walk in the room they already know exactly what you are there for, and sans a bit of small talk, are mostly professional through and through. Doctors are also well-known for shunning alternative medicine, and may go as far as seeing it as a threat.


Homeopathic providers are often the opposite of this. They often check you in, take all the notes, walk you through from beginning to end, and aren’t afraid of personal conversations. For the last several weeks before my friend’s birth, she went into the birthing center to meet with her doula and other parents due around the same time for a little information and chatting. This is a stark difference from a short, impersonal, and sterile visit with a doctor every week. A doctor who probably sees twenty patients a day.


Traditional vs. Natural medicine is highly debated, but I think we can all agree that there are a few areas where the two can coincide. Individuals may or may not have the need for both in their lifetimes. If you suffer a major trauma and need emergency surgery, your life will probably rely on the field of traditional medicine. If you suffer from something like eczema or anxiety, natural remedies are much safer and can be just as effective, if not more. There are also several reasons a doctor might prescribe non-medicinal treatment, like skin sensitivity or allergies, or past benzodiazepine abuse.


Why A Nurse Is A Better Option


In instances where the right path is foggy, or where you just want a rational, empathetic ear to hear you out and offer advice, a nurse is the best option. Nurses are medically trained like doctors, but they are also trained to be more hands-on with patients, which makes them more accessible and more open to any homeopathic or natural remedies you wish to try or want to know more about.


When my friend took her newborn son to the doctor for the first time, he harshly judged a lot of her choices regarding the birth. He wasn’t very nice about it and tried to make her feel like she had put her child in danger. The nurse who came in beforehand was much more open and understanding, even supportive of her choices. Not all doctors would have done the same, and not all nurses would be any more empathetic, but it’s much more likely that a nurse would have heard her out and maybe only offered one or two insights as opposed to a barrage of criticism.


In the end, nurses are the perfect in-between for those of us who can’t decide, or simply don’t want to decide, between the two worlds. Doctors often see patients as their symptoms, their illness, and their condition. Nurses, on the other hand, recognize the problem, but spend enough time with patients that they see them as more than just a job that needs to be done swiftly.


If you are considering treating something risky in a natural or homeopathic way and you’d like a medical opinion, consider consulting a nurse first. If you do already use natural remedies for certain things but need to visit a medical doctor, disclose all of this to the nurse first. If you have the option of just visiting with a nurse, consider that. Nurses can’t prescribe medication, but they can recommend non-medicinal treatments, and are much more likely to do so.


I’m not suggesting you hide anything from your doctor, I’m just saying that in the end, be prepared for some stubbornness and judgement. If you’d like to have a more open and understanding experience, get to know your nurse, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or describe what actually works for you.

AJ Earley is a personal chef, freelance writer, and root beer float enthusiast from Boise, Idaho.