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Where is Marcus Welby, MD?

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Well, the ten-day Well-Being Forum for health care practitioners and integrative doctors I hosted in my husband's downtown New York studio ended with a bang last week. But this amazing conversation about how to restore the caring to health care goes on and on, and that means so much to me. Please keep checking in with me as we report on the conference and sift through the pearls of wisdom that emerged from it.

I want to thank so many of you for writing. Each word is precious. I'm so moved by your sharing, your comments, and all your wisdom on this important topic.

In particular I was touched by the response from the primary care physician, who is struggling to give people the care they so desperately need, and was feeling defeated by the lack of respect that doctors and nurses on the front lines receive. When I read your words, I felt so sad. I want to say: Take heart! Don't give up. We need you. We need you as much if not more than the highly paid specialists.

Yes, we need the specialists, but we need those brave doctors and caring practitioners and patient advocates who are going to be there with us through thick and through thin, know us for who we truly are, and help us make decisions and make sense out of all that we face in promoting wellness, and dealing with illness.

When my husband fell ill, I so wished we could turn back the clock and return to Marcus Welby, MD who we all knew when I was a kid. (For you younger folks, he was a popular television doctor, portrayed by the actor Robert Young.) Who are today's Marcus Welbys? If the odds in the current health care model are stacked against primary care practitioners, then we need to change those odds. We need to make policy changes, we need to talk to government and insurance. We need you guys and gals.

As things stand today, because there aren't enough knowledgeable integrative generalists and primary care doctors, it becomes the patient's responsibility and the family's responsibility to sort it all out, to go on that journey to each individual specialist and try to make it all make sense. No wonder we're so confused! We're not a back and a lung and a brain and a whatever, each of us is a total person. As my dear friend and yoga teacher, Rodney Yee says: "We need to heal ourselves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually."

Dr. Mark Hyman, a doctor I know and respect told me that, "The roots of a health problem are hard to find without a roadmap that gets to the root of disease."

The minute he says that, you go: Of course, why don't we have a roadmap?

He believes that "the conventional diagnostic model of medicine is coming to an end and what's replacing it is an understanding of the cause."

Mark told our gathering at the Well-Being Forum, "If someone comes to see me with multiple symptoms, I'm not going to think they are a poor unlucky guy who happens to have all these diseases at the same time and it's just bad luck. I'm going to look for the underlying cause or causes of all his problems."

And yet looking for the deepest causes is not the way we treat illnesses nowadays. Instead we try to fix separate parts of ourselves with treatments by separate specialists. And that, my friend, the primary care doctor who wrote in, is why you don't feel valued, even though you are the center of it all.

So my question today is how do we empower the people who hold the road map, who embrace both Eastern and Western medicine? I would like to see all doctors coming together to create that one singular voice through which change happens.

Our conversation about that on Alison's blog was inspired by my dear friend and doctor, Dr. Frank Lipman, an internist who also practices Chinese Medicine. He reported to the assembled group that the Dalai Lame told him that the three most important aspects of healing are the belief of the patient, the belief of the practitioner, and the relationship between them.

Yes, it's all about relationship and in Alison Rose Levy's blog, you'll see how these wonderful, thoughtful physicians responded to the question of what is the nature of true healing and what do we have to change to get there.

I feel so grateful to be part of this conversation, and it comes out of so many things. One of them is that we were very blessed to actually host His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in my husband's studio, where we've been holding the forum. It all feels sacred somehow. So join us there through these blogs and I also invite you to visit us at my Urban Zen website for updates. Don't forget to add your email to the list of those who want to contribute their ideas and be counted.

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