In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, Lifestyle Medicine has emerged as a beacon of hope and transformation. This approach to medicine is not just altering the way physicians practice healthcare but is significantly changing patient outcomes for the better. In this blog post, we delve into some inspiring stories of physicians who embraced Lifestyle Medicine and, in doing so, not only rediscovered their passion for medicine but also significantly improved the health and wellness of their patients.
A Sustainable Economic Model through Lifestyle Medicine:
The journey of Dr. Wayne Dysinger, MD, MPH, FACLM, DipABLM, as detailed in an article on the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) website , is a testament to the economic sustainability that Lifestyle Medicine can bring. Dr. Wayne Dysinger transitioned from a traditional practice to a Lifestyle Medicine-focused model. The result? Not only did this move prove to be economically viable, but it also allowed for more meaningful patient interactions and better health outcomes. Patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease experienced remarkable improvements, thanks to personalized lifestyle interventions. This story Sustainable Economic Model highlights the dual benefit of Lifestyle Medicine: it’s a financially sustainable model for physicians and a life-changing approach for patients.
Rediscovering the Passion for Medicine:
Another inspiring story comes from Dr. Mahima Gulati, MD, DipABLM, FACLM, who shared her experience on the ACLM’s platform . Faced with the routine frustrations and burnout common in traditional healthcare settings, Dr. Mahima Gulati turned to Lifestyle Medicine and found renewed passion and purpose. By focusing on preventive care and lifestyle changes, Dr. Gulati saw dramatic improvements in her patients' health, reigniting the very reason she chose to become a physician. Her journey, detailed in Physician Rediscovered Passion , underscores the profound personal and professional fulfillment that comes from practicing Lifestyle Medicine.
Overcoming Physician Burnout with Lifestyle Medicine:
The article Lifestyle Medicine Helped Save This Physician From Burnout narrates the story of Dr. Raquel F. Harrison, who was grappling with the all-too-common issue of physician burnout. By incorporating Lifestyle Medicine into his practice, not only did Dr. Harrison find personal relief from burnout, but he also observed significant health improvements in his patients. This transformation is a powerful reminder of how Lifestyle Medicine can positively impact both the health of patients and the well-being of physicians.
The Importance of Lifestyle Medicine in a Physician's Career:
These stories collectively highlight the importance of Lifestyle Medicine in a physician’s career. By shifting the focus from symptom treatment to addressing the root causes of chronic diseases through lifestyle changes, physicians are witnessing a paradigm shift in patient care. This approach empowers patients to take charge of their health, leading to sustainable, long-term health improvements. For physicians, this shift not only brings about a more fulfilling career but also contributes to a more sustainable healthcare system.
Lifestyle Medicine is more than a medical practice; it's a movement towards a more holistic, patient-centered approach to health. It offers a way for physicians to reconnect with the core values of medicine - caring, healing, and preventing illness. The stories of Dr. Wayne Dysinger, Dr. Mahima Gulati, and Dr. Raquel F. Harrison are just a few among many that illustrate the transformative power of Lifestyle Medicine in healthcare.
The impact of Lifestyle Medicine on patient outcomes and physician satisfaction is profound. It goes beyond the traditional metrics of healthcare success to include improved quality of life, patient empowerment, and professional fulfillment. As these success stories show, Lifestyle Medicine is not just a career choice for physicians; it's a pathway to a more rewarding, effective, and compassionate practice of medicine. Physicians who embrace this approach are at the forefront of a healthcare revolution, one that prioritizes the holistic well-being of both patients and healthcare providers.
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Written by Cate Collings, MD, DipABLM, FACLM As originally published on Medscape.com
Personal testimonies are powerful but research is beginning to back it up. Results of a recent survey published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that the more lifestyle medicine that practitioners were able to incorporate into their medical practices, the less likely they were to experience burnout. The results "suggested that increased feelings of accomplishment due to improved patient outcomes and reduced depersonalization contribute to reduced burnout."
Other leaders in the lifestyle medicine community, like Liana Lianov, MD, MPH, approach physician well-being through the field of positive psychology and the emerging field of positive health. She is the founder of the Global Positive Health Institute , where the science of positive psychology and healthy lifestyles is applied by primary care and other specialists, including lifestyle medicine practitioners, across a spectrum of care delivery settings. ACLM has a member interest group and a special committee focused on happiness science and positive psychology.
Lianov, who was also lead faculty on ACLM's " Physician & Health Professional Well-being " 5-hour CME/CNE/CPE/CE- accredited course, makes the point that while quality self-care is not consistently delineated in the health professional well-being literature, the lifestyle medicine community refers to a defined set of healthy lifestyle interventions. The types and intensity of interventions should be personalized because they depend on the clinician's circumstances, environment, background, prior experiences, culture, and personality. Well-being strategies that combine interventions based in the science of lifestyle medicine and positive health support growth and thriving in the face of — or sometimes even as a result of — the adversities we face. As Lianov puts it, "Clinician well-being is a journey, not a destination."
To be sure, a lifestyle medicine–focused commitment to self-care does not resolve the system-level obstacles we face. It can, however, transform how we respond and cope with those frustrations, help us find deeper meaning in our work, and better shine our positive healing powers onto the patients we serve. ACLM's annual conference in October has a virtual attendance option that is an excellent opportunity for unfamiliar clinicians to dip a toe in the water and find out whether lifestyle medicine appeals to them. A post-conference virtual workshop will be offered on physician and health professional well-being and how you can lead workshops on this topic in your healthcare settings. Participating in these events could very well be the first step to rediscovering the joy and purpose too often missing from our profession.
Written by ACLM Member Dawn Woods, PharmD, DipACLM as featured on PharmacyTimes.com Image credit: M-studio -stock.adobe.com
Pharmaceuticals are a critical and often lifesaving tool for managing disease, but we will never solve our chronic disease crisis through a mindset of mere management.
Ask the average person what the purpose of a pharmacist is and they’ll probably say to give them medications with instructions to take them safely. True, that’s an important part of our job. But as pharmacists, we know that we are much more than drug experts; we’re health professionals who are highly knowledgeable in the screening, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases.
That knowledge—and the fact that the pharmacy is among the most accessible forms of health care for many Americans—positions us for a bigger role in reducing the crisis of chronic disease in the United States. Six in 10 adults have been diagnosed with at least 1 chronic disease and 4 in 10 with at least 2. The costs of this tragedy, both in human suffering and dollars spent on health care, are enormous.
Pharmaceuticals are a critical and often lifesaving tool for managing disease, but we will never solve our chronic disease crisis through a mindset of mere management—prescribing increasing quantities of medications alone. To finally begin to provide “health care” instead of “sick care,” we must also address the root causes of these diseases to restore health. And the root causes of the vast majority of chronic disease are lifestyle-related.
That’s why I encourage pharmacists to explore lifestyle medicine, a growing, evidence-based medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Applying the 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine—optimal nutrition, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections—also provides effective prevention for these conditions.
My interest in lifestyle medicine grew from my own experience. I struggled with poor health my entire life and, by the time my second child was born, was tired of feeling exhausted and unwell. Committing to healthy lifestyle behaviors, I reduced my cholesterol by 60 points, improved my blood pressure to 110/70, and lost 40 lbs. I felt more energized, alert, and empowered than ever before. My passion became helping others address the underlying, lifestyle-related cause of their diseases so they, too, can live full and healthy lives.
I became certified to practice lifestyle medicine by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and accredited as a certified health and wellness life coach. I began incorporating conversations, when appropriate, into patient consultations at the pharmacy where I work in Birmingham, Ala. More often than not, I’m communicating health information that the patient has never heard and is grateful to receive.
Patients on medications for type 2 diabetes are among the most engaged. Often, their physicians have told them to “eat better” but not what that means, much less how to achieve it sustainably. I talk to patients about the growing evidence supporting a predominately plant-based eating pattern to achieve remission, suggest books, and provide them resources from ACLM, such as shopping guides and recipes to make easy meals. Some I direct to lifestylemedpros.org , ACLM’s directory of lifestyle medicine-certified clinicians, to find help nearby.
Lifestyle change is not the best path for everyone and social determinants cause unique challenges that must be acknowledged. But many patients are surprised to learn that it may be possible to achieve remission in their diabetes by adhering to a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern .
For those spending between $300 and $400 a month for insulin, the idea of treating their disease through diet is intriguing. For some, our conversations are a springboard to engage their primary care physicians in deeper conversations about lifestyle. Patients who commit to making significant lifestyle behavior changes sometimes call the pharmacy to find out when I am working so they can discuss their progress with me or ask questions.
To be sure, such consultations are not always possible. Pharmacists can face the same overwhelming patient volume as physicians and just keeping up the demand of prescriptions to fill is sometimes the best we can do.
My hope is that health care leaders and employers will begin to recognize the immense value that pharmacists can contribute to the effort to reduce chronic disease and structure our roles to amplify our impact. I envision a future in which pharmacists are more deeply embedded into health teams to help patents achieve optimal health or collaborate to deprescribe medication following successful lifestyle medicine interventions.
As a first step, pharmacists and other clinicians can register for 5.5 hours of complimentary CE/CME coursework in nutrition and food as medicine offered by ACLM in support of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health . The free coursework helps establish a foundation of lifestyle medicine knowledge for health professionals.
To truly change the trajectory of chronic disease, we must go beyond managing symptoms and start addressing the root causes. Lifestyle medicine provides us the skills to do exactly that.