Time to Brush Up on Complementary Medicine
Once referred to as “alternative”, many methods of complementary medicine have made their way into private health insurance plans, family medicine offices and nursing textbooks. That’s right. In today’s nursing curriculum texts students are likely to see informational boxes about gingko biloba and acupuncture side by side with more traditional therapies such as pharmaceuticals and surgery.
The once solid wall separating eastern from western medicine has become a barely visible line. Savvy healthcare consumers, doing their homework on the internet, have taken control of their health, utilizing treatments and complementary therapies that work, and are often more cost effective – versus simply looking to their doctor for the magic pill.
What does this mean for today’s nursing students? First of all, there is the awareness that alternative medicine is no longer considered alternative (correct term in medicine is now “complementary”). This is especially important when it comes to respecting the beliefs of your patients, starting as a student nurse. Speaking of your time as a student nurse, what better time is there to research complementary therapies than during nursing school?
Some complementary treatments worth looking into:
- Music Therapy
- Pet Therapy
- Guided Imagery
- Sound Therapy
Yes, these are in fact actual medical treatments and not services listed on the rainbow colored handout of that strange folk healer downtown. However, another good reason to research these topics and others like them is to ensure that your patients aren’t doing any potentially dangerous mixing and matching with mainstream treatments that could lead to adverse reactions. Having a solid understanding of the effectiveness and evidence based research surrounding each treatment is also vital to the credibility of any clinical provider.
Overall, the days of complementary therapies being considered “soft” research paper topics by nursing students, are fading fast. As the collective medical mind of providers, students and patients continues to broaden, good medicine will be a combination of what works best, what regimen the patient is willing comply with, what is safe and what is in the best interest of the patient.