‘Practice of Medicine’– This little phrase dictates our ability to access health care in a big way. The ‘practice of medicine,’ as currently defined by state law and enforced through subsequent federal rulings, creates a detrimental monopoly within our health care system. (Monopoly defined: the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service; this lack of competition can result in higher prices and inferior products or services.)

I feel this insult on multiple levels. As an herbalist, I must operate on the fringes since caring for my community is, by definition, a crime. As a patient, my options are diminished and the care that remains is more costly.  As a person, I am offended by the privilege and perspective of some crushing the vitality and views of many.

Oh the nuances to pick and considerations to weigh.  Oh the statutes to read and legal precedent to examine. Oh how my head hurts and will I get in trouble for using Skullcap?

At the bottom of this rant is the link to an article by Michael Cohen that I found useful.  May it play a part in helping us better understand, take apart, and ultimately transform this medical clusterf#$k.

“The current regulatory scheme, embodied in state ‘practice of medicine’ statutes and related case law, reflects an outmoded view of health care, in which the physician is the sole purveyor and guardian of health…To shift from an exclusively medical paradigm to a framework that includes touch and other forms of holistic healing does not mean that the insights, discoveries, and therapeutic devices of modern medicine will be discarded or diminished. Nor does the movement from medicine to healing mean returning to the Dark Ages or succumbing to quackery. Rather, rethinking the paradigm means freeing the law from conceptual and historical limitations, and opening to embrace a broader set of possibilities for the journey into health.” 

Mr. Cohen doesn’t just offer a critique of current regulation, but shares ideas for moving forward. And while I’m not an advocate of additional licensure as an option, I do appreciate his view of legislatively redefining the ‘practice of medicine’ so that healing isn’t restricted to the pinhole through which the American Medical Association sees the world. “On a legislative level, medical practice acts must be amended to define ‘practicing medicine’ in terms specific to the medical profession, rather than in global, functional terms derived from historical notions of physician dominance.” 

Word up Mr. Cohen!

Full article here: