Docere – Doctor as Teacher

Docere – Doctor as Teacher

Docere Missoula

We are in the age of passive medicine.

Our current medical model reimburses physicians for investigating/making a diagnosis, and managing treatment of that particular diagnosis.   Physicians get paid for the diagnosis or treatment, not for the amount of time spent with patients (with some exceptions).  This leads to short patient visits and very little time discussing the rationale behind the treatment or the implications of the diagnosis.  The result is what I call “passive medicine,”  because the patient has almost no active role in the healing process.

The role of the naturopathic physician is to fulfill the original meaning of the word doctor.  “Doctor” derives from the Latin “docere,” which means “To Teach”.  The process of education shifts the role of participation back to the patients so they can take control of their own health.

Bastyr University describes the principle of Docere as such:

“Naturopathic physicians educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also acknowledge the therapeutic value inherent in the doctor-patient relationship.”

This definition of Docere is really describing empowerment.  Naturopathic physicians teach so patients can reclaim authority over their own bodies.  Empowered patients are savvy healthcare consumers and are better able to stay safe and prevent mix-ups in the medical system. Educated patients also tend to have more success in completing treatments, and feel more confident in their health.

The concept of Doctor as Teacher is really about shifting the balance of power back to the patient.  Personal empowerment is the only prescription that can create permanent change leading to better health.

Erika Krumbeck, ND, FABNP
Erika Krumbeck

Dr. Erika Krumbeck is the proud founder and editor of, the leading internet source for trustworthy natural health information for children and naturopathic pediatric providers. She is also the owner of Montana Whole Health, a primary care naturopathic practice in Missoula, MT. She is one of few doctors with the FABNP designation, meaning she is a board-certified pediatric naturopathic physician. Dr. Krumbeck has specialized training in treating chronic conditions in children using safe, gentle and effective natural remedies. She helps bridge the gap between conventional medicine and complementary/alternative medicine by using both new research and traditional naturopathic therapies to guide treatment.


  • Avatar
    February 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    thanks for sharing. great information!

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    February 5, 2011 at 3:15 am

    Great information !
    Thank you so much for sharing it. that’s amazing!
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      November 14, 2012 at 6:23 am

      Rating As a student pianerrpg to enter into the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine provides a wonderfully interesting, informative and easy-to-reference guide to natural medicines. What I enjoyed most was the fact that this book avoids giving a simple run-down of the natural treatments used for specific conditions. Instead, it teaches the reader the philosiphy behind how those natural treatments work (for example by promoting the healing power of our body), and therefore why they are used to treat certain conditions. The authors also do a great job of backing-up what is written with solid scientific evidence. This addresses a major concern readers have, namely, the validity of natural treatments. While there is still a multitude of research yet to be done, the authors utilize the available research and combine it nicely with the wisdom of centuries-old medical practices from various cultures around the wor! ld. Finally, the applicability of this book is widespread. It is a complete and comprehensive guide for both the everyday person as well as doctors and students (of both Traditional and Naturopathic/Complimentary Medicines).

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