Sunday, January 20, 2008

Everyone's (Not) An Expert

While going through school and now as I'm setting up my practice, I work for New Seasons Market. One day a week, I work in the Wellness Department and part of my duties are to help people find and choose appropriate products. Often they just want to be pointed in the right direction, but sometimes they want serious advice. I happen to be a physician, but not everyone in my department is, and even I refer these more serious questions to our customers' physicians or pharmacists. It's important to know who is and is not a good reference for health related information. Health food store employees can
  • help you find products
  • tell you what products are good for certain conditions
  • can tell you what they or other customers have experienced with such a product
  • help you choose a specific product when there are several similar products available

Health food store employees should not
  • make promises or guarantees about the effects of products
  • prescribe products to you
  • diagnose your symptom or illness
  • pressure you to buy or use a specific product
Even more importantly, your postal worker, milkman, hair stylist and dog walker should not do those things. Keep in mind the source of information you are receiving about your health - my hair stylist gave me some great advise on weight loss - drink more water and walk 30 blocks a day - followed by some not-so-good advise - eat whatever you want. I overhear customers sharing their experiences with one another at the store all the time - this is great perspective, but just remember that you and your health care team are the best sources of information about your own health.

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