The Difference Between Good and Great Practitioners (It Saved My Life)

by Steven Wright

Practitioner with patient (and laptop)

I wasted HOW MUCH money getting healthy?

This question bothered me for months, mostly when I thought about my bills.

So I started reviewing my credit cards and looking at receipts from the last 5 years. Turns out I’ve invested well over $30,000 in my health since 2009.

But how much of it was a waste? That number is a little more tricky…

Only $2,000 of that amount is doctor co-pays, drug prescriptions or other acute trauma (ER) expenses.

I invested $28,000 of it out-of-pocket for an enormously large amount of supplements, tests, books, health coaches, functional medicine practitioners, doctors, and other alternative therapies.

Notice I said invested, not spent.  

Because as I reviewed all the money I invested over the years, I realized each and every dollar of that $30,000 was the best investment I’ve ever made. I said screw the stock market, 401Ks, savings accounts and instead chose myself.

That being said, if I had to do it over, I could definitely save A LOT of that money by avoiding common mistakes!

And the number one place I messed up is not knowing the difference between an average, good and great practitioner.

Today, I’m going to share what I learned about the difference between a good practitioner and an average practitioner, and hopefully, from all the mistakes I made, save you a few years, a lot of frustration and many thousands of dollars.

What Makes a Good Practitioner?

Good practitioners are definitely out there. But they are typically so focused on being good practitioners that they don’t usually devote a lot of time to understanding how to market, which makes it hard for you to find them.

A good practitioner can begin to change your health from the first appointment. They’ve seen people like you and they have ideas about tests, supplements and diets that will apply to your specific health history. So, when searching, what are the characteristics of a good practitioner that you should be looking for?

  • Certifications beyond their original degree / license
  • Knowledge of how food affects our health
  • They use lab tests and know how to read them
  • They’re focused on finding root causes
  • They like to focus on one area first: like hormones, gut infections, diet, etc.
  • Take time to listen and explain

All of these qualities are so important and typically lacking in the modern medicine insurance setting. Whether insurance companies won’t let them or their business model won’t allow it, the chances of finding a good practitioner who accepts insurance is shrinking every day.

Which is why MOST good practitioners don’t accept insurance and are also hard to find. But when you do find one they can and do save lives. If it wasn’t for a few good practitioners in the beginning, Jordan and I would still be sick.

My first good practitioner noticed the thrush in my mouth, took note of my sugar cravings and ordered a stool test that cost me $250 dollars but showed I had Candida. After 3 months on Nystatin I felt so much better. The problem was a year later I still felt only slightly better (nowhere near where I now do).

But GREAT Practitioners Are on a Whole Different Level

Your first interaction with a good practitioner will feel like a breath of fresh air. Good practitioners can definitely help you.

But GREAT practitioners can save your life.

When you meet with a great practitioner you’ll be blasted to a new world of excitement regarding your health. They not only listen but they get you and understand your problems. Great practitioners are even more rare than the good ones. But the nuances that make them great aren’t always easy to spot until it’s too late.

Great practitioners understand all the diets: SCD, GAPS, Paleo, FODMAPS, Vegan, etc. They understand how and when each of these diets tend to produce results, which gives them next level ability to break all the rules of each and guide you to your custom diet when things are unclear.

They have a system in place in which they can predictably get amazing results with people, but at the same time they aren’t afraid to go out on a limb. They’ll break the mold and try something brand new and different if you’ve already been trying many of the things they might normally do.

A great practitioner understands when they are in over their head with a certain case and knows how to ask for help. They will tell you they don’t know the answer and that they have a highly skilled network of people to ask for help. Ultimately, they’ll tell you to move on if they aren’t getting results. In other words, they understand that medicine is just as much an Art as it is Science.

Great practitioners use consistent and reliable labs to get third-party data to track progress, validate ideas and find root causes. All labs are inherently flawed and they know this. They’re aware that there is a story inside the numbers and have seen enough of the same types of labs to see patterns that good practitioners will never understand. They insist on testing and retesting after trying a treatment.

Possibly the biggest difference between great and good practitioners is that the great ones understand that there are often multiple root causes of your problems. They understand that the body is a system and there are parts that should be focused on first like addressing any limiting factors. And as they find and help you fix certain ones, they won’t stop until the job is done. They lead you towards consistent progress even if it is smaller than you’d like.

Some of these great practitioners also get the business and marketing part which leads to books, great websites, interviews and training programs. Unfortunately, it’s very RARE for a great practitioner to accept insurance because they have no need to be a part of this medicine model.

A great practitioner will help you make quantum leaps in your health and know how to guide youto the highest level of health you desire.

Where “Good” Practitioners Go Wrong…

I had several good practitioners that I’m eternally grateful for. One of them basically saved my life by beginning to turn this all around.

He found my first gut infection and begun to teach me about them. After 6 months of working with him I was so much better than before, it was remarkable. But then we got stuck and my fatigue and skin problems weren’t really improving. He ran lots of tests and labs on my thyroid and we tried all kinds of protocols. But nothing really seemed to work. And to make it worse he never seemed to run the same labs twice. So, it meant we didn’t have the best data, which is a crucial error made by many good practitioners.

He was really great with thyroid only problems. But I had adrenal, thyroid and brain problems (the full HPA axis). And so we focused on thyroid for about a year and got nowhere. At the time, I didn’t know about the HPA Axis. It was only after I hired a few great practitioners that all the pieces were put together regarding my hormones.

It turned out that my thyroid was just obeying signals from the rest of my body. These practitioners figured out that I was in stage 3 adrenal fatigue, that I had low serotonin and dopamine levels. Not only that but I was low in magnesium, b12 and zinc. And get this: as I healed more infections began to show up in my digestive tract.

These great practitioners knew to look for these patterns, had protocols they adapted to fit me and were also on watch for new infections.

So, Where do You Start?

Well, there are lots of things to take into consideration when searching for a practitioner including cost, locality and availability. In the beginning of my road back to health, I wasn’t used to spending large amounts of money on co-pays, supplements and tests. And so it was painful, especially at first, for me to begin to change how much I invested in my health.

Over time, I began to realize how important it was to fixing my body and it became easier for me to budget for non-insurance based practitioners, out-of-pocket labs, and $200/month in supplement bills.

Also, having a local practitioner is really important… but the problem is great practitioners aren’t in every town. So sometimes you’ll need to balance a few practitioners at the same time. All the great practitioners I worked with were virtual, meaning I worked with them over the phone while they helped me… and it was the one thing that saved my life.

Lastly, availability can be a big issue. Sometimes the wait can be 6 months (or longer) to see these types of practitioners. For some people it isn’t worth waiting that long and they need to see someone ASAP. So, try to balance this part of the equation as well.

The #1 place I could have saved some of that $30,000 would be investing in Great practitioners instead of Good practitioners for years. Not only that, but it would have helped me get healthier years before I actually did.

So, if there’s anything I can do to help this community it would be to save you some time and money and help you start working with GREAT practitioners who “get it” and can help you right now.

Because there is one thing I know for sure – the process of finding a great practitioner can be stressful, disappointing and confusing, which is why we’re committed to making it easier for you.

We’ve already built relationships and found great practitioners for you who can help with everything I laid out in the article and have availability to work with you right now (while it lasts).

If you’re still searching, check them out here. I highly recommend you choose a skilled functional practitioner from that page and you’ll likely save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run (compared to the road I took).

– Steve

About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started SCDLifestyle.com to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa August 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I am glad that you were able to get the resources to pay for the $30,000. I have my credit cards maxed out and can’t even pay the basic monthly charge. I have spent $20,000 of my mother’s money with nothing to show for it. I have recently found out how many of my symptoms are adrenal fatigue/exhaustion but now have no means to get well. Add that to the fact that my adrenals have hardened (according to my doctor) and even healthy supplements are making me sick. It then takes days for me to recover when I get sick from them. I would love to at least have someone that I could turn to even though they can’t help me but I can’t afford even that. I was so tempted to call one of these practitioners but I cant do that to my family anymore. Sometimes we have to accept where we are.

Thanks for your hard work in getting these practitioners.

Sincerely,
Vanessa

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C. Barto August 7, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Greetings,
In response to your comment about “great practitioners” not needing to be involved with managed care, I offer my own experience. I am a psychotherapist currently working in the Medi-Cal system in California. If I did not take insurance, I would be limiting access to quality mental health care. My services would only be available to wealthy individuals, which contradicts my sense of morality, ethics and social justice. I completely understand why some practitioners choose not to accept insurance, especially Medicaid, but it leaves the poor without high quality care.
Regards,
Christine Barto, MA, MFTI

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