Sickness vs Wellness- The New Approach to Primary Care

Sickness vs Wellness Medicine Part 1 of 4

By Dr. Divi Chandna, July 2013

The Culture of Sickness

In North America, we are blessed to have access to the evolved health care technology that we do. In certain parts of Canada and the United States, the access to these services can vary. In Canada, we have this system at our doorstep. The socially funded, access to all, is an incredible model but has longer wait lists that impair its very function. In the United States, people are often challenged by finances and HMOs which can make access impossible at times.

Being a Canadian physician and having the majority of my exposure to this system, I will focus on our model. These articles, however, are equally applicable regardless of where you live and the model of Medicare that you are exposed to.

In the Canadian social system, the waits can lead to angry, disgruntled patients and occasionally miserable health care workers. The animosity, frustration and sense of feeling overwhelmed can play havoc on well meaning physicians, nurses and patients.

As a result of the socially funded system, we often find that patients are less willing to pay for out of pocket expenses. In the socially funded system, certain visits including the vast majority of physician visits, laboratory work, radiological investigations and some medications are supported by the system. Other appointments such as physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, naturopathic and other alternative remedies are not covered.

The thinking then becomes to only pay for what you absolutely need to – or ideally nothing at all. Many people believe that if it is not paid for by the government that it must not be important, regardless of what the physician or health care provider recommends for treatment.

I have many patients who struggle paycheque to paycheque and have limited resources for extra care, even if it is highly recommended. In our system, little thought is given to putting money away for our own preventative health. As a result, they rely strictly on the health care model for their treatment. This revolves around the physicians, specialists, laboratory tests and medications prescribed.

As physicians, when going to medical school, my belief was that my job was going to be taking care of the really sick people, with major diseases and health problems. Little did I really know that my true work as a family doctor was to help people who had multiple social, mental, emotional crises that were resulting in physical ailments.

Unfortunately, the way our system is set up we actually only treat and help in sickness medicine. We are very well trained to help patients when they approach us with horrible symptoms – intractable back pain, herniated discs, high blood pressure, and heart disease and so on.

What is interesting, however, is that prior to these major medical diagnoses evolving, there are low lying health issues that are roaring underneath the surface. These low lying issues are not major illnesses (yet) but are creating havoc in the patients’ lives. Many times, they are emotional, stressful, poor diet choices, lack of exercise and so on that lead people to not feeling that well. Over time, these choices always lead to illness.

The Mind-Body Connection

This connection between the mind-emotions and body has been well studied and researched. Scientists have shown this over and over again. Studies by Dr.’s Candace Pert, William Tiller, Deepak Chopra and more have all shown the repeated evidence that there is a direct connection between our mind, emotions and illnesses. In addition, numerous studies have been done showing the clear evidence that stress reduction has a very positive affect on our disease manifestation and treatment.

Despite all of this growing evidence, little emphasis is put on this preventative and wellness approach that may significantly decrease our sickness approach. Not only does this work for prevention, but studies have shown very positive affects when such models of healing are used as treatment.

As family doctors, we see this regularly. It is like we are pushing paper and waiting for the big event to happen. It is sad to say this, but it is true. We counsel, visit with, get to know our patients intimately. We befriend our patients and really get involved in their lives. It is a joyful, learning experience and an intimate relationship that we create with our clients.

Sick vs Well Care

There is a distinct difference between illness medicine and wellness medicine. Wellness medicine starts when we are simply getting to know patients and disease has not set in yet. Instead, as physicians, we are trained to only look at disease.

As doctors, many of us would love to jump in when our patients come in with high stress levels and disgruntled lives before disease develops. If we did this, we could potentially save time, money, headaches and severe illness. A growing number of physicians have trained in additional methods of healing. Many are trained in complimentary therapies including hypnotherapy, meditation, acupuncture, stress reduction mechanisms and more. The reasons physicians go on to study these well past medical school is because they want to help their patients in different and more productive ways.

Wellness Medicine: The New Approach

This new way to approach health care is exactly that – wellness medicine. Wellness medicine is directly different than sickness medicine. Stay tuned for more details about what wellness medicine is.

In the next few weeks, I will continue to blog about the differences. Along the journey, feel free to share comments. Besides just informing, I hope to teach you what I have learned from working with thousands of clients and helping them to re-wire their lives to healthier, more vibrant paths simply by shifting outlook, changing mindsets or completely altering emotions around certain things. As you will see, wellness medicine is much easier than most people believe!

About Dr. Divi


Dr. Divi Chandna MD, has been practicing family medicine for 20 years. She is also certified as a mind-body medicine coach, medical intuitive and meditation teacher. Dr. Divi believes that it is time to expand the spectrum of healing and helps clients source the reason for their illness. She works with clients to get to the root cause of their dis-ease, not just treating symptoms of their disease. Dr. Divi is passionate about her work, teaches classes, writes books, works privately with clients and loves to inform and educate! You can look her up at to learn more about her practice. Dr. Divi offers teleseminars ,workshops, and audio products to help patients take a proactive approach to their health.

About Concierge Medicine Journal

Concierge Medicine Journal (CMJ) curates breaking concierge medicine news, and editorial opinion on a wide variety of topics relevant to the practice of Concierge Medicine.


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