facebook pixel Skip to main content
white table with black chairs

Teach Your Patients Well

Exploring the etymology of the word “doctor” as a guidepost for functional medicine

A word’s origin and evolution—or etymology—can often reveal crucial insights about the deeper meaning of the word itself. In fact, a word’s etymology can provide greater appreciation for the meaning in our lives—including our lives as clinicians.

Take the word doctor, for example. The origin of doctor is the classical Latin docere, meaning “to teach.”

And it seems to me that being a teacher is one of our most fundamental and important roles as practitioners of functional medicine.

As functional doctors and clinicians, it is crucial that we teach our patients about biochemical individuality, the guiding principle of functional medicine.

We teach them how to respect and respond to their biological individuality, partnering with them to identify both their biological strengths and weaknesses—improving their strengths, and bringing their weaknesses back into balance.

We teach them that a “one-size-fits-all” treatment of mental illness is unlikely to work. We teach them that personalized, science-based treatment has a greater likelihood of success, because it’s informed by objective laboratory testing that provides a clear picture of biochemical individuality.

This approach increases self-efficacy, or an individual’s belief that they have the ability to consistently act in a way that contributes to their health and well-being. With treatment based on biochemical individuality, patients feel invested in their own care and recovery. They have a say in their treatment journey, which they understand to be highly individualized.

In essence, we teach them how functional medicine and its lodestar of biochemical individuality will help them get on the path to mental, emotional, and physical well-being. And stay on it. And then clinician and patient travel that path together.

In writing this letter, I was reminded of a line from a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song: “Teach your children well.” It seems to me that “Teach your patients well” could be the theme song of functional medicine!

As a docere—a teacher—you are getting your patients well by literally teaching your patients well!

And as a living, vibrant community of docere, we are also teaching each other how to do well and be well, as we journey together to achieve a new functional model for mental health and healing.

In health, 

James Greenblatt, MD
Founder & CMO, Psychiatry Redefined

PS: There’s an opportunity to learn the cutting-edge clinical secrets of several of the best “docere” in functional psychiatry—and spend time with hundreds of your colleagues—at the Psychiatry Reimagined virtual conference on June 22-23.

Ready to join a thriving community of functional medicine teachers and mental health leaders? Enroll in our Fellowship for providers!

Explore the Fellowship & Book a Private Call With Me

Let’s redefine mental wellness together.

Sign-up now for the latest in functional and integrative news, cutting-edge research, course launches, exclusive offers and more.

By submitting your information, you agree to receive future email communications from us. We promise to keep your information private, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.