Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH (Dr. Shad)
From humanities research on the history of medical education to community based projects in public health to researching complementary therapies and nutrition in the care and prevention of disease, I have been engaged in a 20 year journey to understand the dynamics between health and disease.
My path has led me to a career focused on medical education and clinical research to transform the future of health care by innovating what we teach medical students. My passion stems from my philosophy to empower patients with the tools they need to prevent illness and achieve optimal health in all aspects of life.
Although I have trained as a MD and now serve as faculty at leading academic medical institutions, I have an admittedly holistic approach in my philosophy of medicine. To understand this, I think it is important to recognize what physicians can do. As physicians, we are broadly able to do three things: medicate, manipulate or educate.
Medication is a mainstay of medical practice, in fact the development of the pharmaceutical industry has resulted in many life saving drugs that are critical for millions of patients. Manipulation in a broader sense of the word involves some kind of intervention be it surgery or any other kind of procedure. Procedures of some kind are also a critical part of our medical system, these can include a life saving appendectomy or opening of our coronary arteries to provide needed blood and oxygen to our heart.
Despite our ability to medicate or manipulate in acute situations to save lives, we are falling short in our ability to prevent these conditions. The same medications that save us are also killing us when used excessively and unnecessarily as is the case with the current crisis of opiate medication. Surgeries do not come without risk and avoiding them if possible is always a good alternative.
This is where education and prevention becomes critical. Educating future doctors, educating physicians in practice and most importantly educating individuals, families and communities to engage in healthy lifestyles to prevent disease and achieve optimal health in every way.
Although we need to continue to medicate and manipulate, there are dangers to relying solely on these approaches to medical care when there is so much more that can be done if we expand our system to include nutrition, exercise, therapeutic meditation and mindfulness, and evidence based complementary therapies. Integrative Medicine is a progressive field that expands conventional medicine to include these important areas.