Q: When did your love for naturopathic medicine begin?
A: It started in college when I met a naturopathic doctor. Growing up I always just wanted to be a doctor. When I got to college however I learned more about health insurance, pharmaceutical companies, etc., and then suddenly it didn’t feel quite like a good fit anymore. When I met the naturopathic physician, I realized, “Oh! That’s how I can be the kind of doctor I want to be. You actually get to sit down with people, listen, and use natural therapies to help them, like herbal medicines, nutrition, and exercise.” It all made sense. I thought, “That’s what I’m going to do!”. The specialization into naturopathic pediatrics happened gradually during my first few years of general family practice. After I became a mom, my patient load naturally shifted towards more children and I realized that working with kids was where my heart resided most.
Q: Is naturopathic medicine ‘real medicine’?
A: Yes! Naturopathic physicians are licensed healthcare providers who must complete an accredited, 4-year, scientific, medical degree program and fulfill annual continuing education. Naturopathic physicians integrate both evidence-based natural therapeutics and more traditional medications/pharmaceuticals when necessary to treat a variety of medical conditions. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes preventative care, through proper diet, exercise, and sleep.
Just because something is natural does not mean that it will be good for you or your child. Naturopathic physicians have the necessary training to select appropriate treatments for patients to meet their unique needs.
Q: What enables you to connect with patients so well?
A: For me, when I sit down with a new family, I don’t think about it being just another well child exam or case of xxx condition. Instead, my goal is to learn about what makes this patient or family unique. I try to build a relationship with everyone.
Q: What will our first visit together be like?
A: The first visit lasts an hour, and the first half really is gathering information as I get to know the patient and family. If I’m working with a child or doing a well-child check there are very specific questions I have to ask to assure development is normal. We talk about diet and digestion, and the patient’s health, head to toe. For chronic medical issues, I collect a lot of background information to find out what the family has tried, what worked, and what didn’t work. I try to get the whole story. I then do a medical exam. For kids it’s almost always a full head-to-toe exam. For adults, it depends on what we’re doing. I can do a head-to-toe exam for them if we need to or just specific exams to give them more information about their chief complaint. Then I order labs if we decide that’s the direction we want to go in, and we develop the treatment plan together. There’s lots to do in that hour, but we get it done!
Q: What happens at follow-up visits?
A: At follow-up visits, I usually chat with people about how things went since the first visit, what worked, and what didn’t work in the treatment plan. We go over lab results, I do a follow-up physical exam if needed, and then we adjust the treatment plan. Patients meet directly with me again, not a medical assistant. I reserve 30-60 minutes for follow-up appointments.
Q: What questions do you wish patients would ask?
A: I think a good question for parents to ask is, “What makes me different from a regular pediatrician or from other naturopathic doctors?” These are things that I think are unique to my particular medical practice: I have a passion for helping kids grow as healthily and as naturally as possible and have therefore specialized in the unique field of naturopathic pediatrics. I love working with children and try to be the best doctor I can be for them and their families every day. I feel strongly that everyone’s time is important and do not make families wait in a waiting room (except for unusual circumstances) and start appointments at the designated time. I am thoughtful about assessing the emotional wellbeing of the child and family, and I work with a team of providers, including child and family therapists and an occupational therapist, which allows me to provide a truly holistic approach. I also only recommend natural products or medications that I feel a person really needs.
Q: What did you do prior to practicing naturopathic medicine?
A: I worked for a lab that processed soil samples after college while I was preparing for my naturopathic medicine program.
Q: Where can we find you when you’re not in the office?
A: You can find me mostly at home reading my book or on the road going for runs. I like to get up into the mountains and go for hikes with my family too. We like to travel and have adventures when it’s possible. Last year we went to Mexico and saw the monarch butterflies – it was pretty remarkable.
Q: If you couldn’t practice naturopathic medicine, what would you do instead?
A: I think I’d like to pursue music further. I would like to be in band again. I would even do marching band again, but there aren’t any marching bands for adults!
Q: What thought or idea inspires you to reach your fullest potential in life?
A: Understanding how lucky I am… I think if I remember that every single day, it helps me understand how important it is to share all of my knowledge, all the education I was able to have, and all of the resources I have at my fingertips. I want to share information and resources with people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about naturopathic medicine. That’s what keeps me ticking.
Want more info? Visit the bio page of Dr. Kate Sage, Naturopathic Family Physician and learn more about her specialties! At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, we’re here for you.