When I decided to put my white coat back on, I committed to reclaiming what I love about medicine and ditching what I've come to despise. In fact, after leaving medicine - supposedly for good - I had to expand and redefine "health" and change the whole way I think about practicing medicine in order to feel proud of my MD title and rekindle my on-again-off-again relationship with health care. Now that I am working with patients again - in my own way - I remember how much I truly love medicine and how I felt the call to serve at the young age of seven.
Years later, the calling is even stronger, so I've finally dropped to my knees in service to the calling I've long heard and long denied. I thought I had to leave medicine until I realized I felt called to redefine it. Promoting health without encouraging others to seek wholeness is an exercise in futility. Not until we realize that our bodies are mirrors of our interpersonal, spiritual, professional, sexual, creative, financial, environmental, mental, and emotional health will we truly heal.
I am not supposed to leave medicine - I'm supposed to be a force in the revolution to change our broken, outdated, patriarchal health care system. I'm supposed to be a pioneer, blaze a new trail, and feminize and modernize medicine. I'm supposed to make it PINK and encourage patients, doctors, and countless other healers to do the same.
So What Is Pink Medicine?
Originally, I was toying around with calling this new revolution of healing "The New Medicine." But the name wasn't quite right, because it's not exactly new - but it's not exactly old, either. It's a combination of the best of the ancient traditions and the latest in modern technology. It incorporates the loving, attentive, nurturing bedside manner of doctors from a century ago, the natural medicine of herbal healers, the spiritual medicine of shamans, and the scientific advances of modern medicine.
So "The New Medicine" wasn't quite appropriate because there's something potently healing about the way health has been fostered and disease has been cured for millennia. Instead, I'm calling this new kind of medicine "Pink Medicine" - an intuitive, collaborative, heart-centered, empowering, feminine way to approach an expanded definition of health that includes not just physical and mental health, but also interpersonal, emotional, spiritual, sexual, professional, environmental, and financial health, all of which profoundly affect the health of the body.
Practicing Pink Medicine means you believe in the body's capacity to heal itself. This doesn't mean you reject traditional medicine. No - not at all. Pink Medicine doesn't abandon the advances of modern science. While Pink Medicine practitioners believe in the body's ability to self-diagnose and self-repair without external treatment, sometimes traditional medicine is necessary to buy the body time while we activate the self-healing superpowers that lie within us all. Our job as Pink Medicine practitioners is to support, nurture, educate, and collaborate with patients as they tap into their own healing intuition (I call it your "Inner Pilot Light") and enable the self-healing process.
On the flip side, patients who receive Pink Medicine do not play victim or hand their power over to their practitioners so they can be "fixed." Pink Medicine patients consider themselves equal partners in the healing process. They know their bodies better than anyone and count on their intuition to help guide the healing process.
For details about the Pink Medicine version of the doctor-patient relationship (healer-patient relationship, really, because this applies to any therapeutic relationship), read here. Pink Medicine practitioners are not just doctors, by the way. They may also be nurses, midwives, acupuncturists, massage therapists, homeopaths, naturopaths, Chinese medicine docs, yoga instructors, and countless others.
How Is Pink Medicine Different?
To check out what Pink Medicine is NOT, read this.
Pink Medicine is a movement among both patients and health care providers who long to reclaim the lost heart of medicine. It's for those who believe medicine is a spiritual practice, those who know that, although science can cure, only love heals. It's for those who practice love, with a little medicine on the side, but still have great respect for all that modern science has to offer.
Pink Medicine is not about denying the curative powers of drugs, surgeries, and other standard treatments, but it acknowledges that covering up a symptom or cutting out an organ isn't the whole solution. Pink Medicine is about getting to the root of what ails you and healing it from the inside out. It's about asking your disease what it is trying to teach you - and learning lessons from what comes up.
Those who ascribe to Pink Medicine know that there is a difference between healing and curing. Healing is about becoming whole. Curing is the absence of disease. You can achieve one without the other, which explains why some die healed while others are cured, only to get sick again. Ideally, we combine the two, which is the only way to permanently eradicate illness.
The #1 Thing That Makes Pink Medicine Work
Although pills may be involved, Pink Medicine is not about downing some chemical aimed at fixing what's broken in you. The #1 thing that makes Pink Medicine work is LOVE. When you love yourself enough to do the work, to take care of yourself, to truly, deeply heal, miracles happen. And when someone else loves you enough to believe in you, to bear witness, to hold space, the miracles are amplified.
I always joked that I practice love with a little bit of medicine on the side. But I now realize that the love IS the medicine. Everything else is just gravy.
Pink Medicine Is Not About Blame
When you assert that a patient has the power to heal herself, it's easy to assume that those who aren't well are to blame for their illness. But that's not what Pink Medicine is about at all. Those fighting illness carry enough of a burden without bearing the additional weight of guilt, shame, blame, or a sense that they're not working hard enough to get well. My friend Dr. Christiane Northrup sums it up beautifully by saying, "We are responsible toour illness, not for our illness."
In other words, no one is suggesting that you caused your illness. (Yes, you definitely can cause illness, as anyone who has ever smoked through their tracheotomy knows. And yes, eliminating illness-inducing behaviors is key. But no one is here to point fingers and punish you.)
What we are suggesting is that illness can be a potent opportunity for transformation.
No, Pink Medicine Is Not Wishful Thinking
You might think that any talk about self-healing might lead to false hope for those who are afflicted by serious illness, but practitioners of Pink Medicine don't believe there's any such thing as false hope. Hope is healing. Hope leaves room for mystery.
Those who label patients with words like "chronic" and "terminal" are cursing them with a form of medical hexing that can be extremely dangerous and damaging to their health. Yes, there are times to be realistic about someone's prognosis, but the medical literature proves that even those with the poorest prognosis can be cured. And everyone can be healed (remember, there's a difference between healing and curing.)
Pink Medicine practitioners believe in miracles.
Is Pink Medicine Just For Women?
Pink Medicine is not just for female health care providers or female patients. While Pink Medicine is a more intuitive, collaborative, and feminine form of medicine, and while I am both a woman and an OB/GYN physician specializing in women's health, there's plenty of room for male practitioners who ascribe to the tenets of Pink Medicine. And men benefit from this kind of approach to healing just as much as women. Just ask my new friend and Owning Pink blogger Dr. Bernie Siegel, author of Love, Medicine, & Miracles.
Are You A Pink Medicine Revolutionary?
I consider myself a Pink Medicine Revolutionary, and I know there are many other doctors, healers, and patients just like me out there.
Are you one of them? Are you interested in joining the Pink Medicine Movement?
Totally jazzed about the way medicine is changing,
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.