Naturopathic doctor shares hours with Belgrade, Sheridan

2007-12-17T23:00:00Z Naturopathic doctor shares hours with Belgrade, SheridanBy Nancy Banister for The Three Rivers Edition - 12/18/2007 Montana Standard

As medical expenses and health-care costs rise every year, availabile, affordable health care gets tougher to find. In the small town of Sheridan, there is a new doctor establishing his practice to help this rural

community choose an


“I like the idea of being a small-town doctor,” said

Dr. Jeff Green, a doctor of naturopathy. “I want to reach the rural areas in Montana.”

Green has opened his practice, Big Sky Integrative Health, in Belgrade and will have monthly office hours in Sheridan.

Green graduated from Great Falls High School and continued his education at MSU. After achieving his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, be went to the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Oregon. He graduated last June as a naturopathic doctor and opened his practice in both Belgrade and Sheridan this fall.

According to Green, naturopathic medicine is different but beneficial for his patients because as a naturopath, he offers more alternatives in health care, a natural approach for the individual, not just curing the symptoms.

“I care about people and want to give them my best. In order for me to do that, I have longer office visits with them so I can give them the best care I can, Green said.”

In the pamphlet, “The Profile of a Profession: Naturopathic Medicine” from the University of California, San Francisco, a naturopathic physician encourages self-healing abilities of the individual through the education and promotion of therapeutic methods. Naturopathic physicians are typically trained in a wide array of alternative therapies including herbology, homeopathy, massage, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, behavioral medicine and nutrition therapy, as well as clinical practices such as minor surgery, pharmacology and


There have been some in the medical arena that don’t think naturopathic doctors should have a

medical practice. According to Nancy Dunne Boggs former president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, naturopathic physicians have accomplished their own standards of education, accountability, and science to provide any fair and appropriately informed examination.

In his national overview of alternative health care, David Sale states the most common characteristic of the legislative definitions of naturopathy is its emphasis on the use of “natural” treatments for health care. Montana and New Hampshire have led the way for naturopaths to practice legally in the states under specific


In Montana, naturopathic medicine is considered alternative care and regulated by its own health board. The board was established after the legislature passed the Montana’s Naturopathic Health Care Practice Act in 1991 that regulates lay-midwives and naturopathic physicians. According to the act, naturopathic physicians are authorized to perform minor surgery, can attend natural childbirth with

certificate, and prescribe certain drugs and other

general practice care. This legislation has opened the door for other alternative medicines to be established in Montana and around the nation.

It is safe to say that Naturopathic physicians have a different mind set. They value their time with the patient and tend to take longer in the exam room, even for a check up. Green is trained to diagnose and treat each the patient depending on their needs. He can test his patients for allergies, use IV therapy, perform minor surgery, as well as all being a primary care physician. He believes that healthy patients come from education and working together.

“At times I feel more like a coach, motivating and educating the patient to do what they need to do to get healthy,” Green said.

Green has always wanted to practice medicine in a rural setting, personifying the small town family doctor that would go out of his way to help his patient. “I would even make house calls to the elderly or for those who have a hard time getting out of the house,” Green said. “It is nicer for the patient not to travel so far to find a naturopath, I can come to them.”

Starting his practice right out of school has been challenging. The main obstacle Green has run into is the lack of knowledge that the public has for naturopathic physicians. “We do more than use herbs and change diets; we have the authority to do many other things.”

The other obstacle for him is learning the health insurance industry and whether his services are covered. “I have found it all depends on the company and what the plans provide. It may take more work on the part of the patient, but my care could be covered,” Green said.

He is not only a doctor, but he is also the business owner, which adds to the complexity of starting his practice. “I realized by starting Big Sky Integrative Health, I needed to learn about billing software, supplies and other organizational skills,” Green said. The title of office manager was not a part of his medical training, but he is using the this time getting established to learn all that his needs to make his practice a success.

Green shares his office with Dr. Jensen on Main Street in Sheridan and plans to be in town on Mondays. “Since my practice is just starting, I may only be here every other week.” He will also considering taking walk-in patients as his practice gets more established and his hours more stable.

For more information on Dr. Green, contact his office at 388-6676.

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