Business As Usual: Dr. Sam Schikowitz, A Doctor Who Listens
By Barbara Sides
From Issue 11: Summer 2011
Dr. Sam Schikowitz, the naturopath physician with offices at 120 Main Street in Gardiner, is a seeker. Raised in Canada by parents he describes as “back to the land people,” Sam developed a keen curiosity about people as well as the natural world. He was encouraged in this by a mentor, Dr. Edwards, who was his science and gym teacher as well as his soccer coach.
After graduating from high school in California, Sam considered becoming a medical doctor, but the “fit” didn’t seem quite right. “I wanted to do something with more depth,” he offers, something combining the science of medicine with counseling, herbs and nutrition. That insight was encouraged by a friend, a naturopath and midwife/herbalist, who reaffirmed for him that the healing path was going to be his life.
While considering his options, his interest in the natural world led him to activism for ecological causes as well as human rights initiatives. He worked on organic farms and eventually enrolled at the University of California, Santa Cruz, known for its biological sciences. Armed with a science degree, he was accepted to Bastyr University in Seattle, a private institution internationally recognized as a pioneer in the study of natural healing. There, Sam studied Chinese and Western herbalism. “Chinese medicine,” he says, is a poetic, holistic way of looking at human beings and bodies as eco-systems. I fell in love with it.” He is a Chinese and Western Herbalist with Masters degrees in Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. Initially skeptical about acupuncture, its efficacy in a clinical setting convinced him that it was another degree he wished to pursue. He also has a Doctorate in Naturopath Medicine, enabling him to treat his patients with the depth he so desired.
Dr. Sam, as he prefers to be called, likes to get to know his patients and allows two hours for a first visit. “I’ll have a good look at your life. It’s like having a nutritionist, a medical doctor, an herbalist, an exercise physiologist, a counselor and a physical therapist, all of us in the same room.” He tries to discern his patients’ comfort level with drugs, herbs, etc., and will advise, inform and advocate, but is not a zealot; the final decision about a course of treatment is always the patient’s.
Dr. Sam, a member of the New York Society of Naturopathic Physicians, looks for simple solutions that minimize and avoid side effects by starting with the least invasive treatment and going on from there. He has patients seeing gastroenterologists, endocrinologists and other specialists, and his knowledge of the interactions among nutrition, herbs and drugs has been beneficial to these patients, particularly those with food allergies or other forms of toxicity. He has carefully researched supplements, their quality as well as the manufacturing process, purchases the brands he likes wholesale, and sells them from his office at the best possible price. He will discount these when there is financial need.
When asked about what motivated him to follow a healing path, Dr. Sam responds with two questions, and a look at a bigger picture. “What do you want to get from life and what do you want to give to life? What I get from it is this perspective of connecting on a deep level with people. I have a genuine need to contribute to the lives of people. I solve problems and that’s deeply satisfying. My whole job is to make people happy and healthy by any means necessary. People feel better when they leave here. They feel heard and understood.”
For more about Dr. Sam, his philosophy and the medicine he practises, visit www.WholeFamilyMedicine.com.