First leading the group through a deep breathing exercise, Dr. David Didden instructed members of Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL), on alternative practices in medicine during their regular brown- bag lunch event, last Friday.
Didden, a Shepherdstown native, discussed his professional journey away from what he described as the "industrial healthcare model."
"Davey" - as he's known to some members of SAIL who watched him grow up, attended the Air Force Academy and worked around the country, before eventually returning to his home town, looking for a new way to practice medicine.
"I'm coming back home to serve this community and I don't know what that means and how that'll take shape," he said.
Didden is a credentialed family medicine practitioner, who said hes become focused on a "mind-body medicine" or "holistic integrated health," as some might call it.
"To me, it's just healing," he said.
In the nearly hour-long lecture, Didden described a traditional healthcare system that he thinks has begun to focus more on efficiency, numbers and the bottom line, than on therapeutic patient care.
"There are things that are happening, that are out of balance," he said.
Didden said he had a "transformative experience" during a stint working abroad in Haiti that inspired him to return to the U.S. intent on only working in nonprofit health services.
"This type of practice brings me alive," he said.
Shenandoah Valley Medical Center, Eastern Panhandle Free Clinic, and even Roxbury Correctional Institution, were all stops Didden made before he decided to become his own boss.
With the assistance of his wife and parents, Didden now runs a small practice on Princess St.
Focusing on tools to improve overall well being, looking at lifestyle choices and mental health as they impact physical health, Didden said he practices a more "cooperative" approach to medicine that insists on greater patient input.
"This is not just about my job satisfaction. It's also about the right way to be a doctor," he said.
Didden said he believes doctors should be propelled by and personally invested in the community they work in.
"The original role of the physician within the community was somebody who came up in the community and was supported by the community... They were part of the community," he said.
SAIL's brown-bag luncheon is held the third Friday of every month in the Fellowship Hall of the Trinity Episcopal Church.
More information about SAIL can be found by visiting sail.clubexpress.com/.