Each October, professional sports teams, organizations and businesses around the country adorn themselves in pink to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While this show of solidarity has become an annual occurrence, it’s important to put this month’s mission into perspective, and Dr. Nicole Taylor from Summit Pacific Medical Center has offered her advice on how to protect yourself.
Taylor is a naturopathic doctor providing family medicine to people of all ages with a focus in women’s health. Early on in her career, about 20 years before moving to Washington and beginning her position at Summit Pacific, Taylor was a high school physical education and dance teacher but struggled finding her true passion in life.
Prior to starting a career as a teacher, she completed an externship at the famous Canyon Ranch Resort & Retreat, a popular health spa for celebrities. At Canyon Ranch, practice of Integrative Medicine sparked Taylor’s interest and inspired her to begin the journey of becoming a naturopathic doctor “At that time,” explains Taylor, “I learned that the practice of naturopathic medicine uses a unique system of integrating alternative therapies and allopathic medicine to help diagnose and treat both acute and chronic health conditions. Once I knew this type of practice existed, I came to the realization that I wanted to go into that field.” After completing her externship and discovering her new passion, Taylor dedicated the next two years to teaching high school while obtaining the remaining prerequisites to enter the Naturopathic Medical program.
Programs for naturopathic doctors are built on a foundation of science and provide training in both allopathic and alterative modality including but not limited to nutrition, herbal medicine, physical manipulation, lifestyle modification, Chinese medicine and homeopathy, etc.
After graduating and operating a private practice with her husband in Arizona, Taylor’s focus since 2007 has been on women’s health, while integrating both allopathic and naturopathic medicine has been her foundation. In 2017, her husband accepted a position with Summit Pacific, resulting in a move to the area and eventually a job for her as well at the McCleary Healthcare Clinic. “I really love it here,” expresses Taylor. “Both myself and my husband have great patients, colleagues, and enjoy being able to serve the community. So many of my patients are appreciative to have the option to see a naturopathic doctor and not have to travel to Olympia.”
Bringing her naturopathic medicine background and integrating it into women’s primary care has been an important aspect of Taylor’s many years in the healthcare field. “My focus and what I love to do is treat women and whatever their concerns may be, treating the whole person,” says Taylor.
When discussing Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Taylor alludes to the common phrase of prevention being key in keeping individuals healthy and protected. “We are blessed to have a tool to help us detect breast abnormalities early, through mammography,” explains Taylor. “Summit Pacific has 3D mammography technology onsite that provides a more thorough screening.” The 3D mammogram that Summit Pacific offers takes multiple images of the breast from various angles as opposed to a regular 2D machine that captures two pictures of each breast. This more advanced technology is a major asset for those looking to keep their healthcare more local but still receive excellent and comprehensive care.
For women wondering when they should start receiving annual mammograms, Taylor recommends starting at the age of 40. This may differ based off someone’s personal history, such as a mother or sister having breast cancer. If this is the case, she refers the patient out for genetic counseling to have a consultation and evaluation to identify possible blood markers that could increase a persons risk of cancer. The genetic counselor would make an individualized plan and Taylor would use that to guide her when devising a plan for preventative testing.
In addition, Taylor emphasizes the importance of women and adults in general, receiving their annual health exams. “Patients sometimes overlook this important annual exam if they’ve visited their doctor in the recent past for something like the flu or back pain,” explains Taylor. “But it’s important to remember that these appointments don’t take the place of yearly health maintenance exams where we are really able to focus on prevention. These appointments are dedicated to discussing and/or performing important procedures like pap smears, running yearly blood work, prostate exams, ordering colonoscopies, breast health screenings, and an array of other topics that effect your overall health.”
Not only does Summit Pacific have the 3D mammography technology, but they also now have a special dedicated Women’s Imaging Suite in the Wellness Center that offers imaging, ultrasounds, and other services. Within this suite, basic screening mammograms are considered walk-in services, so after a provider orders the mammogram, a patient can have it done at their convenience. Another benefit to this facility is that the lab is right next door, making for a very convenient process from start to finish.
Taylor spoke at Summit Pacific’s annual Ladies’ Night Out event that also featuresd various speakers discussing the importance of women’s healthcare. The recording of the event can be found on the Summit Pacific website.
Taylor is now at the McCleary Healthcare Clinic and works two Saturdays a month as well as Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Not only does Dr. Taylor focus in women’s health, but Summit Pacific offers a wide array of women’s health services that can help keep local women healthy throughout the year.