Prospective ND student?? Is this career path right for you???

gold-starI’ll start with what admissions probably may not tell you: Becoming a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine is NOT for the weak of heart. Just a warning: If you know you care too much about what people think, you’re easily bothered by people making flash judgments or uneducated conclusions about you, or you are expecting an easy road through medical school, then, please, hear me out:

Your friends or family WILL make jokes about peyote and voodoo medicine when they hear that you’re studying “NATURO-what?!” medicine. Many people will reduce the vast amount of knowledge of the biomedical sciences and healing arts in our medicine down to one healing modality, “Right, so you study..homeopathy, right?” People will say things like, “Uh.. yeah, I’ll go to a real doctor..” They’ll conclude you’re some radical vegan hippie that brews Kombucha, is anti-big pharma. (When in reality, you love Kombucha, probably realized veganism wasn’t for you and have prescribed pharmaceutical drugs to patients when necessary.)

You will feel frustrated because you WILL be working the same laborious hours as 1st and 2nd year MD students (I know this because I’m engaged to a 3rd year MD student.) You will be expected to know the same material AS WELL as botanical medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, physical medicine..etc. You will be required to take 2 sets of board exams. It will take blood, sweat, and tears to get through the program and even when you’re but a few months away from graduating, some random dude at a party will say, “OH NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE. I tried that! I got this supplement off the shelf of CVS for my runny nose and it didn’t work!” (As if the efficacy of an entire healing profession can be reduced down to one supplement that one randomly decided to try on their own?)

Are you so passionate about natural health that you’re ready for a lifetime of educating the public of their healthcare options when they ask what you do? Are you motivated to compassionately change misconceptions that your friends, family members and strangers have about “alternative” medicine? Are you excited to have constructive debates with your fellow scientist friends when they question the validity of your medicine? Bottom line: Do you have the courage to follow your heart?

If your response is, “YES!” then apply to an accredited 4 year naturopathic medical program ASAP!  (http://www.aanmc.org/)

If your response is, “Well… maybe not..” then please know that I didn’t realize how hard the path would be when I entered the program. I used to really care about peoples opinions of me. Then I entered clinic, I started seeing patients healing from chronic illnesses that they had thought would never resolve. At that moment I realized that all I really care about is healing people. From then on, I never resisted making dialogue with the misinformed and instead have chosen to use those situations to educate people on who naturopathic doctors are and what they can do for you.

Advertisements

4th year Med Student Pearls: How to make the most of your experience at SCNM..

ImageI apologize for disappearing! In the last two weeks I finished up my rotations in DC and returned to Arizona for board review classes. Since I’m 20 days from graduating and becoming Dr. K, I thought it would be perfect for me to blog about ways in which to make the most of your experience as a student and eventual student clinician at SCNM.

1. Read “Motivational Interviewing In Health Care: Helping Patients Change Behavior” by Rollnick and Miller. This book drastically changed my relationships with my patients. So many of our patients who suffer from chronic illness have some sort of lifestyle behavior that keeps them from experiencing wellness. This book really helped me help my patients determine their “Obstacles to Cure”, which allowed me to help them find ways to help themselves.. In essence: You help your patients heal themselves. It makes sense, true healing can really only come from within.

2. Start seeing a naturopathic doctor. This may sound silly, I mean, what kind of student would go to a med school without having experienced naturopathic healthcare? MANY! So many of my colleagues hadn’t seen a naturopathic doctor by the time they were doing rotations in the clinic. To put it nicely: You could tell which student clinicians had been to an ND before and experienced ND healthcare and which hadn’t.

3. Choose the modality you’re most skeptical about and go experience it from a Naturopathic doctor. I was most skeptical about homeopathy. I decided to go get it done. It works, REALLY freaking well.

4. Do offsite rotations to get more experience with a greater diversity of patients. Don’t avoid the difficult rotations. The offsite rotations are where you get to experience our medicine help underserved populations. I spoke to DO students my 2nd year who would have applied to our school had they known that we do extensive outreach to underserved populations. Check out this NPR article on our schools involvement with community clinics: http://www.kjzz.org/content/1304/holistic-health-care-goes-school . It’s important to take the shifts where you extensive work ups and the attendings really challenge you. It’s there that you develop your clinical thinking skills and actively learn by questioning, discussing, exploring resources and truly experiencing medicine.

5. Shadow docs outside of Arizona when you can. Get to know the elders of our profession. Write thank you letters, stay in touch, go back to shadow whenever you can. Medicine is an art that is practiced in many different ways.. You can only imagine the diversity of clinics that there are out there. Throughout my career I shadowed so many doctors in both licensed and unlicensed states. I’m SO GLAD I did this, because I got to see many different ways in which we can utilize our incredibly valuable degree in naturopathic medicine. Especially keep an eye out for conferences like The Gathering. (Sidenote: I’ll never forget my experience with Dr. Bill Mitchell’s spirit at the Bastyr University Gathering in 2010. Ask me and I’ll be happy to tell you.. 🙂