This will be my last post in this blog!

I am hoping many students find it helpful as they begin rotations, prepare for their boards and apply for residencies. I know that throughout my path as a medical student, I always wished there was more information and support available from the doctors who graduated before me.

Since taking boards I’ve been spending time with my family and friends in Maryland. I am experiencing the full extent of my fatigue. Med school works you SO hard emotionally, physically and mentally and its almost like your body won’t let you know just how exhausted it is until after it’s all over.

As for boards:

I ran into an alumni at a coffee shop a week before I began preparing for boards. She told me to spend that month relaxing, to take care of myself and that taking the boards will really be about my ability to think logically and use deductive reasoning to determine the correct answer. I’d say this was spot on – you DO need to take care of yourself, eat healthy and SLEEP while you study. But during the exams themselves there WILL be questions that leave you feeling dumbstruck, you will have no idea which option to choose, and you will leave boards with the realization that there was no amount of studying that would have prepared you for the boards. But that month of studying was incredible – it helped me know what concepts and modalities I felt comfortable with and what diagnoses and modalities I needed to focus on more. It also helped me become so much more confident in holding the title as Doctor.

So just enjoy the journey.

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I <3 Second Hand Books

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The derm notes that this medical student left in her book as she studied for boards.

I bought this First Aid for the USMLE Step 2 from the Tempe Public Library for $1 two years ago after I took my Step 1. What I didn’t know at the time was that the student who used this book before me included her own set of notes throughout the book. I’ve begun final revisions and finishing up the practice questions that I have. As I sifted through the pages of this book tonight I felt connected to her as I studied the same materials and noted her own side notes: “Pityriasis rosea looks like seconday syphillis. SJS – NSAIDs. She circled and highlighted the information implicating niacin in significantly elevating the good cholesterol called “HDL.” I wished I could high 5 her for noting that, and teach her more about the form that wouldn’t cause flushing, the form that could cause liver enzyme elevation and how taking aspirin or vitamin C with it could reduce flushing.

Reading used books, especially used books with notes in them is one of my favorite pleasures in life.

T-8 days

An ND I preceptored with in Maryland reflected on her board study period with the simple description of, “Oh boy, boards, that was the cleanest my house has ever been.” We both laughed at the ironic ways in which people respond to stress, for her tidiness was never a priority – until it came to crunch time. I forgot about that until-

today. I looked around my house and realized that I’ve followed in her footsteps. My house is unrecognizable, Everythings in it’s right place (props to you if you get that reference). There’s space to process and I relish in the therapeutic effects of bare floors and clarity of mind.

I’m looking forward to an adventure next Friday after my last exam, just me and a backpack and a whole lot of ocean.

A new perspective on NPLEX

One of the doctors I had the pleasure of shadowing this past year is a huge fan of walking meditation. In fact, he did an entire presentation on it this year at the AANP in Colorado. My hypnotherapist-RN mother taught me how to do walking meditation at a young age. I’ve been taking the long way lately to the recycling bin and mailbox in our complex, meditating on my breath and the feeling of the ground against my feet. It’s incredible, love it, I can see why Priessnitz (the founder of hydrotherapy) stressed the importance of walking barefoot on grass covered in morning dew.

Anyway, here’s what hit me yesterday during my long walk on a surprisingly humid evening in the desert. I’m so grateful that we have a 3 day, 8-hours each day licensing exam. Although, I hear everyone leaves feeling like they’ve failed, and I hear the questions are absolutely absurd, I’m glad that they’re requiring that we have a standardized amount of knowledge before we can practice medicine.

Imagine if they didn’t? Imagine if we weren’t required to know what to do should a patient on calcium channel blockers have an adverse reaction to a magnesium push? Or if we got white powdery stuff in the mail and we didn’t know that you HAVE to treat suspected anthrax immediately with doxy or cipro.. Or if we didn’t review how to triage patients during a medical emergency, or if we didn’t know how to deliver a baby properly. Or imagine if we didn’t know drug-drug interactions/drug-herb interactions or black box warnings of drugs our patients seem to always come in on? ETC.

Do you feel me? So, even though it feels like this exam is my arch nemesis, it’s actually an ally.

My biggest regret during naturopathic medical school

What I’m about to tell you may sound very simple and perhaps even silly, but it’s not. If I could do anything over the past four years differently, I would have specialized training in some sort of physical therapy modality. I’m planning to return to an unlicensed state, where naturopathic doctors cannot even perform physical exams or touch their patients. They’re to be strictly natural health consultant.
My Arizona medical license will cover me to practice acupuncture and physical medicine in the state of Arizona. Some ND’s in Maryland went to SCNM when the Acupuncture certification program was optional and an extra year. These ND’s have a BUSY clinic and are able to see two to three patients at a time. How? They stagger the appointment times:

2:00 – acupuncture patient comes in, do acupuncture intake, put needles in.

2:15 – naturopathic follow up appointment comes in, follow up and treatment is provided in 30 minutes.

2:45 – naturopathic follow up patient happily leaves office with treatment sheet in hand.

3:00 – acupuncture needles are removed and acupuncture patient happily leaves office.

These doctors are able to see more patients, and are able to provide more than just diet, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations.

I did specialized training in Mayan Uterine Massage while I was here, but I still need to practice more before I feel comfortable providing this therapy to my patients. If I could go back in time, I would have received this training earlier in my career and been on shifts where the attendings were trained in uterine massage so I could practice on patients. Or, I would have received training in craniosacral manipulation. I had the pleasure of helping an MD in DC practice craniosacral on one of his patients and the entire experience was incredible and I was full of regret for not taking seminars in it while I was a student so that I could offer it to my patients as another service. Some of my friends have training in applied kinesiology, or IV therapy, while others are staying in Arizona and are taking courses in prolothearpy and PRP where they’ll be able to provide those services.

If you’re planning on practicing in the uncharted areas of an unlicensed state, make sure to shadow doctors out there early on so you can see how they keep their clinics busy and help people. Think about your future practice and what tools you want to be able to treat your patients. I think there’s something very healing in a doctor being fully present and providing healing touch to their patients.

“THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING.” was what I said to myself as I went to get my graduation regalia from the registrar.

gold-starTears came to my eyes when I saw her, because she’s always been such an encouraging and positive presence for the students. With 9 days left until graduation, I’ve been flooded with so many strong emotions. The most dominant emotion has been that of tremendous gratitude. So with this post I am hoping to reignite the spark for students who are burning low on fuel and show prospective students how incredible the experience of becoming a “baby doc” can be. (Baby doc is the term that ND’s use for newly graduated ND students).

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Me trying on my graduation cap!

First, I am so grateful that there was a medical school out there that would help me integrate conventional medicine with natural medicine. Since the age of 17, I thought I’d have to go to MD school and learn nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, etc. on my own. I didn’t have to, here I was able to develop my clinical thinking skills, learn how and why to order various labs and imaging and provide healing while keeping the tenants of naturopathic medicine in my heart. In 9 days, I’m going to become the doctor of my dreams.

I am grateful for the elders of our profession (some of who teach at SCNM). They persevered to attend naturopathic medical school during a time when there was only 1 school in the U.S with only 20 students enrolled! Can you believe that there was once a time- very recently- where our medicine almost went extinct? I get goosebumps every time I think about it. If it wasn’t for those before us, we literally wouldn’t be here today. (Special shoutout to you, Dr. Lindlahr, you have and will always inspire me.)

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Thank you, Dr. Henry Lindlahr!

I’m grateful to each and every one of my teachers, (especially a certain pathology professor) for giving me such a strong foundation in the biomedical sciences while keeping class entertaining. I’m grateful for every rotation I’ve taken, the doctors who patiently worked with me and encouraged me to grow, grateful to the patients who allowed me to practice and learn the art of healing with them. There are some cases I had that will forever be in my heart and have changed my life in innumerable ways. My family – in the last four years my family back home were so supportive of me. I have a new naturopathic family here who have walked the path with me: we’ve studied together, held each other through hard times and laughed a hell of a lot. The front desk and medicinary employees at our clinic – they’re SO FREAKING AWESOME, they keep the clinic running smoothly and brighten up our days. I’ve been blessed with some amazing mentors who gave me support and reminded me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I can’t stop smiling, I’m feeling so blown away, there’s no other way to describe it.  I am beginning a new journey and I know my gratitude will only continue to grow after I walk the stage on July 6th.