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.

“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.

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.. 🙂