Next week for Grand Rounds I am scheduled to present to fellow
interns, clinicians and classmates. Grand Rounds is required of all
interns in both Trimester 9 and 10.
You are given the freedom to present on a clinical question of
your choice and my friend and I decided to pose the following
clinical question: How do Clinical Outcomes Improve with Physician
Education on LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) Sensitive
Issues? We chose this topic based on a recent discussion on the
importance of asking patients sensitive questions revolving around
sexual history. As naturopathic physicians, we cannot brush over a
patient's sexual history by not asking if they are in a committed
relationship, having sexual relations with men women or both, or
how many partners they've had in a lifetime. If we avoid these
questions, we are not getting a true picture of the patient's risks
Disease types and risks can vary depending on the patient's
social and sexual history. For example, lesbian patients were once
told they had less of a risk of developing HIV/AIDS. This, of
course, is entirely untrue. In fact, our research found many
lesbian patients reported that when they were asked if they were
sexually active, it was usually automatically assumed they were
only intimate with males. If they disclosed they were in an
intimate relationship with another female, it was assumed they
never had sexual relations with a male in their lifetime.
And then comes the whole topic of transsexuals who can
exogenously inject hormones to more physically resemble the
opposite sex. This comes with a whole set of probable disease
developments. These are just a few of the stereotypes we dug up
during research for our presentation. This was enough to spark our
interest to investigate this topic further and present our findings
to our fellow interns.
During our research, my co-presenter and I visited the Howard
Brown Center in downtown Chicago. Howard Brown is a health care
organization that serves more than 36,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual,
and transgender individuals annually. The organization provides
primary medical care, behavioral health counseling, research,
HIV/STI prevention and social services for all age groups. We met
with Chandra Matteson, RN, to discuss our presentation to ensure we
were on the right track and to gain more information from someone
who works with this population first-hand. She was more than
helpful in critiquing our slides and provided us with a wealth of
resources. We had such a great time we took pictures with Chandra
and added it to our presentation!
Unfortunately, you have to be a student or faculty member of the
University to be invited to attend Grand Rounds, but I urge those
who are in health care to take another look into this populations'
unique set of health issues. It has been indeed proven that with
training in GLBT-sensitive issues clinical outcomes are more
Wish me luck on my presentation! I will report how it goes next
This week in Minor Surgery we got to practice our skills on
replica human arms instead of pretending to suture each other! Dr.
Khan, our professor, provided each of us with a foam human arm with
various sized lacerations that needed to be stitched up.
First, we had to make sure the wound was cleaned so we set up a
sterile field with our surgery utensils and pretended to sanitize
the area to be sutured. Next we had to practice opening and closing
the surgery tongs with both hands. It is much harder than you think
to force your non-dominant hand to do meticulous work… I need
practice!! We were each given a surgical needle with thread
attached to practice suturing a smaller wound on the arm. It took
me a few times of rearranging the tongs in my hand before I had a
comfortable angle to begin stitching. Dr. Khan came around to be
sure that we had our "patient's" arm placed in an appropriate
position as many of us ended up having the arm twisted in a way
that would not be possible if there were really a human
After a few practice runs, I had the flow down of how to stitch,
tie and cut without tugging on the wound more than needed. Dr. Khan
stressed the importance of keeping the stitches evenly spaced, not
pulling the sutures too tight when tying them, and using the
minimum amount of stitches to properly close the wound. With so
many things to keep in mind, it really speaks to the art of
I don't see myself performing minor surgery in my future
practice, however, I am sure there will come a time when I need to
know how to properly clean and close a minor wound. Next week we
will be practicing on larger lacerations and utilizing different
techniques for closing difficult wounds.
St. Louis or Bust!
Next week is Thanksgiving already! I am going to be taking a
couple of days off from clinic so I can spend extra time traveling
down to see my sister, brother-in-law and niece in Missouri. First,
my boyfriend and I will be stopping off in St. Louis to tour the
Arch and sightsee. Being a space nut… he would like to visit the
space museum, while I would rather go shopping! We will see how
this pans out! All in all I am excited to get time off to spend
with my family and to eat good food!
I hope everyone has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
With the trimester flying by, the ZRT naturopathic medical
students' collegiate bowl at the annual naturopathic convention is
fast approaching! We have booked our flights to Portland and made
our hotel reservations, so there is no turning back! The group of
four of us who are going to participate are meeting weekly to
practice for the competition. Although I am very excited to compete
for NUHS, the next few weeks are going to be crazy with taking
final examinations early, as we will be missing the last two weeks
of school. A few crazy weeks of examinations will be well worth it
once we are in Portland!
While we are out on the West Coast, we plan to shadow at as many
naturopathic clinics as we can. Being so close to graduation,
making connections with practicing NDs is becoming more important.
We already have one shadowing opportunity set in stone in southern
California. I can't wait to report back on how it goes!
In Botanicals recently, we discussed the topic of treating
cancer in a naturopathic clinical setting. This topic is
particularly interesting to me as I plan to pursue further
education in naturopathic oncology. The field of oncology is vast,
therefore most naturopathic treatments are guided toward integrated
care and supporting the body's ability to tolerate debilitating
chemotherapy, radiology and surgical treatments. There are many
botanical formulas that can be given to help patients gain their
energy and strength back after oncology treatments and to help with
the brain fog patients experience post-chemotherapy referred to as
"chemo brain." The lecture on botanical uses in cancer is just the
tip of the iceberg when it comes to naturopathic therapies that can
be utilized as adjunctive treatment in the field of oncology.
We're also discussing oncology in depth in both Internal
Medicine and Functional Medicine. I am a total cancer junkie… so I
will be sure to relay any interesting information!
With about 10 papers and 3 presentations looming over my head I
had better get to typing! Have a great week!
This week's photos show how our naturopathic garden is
This week in environmental medicine we talked about the symptoms
of chemical sensitivities. This lecture motivated me to reflect on
many of the chemical exposures I encounter on a daily basis in some
form or another. There are a wide variety of compounds that have
been proven to cause ill health effects causing symptoms ranging
from a dull headache, fatigue, memory loss, and asthma to
depression, neuropathy and dizziness. It becomes clear that the
hardest thing about environmental exposures is determining what
symptoms are truly being caused by an exposure. It is our job as
naturopaths to do some investigative work into a patient's living
environment to rule a potential environmental exposure in or
I feel it is important to explore our daily exposures even if we
are seemingly symptom-free. If we think about the cleaning products
we use in our homes - laundry detergents we use to clean clothes,
dish soaps, beauty products, bath soaps - we are being exposed to a
gamut of synthetic chemicals that we as naturopaths believe can
accumulate over time leading to potentially catastrophic disease
A symptom as simple as a chronic dull headache can be the body's
way of warning us that it is being exposed to something it
shouldn't be. Unfortunately, if a patient complains of a headache,
the first thing on any doctor's differential diagnosis list is
probably not environmental exposures. However, if a detailed
history of the headache is taken, there are subtle clues that point
to the possibility of an environmental exposure. When does the
patient have their headache? Is it Monday through Friday while they
are at work? Have there been any renovations or new carpets put in
at their job or at home? When do they feel symptom-free, if ever?
These questions are a few examples of ways to help hone in on where
and when a patient could be being exposed to an environmental toxin
and can also help in formulating a treatment.
Ways to help make your workspace or home environment
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to learn the many ways in which
we are exposed to harmful substances - swimming at the pool, eating
non-organic produce, using fabric softener - the list can get so
large it makes my head spin! If we can just start to recognize our
personal exposures, we can then begin to link them to our health,
which is the ultimate goal of a naturopathic doctor - taking charge
of your health!
Lecture Reinforcement at the Zoo
So, it may have taken me 5 years to get to the Brookfield Zoo,
but I finally made the trip this weekend! Lucky for me, my friend
has a season's pass and can bring a friend in free! He knows the
zoo inside and out and would not let us leave until we saw
I have to say I was impressed; the new dolphin show exhibit was
amazing! The theme of the dolphin show was conservation of our
planet by teaching the audience to reduce their waste production.
This is similar to the environmental exposure lecture from last
Litter in small amounts may be tolerated and only make a few
animals sick. In larger amounts, litter can accumulate and make a
whole eco system off balance. This is exactly the thought process
behind environmental exposures! No matter what mammal or creature
you look at, environmental factors can alter their quality of life
for the better or for the worst.
Aside from the lesson learned about conservation, I would
definitely recommend a trip to the Brookfield Zoo be added to your
list of touristy things to do while in Chicago!
It's official! NUHS has a botanical garden!
About 15 students showed up to partake in the planting of the
garden, and with so much help we were done planting an 8x10-10 foot
plot in just over an hour. Before we packed up our tools we stood
around the plot hand-in-hand and took a moment to think back on all
of our hard work in getting to this moment.
It was suggested by a student that for good gardening luck we
should spit on the garden. I know this sounds disgusting, but it
was actually really fun! Now all that is left to do is to spruce up
walking paths with stones and make a sign with the NUHS Botanical
Garden printed on it! We will be assigning a watering and weeding
schedule this week to help with maintenance of the garden. This
week I'll welcome the rain instead of wishing it away!
In the Classroom
As for classroom news, this week's topic in Advanced
Manipulation class was on low back and leg endurance tests. This
meant that we were subjected to performing each test to see where
we fell compared to the average patient. Dr. Selby had us really
sweating by doing as many squats, sit-ups and sustained planks as
we could! He wanted us to be able to experience what it would be
like for a patient if they were asked to perform these endurance
tests. Granted, we were not wearing proper attire, most of us in
summer dresses, so it was a bit difficult to perform at our highest
potential, but it was an enjoyable lecture nonetheless!
One of our teachers, Dr. Lou, is always telling us of the
importance of "living in our labs" - meaning, we should not be
recommending things to our patients that we have not tried
ourselves. If we expect our patients to eat healthy and exercise
regularly...we should be doing the same!
In the Pool
With the weather being so nice this weekend I finally got to
take advantage of the swimming pool at my apartment. A friend from
home came into town this weekend so we spent most of our time
relaxing in the sunshine! Being that I did not apply sunscreen
liberally enough, I ended up getting a pretty good sunburn on my
shoulders. Not to worry though, homeopathic Cantharis and Calendula
lotion to the rescue!
This week is full of midterms and papers… but I will surely find
time to play in the garden! I will keep you posted on the latest
• ND Clinic Format
• Love Your Profession
• MD vs. ND
• CAM Day
• Working During School
• Q&A with Readers
To read older blog posts, scroll to the bottom and click the "Older Posts" button.