Classes Countdown and a Chicago To-Do List

Another big week down and only 4 more to go until the end of my 9th trimester and the end of medical school classes! The way our schedule works, you should always finish your tenure with NUHS with a class-free 10th trimester. I gotta tell you, it's become a mantra among my fellow 9th tris to remind each other several times a day the number of weeks left of class before we get to focus solely on patient care and our plans for life after school. You could definitely say all 10 of us have "senioritis," and it takes those daily reminders to one another to keep a smile on when we sit through 2.5 hours of Wednesday morning lecture and move on to complete another 7 hours in the clinic.

Big days happening around here! In the midst of all the school I am getting done these days, I'm also taking the time to explore Chicago because I'm closing in on the end of my time in this city.

Finally made it out dancing at the Empty Bottle

This past weekend I finally made it to The Empty Bottle on Western Ave in Chicago for some dancing! Hanzi and our friend Reed and I also trekked down to Chinatown on Sunday for Dim Sum, which was all kinds of flavors. On Saturday night, Hanzi and I brought stuffing and a vegetable dish (so naturopathic, I know) to a Friendsgiving dinner with library friends. Hanzi works at the Oak Park Library and we've met some really lovely, intelligent folks with a great sense of humor and a shared love of books. Our festive meal was definitely a holiday season highlight.

Hanzi and I have been working on a Chicago to-do list. It includes riding the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, seeing a show at the House of Blues, skating the ribbon rink, and visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry. I know, I know, I can't believe I haven't done some of these things yet! I've been here for 3 years and some days it absolutely feels like it's been that long, and other days, I wonder where the time has gone and realize that April will be here in no time....

So, can you see the picture here? I'm trying to focus on this last month of 9th tri with studying and assignments, while also realizing I have a substantial checklist of Chicagoland activities to attend to. I'm also enjoying every busy clinic day seeing patients and, oh yeah -- we had our first snow! It went from fall to February-like winter overnight!

All the smart, beautiful women working in the ND clinic

Also, it was the 100th anniversary of the American Medical Women's Association this past week so we took a picture of all the ND lady interns and docs. I think we look fabulous! So yeah, no huge news here, just that winter and crunch-time have arrived, and we're still all working hard to become doctors someday soon....

A Week of Heart Filling and Story Telling

Ahhhhh, a day off in the middle of the week! To start, thank you to our veterans for serving and for giving us a reason to take a break. We had Wednesday off this past week and I savored that free time. I had all those good intentions of writing up a case due at the end of the week, and getting started on a paper for pediatrics class, but in the end I took my day off to relax and do laundry (so exciting)!

Dinner, drinks and laughing with my ND-to-be girlfriends

As a med student, you really have to take advantage of any free moment. On Tuesday evening, knowing we wouldn't have class early the next morning, a few of my best ND student friends and I went out for food and wine. We cozied up to the restaurant's fireplace and the conversation never stopped. I rarely see all of these lovely friends because of taking the full-track option of classes. These days I spend most of my time on campus in the clinic, rather than in classrooms and hallways where I can cross paths with my buddies. Because of this, we had so much to talk about! We reminisced about our cadaver in first tri anatomy and discussed our visions for our future practices and families (JheriAnne is pregnant with twins!) I drove home that evening all filled up with loving support from my people; I am truly a lucky gal.

Speaking of good experiences, I volunteered to sit on the ND panel at Campus Visit Day this past weekend. I think I've volunteered for this position 3 or 4 times before. I keep coming back to sit and talk with prospective students because I love talking and articulating my excitement for naturopathic medicine! I always leave these panel sessions feeling even better about my choice of profession. One of the things that came up in discussion for all of us on the panel was that the ND students at NUHS form a very supportive community. We share study guides, organize study groups, encourage each other to take a break and get out, and generally do not compete with each other for grades. We are all here to build our profession, so what's the point of creating excess competition within our little community? 

At the ND student panel for Campus Visit Day

We are certainly a group of healers who come to this medicine because we aim to doctor with caring support, rather than through sheer force, dominance or authority. It's a beautiful struggle to display authority with my patients so that they understand the importance of attending to their health and trust my knowledge, while at the same time allowing my innate compassion and tenderness to come through. Just writing this post has me all extra excited about our medicine again! It's that easy to love what I do.

If you're a prospective student with questions about being in an ND program, whether you're bound for NUHS or not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me! Email me at and I'll be sure to write back.

Why We Rally Around the Good

I am sitting at my kitchen table, bright yellow and orange leaves glowing outside my window in the mid-morning light, and I am breathing deeply. I am taking deep, calming breaths because I just let myself read one of those blogs about how naturopathic medicine is not real.

Out for a walk on a gorgeous fall day

We had this conversation in our practice management class last Thursday: "What do you say if someone asks you why you didn't become a real doctor?" There is an unpleasant person living in Europe for whom naturopathic medicine did not stick. This person writes a caustic blog about perceived failures of our medicine. It's unfortunate, but as my ND student friend Wendy has said, if one person can make a little wave like this person has, imagine what all the rest of us can do.

There are smart people, and there are good writers, and they are not always one and the same. There are people who respond to the incendiary writings of Internet "trolls" and there are the sound, solid naturopathy supporters out there who ignore those "trolls" and continue doing what they do because it works, not because they are out to prove someone wrong.

I encourage all of my fellow students and fellow supporters of naturopathic medicine not to shout your support in an angry way. I implore you to stay away from those naysayers because by responding to them, we give them the Internet traffic (which Google loves to highlight), and the attention they do not deserve.

So, naturopathic doctors, doctors-to-be, supporters, and patients of the world -- please, please, please -- let us stop acknowledging the writings and cries of people who do not understand the power of natural medicine to heal! Let us see what they write, and remember to support our profession in the avenues through which they seek to bring us down. If it is more residency opportunities they think we need, then let us remember that, process it in our own capacity, and apply those conclusions on our own terms.

There will always, always, always be those people whose opinions differ from ours. When it comes to our profession, which is, in the end, simply about helping people to feel better, let us remember that. Physician-heal-thyself means we make sure we do things to make ourselves feel better so that we may better serve our patients. We are served well when we put our energy into the things that we want to perpetuate.

Dwell on the GOOD stuff. DO NOT dwell on the bad stuff. Energy is a real thing and it follows intention. So let us place our intention on growing our profession, not on perpetually defending it. If you take no shots, you score no goals. If we spend all our time defending, we make no advances on the scoreboard! Let's direct our thoughts at success, let's rally around the positive stuff, and give that negative darkness a wide, wide berth.

Our Program Grows and Nature Cures

I opened my emails this morning to read one from the AANMC, or the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. The entire second half of the newsletter was about NUHS! This is so exciting! The blurb talked about all the club opportunities on campus including the NMSA (Naturopathic Medical Student Association), Nu Delta Sigma (the naturopathic fraternity/study group), Healer's Circle, Homeopathy Club, and the botanical garden. It even mentioned our own Dr. Sorensen, who won a photo contest by the American Botanical Council with a photo of our Althea Officinalis (Marshmallow) from the garden here on campus!

When I started at NUHS 3 years ago, my group of 15 or so incoming ND students was one of the biggest yet. Now, I hear we have incoming classes of around 40 students, making NDs-to-be nearly half of the population (or more!) of our first phase classrooms. I am proud of that and I know many of my peers are too.

I can see the growth of our program in the clinic this trimester; we have 17 8thtrimester interns, which is equal to the number of the 9thand 10thtri interns combined! On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, when the 8th tri interns join us, we double in number and the available clinic space and hydrotherapy facilities are absolutely bursting at the seams! Our clinicians are wickedly busy helping all of us, so much so that we got a new clinician this trimester named Dr. Tursha Hamilton! She comes to us from the heat of Arizona, by way of Louisiana, and we all intend to hug the warmth back into her all winter long (at her request!). 

Our new clinician Dr. Hamilton and me

So what does this growth mean for our program here at NUHS? First of all, I suspect it means an increase in the resources available to us as the sheer volume of students in our program outgrows the current space and resources allotted us. Many of us are realizing the need for more space in the clinic, especially for hydrotherapy. We also hope for more resources in the form of materials to learn hands-on aspects of our medicine like minor surgery and lab evaluation.

I know that one of the obstacles our profession faces here at NUHS, and in Illinois in general, is the state's current status as a pre-licensed state. We have a team of docs and advisors working hard to get our medicine licensed here and once that happens, I imagine our program will totally explode! We currently work under the chiropractic scope of practice (as I've mentioned before), and while it is a pretty good scope in Illinois, there are still things that are included in a naturopathic scope of practice in other states that we cannot legally practice here in Illinois... yet!

Don't let this post get you down. We get an absolutely kick-ass education here at NUHS. We learn our basic sciences super well, and we learn our clinical sciences thoroughly. We learn the truth of nature cure in the purest way; we simply do not have the option to use pharmaceutical drugs or higher force interventions like IV therapy. While these therapies absolutely have their place, we learn here at NUHS about the remarkable effectiveness of addressing the basic determinants without getting caught up in the temptation to depart from that philosophy.

Every day we use hydrotherapy, we use botanicals, we use whole foods, we use nutritional supplementation, and we use physical medicine. We use complex laboratory evaluation of blood, stool, urine, and saliva, and based on the information gleaned from such tests, we treat with nature's medicines -- plants, water, homeopathy, nutrients, whole food, sunlight, and sleep. And with these tools we see successes in healing every day!

A Surprise Day Off Spent with Plants

This past week we had a surprise day off! Though not under the best circumstances (a power outage at the clinic that lasted all day), we did take advantage of the free time. We went to the Morton Arboretum! Yes, we'll have to make up those hours "lost" among the plants rather than in patient care, but that dose of nature did so much good for me that I'm totally OK with an extra Friday shift sometime soon.

photo of friends at arboretum
Group Hug! (Thanks to Joe for the picture!)

Kaila, Lisa, Joe, Brad, Blaine, and I carpooled to the Arboretum once we found out we were free for the day. Mallory met us there a little while later. We wandered the gardens, explored the old buildings, ate lunch at the café, and sat for almost an hour in the library reading old botanical medicine books! This was the nerdiest and possibly the best part of the day. 

I also loved wandering the paths, reading off scientific names of plants and recalling their medicinal uses. There were many plants whose names I know but whose medicinal actions I cannot remember. We vowed to return soon with our bot med notes and do some real review with the actual plants in front of us.

Strolling at the Arboretum

I've been meaning to visit the Morton Arboretum since I learned about it when I started here at NUHS 3 years ago. If you can find a friend who is a member, it is cheaper to visit for the day. If you can't find a member to tag along with, I suggest paying the $14 (or on Wednesdays it's only $9!) to explore that beautiful place; it's totally worth it. The arboretum is a haven for nature-loving folks in this very suburban area. If you go once you've taken a few bot med classes, you can study while you're there! I promise, it's rewarding to see the plants in person and make that mental connection by touching, smelling and observing medicine as it exists out in nature. 

Reading old botanical medicine books.

Apologies to our patients that we did not get to see that day! Lucky for you though, we are now more clear-minded thanks to a day spent in the natural world. Not seeing patients yet? I still suggest getting outside to clear your mind after these recent midterms! Oh yeah, everyone else is taking midterms these days, while I'm over here in 9th tri giving presentations and taking online, open-note quizzes instead. ~Happy Sigh~