I've received some good reminders lately to remain present
despite my excitement about the near-ish future. My fellow
8th tris and I didn't have class this past Friday because our
professor was gone at the American Association of Naturopathic
Physicians (AANP) conference in California (don't worry, we made up
for it last week with 3 extra hours of class, yikes!).
Fellow ND student Miranda and me on her birthday!
I got to spend the morning catching up on charting, and then we
celebrated our friend Miranda's birthday with a group lunch
outside. That was followed by a pleasant discussion in the sun on
past-lives and the purpose of life, the sheer size of the universe,
and how the job of doctoring that we've been chosen for is a
beautiful and difficult one. In the midst of all this
self-exploration we are also showing up every day for all the other
people in the world, namely our patients.
After that sunny, grounding, expansive discussion, I helped a
9th tri friend make the final edits on his application for
externship, something I'm really hoping I get to experience, too.
To help him, I put on my doctor hat and helped him clarify the
answers in his own words by facilitating the articulation of his
story. Eliciting the story with my patients, friends, and family is
one of the ways I am pulling myself out of my daydreams of the
future and into the present.
Evening study sesh, sunset out my window
So what are these daydreams of the future, anyway? Well, Hanzi
and I have our eye on the West, perhaps even as far out as Alaska.
Hanzi finishes his degree before I do, and will hopefully move out
to get settled somewhere. I'll join him a few months later when I'm
done with school. I'm also excited about the possibility of doing
an externship, which means learning from doctors in Montana and/or
California during my 10th trimester. In case you're curious,
you must get your patient numbers done, as well as a total of 850
primary hours before you can be considered a candidate for
The trimester is almost over and I just registered for my very
last round of medical school classes ever! I'm excited to move on
to 9th tri where I'll be in the clinic 5 days a week; a more
realistic picture of life after graduation. I'm also thrilled to be
joined by a handful of the ND students I started the program with
back in January 2013. I was the only one of our group to continue
on the full-track schedule and I'm so excited to have them back in
my world on the regular! The friends you make at the start of
medical school are hard to beat; the work is so consuming and the
bonds you make with those people while studying a cadaver, or
during those late nights in the library will likely last a very,
very long time.
So good luck to all my fellow students as we prepare for, and
take, our final exams! It is finally (almost!) time for summer
break -- enjoy it! I'll be back in September with more tales of the
naturopathic student life.
I know I'm becoming a doctor because...
If you are on the flex track and are considering completing most
of your coursework before heading into the clinical portion of our
education, I support that decision! This trimester has been a
challenge for me, and I really feel like I had my study strategy
down to a near-perfect science. I guess I am finding the transition
from student-in-class / absorbing information, to intern-in-clinic
/ synthesizing and applying said learned information,
All things considered, I have a pretty light few weeks of
midterms; only 4 exams and one paper to write (right? fellow 8th
tris, feel free to keep me on track here!) This trimester is
definitely keeping me constantly busy between trying to recall
information in patient care, to keeping up with online quizzes,
writing weekly botanical prescriptions, and preparing for various
It certainly is a mental challenge to continually switch gears
and be ready to play either student or teacher depending on the
circumstance, even within the same few minute stretch. I suppose
this is a lot like real doctor life... Listening and wearing your
doctor hat, then turning as a student to your books to refresh on
information to help the patient you are simultaneously doctoring.
I'm realizing in this moment that I've been living in my
student-brain so intensely for so many months now, that I'm
struggling to make the transition/cultivate the multi-brained
Seeing the farmer's market through doctor glasses
Geez, my friends and family must be relieved to see glimmers of
my dynamic brain emerging from the information-crushing stage I've
been mired in for the past 2½ years... And as I recognize a
shift in my thinking process and interaction with my world, I know
I'm a changed gal. I notice I am becoming a doctor because of the
way I have learned to listen and actually hear people when they
talk to me. I notice I am becoming a doctor because I know the
answers to my friends' questions about the body. I suppose I am
never going to be able to take off these doctor glasses. You know,
unlike the beer glasses that come off so readily the next
morning... Maybe it's a little late to realize this but, readers,
I'm going to be a doctor and it can't be undone.
Recently, I was reading about the life and work of a
photographer named Mary Ellen Mark. Hanzi brought home a book of
her images from the library the other day, and then I encountered a
write-up of her life in the New York Times. I read it, looked at
her photographs, and thought, gosh, I'm never going to devote my
life to being a documentarian photographer. That's one thing I'm
just not gonna be, because instead, I'm going to be a doctor. I'm
OK with this, and I know I'll eventually find time to do other
things with my life as well, like play the piano, read novels, go
for hikes, have a family... but I must admit, I'm suddenly struck
by the intensity of these few years of medical school. I know
doctorhood has always been on the horizon, but now it feels extra
real. I suppose I'd better rise to meet it. Also, incase you were
curious; my temperature is 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit.
There is this lively little part of me at my core that I was
beginning to mourn having lost in the midst of school, but
surprise! It's waking up! The first time I can remember discovering
this glowing gold piece of my heart was when I lived in Wyoming,
and it brightened significantly when I lived in California.
Hunkering down to study, living in the suburbs, losing touch with
music and wild land slowly shuttered me, dimmed that glow, and
caused that spirited part of me to go dormant.
Sunset on a satisfying day in the clinic
I saw my first patients last week and the experience cracked my
heart open, in the best way. I also made the decision to drop a few
massage courses this trimester, including my clinic shift, which
has opened up more hours in my week and also lifted a large burden
from my shoulders. I'm taking only one massage class; it's perfect.
I get to focus on my priority of becoming a naturopathic
This feeling I'm welcoming home is hard to explain, but it feels
so much like me! I know I've mentioned before how my life here in
Chicagoland is significantly different from what I feel brings me
most alive. Maybe it's the realization that I have only one year
left, and that the wide world is waiting for me over there next
April. Mostly, I think it's the opportunity to practice actual
doctoring that's waking this sleeping glow.
For years I was intimidated to go to medical school. It took me
until I recognized I was ready to BE the doctor, rather than just
work for the doctor, to even take the steps to apply for school.
Now the end is in sight, and I have so much to learn! How am I ever
going to fit it all in to one year? I'm really excited and actually
totally floored to watch it happening. All of a sudden, there was a
patient in front of me, asking me for help, answering my questions,
asking me questions... And then there was another one! Another
patient sat in front of me, answering my questions, looking to me
(and my clinician) for answers. I guess I always knew this was
coming, but I have completely shocked myself by letting it actually
Lisa and me, and Wendy's FABULOUS lunch bag; it's how we
I guess this feeling that's reemerging, slowly simmering in my
core, is one of cautious confidence, of belonging, of good
trepidation and that delightful unknown. I'm treading lightly so as
to not snuff it out. Now that it's back, I'm going to do my
darndest to nurture it, which I think means being truest to myself.
I am wide-eyed and curious.
Wow. It's been an enormous few weeks since I last sat down to
write! First of all, I get to start seeing patients in the clinic!
The time has come. We've been doing something called Counsel
Practice with Dr. Marier, one of our ND clinicians, and we always
start this practice of speaking in a circle by checking in. If I
were holding the talking stone right now I'd tell you I am
overwhelmed, excited, thankful, nervous, and ready to learn from my
All of us 8th Tri ND students spent last week's clinic hours in
orientation, which was all about drinking from the fire hose of
information. We learned a wonderfully overwhelming mix of things,
from tips on how to work with patients, to the tedious checklists
to keep in mind, to learning the machinery that keeps our campus
clinic running. There is so much to learn!
Besides starting in the ND clinic, I am also starting in the
Massage Therapy clinic. After working on two of my professors last
week, I have been granted their approval (not without a list of
things to work on, of course), and will begin seeing real live
clients this week, eek!
In the midst of all this clinic-starting excitement, I am still
responsible for taking 10 other courses: eight in the ND program
and two in the massage program. One of my massage classes is called
Chair, Sport, and Trigger Point. I came home from our first class
last week to a message from a friend telling me how great he felt
after I'd worked on him in class a mere hour earlier. Positive
feedback from peers is so reaffirming! Note to self: communicate to
my peers when they do an awesome job… maybe it'll be just the boost
So, I'll be working hard this summer, but let me catch you
up on my exciting break!
Katie and me on Lobby Day.
On May 4th, I participated in the [American Association of
Naturopathic Physicians] DC Federal Legislative Initiative, the
naturopathic community's lobbying day in Washington, DC. During the
two days preceding our day running from senate office to house
office and back again, we had lectures and workshops on our
initiatives and on how to articulate our medicine. I left the event
with the realization that participating in democracy is relatively
easy! Showing up for a meeting with a legislative assistant is
intimidating at first, but after a meeting or two, the jitters
disappear and you have fun explaining what you do and why it
In the Library of Congress
I learned a lot and also made some powerful connections with
students from other schools while at DC FLI. We have some
incredibly motivated student leaders, and I imagine these will be
the people who rally in the public eye to carry our profession
forward as we graduate and become practicing doctors. I also
realized that our program here at NUHS is really excellent; it
keeps pace with the other, more established programs, and our work
alongside chiropractic students is pretty unique.
Exploring DC's botanical gardens
Not only did I meet and enjoy the company and camaraderie of
students from other schools, but I also got to know a totally fab
group of Tri 2/3 ND students from my very own school! Starting
clinic certainly makes me feel like I don't know anything, but
networking with students from trimesters past has given me some
confidence by remembering how far I have come over the past two
years. I fielded questions, offered advice, and learned a whole lot
about myself from my interactions with Mariah, Sarah, Katie,
Michael, Kolby, and Alex. Thank you all!
All of us from NUHS at DC FLI.
It's springtime! And so it is also, inevitably, final exam time.
Talk about torture...staying inside to study while the birds are
chirping and the neighbors are out grilling and chatting and
generally having fun without me; story of the student life. I've
started my tri-annual 2-week-scramble as I head into the last week
of classes, also known as the first week of finals. I have been
busy tracking down research (for a paper I have yet to write),
making checklists, studying modalities and psychopathology, and
writing up a business plan, while also filing my taxes, cleaning
the bathroom, and.... Do you even care about the details? Let's
just say things are winding up (and taxes are a huge pain!)
Last week's storm clouds clearing, leaving behind super green
grass on campus!
In between the torturous number crunching for my business class
and scouring PubMed for articles, I managed to get out to our
botanical garden season-opener party and pull last year's leaves
off an awakening Ruta plant. I also practiced massage in
preparation for starting in the clinic next tri (exciting!) and got
out for a date night with my main man.
Headed into the
Hanzi and I redeemed our Groupons for the King Spa over the
weekend. If you haven't been there, seriously, do yourself a favor,
you stressed out student! The spa has about 8 or so different rooms
ranging from warm to wickedly hot, the walls covered in all
different things from salt to gold to amethyst to coal. These rooms
are co-ed and everyone wears the same funny T-shirt and shorts
uniform (gals in pink, guys in grey). Hanzi and I started out
sauna-ing in the various rooms, our favorites being the salt room
and the amethyst room. Oh, and the Ice room also feels really
excellent after working up a sweat.
Once we'd had our fill of lying or stretching quietly in each of
the rooms, the two of us split up and headed for our respective
sides of the spa. In the ladies-only section, there are three
different temperatures of hot tub, one cold pool (eek!), and a
steam room. Each time I've been to the King Spa I rotate through
the tubs, then dunk in the cold pool, and move to the steam room. I
do this routine 2 or 3 times and I leave feeling absolutely divine!
(Note: no bathing suits allowed. You've been warned.)
After at least half an hour rotating through the tubs and steam,
I showered off, put on a clean pink outfit, and headed back out
into the common space to meet Hanzi for dinner. We ordered some
delicious Korean food with plenty of veggies. After dinner we
retired to the comfiest chairs on the planet and lounged for a
while, digesting dinner and letting our spa-ified bodies totally
relax. Around 9pm, we split up again for our respective sides of
the spa, changed back into our street clothes, carried our shoes
out to the entrance, and paid for our dinner before driving
Sunny spring day, brewing sun tea on my porch
I can't think of a better way to spend a few hours toguether
before our household goes into finals mode. Hanzi's semester in his
master's program at Loyola is also wrapping up, too. Taking the
time to indulge in spa time quite obviously counts as
"physician-to-be heal thyself." (See my last post for more on
this subject.) It also fits with this emerging spring.
Relaxing, sweating, and purifying at the spa mimicked the drenching
April rain we had this week that left campus sparkling green. I
might have a lot to tackle over the next 10 days (1 project, 1
paper, 1 practical, 1 quiz, and 7 exams), but after my evening at
the spa, I'm feeling more centered and ready.
So here we go! I'll be back in a few weeks to regale you with
tales from my break, and in the meantime, good luck with exams and
enjoy your time off!
• Leaves, Flowers, Berries, and Bark
• Farmer's Market
• Should I Study Massage Therapy, Too?
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