Archive for tag: classes

Being Present at the End of the Tri

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 externship.

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...

I know I'm becoming a doctor because...


  • I dumped the contents of my doctor bag on the floor and reorganized the thing.
  • I am currently sitting with a thermometer in my mouth.
  • I just finished listening to my own heart and lungs.
  • All exams thus far are unremarkable, which could be surprising considering how much work hangs over my head at the moment...

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, difficult.

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 presentations. 

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 me.

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.

A Dormant Part of Me is Waking

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 doctor.

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 arrive.

Lisa and me, and Wendy's FABULOUS lunch bag; it's how we feel!

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.

A Big Start and My Washington Adventure

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 mistakes.

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 they need!

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 matters.

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.

Rain, Looming Finals, and a Trip to the Spa

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!)

photo of green grass on campus
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.

Photo of McKenzie in front of spa building
Headed into the King Spa!

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 home.

Photo of jar of sun tea
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!