Looking back at it now, this past week was hugely busy, despite
being only 4 days long due to the MLK Day holiday. On the holiday,
I met up with a few friends in the city for lunch as a little
send-off for Guy who graduated in December. Afterwards, I got to
introduce my good friend Alex to Hanzi, and we sat around chatting
over tea for a while. It was lovely!
MLK Day lunch date with NUHS friends
On Tuesday, I worked a double shift at the Salvation Army and
Lombard clinics, then headed straight home to work for several
hours on my grand rounds presentation. Wednesday was the day I gave
my said presentation titled, "ADHD and The Italian Grandmother."
This was my last big assignment of medical school! My presentation
was centered on a case I saw in clinic, and examined research on
naturopathic treatment options as well as obstacles to cure in
treatment of a pediatric case of ADHD.
I was nervous about presenting until I realized several of my
friends came to watch me speak, AND that they were each wearing a
piece of clothing I had given them! It made my heart sing! Because
I am moving, I gave away some scarves and tops and a handful of my
girlfriends all happened to wear these things on the day of my
Another friend stopped by before my talk to give me a little
gift. All the support from my buddies calmed my nerves and by 10
minutes into my presentation, the jitters were gone and I hit my
groove. Thank you all for tempering my stress!
Hanzi hanging out in the new truck
On Thursday, I worked another double shift at both clinics and
then did one of the most grown-up things I've ever done; Hanzi and
I bought a car! We've been scouring the Internet for a car in
preparation for my leaving for Montana and taking our one vehicle
away on the trip. Now, we are the proud owners of a little red
Tacoma truck. It's so funny; it has Bluetooth and a touchscreen but
crank windows and manual door locks. Anyway, it's exactly what
we've been searching for and I feel much better knowing I'm not
leaving my partner immobilized in Illinois while I head off on an
Speaking of this adventure, I leave at the end of the week and
should arrive for my first day at Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic
on February 1. Hanzi will come along for the ride and then fly back
to Chicago to keep working and job searching. I cannot express how
much gratitude I have for my clinicians and peers who have helped
me get things done so that I can go learn in another environment. I
am especially grateful for friends who prioritized a surprise baby
shower for our girl JheriAnne so that I could participate in
celebrating the twins she and her husband Shane are expecting in
April! I wish I'd had more time to hang and say bye, but such is
the nature of medical school; stuff happens all at once and then
bam! -- It's on to the next thing!
Lately I've been consumed with the idea of a residency after
graduation. The list of sites for 2016 just came out and the
application process is beginning! We do not have a residency
coordinator for the ND students here at NUHS so we get information
through our clinicians and our own research. I think we may be
getting an informational meeting from the director at Bastyr over
the Internet sometime this week, which is great news.
Blurry but festive! Hanzi and me in front of an enormous
decorated tree in Grand Rapids
Because of the relative lack of guidance when it comes to
naturopathic residencies, I'll give you an overview of what I
understand about the process. Remember, this is what I've found
from my own research, this information may not be perfectly
First of all, in mid-November a list comes out with the
residency sites. Sites are at various outpatient clinics and some
of the naturopathic schools. Each residency has a doctor listed
with the clinic that I presume we work under during our tenure. The
next things to consider are which sites look good to you, and which
3 faculty you will ask to write your recommendations. In addition
to recommendations, the application process involves a personal
statement, a general application, a CV/resume, and essays that are
specific to each site. The more sites you apply to, the more essays
you have to write, so be judicious. After applications are
submitted (by January 1st), the interview period begins. If you
interview with a site, then you are allowed to put it on your match
list. If you apply to a site but are not asked for an interview,
then you can cross that one off your list of possibilities. After
interviewing takes place, an official match session happens where
you select your top 3 spots, and the sites select their top choice
candidates. If you match with a site -- which means you chose them
and they chose you -- then you get offered the position!
I've started this process by reading about the clinics and
doctors listed for each site. As Hanzi put it, I really worked
myself into a tizzy over feeling like I have to decide RIGHT NOW
where I want to live FOREVER. This is plainly not true, but all
this future-talk has me absolutely shaken. I spent this weekend
combing through websites, diving down those rabbit holes, and
surfacing just long enough to make myself a cup of tea, or realize
I'm super hungry, or remember there's been laundry sitting in the
washer for 3 hours.
Our gray drive to Grand Rapids to meet Hanzi's parents for
Over the past few days I've learned a whole lot about the
current residency opportunities, and now I'm both excited and
overwhelmed. If you asked me to choose my top 3 right now, I just
absolutely couldn't! And, of course, I don't have to just yet, so
that's totally fine. Do you see what I'm doing to myself here?!?
While washing dinner dishes tonight I reminded myself (out loud)
that first things first, Miss Mackie! I have to finish my
assignments for this trimester, which include a business plan, a
case write-up, a research paper, and several exams. Then, I need to
focus on finishing up things in the clinic and getting all my ducks
in a row to try to take an externship during my 10th trimester.
Somewhere in there I'll finish applying to these residencies....
Then, I have to graduate. After that, I have to study for boards
for 3 months and then I have to pass those. If I don't have a
residency to head to come Fall 2016 I'll find myself a job, or
create my own!
And here I thought my last trimester of classes was going to end
peacefully, with the typical wind-up and wind-down. I figured I'd
just coast into winter break with a handful of patient visits to
complete and a spring of exploring ahead of me. I always imagined
I'd apply for a residency, and now that the time has come I am
overwhelmed with ideas. If I could just set aside those thoughts of
my future for a few hours, I'd be golden. Instead, I spent my 4-day
weekend fretting about a future I absolutely cannot affect from
this point in time. Minds are tortuous things sometimes, you know.
All in all, I'm so thankful for my wild mind; the one that takes me
on fabulous theoretical adventures at the slightest suggestion of
life in places like Montana, Vermont, Colorado, or Alaska.
And speaking of thanks -- a happy belated Thanksgiving to all!
We traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to meet Hanzi's parents
halfway to celebrate the holiday. I hope you had a lovely,
delicious holiday, too!
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
Dinner, drinks and laughing with my ND-to-be
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
and I'll be sure to write back.
Happy Belated Fourth of July! We were blessed with a three-day
weekend and I took full advantage of it to get out of town and into
the woods! Hanzi and I drove north to see his parents in Michigan,
way up to the tip of the mitt. I had to spend a lot of time working
on papers and presentations as it's midterm week (more like
fortnight), but I did still manage to spend time outdoors. And, I
always studied with the windows wide open because the air in
Northern Michigan is clear and smells like the trees; I love
Over the weekend I learned how to shoot sporting clays for the
and I actually met with some success! So much fun!
Besides playing outside there were those obligatory parent-child
conversations about the future.
And you know, I must be growing up because I wasn't immediately
turned off by these questions. Historically I'd never want to
discuss my future; it will be what it will be, I would say. I'll
just wait and see what comes my way! Lately, I'm willing to
entertain some tangible ideas; I can picture myself in a clinic
with my white coat on, seeing patients all day long. I know, too,
that I want to continue writing, so I can picture myself at a
computer, surrounded by books, crafting paragraphs that share my
Sunset from the Leggs Inn where we had dinner on Sunday night
leaving at sunrise on Monday so I could get back in time for
I'm still relatively undecided on my future compared to many of
my peers who either know where they want to go after school, or
have a vision for exactly what type of practice they want to work
in or create. I recently had the idea to construct a mobile clinic
that I can hook up to my truck and tow off into the sticks to work
with patients in rural communities. I envision a wall lined with
rattling tincture bottles, waiting for me to mix up the appropriate
medicine. Of course, this mobile clinic also contains all the
necessary tools for physical exam, production of hot water for
hydrotherapy, and space for physical medicine.
Regardless of the reality of the vision, I've decided that
entertaining one is a good idea. Not only does it give me something
to talk about with family, but also it helps keep me afloat when
I'm dragging through that last page of a research paper, or waking
up before sunrise to cram some information in my brain before a
So in the spirit of independence, cheers to our visions, cheers
to our future!
And we're back! We're really back, full-on, cramming for boards,
prepping for patients and all. I'll admit it, the experience of
preparing for boards has taken some wind out of my sails. Last
trimester I was feeling ready to be a doctor. Spending time in the
clinic made me feel ready to see patients and puzzle through the
hard cases. More recently, I've been laboring with my 500-page
board review book and feeling inadequate.
Thankfully, I can see that the deflation of my confidence comes
in direct response to my anxiety about taking board exams. And I
guess I am feeling slightly more capable after finishing the Cardio
section yesterday and color-coding my weekly schedule this morning.
Wrapping my head around a new schedule always takes at least a
week, and getting it all organized definitely helps calm my
Yeah, my color-coded schedule for Tri 7
Seeing as we celebrated Martin Luther King Day this week with
Monday off (thank goodness, any extra study time is treasured!), I
am inspired by this piece of wisdom he wrote:
cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot
drive out hate, only love can do that."
In preparing for boards, it doesn't do much good to mix
negativity with those dark, foreboding clouds floating around
February 3rdon my mental calendar.... I'm trying hard to stay
positive while I study and am thankful for the encouraging text
messages I've been getting from my ND friends who are in the same
JohnnyD instructing me in the fine art of shooting a
As it turns out, even a 4-week break can't provide enough time
to study as much as planned. I do have a few good excuses
though.... My boyfriend Hanzi and I spent a week around Christmas
in Northern Michigan with his family; we skied, caught up with some
of Hanzi's old friends, and I learned how to shoot a pistol!
(Hanzi's Dad is the manager of a local shooting club.)
After returning from Michigan we had a few days before we headed
out to Boston to visit with my family. Our week in Boston was our
first visit to my parents' new house (I wrote about their move in
this post), and included pond hockey, dinner with college
friends, and some quality girl time for me with one of my oldest
friends. I was also lucky to spend a day working with my Mom at her
Integrative Dermatology practice where she incorporates diet and
lifestyle in the treatment of her patients. I had an absolute blast
interviewing patients and prepping them for their visit with the
doctor, though I found the electronic medical records a huge pain
to navigate... things to look forward to I suppose....
Ebola dinner lecture, my view from my seat by the
In addition to working in her office, my Mom took me as her
guest to an informational Ebola dinner (appetizing, huh?) hosted by
the local chapter of the Massachusetts Medical Society. I ate yummy
salad, roast beast, soup, and chocolate cake while learning about
Ebola. The lecture compared the first known epidemic in the 1970s
with the disease picture of today's outbreak. I met one
semi-retired female doctor who practiced general surgery who seemed
wholly uninterested in naturopathic medicine, and another
practicing female GP who asked me to send her an email with
information about what we naturopathic doctors do. How cool!
After spending time immersed in the conventional medical world,
I am happy to be back at NUHS, working on becoming a confident
doctor who can hold her own in the company of skeptical, old
medical doctors. If that isn't inspiration to crush these board
exams, I don't know what is! Back to the books now.... Welcome back
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