Well, everyone, now is the time to close out yet another
trimester of classes. Next week is finals week and we will have a
two-week break before returning the second week in May.
This trimester has seen some short-range changes in schedule,
work and diet in order to affect long-term outcomes for the better
with regard to clinical learning, finances and health for years to
The classes this trimester have been brutal with the workload
between exams, quizzes, papers, presentations, prescribing,
assignments, and attendance. At the same time, I feel like our
studies have come full circle and we have applied all of the facts
that are thrown at us in the basic sciences portion of our
studies. We have prescribed, differentially diagnosed,
treated and critiqued both our own work as well as that of our
classmates. We have delved into complex topics such as the impact
of biofilms on the human organism, the impact of an improperly
functioning methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) enzyme and its
necessity within the human body as well as the efficacy of
liposomal delivery of supplements, just to name a few
When I took a firm look at my finances currently and projected
them to graduation day, I knew I needed to take action to change
the situation. When assessing the income opportunities while
attending medical school, I weighed staying on a "full tilt"
schedule versus slowing down to finish classes before clinical
rotations and working a part-time job. Finally, mapping out the
resources necessary for moving back to North Carolina, gaining a
residency position or joining a practice, allowed me to be prepared
for any situation I could think of. Of course, things may come up
or ideas may come about that I didn't fathom before. This is when I
will take time to pause, reassess and adjust the plan as conditions
My diet has changed for the better. I have established the habit
of taking a long hard look at the foods I put into my body. I have
had to make some hard decisions as eating healthy, organically
produced whole foods is a bit more expensive and time consuming to
purchase and prepare. I plan my shopping trips better, don't waste
time or fuel on multiple trips to the store, all while maintaining
enough food without it going bad. Disclaimer: I have tripped up a
couple of times when I felt rushed or simply too lazy to take time
to cook properly. Good lesson for future patient care and "patience
with patients" in there somewhere. :)
I suppose the primary thing I have learned from the last 15
weeks is that we can accomplish what we need with the resources at
hand. We simply need to look at our options, see what is available,
then map, develop and proceed with the plan. Take a few stops along
the way to measure progress, reassess direction and make changes if
necessary. No rigid dogma required; flexibility and ability to
admit error is key, as long as corrections (and progress) are made.
I'll be working, then heading home to western North Carolina for
the break. I'll definitely catch up with family and friends back
home, do some work around the property and relax mostly. I hope
each of you has a wonderful spring season! See you next trimester
when I will be entering clinical rotations (for certain this time!)
and sharing a bit about the "clinic life"!
In the spirit of getting by and excelling with what one has,
here is a pic of two early ducks in a tiny puddle on campus after a
rain and a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson! Make do with what lies
"within"you, develop and excel those traits and be your
What lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared
with what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Well, this week has pretty much been the same as every other
week of eighth trimester classes. This is a short synopsis of the
past week prior to my blog entry. A very heavy workload with
quizzes three of the five days, two presentations along with
another paper due (this is the busiest and I think it's a bit
downhill from here).
The presentations this week consist of the impact of various
heavy metals and their toxic impacts upon the human body's systems;
as well as an informative presentation describing the method of
naturopathic medical approaches. The heavy metal presentation is
presented at the level of medical professionals while the
naturopathic medicine presentation is constructed for use with the
average person after I open my practice.
The hat is a shout out to my 84-year old dad, Roscoe
Ammons, who is
still working a full 40-hour workweek at the recycling center
at our home
in Madison County, North Carolina. (Also, note the shirt; it
says it all!)
The heavy metal topic, prepared for presentation in my
Functional Medicine class takes a look at three metals we encounter
every day, their function in our lives, what constitutes a toxic
load (or dose), the vector of entry and impact upon the human body,
as well as testing procedures and remediation methods, if possible.
This was a huge undertaking! I had to scale down to three metals
(not including mercury) and the presentation will still be around
45 minutes long.
The presentation on naturopathic medicine for my Practice
Management II class centers on the philosophy (or five principles)
and therapeutic order of naturopathic medicine. The presentation
describes what is NOT naturopathic medicine, then follows with the
principles, therapeutic order and how a properly trained
naturopathic doctor would apply the therapeutic order to treat an
illness, including referral to a specialist, where necessary. I
feel that this presentation will be quite the useful tool for
presenting to local clubs, libraries and groups for building my
This is about as exciting as things get right now everyone. I
said it before, and I'll say it again, I heard all the rumors about
eighth trimester classes being relentless with work and I chalked
it all up to hearsay and drama. This is not the case. Be ready for
your eighth trimester here at NUHS. Topics are more deeply covered,
subjects are relentlessly probed, topics are researched ad nauseum,
and the feeling of learning has never been stronger! The light is
at the end of the tunnel!
Until next week, here's a little something from Henry Wadsworth
Perseverance is a great element
of success. If you only knock long enough
and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up
Keep on kicking everyone, spring is technically here! :)
As spring approaches, I like to watch for the early signs of
warmer weather. The flowers sprouting from the earth, the trees as
they begin to bud, and the sandhill cranes as they migrate back
north over our campus--the surefire sign that spring is finally
here... or nearby anyway!
Part of becoming a doctor is to learn to observe our patients
before we ever palpate, percuss or test motion. We observe the
patient's patterns of movement, any visible signs of distress. As
we begin our intake, or conversation, with the patient, we observe
how they communicate, their story. As we begin the examination, we
observe the patient's skin, hair and nails looking for any sign of
illness or injury.
This is where our dermatology class helps with our examinations.
As we progress through the program, dermatology is interspersed
throughout the curriculum, introducing us to various conditions
presented on patients' skin and other visible areas. We are
introduced to macules, papules, nodules, patches and furuncles from
the early days of our program until it finally culminates in the
dermatology course in eighth trimester.
By the time we are finished with this class, we will be able to
know the pathologies that are associated with acrochordons (skin
tags), eczemas, contact dermatitis, boils, papules, etc. Each
class, now that we are in the clinical sciences portion of our
studies, puts together all the pieces of our basic science 'data
driven' classes. We are applying the principles into larger
concepts and drawing conclusions based upon clues that we can see,
examine and test, just as any good healer would do.
Speaking of signs, the sun is coming up and I have another
presentation to do! Eighth trimester is full of presentations,
papers, cases, etc., as I have mentioned ad nauseum the past few
Here is a picture of some of the tulips on campus sprouting
through a dusting of snow we received this weekend. They present an
excellent lesson in perseverance!
Until next week, may your journey be light and you keep a happy
heart with a big smile!
This past week has been an expansion of my efforts I listed for
you in my blog.
As an example, I just completed a presentation for my Advanced
Botanical Prescribing class to be presented next week. The
presentation is a review of the cardiovascular drug, digoxin, along
with referenced studies of botanical interactions on the efficacy
of digoxin's function in the human body. I chose to focus on three
botanicals. These are Hypericum perforatum or St. John's Wort,
Withania somnifera or Ashwagandha, and Crataegus oxycantha or
Hawthorne. The interactions between digoxin and these botanicals
were surprising and warrant further study. I'm sure my classmates
will be interested in the findings I present next week.
Many people take botanical supplements alongside their
pharmaceutical prescription drugs with the notion that botanicals
are all natural, not chemically derived, so they must be inherently
safe. What most don't realize is that botanicals have chemical
constituents that impact the human body and can interact with
pharmaceutical drugs by either increasing or decreasing the drug's
effect, to keep things simple for our purposes here.
Pharmaceuticals are prescribed for specific reasons and should
never be tampered with by altering the prescription or adding
supplements unless under the direction of a licensed provider. This
goes for the patient, friends, family, or those who wish to help
yet may not understand the impact of what appears to be friendly
With the exception of the myriad reports, presentations,
reviews, quizzes, and exams that are typical of eighth trimester,
my week has consisted of work, and a short break to the theatre to
see a movie. While things are a bit tedious right now, I'm certain
once this trimester is completed and "in the books" so to speak,
I'll be able to get out and about and let you guys know a bit about
the area this spring and summer! I can't wait for some nice warm
spring days to get to the lake and enjoy the scenery!
Until next week may your springtime arrive and the birds wake
you with song!
As I started eighth trimester here at NUHS, my fellow students
who had just completed eighth would pat those of us on the shoulder
beginning this course load with empathy (or was it sympathy?) and
mumble a few words of encouragement. Well, after completing
midterms week and surviving (albeit with a few bumps and bruises),
I felt pretty good and as though I had accomplished traversing
exactly half of eighth trimester! Only 6 more weeks to go from here
and it's all downhill right? Nope!
I found that the work had only really started. I generally am
pretty happy with my organizational skills. I tend to fill my
schedule's deadlines at the start of each trimester and check in
from week to week so I know what class to concentrate my efforts
toward to maximize time. In other words, I'm not a procrastinator
and that has helped with completing various tasks I need to
successfully navigate the naturopathic medicine program's workload.
This trimester is different however.
Here's a breakdown of upcoming projects, papers, presentations
that are due over the coming weeks (not counting finals week). So,
over the next three weeks I have the following work to complete for
each listed class:
Doctor Patient Relationship
Advanced Botanical Prescribing
Internal Medicine/Emergency Medicine
This list doesn't count Dermatology and Special Populations
classes with their content and workload! This may seem like a lot
of work with the addition of time in class, quizzes (both in class
and online), cases assigned as well as work. Yet, at the same time,
having been in the working world with multiple project deadlines,
these fixed concrete dates allow me to plan and take care of the
work that needs to be done, even if time does seem to contract as
deadlines approach. This is absolutely the busiest, most task
filled, time constrictive trimester I have had here at National,
especially with the new work hours. At the same time, the classes
are engaging, challenging and building upon previous concepts so
the work doesn't seem as tedious and making progress is an
No food pics this week. I'll do my best to whip up a new
recipe or rehash something into an appetizing tidbit.
Here's a pic of the campus during the transition to spring! Just
a little snow left on the ground in mid-March with warmer weather
on its way! Hoping for an easy transition this year and many
outdoor adventures in April!
Until next week, may your deadlines be extended and you have
plenty of time to do the best work ever seen!
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
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