Archive for tag: future

Time for Graduation

In just a few days, after more than four years, I will walk across the stage, accept the Naturopathic Doctor degree and begin the next stage of my journey. This week I thought I might write a long retrospective on my time here, or perhaps list a lot of names of friends, colleagues, and mentors. Instead, in the spirit of what this blog for the naturopathic program is supposed to convey, I will write a bit more about the program as I sign off and hand the torch to the next blogger.

Being a Naturopathic Student at NUHS

As with any institution, relationship, job or task, the naturopathic program here at NUHS has attributes where it excels as well as its challenges. In many cases, those challenges help the program to rise in other areas. One prime example is that we attend a traditional chiropractic university. This means we may not immediately be perceived as a bastion of naturopathic medicine and we get a lot of physical medicine in our classes. I used to complain about this as much as any other naturopathic student. We are becoming primary care and internal medicine docs, so why would we need all this adjusting, physical therapy, soft tissue work, etc?

After more than a year in the clinic, I am happy that we were trained so heavily in physical medicine. Many of my patients benefitted from some type of soft tissue work, physical therapy or modality. I attribute the combined use of all tools in my naturopathic toolbox to helping many of my patients achieve positive outcomes.

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Whether physical medicine will remain a part of National University's naturopathic program as the college grows remains to be seen. As our scope is defined and made into law in Illinois in the coming years; combined with the maturation, refinement and focus of our particular school's curriculum, we may emerge as the naturopathic college focused on the original vision and philosophy of naturopathic medicine as the old naturopathic doctors saw it. I am certain our program will combine that wealth of traditional medicine with the advantage of evidence based medicine to support the clinical observations of nearly 150 years of North American naturopathic practice.

Many who email me ask what to expect here at NUHS. I say expect what you see in any organization. Those who are highly motivated to learn everything they can, those who are trying very hard and struggling, those who will skate by until they enter clinic and slam head first into a brick wall, flounder, then either learn to perform or wash out. Students who enter here will be amazed, inspired, challenged, dejected, angered, overjoyed and feel an incredible sense of accomplishment. You will be challenged by those in the allopathic community on how your medicine can work alongside their medicine (or even work). You will be ignored by family and friends who see you as their child, sibling, friend and anything but an aspiring doctor. You will feel overwhelmed at times knowing that you are in a program every bit as (and more) challenging than allopathic medical school with as much or more cost involved. All while currently able to practice with a recognized scope in less than half of the United States of America.

At the same time, you are learning a type of medicine that truly follows the naturopathic principle of 'Primum Non Nocere' or 'First, do no harm'. We learn to take the totality of the patient -- mind, body and soul -- into account. We get to the root cause of the illness and work with our patients (and other providers) to help them return to their basis for health. We learn that healthy means different things to different people and that the basis for health is a moving target as human beings encounter different circumstances, health challenges and ages throughout a lifetime. Whether this is primary lesson learned by others while here, this view that none of us 'fit into a defined parameter' is the view I will carry forward in my future practice. Each patient is unique, with a unique set of symptoms, life experiences and exposures which defines that unique individual and their resulting unique path back to health.

I purposely have not been using much medical terminology as I have written this blog as, quite frankly, I feel that gets boring for those who want to know what this medicine and school are all about. When you attend NUHS, you will get your fill of CBC's, CMP's, URTI's, ARDS, ECG, TVUS's, MTHFR's and HSCRP's. These terms have their place in the classroom, not in a blog discussing life in a medical school unless as a passing reference. My hope has been that I have given a glimpse into the life of a naturopathic medical student transitioning from basic didactics, to clinical sciences and finally through internship and graduation.

Thank You...

Finally, since I have shared my life for the past two years, I'll be a bit selfish and will thank some folks who have made strong, positive influences on my life.

My parents Rosco and Bobbie Joe Ammons -- Two people who have 8thgrade educations taught me to read before kindergarten and instilled the strong value of always educating oneself regardless of career choice. Moreso, for teaching me honesty, giving others credit for success and accepting failure as a motivator to persevere. I love you both!

My sisters Kristie, Karen and Kathy -- for being the glue holding the family together back home as I continue my wandering through life and the eastern half of the North American continent.

My great friend Richard who has shared his loyalty through both good and terrible times. You are a symbol of the power of true friendship!

My former wife Sara -- Thank you for a shared journey of learning, growing and opening my eyes to living a healthier life, in many ways. You are the catalyst for this endeavor.

Ignacio and Christina -- Thank you for being incredible mentors, both philosophical as well as practical. Your patience is extraordinary and your ability to put things into perspective on both a micro and macro level is a gift I cherish!

NUHS' Chief Naturopathic Clinician, Dr. Julia Liebich -- Thank you for leading by example, keeping the clinic a positive, cheerful learning environment during a time of transition in our lives. You always ensure that we have our patients' best interests and health as the focus of our care and procedures!

Finally, my very significant other, Lauren. Thank you for teaching me that who we want in our life is not necessarily the person we expect and that each day in a relationship can be more joyful, playful and rewarding than before! You make me smile and I'm grateful for the time we have together!

With that, I begin my particular path forward. I plan to continue a blog as I set up and build momentum in my practice after school. I'm sure you will be able to 'google' me if you are interested in continuing to read my ramblings. I wish you the best on your own journey, whether it includes NUHS or not. You know the correct path for yourself! May your journey be safe, fulfilled and successful in whatever you choose and may it bring goodness and healing to the world in its own way!

A Decision Made

Hi again everyone!

As old man winter maintains his grip on Chicagoland, I have made my final determination on whether to continue with an additional degree, and, if so, what degree would best suit my future practice. The decision was between completing a doctor of chiropractic degree or a master's in acupuncture degree. I decided that based upon my future practice, what I wish to accomplish with my patients in my office and my own personal interests, to pursue the master's degree in acupuncture.

I think the NUHS website best states what acupuncture is all about...

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient healing technique that is over 3,000 years old. It is based on the insertion of thin, sterile needles into strategic points on the body that lie along specific energy meridian pathways.

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Acupuncture Philosophy

Acupuncture is one of the five main branches of oriental medicine. The goal of acupuncture is to promote healing through rebalancing the patient's Qi (or chi) energy. When the Qi is weak, excessive or blocked, it can cause illness and disease. 

Acupuncture Treatments

An acupuncturist may stimulate acupuncture points and meridians using needles, or employ electronic stimulation, magnets or lasers to acupuncture points for enhanced healing. Other meridian and point therapies may include acupressure, the application of heat through moxibustion, drawing out energy through cupping, and a specialized massage system called "tuina." 

Acupuncture Careers

An increasing number of hospitals and integrative care centers are employing acupuncturists for both medical treatment and wellness programs. Acupuncturists may also start their own practice, or work in pain management clinics, fertility clinics, and weight loss or addiction treatment centers. Even cosmetic and spa facilities are now offering acupuncture for clients to relieve stress and combat the effects of aging.

Finally, the master's degree in acupuncture is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), which is recognized in most of the 50 states (6 states have no licensing act for acupuncture and California has its own exam process).

This is an exciting turn in my fledgling career as a caregiver!  My intent is to utilize acupuncture where and when appropriate for my patients' overall well-being. In other words, another tool in my toolbox to help others return to a basis for health.

The Present

This week I'm just sharing a few words to reminisce and look forward to the next chapter in my life and career as a doctor. As the weather has been very mild for this time of year in Illinois, along with a good amount of rain, I have had the opportunity for many long, brisk walks and bike rides with my "significant other."

As we sat down under the willows to study this past weekend (she prepping for Botanical Medicine and Homeopathy classes while I was finishing up research for a patient in clinic), I started thinking about my time under these willows studying for the same classes she was now learning. I thought about our first conversation together a year ago, as she was taking a bike ride, stopped to chit-chat over books, and ended up staying for two hours under these willows--not very productive for study, yet the most fulfilling for getting to know a wonderful woman!

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I thought about the friendships forged, the laughter, stress, and some tears shed under these very trees. I thought about the planning process for the Naturopathic Student Gathering. The spot underneath these two giant willows was the birthplace of the Talking Stick of the Naturopathic Student Gathering. These willows gave shade and solace during that time; they shared the concept of the willow and even gave of themselves for the opening ceremony and its trappings, after some fierce storms came through town last summer. 

During our small adventures around and about DuPage County, just outside of Chicago, where NUHS is located, we would talk about our times here at school and plans for the future. Where will she practice; where will I practice? What about our specialties, communities, how much of our training we will need to brush-up on, modify, or grow to meet the needs of the town or towns we settle within. We talk about licensure, legislative efforts and growing our profession on a national scale, and the responsibilities that come with being a part of the growth of naturopathic medicine. We talk about educating the public in a sensible, concise manner on exactly what naturopathic medicine is and what we can accomplish for our fellow human beings' health.

Finally, as I was sitting under the tree, thinking about my life before naturopathic medicine, the journey here at NUHS and the career that lies ahead, our Mama Swan and her three new cygnets stopped by the table under the willows. They were reminders that each passing year brings new rewards, new challenges, new people in our lives, and hope for the future. Each new year brings hope for health, hope for success, hope for joy and fulfillment; hope for the ability to provide for others and ourselves. My sweetheart looked over, asked my thoughts and why I was smiling. I took in all the symbols of past, present and future around me, the willows over me, the Mama Swan and her little ones behind me, my lady next to me, the patient research in front of me, the wind whipping the willow branches, and mixing all together, I replied, "Just enjoying the present, babe."

Another Trimester

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 come. 

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 topics. 

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 warrant. 

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"!

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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 best! 

What lies behind us and before us are tiny matters compared with what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson