While shopping at a "big box" retailer this week for some items
I needed around the house, I was presented with a situation that,
while not shocking given the volume of customers for that business,
gave me a good reason to think about the type of practice I want
and another point on why I chose to practice naturopathic medicine.
Keep in mind that while the first part of the story may sound a bit
like I'm griping, I'm sharing this incident to reinforce why I am
choosing to become a naturopathic doctor. :)
The store was huge and packed with weekend shoppers, like me,
who wanted to get errands completed and back home as quickly as
possible. I was at the checkout and an item was mispriced. The
clerk called for the mislabeled item's department over the store
intercom for a price check. No answer came from the department, so
the clerk asked someone else at the front counter to make a quick
run and check the price.
The clerk then turned to me and asked me politely to step aside
for the next customer to be checked out. While I was reluctant to
move, I understood that others simply wanted to get their errands
finished so they could relax at home. So, I moved out of the way
for the next three customers to pay for their items as the
mispriced item was researched. Once the price was corrected, the
clerk asked me for my payment; I paid, and was given a cursory
"thank you" while being handed the bag full of merchandise.
The most shocking thing to me during this experience was no
apology for the mispriced item, and no apology or explanation for
asking me to step aside for the error on the part of the store. I
was simply another body in the line and my mispriced item was
preventing the line's movement. The store needed to keep the line
moving. This is done by tracking the number of customers per hour
that the clerks bring through their line. If a clerk doesn't have
"x" number of customers per hour, then they are retrained,
reprimanded or disciplined until they lose a sense of customer
service and concentrate more on "keeping the line moving."
As I processed this experience, this made me remember one of the
reasons I chose naturopathic medicine. I am becoming an ND because
each patient is an individual and not a number or statistic, nor
one of six patients I need to see each hour to satisfy numbers for
an insurance or reimbursement program. I am choosing to learn this
trade, this profession, this practice, so that I can get to know my
patients along with their pathologies, motivations, compliances,
and best path to a healthier life where at all possible.
Since I cannot predict the future, I don't know exactly how I
will practice. I will do my best to stay away from a high volume
practice model. I know that any business needs a break-even point
and profitability to keep the doors open. I am certain that I can
build a practice schedule that will allow time with my patients up
front to get to know them along with shorter duration follow-up
appointments. As we progress together on the healing path, our
meetings, if all goes well, will become more economical with time
length. We can accomplish all we need and plan our next steps until
the day comes when as many of our patients as possible will be able
to exit our practice as healthier individuals and not as
Here's my whole food pic for the week. This is wild caught Ahi
Tuna marinated in lemon juice and capers. The sides are my roasted
root veggies from last week (carrots, parsnips, beets…all organic)
along with steamed organic baby spinach.
Doc Rosco's Lemon Juice and Caper Wild Caught Ahi
Midterm week(s) is the time of the trimester devoid of
reflection. Midterms is the time to hunker down, rehash covered
concepts, make sure the latest lectures are covered, and the first
round of papers have been completed and turned in either
electronically or as hard copies.
This past week or so has consisted of a combination of study,
online quizzes, classroom quizzes, papers and now...midterms! That
being said, this week's entry will be a bit abbreviated as I have
just finished a paper on the style of practice I plan to exercise
with my patients, and whether that style is informative,
collaborative, deliberative, or paternalistic. Once I have turned
that paper in electronically (very convenient), I will complete my
"mop up" studying for a dermatology midterm tomorrow.
I define mop up studying as covering the concepts that I don't
have a firm grasp upon as an exam approaches. While I study for
exams, as I feel I have mastered a topic or concept, I move away
from that concept and take on another topic. While I review as exam
day approaches, I take the concepts that I'm not as comfortable
with and spend a bit more time with them to help reinforce any
"weak spots" in my learning for that exam. Takes a little more
preparation ahead of time, yet I can spread out my study and not
feel as compelled to cram for exams.
Once I complete the final study for Dermatology, I will move to
Advanced Botanical Prescribing and study the botanicals suited for
the respiratory tract in preparation for that midterm later this
week. This is a busy time over the next couple of weeks and at the
same time, whether from three years of practice at this point, the
joining of the concepts and improvement in efficiency, or pure
enjoyment of my classes, studying just doesn't seem like the chore
it was back in the fall of 2010. The light is at the end of the
tunnel, and I'm pretty sure it's not a train.
next week, I'll leave you with a handy and easy recipe for making a
nice root veggie side dish for the week. This dish provides plenty
of carotenoids, minerals and fiber! Root Veggie Guy gives it the
Roasted Root Veggies
Makes about 5 servings (enough for lunch Mon-Fri).
This week I started a new part-time job as part of my plan to
save a bit of money prior to graduation. I will be working about
15-20 hours per week at a local health food store. This part of my
plan will allow me to continue my courses right now, complete all
class work, then in a few months, complete my studies in student
clinic and main clinic here at NUHS.
This job is well suited in that the store is within walking
distance of both campus and my apartment, so I can save on fuel
expenses. The working hours are flexible to accommodate my class
schedule as it changes from trimester to trimester and a few of my
fellow students currently work in the store. Another benefit is
that working in a health food store assists with keeping my mind
sharp on the nutrients in certain foods, understanding customers'
requests when they describe a specific supplement, mineral or
nutritive product they need based upon a physiological
The reality of graduating from medical school encompasses the
costs of moving, setting up shop or joining a practice as well as
being able to "pay the bills" after graduation. The months after
graduation and prior to sitting for NPLEX II (or the second round
of national board exams) can be quite lean, based upon the
experiences shared with me from recent grads. I am taking action
now to help alleviate the challenge of those first few months after
A little "whole foods diet" update for this week for you. The
new way of eating is going well with a couple of hiccups. I fudged
and had some chocolate-covered peanuts (I know! Milk chocolate with
perhaps the most inflammatory food...peanuts!). At the same time, I
have been enjoying some incredible smoothies with a good friend as
well as making "lettuce wraps" out of everything from chicken to
squash with butter lettuce leaves. Here's a quick pic of my simple
organic chicken lettuce wraps with some hot sauce on the leaves (in
other words, whatever I have in the cupboard or fridge gets thrown
in a pan or the oven and added to the lettuce leaves to make a
lettuce wrap, hehe). Nice!
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Well, this past week saw our first round of quizzes, cases and a
paper. Midterms will happen in a couple of weeks. Among the
research and study, I was left with the conundrum of snacks that
would fit within my whole foods definition for the Super Bowl this
past weekend. So, some friends and I put our minds to finding
things that would "fit the bill" for whole food ingredients and be
pretty tasty at the same time!
Here is what we came up with for the party. These recipes were
developed with a bit of ingenuity, emptying the cupboards, and a
quick run to the grocery store. With time and money, I'm certain we
could have come up with vegetarian, dairy-free or even vegan
options. We are on a budget, and combined available ingredients to
come up with something healthy and inexpensive. Hope you enjoy!
Pulled Pork (or Beef)
Courtesy of Lauren
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Courtesy of Mike
We were able to combine individual ingredients that we had in
our cupboards along with some meat in the freezer and a quick trip
to the store for cream cheese and chips. Then, we put together a
pretty nice and filling meal for the game (along with a side salad)
and a dip to snack upon while we waited for the power at the Super
Dome to be restored.
The whole foods plan is starting to come together. With a bit of
creativity, imagination and prep work, putting together some great
tasting grub for the big game was a breeze! Now to work on a more
balanced veggie menu in the coming weeks before spring. We can talk
about that and some of the financial challenges of attending
naturopathic medical school and strategies for current and future
In the meantime, here's a pic that with a view I really enjoyed
after a workout this past weekend in our gym. The sculpture is of a
healer's hands with a backdrop of Janse Pond underneath our first
true snowfall in over a year (that's right)!
Talk to you next week!
The first week of the new whole foods diet came and went. I'm
happy to report that no major catastrophes occurred. Preparing food
was a bit more challenging from the aspect of condiments or
toppings and such, yet these things are typically not necessary if
food is prepared properly and spiced up nicely.
The first whole foods week started with a trip to the grocery
store. Finding products in the store with less than five
ingredients and no chemicals is super challenging! I kept saying to
myself "Why not bend a little and say eight ingredients," or
"Polysorbate 80 isn't so bad, is it?" Yet, when all was said and
done I was able to walk out of the store with the components for
some tasty and healthy eating. I found my trip was a bit heavy on
the meat, fish and nut side this time and not as varied in the
veggie department with mostly greens and root vegetables (we are in
winter here in Illinois though). I will balance out the veggies and
work toward a much more vegetable-centered diet as this thing
progresses. This is a positive move both from a resource
utilization and healthy benefit from the food source to the table
Here's the recipe for a chicken soup I made for a friend who was
under the weather this past week. I made enough for plenty of
people in retrospect, as this was a huge batch! I'm not much of a
recipe writer so please forgive any "recipe grammar errors." :)
Also this past weekend on the spur of the moment, a friend and I
took a day trip up to Kenosha to see the sunrise over Lake Michigan
and the old Kenosha Southport lighthouse, built in 1866. We decided
over coffee to enjoy a rare super bright Midwest winter's day and
take in the sun! The sun is beautiful rising over the water; it was
mighty cold though! I'm the tiny person next to the
lighthouse in the pic.
I will talk a bit more about school in the coming weeks.
Fortunately, we are still in the lecturing phase and I'm certain
the quizzes are coming this week in the majority of our classes.
Back to studying and talk to you all again in a week!
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
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