Rather than continue the Naturopathic Principles this week,
since this is most likely my final Thanksgiving here, I want to
share what I am thankful for both here at NUHS and in my life.
Thank you all for indulging me this week.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Naturopathic Interns of the NUHS
Whole Health Center - Lombard!
Just a few things that I am thankful for...
In my life...
That just about does it this week! Hope each of you has a
wonderful Thanksgiving and are with the ones you love! I'll
continue next week with the Naturopathic Principles.
This week I'm profiling two naturopathic interns, Heather
Bautista and Echaukyei (Chucky) Ndumbi. Today, as the two of them
were sitting discussing their future practices and the lives they
would improve and save, I decided to set up an impromptu
Echaukyei (Chucky) Ndumbi and Heather Bautista
Heather Bautista is a native of the Chicago area. After working
in the pharmaceutical industry for a number of years, Heather saw
how disease was being "treated" and not healed, across the
spectrum. She decided to pursue a career that helped others heal
through learning proper lifestyle choices and habits. She chose a
profession that gets to the root cause of a problem and finds a
way, where possible, to remedy that problem to return the person to
a basis for health.
When Heather was considering medical school, her experience with
the pharmaceutical industry was a strong consideration in her
decision to pursue naturopathic medicine as opposed to allopathic.
She has a strong desire to help people heal rather than take a
course of medications for an indefinite period, many times simply
masking a deficiency or illness. When asked what gives her
motivation for becoming a naturopathic doctor, Heather mentioned
the complete sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes
with helping another human being truly heal.
Chucky is a native of Cameroon. After his family immigrated to
the United States in his early teens, he decided to continue the tradition of
becoming a healer, as his family has been in Cameroon for
generations. Chucky remembered how healthy his friends and family
were as they consumed vegetables, fruits and meats from their farms
and lived a healthy, active lifestyle. Chucky came to his decision
to pursue naturopathic medicine as it espoused a lifestyle that is
crucial to the basis for health as well as being eclectic in
preventing, as well as treating, and curing disease, when
prevention is not enough.
Chucky chose NUHS based upon the location of our campus to his
home in Maryland. Chucky knew he wanted to pursue naturopathic
medicine and he said he truthfully could not have prepared himself
for the rigors of the basic sciences portion of the curriculum here
at NUHS. Essentially, when he visited campus, he fell in love with
NUHS. Chucky feels that NUHS is preparing him to become an eclectic
naturopathic doctor who will use the proper modality to help his
patients heal to the greatest extent possible.
Each of the students who roam the halls of the naturopathic
clinic know that when strictly looking at the mathematics of the
cost of naturopathic medical school vs. allopathic medical school,
the costs are very similar. At the same time, the residencies are
not as plentiful, the backing of huge pharmaceutical and medical
supply companies is non-existent, and the starting salary of a
newly matriculated and licensed naturopathic doctor is a fraction
of a new allopathic doctor's. While these are the hard facts as the
profession stands today, we are growing as a group.
The success stories are mounting as NDs set up practices
throughout the country. We are licensed in 17 states and U.S.
territories at the time of this entry's publication. As our numbers
are currently around 6,000-7,000 NDs in the USA and Canada, the
word is spreading that our medicine works to get to the root cause
of illness. Somewhere I've read that about 25,000 practitioners is
the critical number to truly have an educated populace who knows of
our profession and how we approach medical care. If this is the
case, we are doing a pretty good job until now getting out the word
about Naturopathic Medicine, in 17 of the 50 states so far.
As Heather and Chucky expressed today, most naturopathic medical
students are not here for a huge paycheck. While we all acknowledge
that we need to make enough to repay our student loans, pay our
bills, live a good life, and save for retirement, our true purpose
here is to save lives.
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
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!
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
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."
Just a quick note this week to wish all of you a very Happy
Thanksgiving! I'll share a bit of what I am thankful for this
I am thankful for my family. My parents, each with no more than
an eighth grade education, ensured that I was reading before I
entered kindergarten and I'll always have fond memories of sitting
with Mom or Dad reading Little Golden Books. Both instilled a
lifelong love of reading and my library is backlogged with books to
read after my fill of medical school books over the past three
years. I am thankful for my three sisters who put up with my antics
as we grew up and moved away from home. I am thankful for all of my
nieces and nephews, who carry on the family name and tradition of
gathering on Thanksgiving at my folks' home. That's a lot of people
in a 900-square-foot home, but the love expands the walls
immeasurably when everyone is present!
The Gathering Banquet Table: (L-R) Tim, Danielle, Jenna, and
I am thankful for each of my classmates. I have said that before
and I reiterate again today. The group of classmates I have are
individually wonderfully people. They are some of the finest, most
cooperative over-achievers one could meet. Regardless of the
challenge, this group comes together for each other, charitable
causes and communication. I am proud to be a part of the class of
December 2013 and have made life-long friendships during my times
I am thankful for my friends back home. We have been through
"thick and thin" together. Births, deaths, layoffs, downsizing,
promotions, marriage and divorce; each of my little group back home
is ever present to lend a hand, an ear, a shoulder or a back when
work needs to be done. These are the folks who didn't say I was
crazy for leaving a good job to become a naturopathic doc at 40
years old. These are the folks who ask every four months, "Are you
coming home Ammons?" Friends who want to catch up and are eager to
keep in touch are truly a thing to be thankful for.
I hope you are with the ones you care about this holiday. That
you have experienced a year of abundance in health, love and
happiness and that your dreams, plans and experiences have
contributed to your betterment and the betterment of all!
See you next week!
Well, I'm sitting here in the middle of Week 3 of
7th Trimester wondering where the first two weeks
went! This trimester, I believe is solely to test whether we can
arrive at class on time, with homework completed and dressed
appropriately, whether for simulated patients, clinic observation
or simply remembering to clothe ourselves before leaving the house
for school! :)
The intensity of the information being delivered, the tasks
being performed in class, lab and clinic along with the homework
cycle is a strong rival to the "Terrible Triad" of classes from
Trimester Two! The Terrible Triad is otherwise known as Head and
Neck Gross Anatomy Lab, Neurophysiology and Neuroanatomy. These
classes more than any other, have convinced many students here at
NUHS (including yours truly) that the insanity track, or the track
that will complete the program in only 10 trimesters, is sometimes
a bit much if other factors are involved in one's life such as a
longer commute, family or even a part-time job.
One's preferred schedule here at NUHS can be as individually
tailored as the person taking the classes. As with any endeavor in
life, the choices boil down to the factors of time and money. How
much time can you devote to your classes, both individually and
throughout the program as a whole? Also, how much money do you have
to be either employed part-time while attending classes on a
lighter schedule (though still difficult, just fewer classes per
trimester) or "self employed" as a Naturopathic Medical
Speaking of time and money, an old dear friend (back in my Joe
Six Pack days) used to lecture me on spending money on being
healthy now by exercising and eating properly or spending money
later on maintaining health with prescriptions, surgeries, etc.
Let's just say I was driving hell-bent on the road to either a
stroke or a heart attack in my mid 30's.
I did a pretty good job of getting healthier through learning,
utilizing and pursuing a career in Naturopathic Medicine. Once I
entered med school, however, my schedule became super full. I was
poor at managing personal and school time separately, and health
slowly began to waver, then wane--not terribly, but enough to cause
concern to me through a tightening waist on my pants and a truly
striking lack of energy on a daily basis.
(L-R) Steve Occhetti, David Popovic and the Panther
Enter Trimester 7, a renewed focus on balance between school,
health and Vitamin R (one of the Determinants of Health...rest,
relaxation, rejuvenation). Combine the new focus with Steve
Occhetti and Dave Popovic, who are true motivators! These guys,
nearly 20 years my junior, and both of whom are excellent athletes,
invited the "wily veteran" to join them with their workouts. Now
then, any person who is halfway motivated to improve their health,
increase energy and enjoy some laughs and groans at the jokes
shared could not pass up this opportunity!
So, you guessed it, I made time in my schedule despite this load
of classes, patient simulations, clinic observation and homework
(and exams...yarrrr) to ensure that I give my physiological person
the same opportunity to grow that I have given my intellectual
person (I use that term loosely) while here at med school. Only one
facet left--my spiritual person through personal reflection,
centering and calming. I'm still working on that one a bit, yet I
guess we all are to one degree or another.
I'll be sure to keep all of you updated on the happenings of the
Naturopathic Student Gathering as well as my efforts at improvement
in my personal triad (intellectual, physical and spiritual...or
mind, body, spirit) as well!
Now, time for some homework, then the Tri Mixer this coming
Friday where we "seasoned" students welcome our new colleagues to
NUHS over food, drinks and great stories! I'm grateful that our
student population is open and welcoming to our new students each
trimester despite their hectic schedules. I feel that is but one of
the facets that make our student population incredible!
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
• Minor Surgery
• Intern Skills
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