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!
Hi, everyone! I'm happy to be back at school and getting into
the swing of things! The break was welcome as I was able to do some
manual work with my hands rather than sit in a desk all day and at
a table studying all evening. Well, let me share how the break went
and a bit about our first week back in classes.
During the summer break, I completed a lot of work for the
Naturopathic Student Gathering at NUHS in November of this year.
The Naturopathic Student Gathering is an annual national conference
for the students of the seven naturopathic medical schools of North
America. At the Gathering, the Elder Docs of our profession come to
speak to the students about the philosophy and history of
naturopathic medicine and how to keep that vision alive for
I built some structures for the Gathering from branches of trees
that were felled during storms as well as driftwood from streams
and ponds. These structures (which I will share photos of in future
posts) are built without any nails, or other man-made materials.
While I had never attempted anything like this before, the process
of creating an object that is useful, structurally sound and
symbolic of the Student Gathering turned into a bit of a journey of
self-discovery in patience, perseverance and flexibility...or much
like the process of getting through medical school, he he! Once the
Gathering is closer and we have everything set up for the
conference, I'll share a little bit more about the structures as
our team is keeping some things under wraps for the Opening and
Closing Ceremonies of the conference.
(L-R) Dr. Kelly Baltazar
(Naturopathic Chief Clinician), Dr. Jenna Boazzo (Naturopathic
Intern Michelle Ennsman, Intern Christine Schoenek, Intern
Joseph Vazquez, Intern Tim Ammons
When I returned to school last week, I entered clinic as an
Observer for the first time! As Observers, the 7th trimester
Interns shadow the more senior Interns during patient visits,
morning preview, and evening review. We help with the day-to-day
tasks, as well. Primarily, our job is to observe, listen, practice
charting in the proper manner, and help when and where
On our first day, my lab section, which also consists of
Christine Schoenek, Michelle Ennsman and Joseph Vazquez, had our
orientation session with Dr. Kelly Baltazar, Naturopathic Chief of
Clinics and Dr. Jenna Boazzo, Naturopathic Clinician. I could the
see joy and excitement from our clinicians who were truly happy to
see new Interns, wet behind the ears, join the ranks of the Interns
already under their tutelage. I didn't think I would ever be as
excited about something as I was upon entering clinic adorned with
my white lab coat and taking the first step to help others heal.
This was the reason for being here at this stage of my life in the
first place! So, why so excited?
I'll tell you why! Sitting with our Chief Naturopathic Clinician
on our first day in clinic going over the mundane details of dress
code, paperwork, responsibilities of confidentiality with our
patients, and the order of paperwork, drove the point home that we
"are here." We have made it after two years of grueling science
courses, hours upon hours of study, research and practice. As I sat
in the orientation, I had to keep reminding myself that this was
simply a milestone on the path that I had chosen. The true
challenge lies ahead through working other human beings who have
come to us for a solution to their illnesses. We have the safety
net of working in a teaching clinic with experienced clinicians to
guide us through proper case taking, information gathering,
diagnosing and helping those who visit the clinic have the best
outcome possible from each visit. Now is the time to take advantage
of the experience that surrounds us, the knowledge and wisdom from
our clinicians, and each moment that grants us the opportunity to
grow as future doctors.
Hi Everybody! The wheels are starting to churn this trimester!
We had two cases due, another midterm in Physical Diagnosis class,
as well as helping to make some Chinese Angelica (Angelica
sinensis) salve in our botanicals class this week. The week was
capped off with Tri Games and my trimester, Trimester 6, finished
in second place out of 8 teams. More about that in a moment,
I'll highlight Physical Diagnosis this week. Physical Diagnosis
is the culmination of evaluation classes beginning in Trimester 2
all the way up through Trimester 5. In the evaluation classes, we
combine patient intake skills such as taking vitals, heart and lung
exams and neurology exams with physical medicine. The physical
medicine part includes musculoskeletal adjustment and soft tissue
work. When we reach Trimester 6, we put all of the pieces together
in one huge class that is 8 credit hours. We spend 10 hours per
week (6 in the classroom, 4 in the lab) rehashing each system of
the body along with how to inspect, evaluate and determine if
something is going wrong. We apply pathologies that can impact that
system or group of systems as we go. To top everything off, we
spend time learning these systems through 'hands on' training.
This is a vast amount of time and information, so we have
alternating written exams and lab practicals every 5 weeks. These
combined exams will culminate in finals week with an hour-long lab
practical and two-hour written comprehensive exam. Needless to say,
I have been spending quite a bit of time on 'Phys DX'! This is a
fun class with many of our clinical professors lending a hand on
various subjects. In my opinion, it's a great way to learn from
each subject matter expert as we learn of their specialty!
Now! About Tri Games! Tri Games is a competition held
three times a year at the Lombard campus. Each of the trimesters (1
through 7, and 8,9,10 combined) competes with each other in a team
sport. This spring, co-ed flag football was the game!
After classes last Friday, everyone packed up a cool beverage,
donned their trimester's color (Tri 6 was red) and readied
themselves to defend their trimester's honor on the gridiron--well,
the field in front of Lincoln apartments. The favorite is usually
the clinic team (students from trimesters 8, 9, and 10) as they
have the opportunity to combine forces.
Although Trimester 6 (ahem) put up a great fight after battling
through the ranks to make the Championship Game, the "Mighty Swans"
of trimesters 8, 9, and 10 were able to barely "squeak by" with a
30-point victory. Even though we were a little bummed at coming in
second, we joined our classmates after the game and listened to
some tunes from the DJ on the basketball court. A great time! Plus,
we'll take the win at the next Tri Games this fall when we are
This week I'm thankful that my classmates/teammates would let
the "wily veteran" come out of retirement to join them on the
field! What a great feeling to be welcomed by one's classmates on
the sports field, even though a "step may have been lost" somewhere
in the past 15 years. The inclusive nature of the student body of
NUHS is defined in young, recently graduated college athletes
turned naturopathic/chiropractic med students welcoming a
middle-aged naturopathic med student to represent our trimester in
an athletic competition! Time to hit the practice field and be
ready for kickball in the fall!
Until next week!
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
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