Archive for tag: holidays

A Big 4-Day Week

Looking back at it now, this past week was hugely busy, despite being only 4 days long due to the MLK Day holiday. On the holiday, I met up with a few friends in the city for lunch as a little send-off for Guy who graduated in December. Afterwards, I got to introduce my good friend Alex to Hanzi, and we sat around chatting over tea for a while. It was lovely!

MLK Day lunch date with NUHS friends

On Tuesday, I worked a double shift at the Salvation Army and Lombard clinics, then headed straight home to work for several hours on my grand rounds presentation. Wednesday was the day I gave my said presentation titled, "ADHD and The Italian Grandmother." This was my last big assignment of medical school! My presentation was centered on a case I saw in clinic, and examined research on naturopathic treatment options as well as obstacles to cure in treatment of a pediatric case of ADHD. 

I was nervous about presenting until I realized several of my friends came to watch me speak, AND that they were each wearing a piece of clothing I had given them! It made my heart sing! Because I am moving, I gave away some scarves and tops and a handful of my girlfriends all happened to wear these things on the day of my presentation! 

Another friend stopped by before my talk to give me a little gift. All the support from my buddies calmed my nerves and by 10 minutes into my presentation, the jitters were gone and I hit my groove. Thank you all for tempering my stress!

Hanzi hanging out in the new truck

On Thursday, I worked another double shift at both clinics and then did one of the most grown-up things I've ever done; Hanzi and I bought a car! We've been scouring the Internet for a car in preparation for my leaving for Montana and taking our one vehicle away on the trip. Now, we are the proud owners of a little red Tacoma truck. It's so funny; it has Bluetooth and a touchscreen but crank windows and manual door locks. Anyway, it's exactly what we've been searching for and I feel much better knowing I'm not leaving my partner immobilized in Illinois while I head off on an adventure.

Speaking of this adventure, I leave at the end of the week and should arrive for my first day at Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic on February 1. Hanzi will come along for the ride and then fly back to Chicago to keep working and job searching. I cannot express how much gratitude I have for my clinicians and peers who have helped me get things done so that I can go learn in another environment. I am especially grateful for friends who prioritized a surprise baby shower for our girl JheriAnne so that I could participate in celebrating the twins she and her husband Shane are expecting in April! I wish I'd had more time to hang and say bye, but such is the nature of medical school; stuff happens all at once and then bam! -- It's on to the next thing!

The Distraction of Residency Options and Thanksgiving

Lately I've been consumed with the idea of a residency after graduation. The list of sites for 2016 just came out and the application process is beginning! We do not have a residency coordinator for the ND students here at NUHS so we get information through our clinicians and our own research. I think we may be getting an informational meeting from the director at Bastyr over the Internet sometime this week, which is great news.

Blurry but festive! Hanzi and me in front of an enormous decorated tree in Grand Rapids

Because of the relative lack of guidance when it comes to naturopathic residencies, I'll give you an overview of what I understand about the process. Remember, this is what I've found from my own research, this information may not be perfectly accurate.

First of all, in mid-November a list comes out with the residency sites. Sites are at various outpatient clinics and some of the naturopathic schools. Each residency has a doctor listed with the clinic that I presume we work under during our tenure. The next things to consider are which sites look good to you, and which 3 faculty you will ask to write your recommendations. In addition to recommendations, the application process involves a personal statement, a general application, a CV/resume, and essays that are specific to each site. The more sites you apply to, the more essays you have to write, so be judicious. After applications are submitted (by January 1st), the interview period begins. If you interview with a site, then you are allowed to put it on your match list. If you apply to a site but are not asked for an interview, then you can cross that one off your list of possibilities. After interviewing takes place, an official match session happens where you select your top 3 spots, and the sites select their top choice candidates. If you match with a site -- which means you chose them and they chose you -- then you get offered the position!

I've started this process by reading about the clinics and doctors listed for each site. As Hanzi put it, I really worked myself into a tizzy over feeling like I have to decide RIGHT NOW where I want to live FOREVER. This is plainly not true, but all this future-talk has me absolutely shaken. I spent this weekend combing through websites, diving down those rabbit holes, and surfacing just long enough to make myself a cup of tea, or realize I'm super hungry, or remember there's been laundry sitting in the washer for 3 hours. 

Our gray drive to Grand Rapids to meet Hanzi's parents for Thanksgiving

Over the past few days I've learned a whole lot about the current residency opportunities, and now I'm both excited and overwhelmed. If you asked me to choose my top 3 right now, I just absolutely couldn't! And, of course, I don't have to just yet, so that's totally fine. Do you see what I'm doing to myself here?!? While washing dinner dishes tonight I reminded myself (out loud) that first things first, Miss Mackie! I have to finish my assignments for this trimester, which include a business plan, a case write-up, a research paper, and several exams. Then, I need to focus on finishing up things in the clinic and getting all my ducks in a row to try to take an externship during my 10th trimester. Somewhere in there I'll finish applying to these residencies.... Then, I have to graduate. After that, I have to study for boards for 3 months and then I have to pass those. If I don't have a residency to head to come Fall 2016 I'll find myself a job, or create my own! 

And here I thought my last trimester of classes was going to end peacefully, with the typical wind-up and wind-down. I figured I'd just coast into winter break with a handful of patient visits to complete and a spring of exploring ahead of me. I always imagined I'd apply for a residency, and now that the time has come I am overwhelmed with ideas. If I could just set aside those thoughts of my future for a few hours, I'd be golden. Instead, I spent my 4-day weekend fretting about a future I absolutely cannot affect from this point in time. Minds are tortuous things sometimes, you know. All in all, I'm so thankful for my wild mind; the one that takes me on fabulous theoretical adventures at the slightest suggestion of life in places like Montana, Vermont, Colorado, or Alaska.

And speaking of thanks -- a happy belated Thanksgiving to all! We traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to meet Hanzi's parents halfway to celebrate the holiday. I hope you had a lovely, delicious holiday, too!

A Week of Heart Filling and Story Telling

Ahhhhh, a day off in the middle of the week! To start, thank you to our veterans for serving and for giving us a reason to take a break. We had Wednesday off this past week and I savored that free time. I had all those good intentions of writing up a case due at the end of the week, and getting started on a paper for pediatrics class, but in the end I took my day off to relax and do laundry (so exciting)!

Dinner, drinks and laughing with my ND-to-be girlfriends

As a med student, you really have to take advantage of any free moment. On Tuesday evening, knowing we wouldn't have class early the next morning, a few of my best ND student friends and I went out for food and wine. We cozied up to the restaurant's fireplace and the conversation never stopped. I rarely see all of these lovely friends because of taking the full-track option of classes. These days I spend most of my time on campus in the clinic, rather than in classrooms and hallways where I can cross paths with my buddies. Because of this, we had so much to talk about! We reminisced about our cadaver in first tri anatomy and discussed our visions for our future practices and families (JheriAnne is pregnant with twins!) I drove home that evening all filled up with loving support from my people; I am truly a lucky gal.

Speaking of good experiences, I volunteered to sit on the ND panel at Campus Visit Day this past weekend. I think I've volunteered for this position 3 or 4 times before. I keep coming back to sit and talk with prospective students because I love talking and articulating my excitement for naturopathic medicine! I always leave these panel sessions feeling even better about my choice of profession. One of the things that came up in discussion for all of us on the panel was that the ND students at NUHS form a very supportive community. We share study guides, organize study groups, encourage each other to take a break and get out, and generally do not compete with each other for grades. We are all here to build our profession, so what's the point of creating excess competition within our little community? 

At the ND student panel for Campus Visit Day

We are certainly a group of healers who come to this medicine because we aim to doctor with caring support, rather than through sheer force, dominance or authority. It's a beautiful struggle to display authority with my patients so that they understand the importance of attending to their health and trust my knowledge, while at the same time allowing my innate compassion and tenderness to come through. Just writing this post has me all extra excited about our medicine again! It's that easy to love what I do.

If you're a prospective student with questions about being in an ND program, whether you're bound for NUHS or not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me! Email me at and I'll be sure to write back.

Why Keep the Future in Mind

Happy Belated Fourth of July! We were blessed with a three-day weekend and I took full advantage of it to get out of town and into the woods! Hanzi and I drove north to see his parents in Michigan, way up to the tip of the mitt. I had to spend a lot of time working on papers and presentations as it's midterm week (more like fortnight), but I did still manage to spend time outdoors. And, I always studied with the windows wide open because the air in Northern Michigan is clear and smells like the trees; I love it.

Over the weekend I learned how to shoot sporting clays for the first time,
and I actually met with some success! So much fun!

Besides playing outside there were those obligatory parent-child conversations about the future.

  • Where do we see ourselves headed next?
  • What kind of work will we look for once we graduate?
  • What is the job market like out there right now?

And you know, I must be growing up because I wasn't immediately turned off by these questions. Historically I'd never want to discuss my future; it will be what it will be, I would say. I'll just wait and see what comes my way! Lately, I'm willing to entertain some tangible ideas; I can picture myself in a clinic with my white coat on, seeing patients all day long. I know, too, that I want to continue writing, so I can picture myself at a computer, surrounded by books, crafting paragraphs that share my medicine.

Sunset from the Leggs Inn where we had dinner on Sunday night before
leaving at sunrise on Monday so I could get back in time for clinic.

I'm still relatively undecided on my future compared to many of my peers who either know where they want to go after school, or have a vision for exactly what type of practice they want to work in or create. I recently had the idea to construct a mobile clinic that I can hook up to my truck and tow off into the sticks to work with patients in rural communities. I envision a wall lined with rattling tincture bottles, waiting for me to mix up the appropriate medicine. Of course, this mobile clinic also contains all the necessary tools for physical exam, production of hot water for hydrotherapy, and space for physical medicine.

Regardless of the reality of the vision, I've decided that entertaining one is a good idea. Not only does it give me something to talk about with family, but also it helps keep me afloat when I'm dragging through that last page of a research paper, or waking up before sunrise to cram some information in my brain before a test.

So in the spirit of independence, cheers to our visions, cheers to our future!

Under the Gun - Ebola for Dinner

And we're back! We're really back, full-on, cramming for boards, prepping for patients and all. I'll admit it, the experience of preparing for boards has taken some wind out of my sails. Last trimester I was feeling ready to be a doctor. Spending time in the clinic made me feel ready to see patients and puzzle through the hard cases. More recently, I've been laboring with my 500-page board review book and feeling inadequate.

Thankfully, I can see that the deflation of my confidence comes in direct response to my anxiety about taking board exams. And I guess I am feeling slightly more capable after finishing the Cardio section yesterday and color-coding my weekly schedule this morning. Wrapping my head around a new schedule always takes at least a week, and getting it all organized definitely helps calm my mind.

Photo of schedule
Yeah, my color-coded schedule for Tri 7

Seeing as we celebrated Martin Luther King Day this week with Monday off (thank goodness, any extra study time is treasured!), I am inspired by this piece of wisdom he wrote:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

In preparing for boards, it doesn't do much good to mix negativity with those dark, foreboding clouds floating around February 3rdon my mental calendar.... I'm trying hard to stay positive while I study and am thankful for the encouraging text messages I've been getting from my ND friends who are in the same boat.

Photo of shooting a pistol at firing range
JohnnyD instructing me in the fine art of shooting a pistol

As it turns out, even a 4-week break can't provide enough time to study as much as planned. I do have a few good excuses though.... My boyfriend Hanzi and I spent a week around Christmas in Northern Michigan with his family; we skied, caught up with some of Hanzi's old friends, and I learned how to shoot a pistol! (Hanzi's Dad is the manager of a local shooting club.)

After returning from Michigan we had a few days before we headed out to Boston to visit with my family. Our week in Boston was our first visit to my parents' new house (I wrote about their move in this post), and included pond hockey, dinner with college friends, and some quality girl time for me with one of my oldest friends. I was also lucky to spend a day working with my Mom at her Integrative Dermatology practice where she incorporates diet and lifestyle in the treatment of her patients. I had an absolute blast interviewing patients and prepping them for their visit with the doctor, though I found the electronic medical records a huge pain to navigate... things to look forward to I suppose....

Photo of man speaking at dinner event
Ebola dinner lecture, my view from my seat by the fire

In addition to working in her office, my Mom took me as her guest to an informational Ebola dinner (appetizing, huh?) hosted by the local chapter of the Massachusetts Medical Society. I ate yummy salad, roast beast, soup, and chocolate cake while learning about Ebola. The lecture compared the first known epidemic in the 1970s with the disease picture of today's outbreak. I met one semi-retired female doctor who practiced general surgery who seemed wholly uninterested in naturopathic medicine, and another practicing female GP who asked me to send her an email with information about what we naturopathic doctors do. How cool!

After spending time immersed in the conventional medical world, I am happy to be back at NUHS, working on becoming a confident doctor who can hold her own in the company of skeptical, old medical doctors. If that isn't inspiration to crush these board exams, I don't know what is! Back to the books now.... Welcome back everyone!