Archive for tag: NUHS

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!

The Long Haul

When my old Nissan Xterra passed 200,000 miles this week, I was reminded of the reliability, longevity and commitment to completing a naturopathic medical degree.

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How appropriate that this weekend saw the passing of our school's presidency from Dr. James Winterstein to Dr. Joseph Stiefel. Dr. Winterstein's leadership of NUHS for the past 27 years has seen his overseeing of the expansion of National from a college to a university with multiple professional, graduate and undergraduate programs both in Illinois and Florida. The most notable to me was the reintroduction of the naturopathic program to National's campus in 2006.

Dr. Winterstein led the effort to bring naturopathic medicine back to NUHS after a more than 50-year hiatus. He met resistance and persevered, with reliable commitment to the cause of naturopathic primary care being taught at our university. Dr. Winterstein's philosophy as a chiropractic physician is that chiropractors are primary care physicians and are responsible for screening each patient who visits a practice. He took that noble rule of thumb and expanded it to include the naturopathic program on our campus.

Dr. Winterstein had to be patient, persistent and committed to obtain his goal of returning the naturopathic medical degree to our campus. He had to recruit knowledgeable, dedicated leaders and educators to work at an upstart program in the Midwest, about as far away ideologically and culturally as one can get from the existing naturopathic schools in the far western states at the time. Yet, he brought in Dr. Fraser Smith and Dr. Louise Edwards to build a naturopathic program with a sound basis in naturopathic philosophy. He lent a guiding hand and mentored our leaders to accreditation within seven years of inception of the program and has left a thriving naturopathic college on the campus of National University of Health Sciences!

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I'm certain Dr. Stiefel will continue the excellence exhibited by Dr. Winterstein and his "200,000-mile" effort in bringing back a vibrant naturopathic medical school, which is improving with each trimester! Thanks to you, Dr. Winterstein, for your leadership and may you have a long, healthy and joyful tenure as President Emeritus!