Archive for tag: gathering

Gathering Weekend

Take dozens of tasks (all with a deadline), about 250 people--the entire NUHS naturopathic faculty team, drummers, dancers, 12 respected naturopathic doctors and naturopathic medical students from all the schools in North America--throw them together in the auditorium on campus and what do you get? 

The 2012 Naturopathic Gathering at NUHS!

This past weekend was incredible! This is the first time that the NUHS naturopathic program has hosted our colleagues from the other naturopathic schools in North America. The entire student body wanted to make sure that we presented ourselves in the best manner possible for our peers. At the end of the weekend, while saying goodbye to the students from the other schools, wishing our best to the Elders who spoke, and hearing the great time that everyone shared, confirmed to the Gathering Team that our first hosting was huge success!

This picture is of the wreath stand with wreaths from each school in attendance.
(Not a steady hand on this one, from my cell phone.)

NUHS helped to establish a tradition within the Naturopathic Gathering. The Gathering Talking Stick was introduced at this year's Gathering to be passed from school to school each year as the Gathering travels throughout North America. The Talking Stick is to be held by each speaker as they share with conference attendees. A totem from each school will be placed onto the Talking Stick the first time that the school hosts the gathering, to remain with the tick for as long as the Stick exists. The Talking Stick is the symbolic vessel of the wisdom of the Elder Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine. Each totem is the symbol of each school's contribution to the wisdom of our Naturopathic Elders. The Stick is the thread that will bind each year and each memory to future Naturopathic Gatherings.

Our opening ceremony was one for the ages! Our naturopathic students shared their talents in Romani dance, African dance and drumming! The opening ceremony commenced with drumming as our dancers entered the auditorium and paused in front of the Elders where they performed an African tribute dance to the Elders. The dancers transitioned to the stage and performed a Romani dance as the procession approached the stage. The procession consisted of students bringing the NUHS Totem, Gathering Talking Stick, Senior Elder Present, and the Leader of Ceremonies followed by the entire complement of NUHS' naturopathic faculty! The Gathering Team made rhythm sticks for all attendees and each person was banging their sticks together in harmony. It was an incredibly uplifting sight! The opening ceremony concluded with speakers from our school welcoming our guests and our Leader of Ceremonies loudly tamping the Talking Stick on the floor to open the weekend!

Along with keynote speakers each morning and afternoon, our guests had the option of breakout session speakers in smaller groups two times each day. Yoga, meditation and Tai Chi were available at different times as well! The hardest thing was making the difficult decision of which speaker's session to attend!


Each year, the Naturopathic Gathering honors one Elder who personifies the pursuit of our philosophy, the sharing of our wisdom and promotion of our medicine. We were proud to present the 2012 Beacon Award to Dr. Fraser Smith, assistant dean of naturopathic medicine at National University of Health Sciences. Dr. Smith arrived alone at NUHS in 2004, tasked with building a naturopathic program from the ground up. Dr. Smith's strategy of incorporating the philosophy of naturopathic medicine started the first day he arrived on campus. He built his team of faculty with this thought in mind and now, in my opinion, we have the strongest philosophical foundation of any of the eight naturopathic schools in North America! Congratulations Dr. Smith, your honor is well deserved! (Also, Dr. Smith took our program from one person, him, to an accredited program in only 8 years!)

This year's Gathering helped to confirm our school's strategy of a strong foundation in the philosophy of naturopathic medicine during our education, as well as confirming the personal reasons that drive each medical student who chooses to practice as a naturopathic doctor. Each student's confirmation of choosing naturopathic medicine and its philosophy through interaction with our elder naturopathic doctors and their clinical pearls, research and observations throughout years of practice has helped set an example for us as future doctors. Finally, friendships were established, contacts made, lessons learned, and decisions re-affirmed for each student who traveled to Chicago or stayed on campus after class to attend the 2012 Naturopathic Gathering.

Dr. Gerald Farnsworth (our Senior Elder) and his partner Neta.

Personally, this year's Gathering was an enlightening and reinforcing event. I met and enjoyed the camaraderie of colleagues from each school, made new friends and feel strengthened in our medicine. To hear our doctors who have been in practice for many years, fought for licensure throughout the United States and Canada, and shared with us as students shows the strong bond among everyone in naturopathic medicine. This event will be stamped upon my memory as the point I realized that I personally am tasked with carrying our medicine forward scientifically, legislatively, scientifically, and perhaps most importantly for our doctors of the future, philosophically. I have included a bridging moment after the end of the conference. The picture above is of Dr. Gerald Farnsworth, our Senior Elder, his partner Neta, and I saying goodbyes until next year.

Join us next year as we travel from Chicago to SCNM in Arizona for the 2013 Naturopathic Gathering!

Let Life Happen Around You

This weekend, I went to the garden to gather up the last of the tomatoes (that's right, still had a few good tomatoes in November) and peppers, and to take up the stakes and wire that supported some of the taller plants in the garden. While I was completing the task, I was thinking of the work that went into the garden this year and the different approach to weeding I utilized.  

I was much more "hands off" with the weeding this year. I kept the weeds knocked down immediately adjacent to the plants and completely out of the herb section. Yet in other areas, I allowed the weeds to grow freely. What I found during this very dry, near-drought year was that by letting go of trying to control the weeds, they provided an abundance of flowers that attracted many bees along with the flowers we planted for the bees. The weeds helped to hold the moisture in the soil rather than it being baked by the sun. 


By allowing the garden to mature in its own way with a light guiding hand, we were blessed with a bumper crop of just about every vegetable, herb, flower, tuber, and seed we could use this year. As a matter of fact, we still have so many beets and carrots, I'm hoping we can harvest and eat them before the park rangers plow the community garden in preparation for winter. We have plenty to eat fresh, yet not enough left to can or pickle. 

I feel that the growth and evolution of the Naturopathic Gathering has blossomed in much the same way.  Each year, each hosting school honors the tradition of the Gathering while adding its own energy to the event. In many ways, the plans, details and intricacies of the event evolve even as it is taking shape. The natural changes of the Gathering over the past year, the weeds, the flowers, the inspirational bees arriving to pollinate great ideas never dreamed of until a specific moment when a few minds come together. 

That being said, I'll share a little story to close. As I was gathering a large storage bin that holds our watering hose, I picked up the bin only to disturb a family of four field mice who were snugly napping in their den hollowed out into the soil underneath the bin. I heard a "squeak," and looked down into the eyes of a little mouse looking up at me as if to say, "Why did you take my house?" Well, I tell ya, I felt terrible as the little field mice all ran in different directions. I know, I know! These are pests, rodents, and they carry disease!

These little field mice were living in an environment muddled up by my presence with my cultivation of the field where they were living, in my opinion. So, I took some action to give them a bit of a house back. I took some large stones that were big enough to cover their den and leave the little tunnels for them. I piled more stones on top of those and filled in with dirt all around the little mound in the hopes that they would return and have a place to keep warm this winter. In this sense, my placement of a foreign object in the process of changing the natural state of the garden gave a home to the little field mice. My removal of the foreign object (the storage container), then forced these little guys to abandon their home and most likely relocate in the time of year when they are in critical need of shelter. Just another reminder that each and every action we take has an impact, whether in our gardens, lives or interactions with others. The touch we put on these actions hopefully leaves a positive impact. I hope tonight the little critters have a home and that my "hands on" placement of the container has not caused them harm.

What is the take-away thought that is related to school this week? Given that all classes require a tight "hands on" approach to research, study, citation and thought, I guess my writing this week is about a "hands off" approach to life, its twists, turns, surprises and events. Life is going to happen. It will be happy, sad, challenging, easy at times, yet we will wake each day and go through our routine while at the same time experiencing something new every day. Drop your hands every now and then and let life happen around you. Immerse yourself in the most mundane and routine parts of your day and enjoy the boring little moments. You just might be surprised by a little bee with a wonderful idea that you've never seen before.


Midterms are FINALLY over! Talk about a roller coaster week! The euphoria of earning an A on one exam, followed on the same day by discovering a "less than stellar" grade in another class, immediately prior to entering a midterm for Psychopathology class...of all things! When considering how appropriate entering a midterm dealing with psychological pathologies is compared to any other exam that could have been scheduled at that time, at that place, in the wake of the experiences of the day, the only thing I could do was laugh (not during the test of course). 

This past week has truly been a blur. When sitting to review tests with my instructors, I had some difficulty remembering specific content or details around large concepts. This is the first time I have experienced this feeling since second trimester (the Terrible Triad trimester of Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology along with Head and Neck Anatomy...alliteration unintentional here). I'm starting to think that the notion of taking 28 credit hours while planning the Gathering involved a bit of masochism in my planning objectives for this term. :)


Well, my mighty Carolina Panthers came to Chicago this week and ALMOST pulled off the victory from the hometown Chicago Bears. I did my share of talking up my team in the week prior to the game, though tempered a bit as the Bears are looking great this year. My good natured classmates, who are true fans and have great respect for a good contest, didn't give me a hard time at all even though we lost in the waning minutes of the game. Here's to my classmates and all the fans of the Chicago Bears! Good people all! We'll get you next year, though! :)

Gathering Update 

I'm very happy to report that the administration of NUHS opened all resources necessary on campus to ensure that the Naturopathic Gathering is a complete success for our university! While I am not surprised at all regarding the support of the administration, the entire Gathering Team and I have been thrilled at the cooperation and support from our school. This is teamwork among colleagues, trust in the student leaders of the conference, and good will built within the naturopathic community from the original (and newest) naturopathic medical school.


I'll close this week with best wishes for our colleagues, their families, friends and everyone impacted by the path of Hurricane Sandy this week. May the first responders safely care for those in the wake of the storm and may those who are watching over others be safe in their duties as well. Everyone hunker down, stay safe, and keep thoughts and prayers strong for this storm to be over quickly and with as little damage to lives and property as possible.

A Sensitive Topic

I'm engulfed by midterms, presentations, quizzes, and a business plan this week! Now, throw in an evening with detailed and proper instructions on female and male sensitive exams. These are the prostate and rectal exams for males and the gynecological exams for females. No problem right? We've performed these exams a number of times on the dummies in lab. We have the procedure down pat and know EXACTLY what we are doing. Well, I'll just put things this way: The dummies in lab don't talk back to tell you how to perform the exam or that what you are doing is either uncomfortable, medically sound or, if you are really off-track from being nervous, creepy feeling!

Back to the beginning of the story: Part of the Advanced Clinical Encounters class is to show competency for gender specific sensitive exams by performing the exam on a human being. We don't perform the exams on each other or on volunteers. We have professional instructor models visit our school whose job is to travel between medical schools to instruct students, as the exam is performed. The environment during the exams is very relaxed and upbeat. We have two instructors in the examination room. One instructor is the model and the other is the lecturer or lab instructor.

We are verbally walked through each step of the exam process. As we cover a structure on the body, we are walked through the examination procedure for that structure, what to expect and what normal vs. abnormal findings will look or feel like. Once that section is explained, each student is expected to complete the entire exam for that procedure, including communication with the patient during the examination. We are instructed on key words to use such as "everything appears normal and healthy" as opposed to "everything looks good/great'," as that phrasing can leave some interpretation in meaning to some patients. 

The instructors use plenty of humor and laughs to help the students relax and realize that we are present to learn about the human body and all of it structures, functions and ailments. These exams are provided so that we can learn on a human being. The instructors are gracious enough and comfortable enough to take a group of nervous students and help them concentrate on performing an exam that could help to save a person's life one day. 

Walking into the exam was a bit nerve wracking, especially as a male walking into a female sensitive exam lab scenario. Yet by the time my group had finished the lab session, I was in amazement at the resiliency, structure, form, and function of structures that I had seen in anatomy lab many times in an inert framework. To see these structures in a clinical setting, performing as they do on a live human being was miraculous to me. 

Gathering Update 

All teams who are working on the Gathering are in high gear as we near the weekend of November 9-11!  We have all the speakers confirmed with topics that I hope to share prior to the Gathering weekend. The Opening Ceremony Team is hard at work rehearsing for the big day.

The drummers working outside a couple of weeks ago.
(L-R) Katie, Nakiesha, Wendy, Lauren and Alaina

I'm very proud of everyone who is working hard to make the Gathering a huge success. Our little school is going to shine very brightly because of the students and faculty who make it special!

I am also very grateful this week for the instructors who visit our school and choose to share of themselves for others to learn and perhaps catch a problem early that will save a life someday.

Fall is Here--and So is Tons of Homework

Hi, everyone!

This week I am absolutely covered in homework! So far, three quizzes (two scheduled, one unscheduled), two cases and a paper! I have times during the day that I wonder what day it is as well as which class is next. Sounds funny and it is, yet I thought this stuff was supposed to 'even out' a bit as we continued through the program. Well, I guess not!

Coming up, I have a group presentation to turn in this week for presenting next week to the class, two more cases...wait, check that...three cases for next week, and start midterms the week following.


Gathering Update

On another note, planning is going well for the Gathering in November! The website is getting updated almost daily with new activities, speakers' topics and information. The opening and closing ceremony team had our first practice session last week and more to come this week (hope to have a pic of that for you next week). The banquet and band are coming together nicely for Saturday night to entertain our guests! That's only my portion of the responsibilities.

The team met today to make a short video about the Gathering, thanks to Shaon's efforts on scripting and reserving the studio. The promotion team is charged up with getting the word out to the other six schools and building a display in our bookstore window, thanks to Alison's efforts. We will have an all-organic and gluten-sensitive menu for the entire weekend thanks to the work put in by Kristen and her team. Our speakers are lined up and reserved thanks to Aubrey, John, Thor, and Erica! Also, thanks to the other teams of volunteers who are stepping up and getting all of the nitty-gritty taken care of on a daily basis as the countdown continues to the 2012 Naturopathic Gathering! A great team putting together an incredible event!

Have a great week everyone!