• Natalie

My Journey To Naturopathic Medicine

In my last post I wrote about always knowing I wanted to work in healthcare, but was always sure that I would work behind the scenes, likely in a lab.

In today's post, I wanted to write a bit about why I chose to pursue naturpathic medicine instead of the planned lab work.

It starts when I was in my fourth year of my undergrad. There was a professor who was studying the effects of proanthocyanidins (PACs), a type of flavanoid, on two lines of prostate cancer cells. The summer before my fourth year began, an email was sent to all biology students, asking if there was any interest in working with this professor, Dr. Hurta. I immediately replied, met with Dr. Hurta and was slated to begin my directed studies in September.

After working in the lab for 3 months, all of first semester, I was HOOKED! It was exhilarating! I was working in a clean room, learing how to run Western Blots, maintaining cell lines in an incubator and using all types of laboratory-specific technology. I was spending all of my free time in the lab and was loving it. A local community college was offering a biotechnology diploma and after much deliberation, I applied and was accepted. I wanted to have the practical skills of hands-on work, along with my degree, in an effort to better my appliction for local bioscience companies. Unfortunately, the program was only willing to offer me credit for 9 of my 40 courses- which meant that I'd have to pay for and attend 2 more years of school. I had initally been told I could do it in a year! Fresh out of a 4 year degree, direct after high school, I wasn't ready to commit to an additional 2 years. So, I walked away.

And accepted a job with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a division of the federal government in Canada. I was working a 6 month term, testing soil samples for the presence of potato wart. While it was interestig for the first month or so, I quickly realized that analytical lab work was not for me. After some thought, I realized that it was soley due to my lack of interaction with people I could help. I was sitting at a microscope for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and listened to audiobooks ALL DAY. I wasn't challenged, I wasn't tested and most importantly, I didn't have any pride in my work.

When my term ended, I took some time to figure things out.

That break led me to my most recent position working as a Pharmaceutical Compounding Technician for a local family-owned chain of pharmacies. During most of my 3 year tenure, I was one of two technicians tasked with producing a host of prescription and over the counter compounds, unique to each patient. During my second year there, I was also tasked with working on peer education with the sister pharmacies as well as working as a lab-based marketing team member. I attended trade shows, events, and spoke with pateints and customers about our services and products. I felt like I was made for this job. The more I learned and the more questions I asked, the more committed to my work, the quality of my work and my patients I became.

I felt like I had found my niche. So I applied for pharmacy school, twice. I was rejected both times, even after upgrading my courses. Not only was I heart broken, but I felt like it was a sign. So I considered a Registered Pharmacy technician. Nope. Not for me.

I feel like naturopthic medicine sort of landed in my lap at just the right time. It was July 2017 and I visited a local ND. She was new out of school and was near my age. I made my first appointment, and continued working with her until she moved her practise to a neighbouring province. What she did for me, taught me and showed me was EVERYTHING I had ever wanted out of my life.

Nutrition counselling. Acupunture. CBT. Cooking. We talked about everything. And she helped me immensly. She taught me how to structure my meals for satisfaction and satiety. We discussed stress reduction and control. We even worked though some endocrine issues I was having. For the first time in a long time, I was feeling like my perceived issues weren't so bad and that I had control over them. I was dealing with stress more effectively and seeing changes in my body and mind. I was happier, healthier and generally just a better person.

I knew after my first meeting with her that naturopathic medicine was for me. It spoke to my soul. It was a combination of everything I loved. Alternative medicine. Science. Hands-on therapies (like massage, manipulation, etc). But most importantly, it was like finding an old, worn-in sweater in the back of my closet!

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