Medicine was not even on my radar.
I wanted to be an actress!
Theatre was my first love, but for practical reasons (I have always been very practical), I decided to pursue an education that would more reliably lead to a career after college. I chose psychology.
Acting and psychology both spoke to my fascination with human behavior, my deep desire to connect with others, and my innate ability to reflect others’ experience back to them in an empathic and useful way. You can probably already see how I ended up falling in love with doctoring, too…. but I get ahead of myself.
After college, I worked in an in-patient psychiatric treatment facility for teenage girls. It was eye-opening and grueling work. The girls’ stories were full of a darkness that I had not been exposed to in my brief privileged life, and their tenacity and bravery to not only survive, but heal, was nothing short of inspiring. I loved that part.
Here’s what I didn’t love: the facility I worked at was focused on safety and didn’t have much to offer these young women on their healing journey. We could keep them ‘safe’, mostly, with sedating and mood-stabilizing medication cocktails, locked areas, and the indignities of strip searches (for smuggled contraband and sharps) and physical restraints when needed. Certainly necessary at times, but not exactly a nurturing environment. They had access to individual therapy. Group therapy. Art therapy. All great. But the food was terrible. There was limited access to nature, exercise, or healthy touch. There was no spirituality or mindfulness training. And did I mention all the medications? Ugh. After several years, I left exhausted - discouraged - and convinced that there must be a better way to support a person’s journey to health.
In search of my next bold move, I found naturopathic medicine in a book called 'Alternative Medicine', and instantly connected to it. It was a perfect program for me because I wanted the scientific & medical knowledge AS WELL AS the essential aspects of connecting mind, body, and spirit. I wanted the expertise in pathology, biochemistry, and drug treatments alongside rigorous training in nutrition, lifestyle medicine, and natural therapies. Plus, it wrapped all that integrative medicine goodness up in a bow that encouraged collaboration and an exchange of ideas between doctor and patient.
Acting, counseling, and doctoring are admittedly very different pursuits.
The common thread for me is the experience of listening and learning about another person’s story, finding the place to sincerely connect, and reflecting it back with respect and compassion.
You can talk diagnoses, procedures, and treatments all day, but let’s face it, human relationship often has the power to transform on an even deeper level. I love that naturopathic medicine includes all of those things.