The View from Here

No one told me that this would be easy (medical school in my 30s, board exams, moving across the country, becoming a physician not recognized in all 50 states, doubtful onlookers …. ).  But freedom comes in strange packages.  At least mine has.

I feel very free at this point in my life.  Having a wonderful partner and family who have no desire to control me help a lot, as does living in the US.  And I know that it is entirely my choice to be in medical school.  But of course, there are things about it that I struggle with.  Studying for boards is one of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is very important to know the material inside and out, and I hugely value science and research.  But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it ultimately means to simulate all of this information and knowledge.  What makes a good doctor?

A friend once told me:  “The students that make the best doctors are the ones who fail.  They are not the ones who breeze through school easily and do not suffer, while looking down upon the others.  Those who fail and get back up and try again are the ones with the heart.  The heart is what it takes to do this job well.”

(He was also an anatomy professor at an ivy league medical school and an attending at its teaching hospital among many other career highlights.  I interpreted failure in a much broader sense, as I have found that some of the most compassionate people are incredibly book smart, but you get the point.)

I’ve taken my friend’s advice to heart.  Learning to fail, in all parts of life, is part of being free.  And freedom is knowing yourself; and for me, accepting the parts that you don’t yet fully understand.

What I seek in myself as a future ND involves truthfulness and being honest with my own experiences and understanding.  It also means not infringing that upon other’s healthcare or confining their healthcare to the limits of my academic knowledge and my own personal experiences.  This is especially true for me, because I am so green (and becoming an ND, not a surgeon – as an ND I believe there is a lot more grey area).  My experiences are not your experiences.  And in my opinion, the real healing begins when you realize that only you hold the key to your own freedom.  No doctor, as skilled and talented as they may be holds your freedom or power.  Freedom is health (thank you to our homeopathy teacher, Durr, for that one).

And lets face it.  To be a good doctor you have to 1) Care.  2) Get out of the way. 3) Be willing to do the work on yourself. And 4) Pass your medical licensing board exams :).

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Reality:  Everyone could use a good Naturopath

Looking around my life, I so often meet, know and see people who could hugely benefit from even just one visit with a good Naturopathic Doc.  As I prepare to take my basic science board exams, I’m reminded how much our medicine integrates conventional knowledge with alternative therapies.  Our training ranges from basic sciences & scientific research (we can do everything from annual exams to prescription maintenance);  to nutrition, eliminating food sensitivities, botanical medicine, addictions & lifestyle counseling, and acupuncture – among many other therapies.  Its hard to imagine just how much information we are expected to comprehend within four years.  But anyone who has seen a naturopath can attest to the fact that naturopathy works.  We specialize in primary care, preventative medicine and hard to treat conditions.  Keep your specialist close by, but check out an ND for integrative approaches while you are at it.  I’m not kidding when I say that everyone could use a good naturopath (or physician with a strong integrative lean and appropriate training).  Do you feel as good as you want to?

There is, naturally, variability within naturopathic medicine.  Few things are absolute.  In anatomical terms “normal” is the most common variant, and I guess that can be said for naturopathic doctors too.  My advice: if you see a naturopath and do not find the relief or help that you were looking for – see another one.  Finding the right fit for you could change your life forever.  I have heard this time and time again from patients of NDs.  I keep thinking that all we need to do is find Hillary or Oprah a good ND to get federal licensure.

On a much lighter note – wishing my friend Kansas a very happy birthday (posted a few days after writing 🙂 ).  You have made my Bastyr experience what it is – thank you.

To quote Dr Wayne Dyer:

“When you judge another, you do not define them – you define yourself.”  And:

“When you are spiritually connected, you are not looking for occasions to be offended and you are not judging and labeling others.”