Supporting the Success of Students at CCNM and Beyond

September is always a special time at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). We welcome our brand new first-year students from all over Canada and the U.S. and celebrate the beginning of the school year with a Welcome Back BBQ. Second- and third-year students get deeper into the study and application of naturopathic medicine, while fourth-year students intern at our one of our teaching clinics and work one-on-one with patients and their health care needs.

Journey to China

We offer many externship opportunities at CCNM. In early September, a group of third- and fourth-year students, led by CCNM Clinic Supervisor Amanda Zheng, ND, had the opportunity to intern at the Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, in China. For one month, students shadowed clinical and teaching activities and learned about the way the hospitals treat patients using a blend of traditional Chinese medicine and conventional approaches. And to cap off the trip, the students delivered a presentation on CCNM and naturopathic medicine to the hosting doctors and residents. See the gallery from their visit.

Student-led research

One of the reasons why CCNM is renowned for research is because students and faculty often collaborate on a wide range of studies, helping to further the profession and naturopathic medicine. To support and promote student-led research at CCNM, we established the Student Innovation Fund. The winners of this year’s fund are third-year students Bisleen and Christilynn, who won a grant to investigate naturopathic care for fibromyalgia at CCNM’s on-campus teaching clinic, the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic.

Opportunities for new grads

We had four new clinical residents start with us in August, and all were graduates from the CCNM Class of 2019. They are focused on clinical training and supervising interns at CCNM’s teaching clinics, the Integrative Cancer Centre, or community healthcare clinics.

In the most recent issue of CCNM’s alumni magazine, we featured our new resident, Greg Nasmith, ND, who shares how he prepared himself for residency. In the same issue, Class of 2018 graduate Max Crispo, ND, covered his whirlwind year since graduating, which involved writing licensing exams and a move from Toronto to Hawaii to start a residency position in integrative cancer care.

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Dr. Sean X. Hesler – SCNM

“My awakening to the moral imperative as a privileged global citizen is what drove my focus on global medicine.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

“I came into integrative medicine through chiropractic. After a back injury in high school treated with little relief, I was referred to a chiropractor. I decided I wanted to work full-time in global health, and to be a complete physician, able to use a variety of modalities and always with my hands, food, and the plants growing around me to help people heal themselves.”

SCNM as a springboard

“The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) was the right college for me because it had the only chapter of Naturopaths Without Borders (NWB) and the broadest scope of training. SCNM teaches acupuncture in the core curriculum and is the only US naturopathic medical school to do so. Acupuncture is a strong part of our global health repertoire and we have used it not only for one-on-one consults but also to train international health workers in basic treatments to help their own communities.

SCNM trained me to be a well-rounded naturopathic doctor. I gained a school-family I will treasure forever. My work with NWB also set the stage for my future in not-for-profit management and leadership.

In order to prepare myself to succeed in global health, I gained as much experience as I could working in low-resource communities in the US and abroad. Through my shifts as a student in SCNM’s free community clinics around Phoenix, I learned how to apply foundational, root-cause naturopathic care to people who otherwise lack access to care.

After working with Ryan Ferchoff, ND and seeing the naturopathic approach to the patient and how the pieces come together, I knew I wanted to bring this style of medicine to those most in need around the world.”

Global Health

“My wife (Sarah Preston Hesler, ND) and I graduated naturopathic medical school and then we moved to Haiti to not only see patients, but more importantly to open and operate the MamaBaby Haiti birth center in Cap Haitien. It was the first free-standing birth center in northern Haiti.  Afterward we started NWB’s work in Haiti initially three months on, three months off and eventually training and hiring local community health workers to take over the work.

For me, my awakening to the moral imperative as a privileged global citizen is what drove my focus on global medicine. Underserved communities tend to receive sparse and poor-quality care, with a lack of options and cultural disempowerment from the dominant model of medical care and reliance on unaffordable technology and medications. I have the tools to act, and I’m choosing to act.

Naturopaths Without Borders serves the global community through sustainable medicine, but it also promotes best practices in global health within the profession and promotes the profession within the larger global health community. We are focused on evolving integrative approaches to health worldwide through our volunteers and our local community health workers. I’m proud of the organization we have built and for its bright future as a driving force to build #oneworldinhealth!

Regardless of your future plans, you should register for my webinar to hear how a strong foundation of naturopathic medicine will empower you to serve wherever you go and with whatever you choose to do. Although our philosophy is focused on our relationship with the individual patient, I will illuminate what happens when we apply it to communities and global health. You will learn pearls from my successes and challenges in 13 years of global health work and leadership.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“My favorite thing about being an ND is flexibility – of tools, of the hats I can wear, and of the cultures I work among. Drawing from whatever modality we need makes us so versatile as practitioners . Using chronic pain as an example, we can utilize spinal manipulation and injection techniques, modulate inflammation through nutrition and botanical medicine, perform acupuncture and teach the patient hydrotherapy to use at home. My prescription rights give me respect from, and open opportunities for collaboration with our conventional colleagues abroad. As a physician, I integrate easily into the healthcare team and bridge the gap between doctors and public health.

Dr. Sarah and I balance our work between NWB work administratively and in the field, private practice and teaching.

In my nine  years since graduation I have worked around the world involved in direct patient care and project management, but as we have grown as an organization I have shifted to stepping back and empowering our community of NDs to step into the field work as I work to build NWB and teach students.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

“Decide what you want to do on a daily basis – if it’s meeting patients, listening to their stories and helping them take their health to a new level, naturopathic medicine might be for you. You need an entrepreneurial spirit in business and beyond – we are a rapidly-growing profession and we need innovators and go-getters!”

Learn more about Dr. Hesler:

Naturopaths Without Borders

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Healthy Halloween Treats

Trick or Treat! Prepare or beware – Halloween will soon be upon us, and with that – parties and sweets, galore! Here are some healthy alternatives to the traditional sugary snacks that will impress parents and children alike!

Boo-nanners

For an unpeeled banana, use a permanent marker to draw ghost eyes and mouth. For a peeled banana, cut in half and use mini chocolate or carob chips to create ghost eyes and mouth.

Spider Eggs

Wash organic green grapes and add them to small snack size plastic bag.

Mummy Juice

Trade out sugary drinks for healthier options. Mini waters may not be super exciting or environmentally friendly, but they do have practical uses. Juice boxes are another great alternative to sodas, but make sure to keep it natural with only 100% organic juice. For a little more fun, consider covering the juice boxes or water bottles with colored construction paper and create designs such as Frankenstein, ghosts or pumpkins.

Cheesy Ghosts

Simply apply three dots for ghost eyes and mouth with permanent marker to an organic wrapped cheese stick.

Fruity Pumpkins

Peel a clementine and add a small celery stalk piece or small pretzel stick to the middle to create a pumpkin.  For an unpeeled clementine, use a permanent marker to create a Jack-O-Lantern.

Spider Webs

Place mini pretzel rods in a circle on parchment paper and drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top.

Mummy Hands

Add air-popped popcorn to latex-free plastic gloves and tie the end.

Strawberry Ghosts

Stick a long kabob into the tip of the strawberry and push through the middle. Dip the strawberry in white chocolate and set on wax paper to set. Apply mini chocolate chips for ghost eyes and mouth once the chocolate has solidified a bit.

Brain Jello

Organic and preservative-free jello can be added to fun, Halloween themed molds.

Apple Monsters

Cut a wedge halfway across the middle of an apple and line with organic peanut or other nut/seed butter. Add sunflower seeds for teeth and a strawberry slice for a tongue. Feel free to employ the kids in making these as is age appropriate.

Honorable mention: consider passing out pencils, erasers or other small Halloween themed gifts instead of store-bought candy.

With these unique and healthy ideas, your house is sure to be a favorite this Halloween!

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What is Self-Care?

Guest post by JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE

It sounds pretty self-explanatory and simple to think about self-care. Self-care in a nutshell is making sure we recharge our internal battery and don’t let ourselves run on empty.

Early on – during my first week of medical school, I took a course titled “Physician Heal Thyself.” While it seemed like a cool class, at 22, I didn’t fully understand why it was important for me as a future healer to make sure I was mindful, and taking time to ensure I had enough juice and stamina to be of service to others. As clinic and coursework kicked into higher gear, I was thankful for the class and tools. My naturopathic classmates and I were also good monitors of each other and when we needed to take a breather.

Core to self-care is self-awareness. This means being in tune with your body and emotions and staying ahead of issues that may arise. The more hectic life gets, the more important this is to practice.

Some people choose to incorporate self-awareness as part of a meditation/prayer. They check in and scan their emotions and body for anything that is ‘stuck’ or out of synch. While doing this exercise, it is important to do so without judgment. Simply notice the feelings, make note of them and why they may be there. For example, if you are feeling angry or anxious, or in pain – ask yourself why. Symptoms in your body are its way of communicating that something needs attention.

During times of stress, it is even more important to take time to fill your cup. Please accept our version of “Self-Care Bingo” as a fun way to make sure you’re taking time for YOU.

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Dr. John Finnell – Bastyr

“As the first naturopathic physician and acupuncturist appointed to lead a Veterans Affairs Whole Health program, I will do my best to represent our professions and medicine in the best way.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Austin College, John S. Finnell, ND, MPH, LAc told the admissions advisors at the allopathic and osteopathic medical schools that he was interested in studying preventative, nutritional, and botanical medicines. Much to his dismay, his advisors informed him that he would have to look elsewhere for preventative healthcare education.

Prior to pursuing his naturopathic medical education, Dr. Finnell completed a Master’s of Science in environmental engineering and sustainable infrastructure at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. His first career was as an environmental engineer and chemist, contracting for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Dallas. Dr. Finnell completed Superfund site assessments and remediation plans, refinery site inspections, and emergency response for the Columbia Space Shuttle accident.

“I knew that I needed to get back on my original path, once my work in the environmental field began to negatively affect my health.”

Bastyr as a springboard

“I had a dejavu moment my first week in Seattle that made me a believer that Bastyr chose me. I was driving around Green Lake and remembered that, ten years before, a dear friend had told me that I should check out this small herbal medicine school, as she drove me to visit the medical school admissions office at the University of Washington, in 1994. Across from the Seattle Zoo, as I reminisced, an oversized pickup truck t-boned my car. The next thing I knew, my car was totaled and I was at the Swedish Hospital, alive and more than a little rattled. You see, I was given another chance to get back on my path. Perhaps whomever was looking out for me decided that I needed a dose of my own medicine. I got it in the form of a full recovery with the help of naturopathic and east Asian medicines at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health.”

While at Bastyr University, “I gained an understanding of the human condition that I could hardly have imagined when I started my first day of class. I learned of the life stories of my patients, classmates, and teachers. I saw healing take place within each of them as we walked the path together. I learned about human anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, and about the diseased state and creating the conditions for healing. I learned how to practice the art of the medicine, and I learned how to simultaneously become a critic and an aficionado of our art.

After I graduated, I completed a National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH; previously NCCAM) post-doctoral research fellowship at the Bastyr University Research Institute, under the mentorship of Ryan Bradley, ND, and Leanna Standish, PhD, ND, LAc (5T32AT000815), and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) in epidemiology at the University of Washington. I successfully obtained foundation and faculty seed grants to conduct a clinical trial of the effects of vitamin D supplementation (Traub et al., 2014). I also participated in collaborative studies assessing the patterns of use and safety of CIH interventions (Mischley, Vespignani, & Finnell, 2013; Sexton et al., 2014; Sexton, Cuttler, Finnell, & Mischley, 2016).

I then gained an appointment as director of a postgraduate doctoral program and research at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a regionally-accredited CIH institution in Austin, Texas. While at AOMA, I became funded by an administrative supplement for a complementary health practitioner research experience (PA-16-013) awarded in support of the parent R01 entitled: Functional Orthopedic Rehab Treatment-Amended (FORT-A) Program (R01AT008422-01). All of this work helped me find my way to the next stage of my career.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

I love my life in San Antonio, in my home state of Texas. Texas, specifically San Antonio, was the home of Herbert Shelton, ND, one of the pioneers of the practice of natural hygiene within the profession. The Stark Center, at the University of Texas at Austin, hosts the Todd-McClean Library with one of the largest naturopathic medicine collections in the world. I am now the Whole Health Program Manager at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, one of 18 Whole Health Flagship sites. As the first naturopathic physician and acupuncturist appointed to lead a Veterans Affairs Whole Health program, I will do my best to represent our professions and medicine in the best way.”

I love my profession and will never get bored. The part that I love the most is the size of our toolbox. What do you do when your patient comes into your acupuncture practice but is afraid of needles? To name a few…diet, exercise, mind-body practices, fasting, mythopoetic exploration, herbal medicine, physical medicine, and homeopathy. What do you do when your patient comes into your acupuncture practice but is not afraid of needles? Well…you do all of the above plus acupuncture.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

When I interviewed at Bastyr, they asked me what I wanted to do with my education. My reply was that I wanted to study naturopathic and Chinese medicine, research to bring this medicine into the mainstream, and move back home, gain licensure and start a school in my home state. Patience – I am working on it!

My plan was to complete the MS in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, in order to be able to practice in Texas, while we gained licensure for naturopathic medicine. I also planned to gain rigorous training in research methodologies in order to create broader acceptance of this medicine in the halls of medicine and in the halls of Congress. I am still walking along that path; it’s my life’s path.

The late Bill Mitchell, ND, said in class one day that: ‘The truth will bubble up!’ Those who know me know the turtle mantra: ‘Slow and steady wins the race.’ Be true to the medicine and steadfast in your calling. Along your path, you are the holder of the medicine of the past and the medicine of the future.”

Learn more about Dr. Finnell

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Dr. Greg Yasuda – Bastyr

“Being a naturopathic doctor gives me a sense of congruence in my life – my work is an expression of my values, and that allows me to provide a service to my patients and students that feels deeply meaningful. So much of what we do boils down to respect and love: for our environment, for our communities and, perhaps most importantly, for ourselves. The more I learn about medicine, the more I learn about the world and my place in it.”

Greg Yasuda, ND is Associate Dean of Academics and Assistant Professor at Bastyr University. Dr. Yasuda is well-loved by his students and colleagues and is proud to be a Bastyr alumnus.

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

“My mother was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis when I was a child and her general practitioner recommended that she try yoga – 40 years later, she still does not take thyroid medication. I had witnessed the healing power of nature first hand before I even learned about this profession.

I chose naturopathic medicine because I was looking for what is true in medicine and healing. The scientific evidence base is continually growing, guidelines and opinions are always changing, and conventional standards of care are regularly improved upon…while this is a tremendously valuable process, it must also be balanced by some essential truths that do not change, principles of healing that are constant, reliable and timeless. This fascinated me before coming to naturopathic school and that fascination has only grown. “

What can students learn from you?

“I have taught various courses since 2008, and now I primarily function as a clinical supervisor and instructor for physical medicine and Naturopathic Theory and Practice, a year-long course in naturopathic philosophy in which I have been blessed to be mentored by Pamela Snider, ND, Christy Lee-Engel, ND, EAMP and Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB-HRV , all of whom were my instructors when I was a student between 1998 and 2003.

While it is important to learn to diagnose and treat illness, I make sure to teach students to also prioritize supporting the healing process. I believe this is our great contribution: to balance promotion of health with treatment of disease. In a diverse landscape of healthcare that seems hyper-focused on disease treatment, ours is a model of integrative practice that is both powerful and trustworthy.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“Being a naturopathic doctor gives me a sense of congruence in my life – my work is an expression of my values, and that allows me to provide a service to my patients and students that feels deeply meaningful. So much of what we do boils down to respect and love: for our environment, for our communities and, perhaps most importantly, for ourselves. The more I learn about medicine, the more I learn about the world and my place in it.

Working with students connects me back to my own beginnings – the innocent and exuberant optimism that made me want to change the world! So many of my students feel called to naturopathic medicine. It wasn’t a reasoned or even planned path: they heard about it and immediately knew they had to do it. That’s how Bastyr University started and that’s how I started, so I want to welcome that spirit here, to acknowledge it and bless it and cultivate its unique expression in each student. The late Bill Mitchell, ND, said that the full flower of naturopathic medicine has yet to bloom. These students are those very buds of unexpressed potential.”

What qualities make a strong ND student?

“I have seen students from all walks of life succeed here. While some have strong backgrounds in biomedical sciences, others have been musicians, teachers, engineers (like me), and countless more. What makes a strong ND student is strong character – they know who they are and why they are here. This helps them remain balanced and avoid the traps of absolutes. They are adept with the sciences, but are not threatened by the mystery of being. They can honor the past without succumbing to dogma. They are both leaders and collaborators. They understand the importance of narrative and the countless ways we each experience life – not only accepting diversity, but valuing it as a source of strength.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Search your heart and find what you must do. Do not ask what you should do, what will make others happy nor what you’re good at – these types of questions only confuse the issue. Ask what you must do, what will make you come alive, what will bring meaning to your life and work. Talk to naturopathic doctors (click here to find an ND near you in the US and Canada), visit the schools, shadow a practitioner. Once you know the answer, trust your knowing, commit to it, and go do whatever that is regardless of the consequences. A calling does not go away – and neither do regrets.”

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