Dr. Miranda LaBant – NUHS

“I always thought I knew what the term ‘doctor’ meant, but it wasn’t until I started seeing patients on my own, that I really understood the true meaning of docere – to instruct or teach. Behind the doors of the patient-doctor relationship is where the healing begins.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Becoming a naturopathic doctor was not always a part of Dr. Miranda LaBant’s career goals. “During my undergraduate and graduate school training I met several influential people who directed me towards becoming a doctor. As a graduate student, I had an incredible opportunity to study in Belize. During my time there I developed my Master’s thesis on the traditional medicine practices of the indigenous Mayan tribe, the Q’eqchi. My mind was opened to the possibility of what I consider traditional medicine. I remember sitting in the jungle around a fire with another graduate student and my mentor interviewing the shaman and their patients. The healing journey they experienced through the use of traditional and sacred herbs, teas, along with spiritual practices reversed conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, and mood disorders.

There was a point during my schooling where I wished to pursue a career in conventional medicine. After my experience in Belize, I began researching other avenues of alternative medicine, this is when I discovered naturopathic medicine. The principles of naturopathic medicine are what resonated with me. To be a naturopath you have to believe that the human body has an innate healing process, the vis as we call it. You have to believe that there is another option outside of the conventional medical paradigm that can heal people regardless of their disease process, and this is what I found to be true.

The human body operates as a whole, and naturopathic medicine treats each person as a whole – tolle totum. Other schools of medicine follow mechanistic thinking in regards to treating the human body, by breaking it into different parts as if the human body doesn’t function as a whole. I don’t mean this with any disrespect to those schools of thought, but I do believe it is a disservice to patients. The training of a naturopathic doctor provides the skill set and tools to not only assess symptoms, but to dig deeper – looking at all factors influencing their health (environment, emotional, mental, physical).”

NUHS as a springboard

“I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. The proximity of National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) along with the possibility to pursue a chiropractic degree was appealing to me. One of the advantages at NUHS is the ability to study alongside chiropractic students as well as develop a strong foundation for physical medicine and diagnosis. Even though I value the incorporation of physical medicine, I decided that naturopathic medicine was the correct path for me during my first year of study. I quickly fell in love with herbal medicine, homeopathy, and the biochemical impact of nutrition, this is where I was meant to be.

After graduation, I completed a CNME accredited residency program in Kailua Kona, Hawaii under the direction of Michael Traub, ND. The focus of my residency was in integrative cancer care; it was during this program that I truly learned the value of our medicine. I developed the skills to safely and confidently integrate evidence-based naturopathic therapies with conventional therapies for patients with a cancer diagnosis. My program also included training in regenerative injection therapy, intravenous therapy, integration of pharmaceuticals, minor surgery, and integrative dermatology – it was a truly rounded experience, and I am forever thankful for the wisdom, patience experiences, and growth as a doctor and person I gained during my time with Dr. Traub.

After my residency I joined a premier clinic in Portsmouth, NH where I worked among several Lyme literate naturopaths, I soon learned the complexity of patients with tick-borne infection as well as the complexity of treatment. Providing integrative support to these patients has been rewarding.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“I always thought I knew what the term ‘doctor’ meant, but it wasn’t until I started seeing patients on my own, that I really understood the true meaning of docere – to instruct or teach. Behind the doors of the patient-doctor relationship is where the healing begins. NDs are trained to spend quality time with patients, providing ample opportunity to explain their symptoms and health journey. This time also allows for a great deal of teaching and empowerment – something that is often lacking in our current model of healthcare.

Naturopathic thinking is beautiful; we are detectives of sorts. It’s a humbling and fascinating process to be a part of someone’s health journey. From the initial visit with patients, gathering all of the information about a person’s well-being, mental, emotional, physical, social aspects, as well as deciphering how all of their symptoms relate. It has been my experience that very complex patients seek out the guidance and support of a naturopathic physician at some point on their journey back to health. This doesn’t surprise me. It’s often that a patient will tell me, ‘You know…this is the first time I feel like I have been heard by a healthcare provider.’ To be able to provide that space for patients is gratifying. The time that NDs spend with patients allows for truly individualized and comprehensive care – what people deserve. I believe this is where our medicine truly shines.”

Naturopathic medicine offers patients the best of both Eastern and Western medicine. My practice is truly integrative and my areas of focus are integrative oncology, hormonal balance and digestive health. I currently practice in the state of New Hampshire, where the scope for naturopathic doctors is quite broad. This offers lots of flexibility when creating a treatment plan and providing the best care possible for my patients. I utilize intravenous nutrient therapy, and pharmaceuticals in addition herbal medicine.

I practice in two integrative clinics in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire. At Family Acupuncture and Wellness I am part of a functional medicine team of several practitioners that provide naturopathic medicine, and an intimately guided diet and lifestyle program that transform people’s health. At the Sante Center I have a general practice as well as an integrative oncology practice. Working with cancer patients is a great challenge but a true joy when you can see how naturopathic medicine can improve their quality of life, mitigate symptoms from chemotherapy and radiation, and provide a more favorable outcome in many cases for patients dealing with this difficult diagnosis.

One area of passion is hormonal balance. I particularly love working with women transitioning or going through menopause. I utilize bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in many of these patients, but this is one area where I have seen the power of herbal medicine. Let me give a shout out to one herb—Vitex (all my women’s health naturopathic doctors know what I am talking about). I have seen this herb alone move mountains for patients.”

Dr. LaBant is a contributor for the Natural Medicine Journal on a variety of topics that range from fish oil used in conjunction with chemotherapy to supplements for reducing peripheral neuropathy, and exercise for cognitive function. She has also co-authored an article for the Townsend Letter with her mentor Michael Traub, ND on the use of medicinal mushrooms in cancer.

Advice for aspiring NDs

“Passion drives the field of naturopathic medicine, and it absolutely drives the excellence that I see in my colleagues every day. I have never been a part of a cohort of individuals more passionate about making an impact in people’s lives, and at the same time creating positive change in our broken health care system. In order to provide patients with the best care possible, you need to truly be enamored by the innate healing processes of the body, and to believe that a return to health is possible.

My residency was the most valuable of all of my training. I would recommend anyone pursuing naturopathic medicine to consider completing a residency after graduation.”

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Dr. Doni Wilson – Bastyr

“I like to help the underdog because I’ve been the underdog. The one who is not feeling well, hasn’t found an answer, who wants to feel better and will do what it takes, even if that means facing fears of how their life may change and that they may actually get what they want – whether that is a baby, a relationship, a new job, or the ability to travel.”

Doni (Donielle) Wilson, ND, CPM, CNS is a naturopathic doctor, professional midwife, and bestselling author who developed a protocol for helping patients based on her own health journey, research, and experience in helping thousands of patients.

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

“I grew up in a pharmacy. While I was surrounded by medications, my father taught me to make diet and lifestyle choices in order to avoid the need for medications. In my family home, we weren’t allowed to have sugar cereal or soda. Instead we took vitamins and fought our way through a cold with tea and rest.

When in college, studying for a pre-med degree, I decided I wanted to also get a degree in nutrition. I ended up solving the heartburn I had been experiencing by studying nutrition and changing my diet. None of the medications had worked, and it turns out that my body is super sensitive to medications, so the side effects tended not to outweigh the benefits.

When I graduated from college, I left pharmacy school and walked into naturopathic medical school, where I learned that what I had suspected was true:

Our bodies are responsive. Just as health conditions develop when we are exposed to stress, eat unhealthily, skimp on sleep, and put pressure on ourselves to be something different…our health can improve when we make the decision to create a different experience. When we decide to take steps to improve our health, and we choose to eat differently, sleep more, decrease exposure to stress and toxins, and believe in ourselves and our ability to create a life we love…our health can improve.

That is when I knew I was on the right path.”

“Living the dream” after graduation

Dr. Doni graduated from Bastyr University with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine and a certificate in midwifery. The education that she gained at Bastyr allowed her to start practicing and to continue learning, it also gave her the credibility to start writing and speaking about natural medicine publicly and professionally.

Following graduation, Dr. Doni completed a one-year residency at Bastyr, and then moved to New York. She built her business while working at an ND practice. This “soft” approach allowed her to hone her skills and continue learning. When her daughter started school, she opened her practice full-time.

“My success was also closely tied to my passion. Every day and every choice I made was about sharing my passion for natural medicine. I saw that the internet was going to be a great way to reach people, so I created a website and started sharing it. I learned to create and give presentations, and found places I could give lectures. I was willing to try, and to learn. I reached out to practicing NDs, and created a community so we could support each other. I joined the professional organization and became part of the board and legislative team, all with the intent of creating greater awareness, as well as a scope and accountability for the profession. I said “yes” to media opportunities and leadership training. And it continued from there.

I started practicing in Manhattan in November 2001, and Connecticut soon after. I wanted to practice in a state where I’m licensed – that was a priority for me – and so I drove/drive/fly thousands of miles per year to make that happen. I was president and executive director of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians for over ten years, during which time I worked with the board of directors to establish and grow the professional organization, as well as to establish an effective lobbying effort and annual conference.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

Due to the flexibility of her naturopathic degree, Dr. Doni says, “I create a practice the way I want it to fit into my life, and I can change it as needed over time. It means that I can focus on areas that inspire me, from working one on one, to working in groups, to writing, speaking, researching, volunteering, and overall continuing to learn and grow as a person.

I get to do what I love and have time to be with the people and pets that I love. I mainly work from my home office, and travel to my other offices. I continue to share my passion for health and resiliency to stress though my blog, website and newsletter, as well as podcasts and events.

Each day I meet with patients who come in to see me and say ‘I realized that the only one I can count on to take care of my body and my health is me. And so, I am here to find out what I can do, in the most efficient, more cost-effective way, to change my health outcome, with the least use of medications and procedures that may work temporarily, but also come with a list of potential side effects and dependencies. I want to know what I can eat and do to give my body the support it needs to heal and be healthy so I can do what I love to do without being stopped by health issues, for as long as possible.’

I help patients who have had recurrent miscarriages to finally be able to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. I help women with abnormal pap smears to get back to a health pap smear without drugs or procedures that could damage their cervix. I help men and women who no longer know how they can get through another day due to fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and/or pain, to be living their passion and feeling good doing it. I help adults and children who’ve been told that their immune system is attacking their own body and there is nothing they can do about it, to reverse autoimmunity without the risk of immune suppressive medications.

I am passionate about inspiring people to make choices to recover from and be resilient to stress. I help change the way people relate to themselves and others. To become accepting of ourselves as humans who are adaptive and responsive to stress, and therefore, longevity depends on making sometimes difficult decisions related to the foods we eat, the toxins we are exposed to, and how we choose to communicate and be with the people in our lives. Health is not about taking medications to solve symptoms; health is about solving the equation: genetics + stress exposure.”

How Can You be so Confident that the Body Can Heal?

“I’ve seen it happen in thousands of patients over 20 years. People who chose to listen and chose to take a chance that their body could heal when they make different decisions. I saw it in my own body. I lived with severe, debilitating migraines for 25 years. I am sensitive to medications, and because of my genetics, I’m not able to take medications due to severe side effects, and when I do, they don’t help. I was forced to figure out how to bring the pain to a stop. In the process of trying diet changes and various systems of medicine, from acupuncture to massage therapy, to detoxification and hormone balancing, I found that solving my migraines came down to three steps:

  1. Accept my body for what it is. My genes and my stress exposure set me up for migraines. I can’t go get another body, but I can do something different with this body and this situation. Instead of rejecting my body and being mad at myself for something I cannot change, I decided to accept my body and from there, I can do something about it.
  1. Get information. I looked at my genes and figured out how to support my body based on my genetics. And looked at my stress exposure, including from foods, toxins and stress that I put on myself, and I noticed what is having a negative effect. I measured my cortisol and adrenaline levels, and did a test to know which bacteria are living in my gut, and this way I know for sure what exists in my body, what is out of balance, and what needs to be addressed.
  1. Choose differently. Once I discovered that I have a gene called MTHFR, and I require a certain quantity of the right B vitamins each day, I could choose that. And then when I realized that I have a gene that causes my joints to be hyper-mobile, meaning that sitting in the same position for long periods of time is the worst possible thing for my body, I ordered a standing desk and make sure to never sit for more than an hour at a time. When I tested my toxin levels and found that my body was filled with flame retardant from the mattress I was sleeping on, I threw out that mattress and took nutrients to help my body get rid of the toxins.

I don’t get migraines anymore. And even though my parents and grandparents had autoimmunity, I don’t. I wish I had help to solve my health issues when I needed it. Instead of giving up and giving in to a life of pain medications, I decided there had to be something I could do to figure this out, and I did.

I’ve never had recurrent miscarriages, abnormal pap smears, or autoimmunity, but I know how to solve them because I use the same method I used to solve my migraines. I used to have allergies, sensitivities to many foods, fatigue, menstrual cramps, anxiety and depression. Now they are all gone too.

I like to help the underdog because I’ve been the underdog. The one who is not feeling well, hasn’t found an answer, who wants to feel better and will do what it takes, even if that means facing fears of how their life may change and that they may actually get what they want – whether that is a baby, a relationship, a new job, or the ability to travel.

I was the perpetual ‘new girl’ throughout my childhood. I attended 10 different schools in six different cities by the time I graduated from high school. I was always the last one picked for a team, and the first to have my name mispronounced by the teacher. I had to learn to do many things on my own, to be okay in vulnerable situations, and to stand up for myself. I also learned that it is possible to be healthy even when stressed, and possible to find solutions even if they might not be what everyone else is choosing.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

“Check in with yourself and your passion. Why are you considering naturopathic medicine as a career path? How do you feel about your health and how have you addressed your health so far in your life? What inspires you? How do you want to spend your time in your life? Do you love to inspire others and share your knowledge in a way that empowers others?”

Join Dr. Doni for a free webinar – Naturopathic Approaches to Anxiety and Depression

“Naturopathic medicine can offer those struggling with anxiety and depression a solution that is not reliant on prescription medication with side effects and dependency. By understanding our bodies, our physiology and our stress response system, and then investigating how stress (of various forms) has affected your body, we can then give your body what it needs to improve many symptoms and conditions, including anxiety and depression.”

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • Your body and brain CAN heal
  • What causes anxiety and depression
  • What role does stress play in anxiety and depression
  • What is the gut-brain axis and the relationship of our nervous system to the rest of our body
  • What are neurotransmitters and where do they come from
  • Which tests can help us understand the underlying causes of anxiety and depression
  • What protocol to follow to re-balance your body in order to reduce anxiety and depression
  • What other therapies to consider on your path

Click here to register for the webinar.

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Dr. Jolene Brighten – NUNM

“Throughout school through today, I have maintained a growth mindset, a gratitude practice, and had faith in my ability to create my own success. I coach many practitioners in business, and mindset is always a foundational piece that has been in place for me in order to succeed.”

Dr. Jolene Brighten is a naturopathic physician, leading expert in women’s health and Post-Birth Control Syndrome, best-selling author, international speaker, and clinical educator.

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

“As a child, I was always fascinated with natural and herbal remedies, and I witnessed the power of food as medicine. That was really the kind of medicine I was looking for. I wanted the ability to integrate nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, herbal medicine, and lifestyle therapies to be able to offer my people the most individualized medicine that would enable them to heal.

Prior to naturopathic medicine, I was pursuing my Master’s in nutrition science and was on track to go to UC Davis to get my PhD. What I came to recognize, was that while I had a lot of science under my belt, I was lacking a philosophy and an understanding of the body’s innate ability to heal. I realized that even if I produced the best research, it may never make it into clinical practice and actually change medicine in a way that benefited the patients. That’s what made me want to become a doctor and work one-on-one with patients. In naturopathic medicine I can read and implement the latest research in real time to provide my patients better care. Overtime, I’ve built a ​platform​ to educate more people about their body, while giving nutrition the respect it deserves and changing medicine for the better.”

NUNM as a springboard

“I chose NUNM because it was the oldest naturopathic medical college, and from what I could tell, was the most rooted in naturopathic philosophy, which is what I was looking for.

While I was a student, I started my own ​website​, producing articles and freelance writing wherever I could. I tend to look ahead of trends and borrow from other industries in terms of their innovations in order to shape the direction of my own company. I often laugh about how I was studying social media advertising while I was studying for my board exams. You won’t find many doctors who love learning about business as much as they do about medicine. As a student I recognized that if we, as naturopathic doctors, were going to be able to make a positive impact in people’s lives then we had to step out of the communities already familiar with us and start reaching a larger community.

Throughout school through today, I have maintained a growth mindset, a gratitude practice, and had faith in my ability to create my own success. I coach many practitioners in business, and mindset is always a foundational piece that has been in place for me in order to succeed.

After graduation I established a practice in California. I rapidly filled my practice and found myself with a six month new patient waiting list in less than a year. This forced me to get creative and to bring in other clinicians who could support patients on their journey. I built an integrative team and in very little time found myself being asked to speak on numerous podcasts, stages, and workshops. I also authored my first book, ​Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth​, which was inspired by my own experiences as a mother and from my work with patients. I went on to publish my second book, ​Beyond the Pill​, which is aimed at supporting women in addressing the root cause of their hormone imbalance and detailing how to stay safe on birth control and transition off successfully. I had become known as “the doctor who believed women’s birth control stories” and because of it, had more patients requesting to work with me than I had time in the day. Recognizing women needed this information that I could make a positive global impact, I have dedicated much of my career to providing education through books, speaking, social media, and clinician mentorship.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“After building and scaling three clinics and authoring two books, I now work on a global level as an international speaker and have been blessed to speak alongside many influential people, including ​Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, Dr. Izabella Wentz, Dr. Alan Christianson, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Dave Asprey, JJ Virgin, Dr. Anthony Youn, Kara Goldin, and Robbe Richman.​ In my practice, I’ve had integrative residents, and I now work exclusively with high profile clients. I’ve collaborated on projects with change makers such as Deepak Choprah, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Danielle LaPorte. I’ve been ​featured in several documentaries including ​The Human Longevity Project​, Broken Brain 2, ​The Thyroid Secret​, ​Love is Medicine​, and ​Digestion SOS​.

What I like the most about being a naturopathic doctor is the ability to integrate any tool that my patient needs, and to leverage the therapeutic order to serve my patients best. I’m passionate about the advancements in women’s medicine and the ability to integrate new research as it becomes available. I enjoy educating patients and clinicians.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

“If you’re considering naturopathic medicine, I would advise you to shadow naturopathic doctors in your area to try to get a feel and sense of the practice of medicine. Knowing not all doctors practice the same, you will want to shadow several doctors and see what appeals to you. That might mean looking for a doctor that has an endocrine focus vs a gastroenterology focus. My other advice is to think about what your ideal life would look like. Spend some time journaling about what it is you want your life to look like. Understand how being a naturopathic doctor fits into that and get really clear on what your why ​ is. Medical school is no joke, and is going to demand a lot out of you. If you don’t know your ​why, it’s going to be hard to stay motivated. Hook into your ​why ​ and be clear on what you want your life to look like.

I’ve always asked for help and looked to others when I know something is not my strength. I have also avoided relationships with people who have limiting beliefs, especially around success and money, which I think is very important. If you’re surrounding yourself with people who don’t believe in you or are shaming you because you’re aiming to have a successful practice, you’re going to find yourself bogged down by their own mindset issues. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, who are more successful than you, and always ask for help.

Also know there are no overnight successes. Everything takes work. You have to be willing to work at it and be the dumbest person in the room in order to learn. There have been so many experts who have said, ‘your success will be defined by the five closest people you keep in your life,’ and I find that to be true time and again. Ensure you are surrounded by people who have already done what you want to do. Recognize that when you go to medical school, you’re not going to learn how to run a business. Those are going to be the skills that you have to cultivate or you have to hire out for. I have a fantastic team that supports me. I’ve hired business coaches and mentors who have supported me over the years. Get help when you need it.”

Learn more about Dr. Brighten

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Dr. Jessica Cooper – SCNM

“I knew naturopathic medicine was the right path for me because of the philosophy behind the medicine. It made so much more sense to use natural substances to support distressed organ systems and to teach people how to take care of themselves rather than having them rely on a medication.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

“I chose to pursue naturopathic medicine when I was in high school! I was very interested in botany and herbal medicine at first and thought I would become an herbalist. I started researching herbal medicine which then led me to learn more about traditional Chinese medicine and then that led me to discover naturopathic medicine. I made my decision right then and there. I was intrigued by the fact that I could use medicine from the earth to help patients feel better and that working on the true cause along with these modalities could reverse a disease process. I reached out to a local ND and shadowed her, which validated my choice career goals in naturopathic medicine.

“I knew naturopathic medicine was the right path for me because of the philosophy behind the medicine. It made so much more sense to use natural substances to support distressed organ systems and to teach people how to take care of themselves rather than having them rely on a medication.”

SCNM as a springboard

Dr. Jessica Cooper chose to pursue her naturopathic medical education at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine after participating in a student for a day event. “Everyone was so welcoming, supportive, and helpful in answering my questions. I also liked that I was able to learn traditional Chinese medicine as part of my degree.”

While at SCNM, “I gained a well-rounded education on how to diagnose and treat patients by using the proper physical examination and lab testing. Furthermore, I learned about selecting treatments to cater to individual needs.”

“I planned to do a residency early on in my career. I focused most of my efforts on getting good grades, participating in campus clubs, research, and shadowing as many physicians as I could.” Following graduation, Dr. Cooper completed a residency at SCNM, just as she had set out to do.

Dr. Cooper works at New England Integrative Medicine. “My life revolves around providing general family medicine to my local community. When I’m not in the clinic, I continue my learning process with conferences, provide discounted acupuncture care, and enjoy outdoor activities.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“Regardless of the concern a patient is coming in for, I have no doubt that I can help them. I am most passionate about teaching patients that they are in charge of their health, that their diagnosis does not define them, and about providing hope that they can achieve their health goals. I like being able to offer patients some type of physical treatment (hydrotherapy, physical medicine, or acupuncture) rather than just prescribing supplements or herbs. I often find that physical treatment sessions can yield immediate changes in the body, and patients leave feeling better.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

“Learn the philosophy first and foremost because it is the core of what we do, not just the modalities. Shadow different NDs to understand how they operate and seek healthcare from an ND for yourself. If you are passionate about this career path, start immersing yourself in the history, philosophy, and get as much experience with other physicians prior to and during your education.”

Learn more about Dr. Cooper

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Dr. Kim Bretz – CCNM

“Being able to demonstrate the value of naturopathic medicine to a broader audience has been an important part of my success.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

“I strongly believe that there is a huge difference between living a long life and dying a long life. We have become very adept at keeping people alive with amazing, life-saving medications and techniques, but have fallen behind in our focus on optimal health and disease prevention.”

Kim Bretz, ND sees the value that naturopathic medicine offers in its approach to preventative health care and healthy living.

CCNM as a springboard

Dr. Bretz chose to pursue her education at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) because it had the largest naturopathic clinic in North America. “I wanted to get the most thorough clinical experience possible.”

“On top of my basic education at CCNM, I learned I had a severe needle phobia. This made acupuncture and injections/blood draws a huge problem. My hope was that they would exempt me from this requirement. Instead, they set me up for success with a path to move past my phobia. Not only did this prepare me for being an ND, but it also showed me early on the importance of perseverance (a great skill for being a business person) and that sometimes the hardest, scariest things are the things that will take you the furthest.”

Dr. Bretz has woven inter-professionalism into her career. “Being able to demonstrate the value of naturopathic medicine to a broader audience has been an important part of my success.”

After graduation, she worked in a pharmacy/medical clinic while also teaching at the College of Massage and Hydrotherapy. Five years later, she began consulting for a pharmaceutical company and has continued consulting with lab and supplement companies since that point. Dr. Bretz owns Fundamentals of Health– an interdisciplinary clinic in Waterloo, Ontario, works with the University of Guelph in natural health product research,  and teaches complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) care and inter-professionalism at the University of Waterloo Pharmacy School.

Dr. Bretz found her passion in gut health and the microbiome. “To me, it validates the importance of diet and nutrition, stress, the water we drink, the way we’re born, our interactions with nature, avoiding the inappropriate overuse of medications when possible, and so many other areas. In the coming year, I’ll be starting a mentoring program for naturopathic doctors in gut health and the microbiome.” Dr. Bretz’s goal is to provide a framework that NDs can share with their patients in usable ways.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“I absolutely love what I do and would do it again in a heartbeat. I love helping patients meet their health goals.” Dr. Bretz enjoys the opportunity to teach her patients so they can make educated decisions related to their health care.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what choice a patient makes as long as they’re coming at it with the best information possible – then they can then make their choices based on their values.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

Dr. Bretz advises prospective students to put their head and heart into their career in naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine should be more than a hobby. Network, shadow, and seek mentorship from local NDs. Learn what they are doing, what helped them along their path, their successes, and setbacks.

Secondly, set yourself up for success by thinking about your business strategy early on. “I did not plan for success – I honestly didn’t plan for anything at the beginning.” Dr. Bretz quickly realized the need for planning and feedback and subsequently sought out mentors who she could learn from and help her along her path. Her success is due in large part to recognizing and fortifying areas that needed growth and pursuing her passion fully.

Learn more about Dr. Bretz

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Dr. Chris Habib – CCNM

“When you become an ND, you are automatically an entrepreneur. That means you can start any business that interests you and nurture it into something that can make a real impact for others.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Prior to pursuing naturopathic medicine, Dr. Habib completed an Honours Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Toronto, with a double major in Life Sciences and Psychology. “I knew I wanted to be working in medicine so that I could do something meaningful and connect with people. I also wanted to implement improvements to the way healthcare was being provided to Canadians through the conventional medical system.” Naturopathic medicine seemed to bridge the gap.

Dr. Habib openly admits that at first, he didn’t know naturopathic medicine was the right path for him. “I jumped in without knowing what I was getting myself into, but it turned out to be a fantastic learning experience in an industry ripe with diverse business opportunities.”

CCNM as a springboard

Dr. Habib chose to pursue his naturopathic medical education at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine because of its location in Toronto, where he lives. He also saw that CCNM was the largest naturopathic institution in Canada and thus would include a high-quality curriculum.

“My experience at CCNM was pivotal to my development into a professional, as well as helping me becoming a better version of myself. In hindsight, the ability to complete such a meaningful stepping stone in my education was a huge personal achievement.” Dr. Habib found that the immense amount of learning was motivating and provided an ongoing source of intellectual stimulation.

“Living the dream” after graduation

“Planning for success is difficult when you don’t know what you don’t know. We all try our best. I typically think I want something, go and try to achieve it, only to leave me wanting more when I succeed. I’m on a path of continual self-discovery.” After graduation, Dr. Habib became the first naturopathic research resident in Canada, working at CCNM. He wanted to be a teacher and went on to become an academic instructor and clinic supervisor.

After completing his residency, Dr. Habib discovered his love of business. “Aside from teaching, I opened a clinic, worked for a naturopathic publication, built online courses, saw patients in private practice, started an herb company, bought and sold various businesses, I couldn’t get enough!” Dr. Habib currently spends most of his time as the CFO of the herb company he founded, Perfect Herbs. What started as a ‘side hustle,’ has grown and developed into a fulfilling full-time role, in which he happily serves the naturopathic community.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

Dr. Habib loves the diversity of career options in naturopathic medicine. “When you become an ND, you are automatically an entrepreneur. That means you can start any business that interests you and nurture it into something that can make a real impact for others.” Dr. Habib found that private practice was rewarding, but not ideally suited for his skills. He wanted to help others on a larger scale, which is why he runs companies that help optimize the work and lives of other NDs.

The flexibility of naturopathic medicine allows Dr. Habib to work remotely. He’s able to manage his business on his preferred schedule and has also developed passive income streams so that he can generate revenue even when he’s not directly putting in hours. It took a lot of work, and a lot of trial and error to get to where he is now.

Advice for aspiring NDs

“My advice to prospective students has changed over the years as I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many graduates through my work. Here’s what I’ve found: Those who work hard will be successful no matter what they do, and those who love their work will be successful no matter what they do. So, my largest piece of advice is to first realize that you will be an entrepreneur and second that you need to have one of those things going for you.”

Dr. Habib encourages prospective students to spend time exploring what they might like doing for work, or to shadow NDs to find out what the day-to-day is like. “The more you can find out about what you’re getting into, the more you can be sure it’s right for you. I wish you the utmost success in your journey.”

Join Dr. Habib for a free webinar – Naturopathic Approaches to Type 2 Diabetes – How to Regulate Blood Sugar Naturally

When it comes to diabetes care, naturopathic medicine can optimize blood sugar levels or help with whole-body health to reduce the impact of side effects of medications. In this webinar, Dr. Habib discusses how naturopathic approaches can regulate blood sugar naturally. Depending on when a patient wants to receive care, naturopathic medicine can provide suggestions on diet, lifestyle, and supplements, sometimes being able to prevent diabetes. He also provides an overview of his career path and multiple business engagements within the naturopathic industry, which is useful to anyone considering a career in naturopathic medicine. Click here to watch the webinar recording.
 
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