“NUNM changed my life. The person I was six years ago is very different from the man and clinician that I am today.”
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
Hailing from southeast United States, Blake Langley, Naturopathic Medical Student Association President and ND student, knew medicine was his calling since middle school.
“Realizing there was a significant lack of focus on prevention and chronic disease management other than polypharmacy, I began researching holistic healthcare professions. That’s when naturopathic medicine fell into my lap. At my first site visit, I felt like I was home.”
Blake’s first step to pursuing his naturopathic medical education was meeting with the National University of Natural Medicine admissions team in to discuss his transcript and career goals as they aligned with the science, history, and philosophy of naturopathic medicine. “The pathway to true health and wellness comes from comprehensive care. Naturopathic medicine has a focus on each patient’s whole health, including prevention of disease and minimizing risk factors. The idea of using lower intensity interventions when safe and appropriate was so novel to me compared to the quick administration of drugs and surgery, that I knew I’d never be able to go back.”
NUNM as a springboard
“NUNM provided a safe space for me to express my opinions, study other healing modalities on top of my naturopathic medical studies, take part in a close-knit community, and live in an area of the country that has a diverse set of natural areas.”
“I discovered a year or two into my education, that the naturopathic profession has varying views on our core identity; however, the diversity of thought at NUNM provided a space for colorful discussion. I found it important to study real primary care medicine while adhering to core naturopathic philosophy and becoming an efficient and competent clinician.”
“NUNM urged me to pursue other areas of study like acupuncture and massage therapy, which will greatly increase my possible future job opportunities. I received my LMT during my time at NUNM, and practiced massage outside of my clinical experience at the school and during preceptorship.”
Furthermore, the NUNM campus’ unique old elementary school setting offered charm that the other schools could not compete with. “With easy public transit and pedestrian access, the urban setting is distinctly offset by stunning views of Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood on sunny days. Within two hours, students can have access to Oregon coastlines, river beaches, mountains, deep forests, and even high desert settings. With much-needed escapes from the didactic settings of medical school, I knew NUNM was the best place for me.”
“There are so many lessons I’ve learned throughout my time at NUNM. In my personal life, I’ve learned how to only bring things into my life that bring me joy; I’ve learned how to recognize when my body, mind, and spirit need restoration; I’ve learned how to communicate better with myself, my peers, my superiors, and those outside of the realm of naturopathic medicine. However, in my professional life, almost everything has changed. I have discovered how to efficiently learn on the fly, how to manage my time and investments, how to respect the interests and approach to medicine that others have, and what it means to provide patient-centered healthcare. NUNM changed my life. The person I was six years ago is very different from the man and clinician that I am today.”
“In school, I probably volunteered a little too much of my time sitting on the Honor Council, serving as Student Ambassador, representing on additional committees, working in multiple capacities with the Naturopathic Medical Student Association, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Integrative Health Policy Consortium, and more. However, it is through my work on these projects that I have found exactly where I will thrive in my future practice.”
Work-Life Balance as an ND student
“I have always loved organization and facilitation of others’ clarity and efficiency. Over the last four years, I have invested an average of 30 hours per week into representing students on a national level in advocacy, training, education, and opportunity development through the Naturopathic Medical Student Association. I eat, breathe, and live the NMSA at this point in my life and it augments my clinical and didactic education in a way that keeps me passionate about what we do and teach. From my volunteerism with the other organizations in the profession, I’ve found my niche – as much as I love direct patient care, I know I will continue to be involved in administration throughout my career.
Furthermore, “I find that I have greater career flexibility from adding a second degree, receiving another license (LMT), and gaining training in organizational management from the NMSA. Because my focus remains in areas of high concentration of pre-licensed states, I’m very glad to have included the Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine during my time at NUNM. I can practice in any state in the country with both licenses. Additionally, this gives me the opportunity to influence parts of the healthcare entity that may not be open to NDs right now. Most medical providers have an idea of what acupuncture is and how it works. Using my LAc to work alongside these providers and introducing them to naturopathic medicine over time can build trust, long-standing relationships, and opportunities for future naturopathic doctors to receive gainful employment throughout the levels of the healthcare system in the future.”
“I’m currently working toward a residency; however, my hopes for a paradigm shift in the southeast United States remains a constant urge in the back of my mind. My goals are to move into healthcare administration and use my acupuncture license to move into areas of the healthcare system currently uncharted by naturopathic doctors. There is significant room for development within systems like the Veteran’s Administration where, if people are able to become credentialed, work, and build trust in the systems pre-existing structure, facilitating ND entrance can be more easily conducted.”
“The parts of naturopathic medicine that I have developed a great passion for are in advocacy and administration. During my time with the NMSA, I’ve learned that, as much as I love providing care to patients, I need a break to work in legislation and organizations that help the background of the profession. Most come into naturopathic medicine to provide for patients, but I’ve learned that I’m a better facilitator. I plan to work on state and federal levels for naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and integrative health and wellness to bring naturopathic physicians into systems throughout the United States for a foundational shift in the wellness of our country.”
Advice for aspiring NDs
“The greatest advice I can provide to those considering naturopathic medicine – or medicine in general – is to remain humble and open to other philosophies. In naturopathic medicine, we have the opportunity to learn from an array of lineages to promote diversity of thought and practice. As individual as our patients are, the physicians in our profession are similarly diverse. Even if you don’t agree with or understand certain practices (most commonly homeopathy or vaccination), you should train yourself to think critically for yourself without having to force any belief on another individual. Medical school is a time to explore not only your capability of gaining knowledge, providing patient care, and how you may want to practice in the future; it is also a time to understand how you work best, what your personal limits are, and challenge yourself to understand what you know and what you don’t know. I’ve seen classmates let their ego get ahead of them and create false preconceptions regarding subjects (which naturopathic medicine already has a challenge with to some extent with other parts of the healthcare community) and it has left them cynical and jaded. However, the classmates who challenge themselves to think critically and openly have noted their patient interactions are easier, their ability and willingness to learn is accelerated, and they graduate as healthier, happier individuals.”
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