Laying the groundwork to become an ND
Born and raised in the Midwest, Cory Szybala, ND was always interested in healthcare but did not have much exposure to it outside of the conventional model. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Indiana University, working as a nursing assistant at a local hospital, and shadowing a number of different providers in the area, he decided to relocate to Portland, Oregon to pursue research.
“After working with so many amazing practitioners in multiple disciplines of medicine, I felt there was a ‘gap’ in what I consider true primary care medicine. It wasn’t until I moved to the West Coast that I heard about naturopathic medicine, and once I did, I felt as though I had found true primary care medicine – medicine that works on a preventative, holistic, and integrative level.”
NUNM as a springboard
While living in Portland, Dr. Szybala visited the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) campus, shadowed students, and spoke with administrators before deciding to enroll in the naturopathic medical program. “Each school has its very own unique personality and I felt like NUNM fit mine. Not only did I graduate with the information and skills necessary to help patients, but I was also able to make lasting friendships with colleagues, professors, advocates of the medicine, and more.”
As a student, Dr. Szybala was a member of the acclaimed Food as Medicine Everyday series, and the Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA). His experience working with NMSA allowed him to stay up to date with state licensure and scope initiatives, which helped him gauge where he wanted to set up his future practice.
Finding fulfillment as an ND
“Since graduating I have worked as a consultant, a researcher, adjunct faculty member, as part of a team dedicated to sharing the knowledge of healthier food choices through the Food as Medicine Institute (FAMI), a public speaker, and now private practice owner. The wealth of knowledge that you learn while going through naturopathic school and thereafter is more powerful than you think.”
Dr. Szybala enjoys providing an individualized holistic/integrative approach to each of his patients. “I am passionate about discovering the reason(s) behind a particular issue and working with a patient to come up with the best solution(s) for them. To be able to truly deliver primary care to those who need it is not only rewarding but absolutely necessary.”
Dr. Szybala and his wife – Mollie Parker Szybala, ND operate Sun Valley Natural Medicine in Ketchum, Idaho. They each work part-time at the clinic while pursuing other interests. Their work outside the clinic has helped establish themselves in the community, and has doubled as a marketing outlet.
The Szybalas enjoy spending time in nature, hiking, skiing, and attending young professional outings.
Advice for aspiring NDs
Dr. Szybala encourages prospective students to shadow multiple NDs, and to experience different models of practice, business, and naturopathic specialties. “The flexibility is one of the most appealing parts of the naturopathic profession.” It’s up to you to determine how you want to use your degree. What career path will you take?
Join Dr. Szybala for a free webinar – Food as Medicine
“During my time shadowing, preceptoring, working with FAMI, and now working in my own practice, I have seen food be a huge factor in the health and well-being of my patients. It is often a first-line defense, as well as a great way to empower your patients to take their health back into their own hands.” Dr. Szybala’s webinar will cover how to use food as medicine in a naturopathic family practice, what to consider when prescribing a healthy diet or lifestyle, how to prepare your clients for success, how to troubleshoot, and when to follow-up. Click here to watch the Food as Medicine webinar.
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