Faculty Spotlight: Alan Vu, ND CCNM
Why did you choose to become a naturopathic doctor?
I honestly didn’t know that naturopathic medicine existed! I was looking for something in healthcare where I could spend a good amount of time with patients and not feel rushed. I also considered Teacher’s College! So, when I found out about naturopathic medicine, it seemed like a great fit. NDs are already teachers by nature with their patients, and I’m fortunate to also do it formally at CCNM.
What do you teach?
Years ago, I started out as a Resident at CCNM, so I’ve been lucky to have been involved in a variety of courses. Currently, I am primarily supervising students in CCNM’s teaching clinic, teaching physical exam techniques, and lecturing on sexual and reproductive health topics. I also have been helping to deliver workshops on teaching skills, which is really fun.
What can students expect to learn from you?
I hope that the students take a couple of things away from my teaching, First, I hope that they are able focus on good process, i.e., how to find the information they need, and also how to think critically about the information they find! I also hope they learn how to listen to their patients. Years ago, a colleague helped me see that I was jumping ahead and making assumptions about what patients wanted, even though I thought I was actively listening! It was a good reminder to be curious, and I hope I’m helping students with that too.
What do you like most about teaching naturopathic medical students?
The passion they bring! It’s invigorating to see their energy and be reminded of the curiosity and drive that brought me to naturopathic medicine in the first place.
What do you like most about being a naturopathic doctor?
I feel really privileged when patients share their true emotions and experiences with me. My practice is fertility focused, and it’s inspiring when I see patients go through some truly difficult and trying times, and then have the strength and fortitude to go on. Actually, I think some of the greatest resilience I’ve seen is in patients who make the difficult choice to close the book on their ideal fertility dream and move on to a different phase. It’s awe-inspiring and I feel very lucky to have them let me be a part of it. And of course, when things work out well and the patient sends a birth notice, it’s the best. There are numerous studies showing how various aspects of naturopathic medicine like diet, lifestyle, supplements, acupuncture, can help with infertility. If you take a quick look on PubMed you’ll see that the body of evidence in our field is rapidly growing in the last 10 years, which is so exciting!
What advice would you give to those considering naturopathic medical school?
Make sure it’s right for you, school is a big commitment. Naturopathic education and then practice thereafter can be tough, but you will be forever changed. Even if I had to stop being an ND today, I’m grateful that I’ve learned so much about myself and also about how to better care for myself and my family; it’s invaluable knowledge and no one can ever take that from me. That’s not even to speak of the heartfelt moments patients have shared with me. Truly amazing.
What qualities make a strong ND student?
Strong students in my opinion are inquisitive, resourceful, critical thinkers, good listeners, and model a humble approach to patient care.
Tell us about your professional interests…
My wife and business partner Dr. Zeynep Uraz, ND and I conducted a pilot study involving group-based naturopathic fertility care. It was great as we were able to present the findings at a couple of different conferences as a poster including at the annual meetings of the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society (CFAS) in Ottawa as well as of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Vienna, Austria. It also opened the door for us to present on the influence of diet in female fertility at the CFAS’ Nurses conference. It’s exciting to us because it demonstrates to specialists and nurses the valuable role NDs can play. We hope this adds to the volume of research our colleagues have done in highlighting the value of integrative care.
You can find out more about Dr. Vu: