Docere – Doctor as Teacher

“I love the naturopathic principle of docere, which means doctor as teacher. Doctor as teacher has been something I have been passionate about for a long time.” shared Dr. Laura Belus.  She embodies this belief into her clinical practice and interactions with patients. 

Dr. Belus made the decision to pursue naturopathic medicine after she saw a naturopath herself for a long history of migraines and adult acne. “Until that point, I had no idea what a naturopathic doctor was. When I saw how it successfully addressed the root cause of my symptoms, I knew I wanted to learn this knowledge for myself and share it with others.” Dr. Belus distinctly remembers looking into other wellness avenues at the time, such as holistic nutrition, but she didn’t see the depth of knowledge that she saw with the naturopathic medicine program. I am the type of person to always ask ‘why,’ and I knew that becoming a naturopathic physician was the way to bring my personality and passion together.

Pursuing Her Calling

Before deciding to enter naturopathic Dr. Belus completed an undergraduate degree in business with a minor in psychology. “I was working full-time for my local government but knew that I needed to go back to school to pursue this calling.”

Dr. Belus grew up in the Greater Toronto area in Ontario, Canada. However, she was willing to consider any school that would allow for easy access as a Canadian. The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) was spoken about highly and had a rich history as the pioneer in naturopathic training for Canada.  “I really loved the strong foundation of CCNM and the impressive collection of instructors. Completing my prerequisite science courses at CCNM sealed the deal to apply the following semester.”

“I never felt more at home,” is how Dr. Laura Belus described her time as a naturopathic student at Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). “With so many like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds, it felt like we were and still are equally committed to becoming naturopaths together. There was a sense of collaboration, friendship and support that you only can get from those writing 10 exams in 7 days alongside you!” 

Dr. Belus learned about what she was interested in, how she wished to practice, and which modalities she was most drawn to in her 4th year at CCNM. This helped her gain a lot of clarity and understand that she should follow more of an educator/promoter role of naturopathic medicine in her future.  While a student at CCNM Dr. Belus began to develop her doctor as teacher philosophy by becoming a student tutor. She created a board exam prep course with a friend to help future NDs truly understand what they would one day be sharing with their patients.

Long Term Strategies

As a student with previous business education, Dr. Belus knew that she needed to think about long term strategies to become the “go-to” health educator in her community. In her final year at CCNM she started her website and began to scout potential clinic locations that might be a good fit for her business model.  She told herself that she was unlikely to find her dream clinical experience right out of the gate, and that was okay! 

After graduating, completing her licensing and provincial licensing examinations, Dr. Belus was eager to get started in practice. According to Dr. Belus, “Too eager I suppose. I was told to be cautious with my first clinical contract, and to negotiate more favorable terms if warranted. But, as a new naturopath I just wanted to start.” She ended up accepting her first clinical role as part of a chiropractic clinic. It was not as good a fit for her goals, and she left after the first year. “Although a costly decision in some ways, in other ways I learned a lot about ‘real life in practice’ and accepting the fact that no one was going to (or should) grow my practice but me.”

Meeting Goals

Fast forward 5 years later, and Dr. Belus describes herself as really blessed because she has been able to serve so many of her ideal patients and educate her community online with the benefits of naturopathic medicine and overall well-being. I practice 80% of my time online, seeing patients from my local province of Ontario, and last year I partnered up with (Canada’s largest online wellness retailer) to offer naturopathic services to even more people! This is a big win for naturopathic awareness!

As a naturopathic doctor she continues to embrace her vision of docere by focusing heavily on educating the masses about how our body works, the benefits and science of food as medicine, and the importance of having a naturopathic doctor as part of their health team. “One of the areas I am most passionate about is diagnostic testing, understanding one’s optimal levels, and empowering others to get a thorough assessment of their health on a regular basis.” 

Dr. Belus focuses on hormonal acne and women’s health. It stemmed from her own experience with acne. As she began to share her knowledge with her community (online & offline), women really appreciated her honesty and thoroughness when it came to addressing the root of the problem. “There is so much misinformation being told to women about their hormonal health, most notably that they cannot do much about it. This needs to change, and inspires me to educate every day.”

Advice to Students

“The program is rigorous but every day I am reminded that it was 1000% worth it,” states Dr. Belus. “I believe there is an inside ‘knowing’ that this is the right step for you (or not). Follow that instinct, the rest will fall into place.” The one question she would advise students to ask themselves is, “Why are you considering this field’? If it’s for status, money or lack of an alternative, I would ask you to reflect on this decision further.”

Dr. Belus’ final words of encouragement to future NDs – “Be patient. I planted my seeds for my business five years ago. I trusted the process and was authentically ‘me’ from the beginning. If you do good work with passion people will notice.”

To learn more about Dr. Belus:

If Dr. Belus’ story ignites a passion in you to become an ND visit our webpage for future students. 

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