Balancing ND School and Family

Choosing to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine is an investment in yourself and your future. For many students it means time away from loved ones – and for some, relocation with their family to be closer to a naturopathic medical school. The support of family through this temporary, but life-changing transition is sometimes one of the deciding factors in whether or not many students who are parents are able to pursue their passion in naturopathic medicine.

Join us as we share the stories of NDs who have successfully balanced naturopathic medical school as parents. Learn why they chose a career in naturopathic medicine, the challenges they faced, how they found work/life balance, and their advice for future students.

July 24, 2020
    
Courtney Middleton

ND Student, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

“I did not expect that I would have a child and be a single mother while in the program. Is it hard? Absolutely! But this experience has been crucial to my growth not only as a woman, but as a future physician. I have allowed this experience to shape and mature me. I have become more time-efficient, more organized, and more inspired to do my absolute best."

 

Courtney Middleton is pictured with her son Hendrix.

Discovering a calling and purpose in life

If you ask an ND why they chose a career in naturopathic medicine, the answer is likely to be personal. They face the challenge of balancing family and naturopathic medicine because they have witnessed firsthand the power of naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a calling and purpose for many, that can be expressed with the individuality as unique as each student. Read on as NDs reflect on their path to naturopathic medicine and what sparked their interest in making the change from their previous careers to naturopathic medicine.

For some, the driving factor behind their decision to be an ND was learning how the philosophy and principles of naturopathic medicine aligned with their own beliefs on restoring health. They were further excited by the promise of making a lasting difference in lives of their loved ones and community.

Manora Hana Nygren is a former herbalist and the mother of two young boys.

July 24, 2020
    
Manora Hana Nygren

ND Student,  Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

“When I decided on this path, my heart sang. It spoke to my soul. I knew inside that it was the path I wanted to take for myself, my family and my community.”

 

Crystal Sciarini learned of naturopathic medicine after exhausting all other healthcare options for a condition.

July 23, 2020
    
Crystal Sciarini

ND Student, National University of Health Sciences

“After decades of my symptoms being ignored, I stumbled upon naturopathic medicine and immediately knew it was meant to be my career. I made a 10-year plan and laid it all out to my husband and without hesitation he agreed. Now we are less than six months away from the end of that 10-year plan!"

 

Candi Dias is a former yoga instructor and realtor, and a single mother to a young son.

July 24, 2020
    
Candi Dias

ND Student, National University of Health Sciences

“I want to make an impact in people’s lives by building relationships and getting to know the individual, so that I can treat the root cause of my client’s illness by doing the least harm possible.”

 

Katarzyna Podolska is a single mother of two small children, former government employee, translator, and language tutor.

July 24, 2020
    
Katarzyna Podolska

ND Student, Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine

"I wanted to have a career I was passionate about, a career I could be proud of. Naturopathic medicine was an obvious choice because I saw it as not only a job, but a way of life.  I knew naturopathic medicine was the right fit for me because it aligned with my morals, my beliefs, and my values. I see naturopathic medicine as the future of health care, and I am determined to be a part of it."

 

Katarzyna Podolska is pictured with her children – Zofia and Zayden.

Taking the leap and accepting the challenge (and the move)

Jennifer Reinmuth-Birch’s life is a juggling act. With the support of her partner, she manages her naturopathic medical school curriculum while homeschooling her 17-year-old twin boys – one is on the autism spectrum and the other is busy applying to service academies and active in other extracurriculars – she does this all while commuting from her organic hobby farm on the Washington Coast to National University of Natural Medicine in Portland.

July 30, 2020
    
Jennifer Reinmuth-Birch, MScEd

ND Student, National University of Natural Medicine

“Initially, I thought the biggest challenge was that I was so much older than the majority of my classmates. Before long, I saw my age and life experience as an asset rather than a detriment. When I am a practitioner, I will be able to sit across from a patient who has experienced pregnancy, divorce, the loss of a child, or a terrifying medical diagnosis and say 'Yes, I understand. I’ve been through that too' and make that powerful emotional and empathetic connection that is so vital in patient-centered care. Would I do this all again, leaving my home and family to pursue a new career at 49 years of age? Absolutely… in a heartbeat. This is what I born to do."

 

Like Jennifer Reinmuth-Birch, Dr. Marcello spent his weeks in naturopathic medical school in Connecticut and traveled well over an hour to be with his family over the weekends.

July 30, 2020
    
Joseph Marcello, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

"The biggest challenge I faced during school was balancing family and schoolwork. Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive wife who is understanding of the time required to obtain a graduate degree. We frequently reminded ourselves that it was only temporary. At the beginning of my third year of ND school, my daughter was born. My weekends changed significantly. I found that prioritizing my work during the week freed up a lot of time to spend with them on the weekend. I continued the same travel schedule for the remainder of my education and moved back to New Jersey after graduation to be a full-time husband and father while studying for NPLEX II."

 

Dr. Joseph Marcello is pictured with his daughter Gianna at his graduation.

For many other naturopathic medical students, the prospect of naturopathic medical school required relocating.

July 30, 2020
    
Manora Hana Nygren

ND Student,  Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

"We moved our family from the United States to Toronto, Canada. We piled our one-year-old and four-year-old boys into the car and drove for four days. Although it was stressful, knowing that we were on the right path for us made every moment worthwhile. We established a residence near the school before arriving to ease the transition, and arrived at the beginning of summer to allow time for the kids to adapt to their new surroundings and for us to tend to all the details of living in a new place before school started."

 

July 30, 2020
    
Lindsay Hollister, ND

Graduate, Bastyr University

“With my family’s support, we uprooted our comfortable life in Colorado Springs. I left my cushy full-time job and returned to part-time school so I could fulfill my pre-requisite requirements. At the time, I had a Bachelors of Business Administration, so I had several science-based courses to take in order to qualify. My husband transferred his job to San Diego, which was a miracle in itself, and we settled there for the four years it took to complete my doctorate.”

 

Dr. Lindsay Hollister is pictured with her husband and three children on her graduation day.

 

How did you do it? Creating work/life balance

July 30, 2020
    
Joseph Marcello, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

"To prepare for the week, I would do schoolwork over the weekend, meal prep and laundry. Typically, my days would start at 6:00am with some form of self-care, start classes at 8:00am and get home anywhere between 5:00-7:00pm.  I would eat dinner and study until about 10:00pm, making sure I was getting adequate sleep. When I was home on the weekend, I dedicated Saturday morning to schoolwork. This allowed me to spend Friday and Saturday night with my wife. When my daughter was born, I prioritized schoolwork during the week so I could spend the majority of the weekend with my family. Thankfully, by this time, I found my footing and learned how to study efficiently. Being organized helped create this balance. I tried using planners, lists, electronic calendars, and paper calendars – finding what works for you makes all the difference."

 

July 30, 2020
    
Katarzyna Podolska

ND Student, Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine

“Creating a school/life balance is challenging for everyone in this program but especially for the people with children. Being a mother is a very selfless job, and I, like most other moms, put my children first and myself last. This program has challenged me to learn that sometimes taking care of myself is needed in order to not only be a better mom, but a better student, and a better future naturopathic doctor. Naturopathic medicine has pushed me to learn that making time for myself (whether that is a manicure or massage appointment once a month, or a yoga class or dance class once a week) is so important for my mental health. No matter how busy I have been, staying connected to the people that matter most to me has been crucial.”

 

July 30, 2020
    
Candi Dias

ND Student, National University of Health Sciences

“As a single parent raising a five-year-old boy and as a naturopathic medical student, an average day entails: dropping my son off at daycare in the morning, attending classes, studying during the day while not in classes, trying to fit some vitamin R by taking a yoga class here and there, picking up my son, making dinner, studying, hitting the pillow by 10:00-11:00pm."

 

July 30, 2020
    
Lindsay Hollister, ND

Graduate, Bastyr University

“The greatest challenge I faced was keeping school from invading my family time. It was important to set boundaries. I typically put aside two hours of study after the kids' bedtime. My husband made astronomical sacrifices that I will never fully realize. Early on, we made agreements that all of my school commitments would be in our shared calendar so he would be able to plan his life around my schedule. He deserved to know whether I’d be studying all day Saturday, or whether I’d be available for family time. Another agreement we made early on is that Sundays would be completely study-free. That was always our sacred family day, and it was well worth it. Looking back, I have to say it was worth the sacrifice.”

 

July 30, 2020
    
Manora Hana Nygren

ND Student,  Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

"Being a mother, wife and student requires discipline, healthy patterns and the ability to establish a unique rhythm that works for your family. My workload is extensive, but the depth of intimacy I have with my husband and the emotional support we give each other in combination with my own stamina and discipline, make this path a possibility. When I look at my life as a whole picture, I cannot imagine being without any part of it.  The naturopathic coursework stimulates and invigorates me, providing inspiration for my family and my spirit to move forward in a productive and peaceful way."

 

Advice for future ND students who are parents

July 30, 2020
    
Jennifer Reinmuth-Birch, MScEd

ND Student, National University of Natural Medicine

“Whatever is telling you that you can’t follow your dream to become a doctor - ignore it.  You can do this if you are 22 or 32 or 62, you can do this if your last chemistry class was in 1993 (I speak from experience!), you can do this if you are a single parent or are caring for infirm relatives or if you struggle with a disability; you can do this even when everyone and everything around you is telling you that you can’t.  If you really want it with all of your heart and you genuinely believe that naturopathic medicine is your calling, you CAN make it happen. Believe in your strength.”

 

Jennifer Reinmuth-Birch is pictured with her sons.

July 30, 2020
    
Manora Hana Nygren

ND Student,  Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

"Make concrete plans and have options in case one does not work out. You may find that when you arrive something different than anticipated is best for you and your kids, so allow for change and have options for multiple scenarios. Research your schools thoroughly and chose the one that is the best fit for your vision of your work life balance and educational path. Talk with other parents who have gone through the program, and other programs and seek their stories wisdom and advise. Use that knowledge to pave your own path in the most balanced and harmonious way. Utilize you peers and colleagues at the ND school. Form friendships and working relationships with other parents and support each other. Talk with trusted advisors within and outside of the naturopathic school. They may have watched many others go through what you are and could have valuable insights and advise, or act as a sounding board for you to develop your own."

 

Finding balance after graduation as a naturopathic doctor

According to the 2020 Graduate Success and Compensation Study, more than half of all ND respondents are parents – here are perspectives of two NDs and how their career in naturopathic medicine has helped them be present parents.

July 30, 2020
    
Spice Lussier, ND

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

"I have a balanced 40-hour week schedule of seeing patients, running a practice, and growing my consulting business.  I am also a contributing author, lecturer, and teacher. As a mother of two, I love the flexibility of being my own boss and setting my own schedule so I am able to spend my evenings and weekends with my family.  I am so grateful for the ability to have an amazing career and be there for all the special moments."

June 9, 2020
    
Lisa Ghent, ND

Graduate, Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine

“As a mother of three, and the wife of a pilot, career flexibility was a big component to pursuing naturopathic medicine. When there are can’t-miss activities with my kids, I can be there, and that is important to me.”  

 

 

If you are interested in pursuing a career in naturopathic medicine and want to know what it will take to accomplish your goals, please click here to speak with an admissions representative at the school of your choice. Much like a naturopathic doctor’s approach, the admissions representatives take a holistic review of applicants. In addition to your educational background, the admissions will want to know your why – your motivation for becoming an ND.

To learn more about other naturopathic doctors’ career paths and success stories, click here.

 

 

 

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