Before Gursharan Kaur Mangat decided to go to ND school at Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), she would describe herself as a shy, but driven and hardworking student.She shared that her growth during her education has not only been in knowledge but across all areas of her life. Gursharan states, “I knew this program was going to challenge me and help me grow like never before, but I never expected it to help develop my leadership qualities and social skills.”
Growth in Commitment
Gursharan reports that since the age of 9 she has always wanted to be a doctor but was unsure of what type of physician she wanted to be. She became interested in natural healing at a young age when she saw her grandfather fall through the cracks of the healthcare system. She recognized at an early age that conventional health care is not set up to educate patients and provide them with options for their treatment.
This knowledge set a fire in her belly and she knew that she had to work towards creating change so that fewer people suffered the same way. After researching and reading, she discovered naturopathic medicine. “When I found out that it integrated allopathic and natural treatments to treat the whole person, I was hooked. I scoured libraries for books on Chinese medicine, nutritional and herbal therapies.” She was so excited to see that a doctor could be trained to be a health care provider that used these therapies.
As early as the tenth grade, she set her eyes on CCNM. Her plan to achieve her goals included completing a degree in kinesiology and health sciences at York University. While at York, she found time to shadow a family physician to learn more about the healthcare field. Every day with the general family practitioner reaffirmed what she knew and strengthened her conviction that patient education was vital to patient healing and that treating the whole person always yielded better and longer-lasting results than simply suppressing symptoms.
Growth in Interpersonal Skills
There were many reasons Gursharan was attracted to CCNM, but what really convinced her to attend was her interaction with students during a Discover CCNM tour. She was inspired by the students sharing the amazing support they got from their peers and from the faculty. Gursharan adds, “They spoke so passionately about the sense of community and the dedication to research.” The tour not only allowed her to meet current students, it taught her and her family about the profession, the school and the possible careers after graduation.
She was so impressed by her tour at CCNM, that once she became a student Gursharan volunteered to become a tour guide herself. Initially she reports that she started off with a squeaky voice, but with the encouragement of staff, she grew to be one of the most relied on tour guides in the school. She credits this experience to helping her develop strong public speaking skills.
In addition to serving as a tour guide, Gursharan began working as reception staff at the front desk of the medical center. She states this experience helped to push her out of her comfort zone and into engaging with people more often than she was used to. Now, one of her favorite things about the CCNM is the people. “In the past 4 years here, I have met the most kind, caring and giving people. Everyone is supportive, whether it comes to academics and helping each other study, or real life and providing each other with emotional support,” shares Gursharan.
Gursharan felt that living on campus made it easier to find time to relax with friends, since time spent commuting wasn’t an issue. It also helped her connect to the support system in the residence hall. “I found some of my best friends while living in and studying at CCNM.”
Growth in Leadership
Gursharan has overcome her anxieties and insecurities about being a leader. She applied to be a residence advisor and grew in the role so much that she became a senior residence advisor the following year! “Looking back now, I am amazed to see how far I have come in growing my soft skills. I can’t imagine another place that could have both challenged and supported me to grow in this capacity,” says Gursharan. As a residence advisor, she was passionate about building community, and worked hard to organize events where everyone could connect and meet new people.
Currently, Gursharan is a fourth year ND student completing her internship in the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic and using her new found leadership skills to help patients reach their health care goals.
Growth in Personal Fulfillment
Gursharan was raised in Brampton, Ontario with a close-knit family and religious community. It was important to her to maintain these relationships despite her busy school life. She reports she traveled to home as often as she could. In addition, she found time during her undergraduate studies to volunteer. Gursharan reports that she was passionate about giving back so she worked with a partner-organization of Doctors Without Borders.
“My school, work, and volunteer work didn’t take away from my personal ambitions though. I continued to learn and practice kirtan.” Gursharan reports. Kirtan is a devotional Sikh hymn singing with musical instruments. I also ran races and half-marathons to raise money for causes that I was passionate about in addition to practicing yoga. All these extracurriculars taught her to manage her time and prioritize what was important to her in life.
As a Sikh, Gursharan also made sure that she made time to go to the Gurudwara. “During stressful times, it is important to lean on your support systems. For me, that included my family, and my religious community. Ensuring that I made time to go to the Gurudwara helped me de-stress and stay grounded. Meditation also helped me reduce anxiety during exam periods. Remember not to lose sight of who you are, to become someone you’re not.”
Deepening Understanding of Naturopathy
“I learned about naturopathic medicine when I was searching for answers outside of the traditional medical scope. I had found a book on Chinese medicine in my local library and it opened my mind to the alternatives to allopathic medicine. I was curious about how nutrition and physical activity affected different health outcomes. I wanted to learn about alternatives to medications that often caused more adverse effects than positive ones.” said Gursharan.
She continued “Most people in the medical professions know that they ‘want to help people’. What distinguishes naturopathic medicine is how you help people. The holistic approach was important to me, so I wanted to make sure that CCNM incorporated that philosophy in its teachings.”
She also learned about pushing her limits academically, and physically. During her time here, she has studied harder than she could’ve imagined possible, while also learning more about her body every day through physical activity.
Gursharan deepened her understanding on mental health and naturopathy while at CCNM. She reports that she loves the mental health education she has received. In addition to the courses, being on the mental health focus shift has given her insight and experience into treating mental illnesses in a way that she could not have gotten on general shifts. Gursharan reports she found her passion for mental health and is so excited to be learning so much.
Learning to Ask for Help
When asked what was advice she would give to other students considering ND school, Gursharan stated, “The most important thing I did was to ask for help. That included asking banks for a line of credit to help pay for school; asking my friends and family for support and help; my counselor for mental health support; and teachers for academic support.”
Gursharan sums up her experience in ND school by sharing, “This program is challenging, but it will bring out your best strengths and help you overcome your weaknesses. Throughout it all, keep the fire in your belly burning, because your passion will help change the world, one patient at a time.”
Here are a few links to learn more about Gursharan Kaur Mangat:
My Website & blog: www.wellnesswithgk.com
If you would like to learn more about becoming an ND you can find more information here.