Dr. Rick Bhim is a resident at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Center in the process of becoming a Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncologists (FABNO). He shares his path to a career in naturopathic oncology and how he works to improve the lives of cancer patients.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
“While visiting a friend at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), I was intrigued by the principles of naturopathic medicine. I had recently finished my MD degree and was between externships and residency applications. When I read more about the program, I realized that the way naturopathic doctors practice medicine is how I always envisioned myself practicing – having time to sit with patients, really getting to know them as individuals and making a real connection with the people I am trying to help. In medical school I was not fully satisfied with the quick 15-minute visits. It was not how I wanted to practice and see patients. When I learned about naturopathic medicine it was like a breath of fresh air. Naturopathic medicine has allowed me to do what I set out to do: to truly get to know my patients, learn about the cause of their illness and health concerns and help them obtain their health goals through lifestyle changes.”
CCNM as a springboard
“CCNM was an easy choice for me. Not only is Toronto the best city in the world, but it was also home. It was where my family resides and where I grew up. CCNM also offers an International Medical Graduate Bridge Delivery Program, which allowed me to graduate with my Doctor of Naturopathy degree in two years, rather than having to do the entire program in four years.
I have gained so much from CCNM. The environment is unlike any I have ever experienced. As a student, you really feel like you are a part of the CCNM community. Toronto is such a giant melting pot of cultures that you not only learn from your teachers, but from your classmates as well. Compared to my experience at my allopathic medical school, there was absolutely no sense of competition between one another and my classmates and I found great joy working through the program together. Based on my previous experiences, I found several opportunities as a student to teach my fellow students.
Another great aspect of naturopathic medical school are the focus shifts available in the internship year. As you go through the program you have the opportunity to learn about many different conditions and population groups. If you are interested in focusing on a particular area of practice, you may do so in your internship year. I had a strong desire to focus on integrative oncology and being able to be an intern on the Adjunctive Cancer Care shift for an entire year, really helped me build a foundation for my future practice.
Knowing that I wanted to focus on integrative oncology and also be involved in teaching naturopathic medicine, my plan for success was simply continuing to look for opportunities in both fields, and at CCNM there were plenty.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
“After graduating I was accepted into the CCNM Clinical Residency. This was an opportunity I knew I wanted from the time I started at the college. It provided me with the opportunity to work with an immense number of patients while also becoming a better educator in naturopathic medicine. Part way through that residency, CCNM opened up the Integrative Cancer Center and they were looking for a resident. I could not pass up the opportunity to focus on Integrative Oncology and be a part of a teaching institution.
As I transition from completing my residency to setting up my own private practice, my work life is a mix of patient care, clinical education, and occasional oncology-focused lectures. With the way things have progressed thus far, I get a nice mix of both things that I enjoy – caring for patients through their cancer journey and educating students in their pursuit to become naturopathic doctors.”
A focus on integrative oncology
“Cancer is something that affects us all. During my internal medicine rounds while in medical school, I would see and learn about late stage cancer patients. Witnessing the effect cancer had, not only on the patient, but on the patient’s family was an experience that moved me. Very frequently, families would ask if there was anything else that could be done to help support their loved one, only to be met with the disappointing answer that nothing more could be done. When I heard about naturopathic medicine, I was excited to learn about integrative oncology and adjunctive cancer care and to find out that there were natural therapies that can help support patients as they go through their conventional treatments. Natural therapies that help improve a patient’s overall quality of life, reduce the side effects of treatment and in some cases improve their overall efficacy. This motivated me to want to pursue a focus in integrative oncology and support patients with cancer and their families.”
Join Dr. Bhim for a free integrative cancer care webinar
“The use of natural therapies can help reduce side effects and optimize conventional care, while also focusing on preventing recurrences or progression of their disease.” Tune in to Dr. Bhim’s webinar to learn more about naturopathic medicine and the role NDs play in supporting patients through their cancer journey. Click here to register.
To read more about other naturopathic doctors’ success stories, click here.