Dr. Masahiro Takakura took an interest in sports medicine early in his career. He began working for the MLB Seattle Mariners team as a full-time medical practitioner, and has traveled with the team since 2013. This experience with team sports led him to be a huge believer in the team concept. When he opened his clinic, the Integrative Medicine Group (IMG), it was modeled like a coach would, with each player having a particular position to play and all as important as the individual. Dr. Takakura’s team spirit is such that he asked for his entire team to be the focus of this article.
First on Deck: Dr. Chelsea Mikula-Chao, ND, LAc worked at a health food store for several years while finishing up her undergraduate degree in alternative medicine, where she was fortunate to have several professors who were naturopathic doctors and inspired her decision to pursue naturopathic medicine. One of her goals was to work with patients and influence health with a holistic and preventative approach. Naturopathic medical education provided the perfect framework.
Naturopathic medical school was an extremely challenging endeavor for Dr. Chelsea, but it was also an extremely rewarding experience. She is so grateful to have discovered Bastyr and feels honored to have the opportunity to share her experience and work with patients from a Naturopathic perspective.
Second on Deck: Dr. Raymond Chao pursued a career in Nutritional Sciences and was applying to become a registered dietitian, as well as volunteering and teaching classes at the Diabetes Prevention and Education Center (DPEC) in Tucson, Arizona. After meeting and listening to the stories of different individuals, he knew that he wanted to do more than just nutrition. Dr. Chao believed that if he genuinely wanted to treat the whole person, he needed a health field that had a larger scope.
After volunteering in the Emergency Department and Operating Room for a summer, he knew that he did not want to go into the conventional system. Fortunately, he had the opportunity to shadow another naturopathic doctor and after one day, he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine. For Dr. Chao, his experiences attending various Bastyr Sports Medicine Club events over his 5 years at Bastyr continually reinforced his decision to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine.
Third on Deck: After volunteering within the conventional medical system, Dr. Ngoc Nguyen felt she wanted to emphasize the importance of nutrition and prevention of disease and educate patients. She originally planned to attend culinary school but still had a love for medicine, so she found naturopathic medicine and has continued her passion ever since.
Fourth on Deck: Dr. Thien Nguyen chose Naturopathic Medicine because of his love for traditional medicine, and he wanted to work in a realm that allowed more autonomy and focused on prevention, early intervention and education to provide better patient care.
Dr. Thien and Dr. Ngoc believe that Naturopathic Medical school not only allows a student to learn the art of medicine, but also challenges one to push their comfort zone and become a pioneer. It is an ongoing pursuit of learning and practice, while making lasting connections with others who have similar dreams and goals for a better and healthier community.
Fifth on Deck: Dr. Calvin Kwan is so honored to be in a position where he can help mentor students in their journey to become a naturopathic physician. To these students, he tells them these steps to being successful in medicine and life:
- First and foremost, “Be a good human.” Always do the right thing for others and the world. This natural/genuine empathy is the epitome of patient care.
- Second, “Work hard and with passion.” This is not to say you just work just to work, but to work with passion as well as knowing there is no limit to your ability and capacity to heal someone.
- Thirdly, “Keep evolving.” Medicine is a constantly changing environment, a good physician will always adapt to change and stay ahead in their practice, as this brings new options and efficacy to your ability to heal your patients.
Dr. Kwan adds, “Once I found my passion in medicine, I continue to put 1000% into being the best I can be in that area of expertise. There are different measures and metrics of success, but I find that following the three principles I listed brings me the most fulfillment and I will continue to practice in this way.”
After graduation, Dr. Kwan completed a 2-year residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health and started his private practice at the Masa Integrative Clinic. At the same time, he also taught as adjunct faculty at Bastyr University, the Kinesio Taping Association, supervised the Bastyr Sports Medicine Club, worked for the Seattle Saracens Rugby Club, and with select athletes of the Seattle Mariners. He practiced in Seattle for roughly 8 years before moving down to Arizona where he is an adjunct professor and a full-time faculty, working as a physician and Interim Chair of the Physical Medicine Department at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Sixth on Deck: As a newer doctor, Jessica Norton’s work continues to be challenging yet fun. “I am constantly learning and continuing to expand my base of knowledge and skills. Now that I am more comfortable with managing patients and the caseload, I am now taking on new challenges such as creating educational videos on YouTube, as well as creating an educational online course for patients. Things are exciting as I continue to expand my in-office practice and delve into online services. My days are typically split between seeing patients at the office and work at home researching, filming, and providing tele-health visits.”
Seventh on Deck: Dr. Wu-Hsun (Tom) Yang states, “What I love the most about being a naturopathic physician is that we are trained to assess and investigate diseases from different perspectives. Not one medicine fits all. We have many tools in our toolbox to tailor patient-specific treatments that work for them. I am passionate about preserving different modalities of medicines and infusing them into modern clinical practice.” One part of naturopathic medicine Dr. Tom enjoys is the flexibility. “Even after exhausting pharmaceuticals and conventional medical treatments, we still have more to offer. Also, we are not confined to a specialty and are free to pursue and learn more about subject matters that appeal to us.”
Eighth on Deck: Dr. Darci Davis states, “Passion and dedication are two things you should have if you are wanting to pursue a career in Naturopathic medicine. It is true that careers in alternative and complementary medicine are certainly growing, but naturopathic medical students must be determined and very proactive to succeed, particularly in pre-licensed states.”
Last on Deck – Player and Coach: Dr. Takakura closes with this statement:
“This is our team and I believe we have great members who will shape Naturopathic medicine. Regarding success, I believe that success is different for everyone. It can be measured by a variety of ways such as financial stability and fulfillment that comes with patient care. I believe each one of us are successful in our own ways and will continue to do great things for the future.”
Dr. Takakura has been invited as a USA Paralympic team physician for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Be sure and try to catch a glimpse of him next summer during the games!
Integrative Medicine Group www.integrativemedicinegroup.org
American Naturopathic Board of Sports Physicians www.anbsp.org
- Masahiro Takakura, ND, PhD, DC, LAc, MLB Seattle Mariners medical team, 2021 Tokyo Paralympic USA Team Physician www.seattlencc.com
- Calvin Kwan, ND, CKTI, Interim Department Chair of Physical Medicine, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, www.scnm.edu
- Darci Davis, ND, Medical director, Nature Cure Integrative Clinic, www.seattlencc.com, Seattle Women’s Rugby Club medical team
- Wu-Hsun (Tom) Yang, ND, LAc, LMP, www.rootsforhealthwa.ccom
- Thien Nguyen, ND, LAc, EMT, CKTI, and Ngoc Nguyen, ND, LAc, Trusted Health Integrative Medicine, www.trustedhealthintegrative.com
- Jessica Norton, ND, LAc, owner and entrepreneur, www.jessicanortonnd.com
- Raymond Chao, ND, LAc, and Chelsea Mikula-Chao, ND, LAc, resident doctors, Nature Cure Integrative Clinic, www.seattlencc.com