Not all students fit the mold of the traditional premedical student. For those who have always known their future career path, the decision points are relatively clear.
✔️ Meet with advisors and chart your course
✔️ Complete biomedical sciences and prereqs with a strong GPA
✔️ MCAT Prep and competitive scores
✔️ Relevant healthcare experience and volunteer work
✔️ Cultivate strong references and craft your essays
✔️ Present professionally, and as a well-rounded applicant
✔️ Apply and hopefully get in to your top choice
But what about the students where this path may not be a straight line? Where coursework may be older, or not exactly aligned with a traditional prehealth track? There are options in naturopathic medicine for students with varied academic backgrounds and life experiences, as well as those who decide at a pivotal moment in their life that naturopathic medicine is their calling.
Through recent qualitative research, AANMC uncovered that many ND students are actually drawn to the profession because their health or that of a loved one was positively impacted by naturopathic/natural medicine. They want to be doctors who take a holistic approach to patient care, develop strong relationships with their patients and community, and utilize therapies like nutrition, mind-body medicine, herbs, supplements and treating the root cause.
Naturopathic admissions teams actually value the contribution these students bring to the class mix, as their life experiences, passion and maturity can be valuable assets toward their future career in the health professions.
For the students where the path may not be as clearly defined, the following can be helpful.
1. Meet with an ND admissions specialist. They can help you understand your academic and financial plan. Click here to connect with a representative at the school(s) of your choice.
2. Think about your personal plan. What changes will you need to make to pursue your goals? How will your family be affected by this change? How will you balance life and school responsibilities? Click here to learn about the three steps to plan for ND school.
3. Know your ‘why’ and write it down. Why is being a naturopathic doctor important to you? Why are you pursuing this path? In challenging times, pull out your why to remind yourself of your goals.
Profiles of people who changed careers to naturopathic medicine
Frustrated with the lack of help she was receiving from conventional medicine, Dr. Lisa Ghent discovered naturopathic medicine as a patient struggling with fertility. With a background in the medical field, she saw medicine in a new light, and was inspired by the holistic approach to patient care. Dr. Ghent took the leap of faith and completed her naturopathic medical degree while working full-time and having three kids throughout the program.
“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.”
Dr. Xermã Palmares was already a Brazilian medical doctor when he decided to pursue a career change to naturopathic medicine. With experience as a cardiovascular surgeon, intensive care physician and medical consultant for many years, he needed more out of his career.
“Although I enjoyed delivering care to my patients as a conventional medical doctor, I did not feel totally fulfilled personally and professionally.”
Dr. Raynette Ilg’s career started in office work, but her spirituality and family roots in botanical medicine led her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine. She went back to school at the age of 40 while raising her children who were in junior high at that time.
“Since I was an older student it was extremely important to me to be able to maintain a family relationship and go to school for my passion.”
Dr. Daemon Jones was unhappy in her corporate job. She made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor to discuss her general malaise. After one visit, she was fascinated. She loved what she heard about the lifestyle changes that could get her back to loving life.
Disappointed about not getting the help he needed after seeing multiple specialists and providers for personal health concerns, Anthony Pascucci thought there had to be another way. In his quest for a more holistic approach to care, he found naturopathic medicine and ultimately, his calling.
“Returning to school as an adult has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Balancing school and work while living alone and paying bills has tested my fortitude, and the unwavering drive that made me know this was what I wanted to do with my life.”
To learn why others have changed their careers to naturopathic medicine, click here.