Dr. JoAnn Yanez, Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (right), joins KCAAs “On the Brink” host, Erin Brinker (left) and Tobin Brinker (middle) to discuss a culture shift in the workplace and education fields that places an emphasis work-life balance.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
- Work-life balance as a naturopathic doctor
- What naturopathic schools do to encourage work-life balance
- Starting a family while a naturopathic medical student
- And More…
Erin Brinker: Welcome back, I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we are “On the Brink,” the morning show on KCAA, AM 1050, FM 106.5 and FM 102.3. So excited to welcome back to the show one of our favorite guests. Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She’s the Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. And her pedigree is outstanding. She’s a Vice Chair of the ACIH, weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life. Dr. Yanez’s career has spanned advocacy, academia, patient care and public health. As AANMC Executive Director, Dr. Yanez oversees research, advocacy efforts and the join academic endeavors of the accredited colleges of naturopathic medicine. Additionally, she helps spread awareness of naturopathic medicine as a viable and satisfying career path. So, Dr. Yanez, welcome back to the show.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning folks, how are you both?
Erin Brinker: Doing great.
Tobin Brinker: Doing well.
Erin Brinker: Doing well. I hope you’re doing well too.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, I am.
Erin Brinker: Good. There’s a lot going on in the news and I’m sure you have an opinion.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Goodness. Everybody has an opinion. Don’t we all?
Erin Brinker: Don’t we all. So, talk to us … we’re in a time of the year where people start thinking about going back to school, people start thinking about making career changes, with all colleges, they start up in the fall, etc., etc. And so, for people who are thinking about naturopathic medicine as a career, what would you tell them?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: We just recently released an article on work-life balance. And so much of what I’m hearing now from folks is they’re really cognizant of the type of lifestyle that they want to create for themselves. People aren’t just looking for a job, they’re looking for well-rounded lives. They’re looking for time to enjoy the…
Tobin Brinker: Did we lose her? JoAnn, are you there? I think we maybe lost her.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: …
Erin Brinker: Oh, there we are, there you’re back. You’re back. Can you say that again, please?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh, I am so sorry, I don’t know what just happened.
Erin Brinker: That was very strange.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yeah, normally we have a great connection. So, I was saying folks really are looking for a well-rounded career now. They’re not looking for just one aspect of “Oh, I’m just gonna get a job and do this.” We have research actually showing that current students, I hate to use that millennials word, but current students are potentially going to shift careers five to seven times in their lifetime. And so, as a result, what we’re seeing is folks are really wanting to have careers that more flexible, more diverse, that they can do a lot of things with. And they’re really also wanting work-life balance. So, time to focus on their hobbies, time to focus on their families, raising families, and having quality time with them.
We just recently put out an article on how many NDs are finding their balance. Having children, amazingly, during school, working with young families and making it all work. I think there are things that are probably able to bridge for so many types of careers because how many of us have, in whatever it is that we’re doing, juggle families. I think of that viral video that was on with the gentleman on the BBC giving a report where his toddler bursts into the room.
Erin Brinker: Which was fantastic.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: And the kids burst into the room. We tend to forget that we’re human beings. We’re not just workers and we have families, we have responsibilities outside of work. And we all do our best to do our best job when we’re at work, but sometimes life happens. And your toddler bursts into the room while you’re giving a BBC interview.
Erin Brinker: Did you see the spoof on that where it was instead of a man, it was a woman?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes, I did.
Erin Brinker: Oh my gosh I laughed.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I laughed because that’s my life. I’m a working mom and I’m constantly juggling conference calls and child responsibilities, and then you’ve got a sick kid and you’ve gotta just make it work. I think the biggest thing that I heard from all of the doctors that we interviewed for this article was you have to keep a sense of humor. If you take it all seriously, you may lose your mind.
Erin Brinker: Seriously. Seriously. When people think of medical school, they think that it’s a grind. Obviously, you know that it’s tough, lots of long hours, residency is long hours. Are those same kind of hours expected and required if you’re studying to be a naturopath?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Naturopathic school is medical school and so I can’t sugar coat the fact that it’s medical school. I do know that all the naturopathic schools do our best, we recognize that wellness is very vital to our success and so the naturopathic schools support our students as best as we can. Some of the schools offer flexible schedules, longer programs for folks who are needing to stretch out the time of school to make it work. Number of the schools will even allow … there was one student who we interviewed she said her mom, she gave birth during school, and her mother would bring her infant to her during class breaks so that she could breastfeed.
Erin Brinker: Oh wow.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: So, she would take … they had a room that she would be able to use and nurse her child and she would breastfeed her baby. Her mom would go back home, bring the baby back during the next lunch break and it was … she made it work, she had a support system that made that possible. But I think the schools will do our best to accommodate whenever possible. Obviously, its medical school, you have to complete it. But to the best that we can, we try to recognize that things like breastfeeding are normal and natural and good for you and if there’s a way that we can support moms to continue to do that, we try our best.
Tobin Brinker: So, let me jump in with an example here. My sister went to Loma Linda University and got a master’s degree in physical therapy. And one of the things that struck me about the program that she did, and it was very intensive, was that they actually scheduled into the program fun times for the students. That they actually worked as a cohort, all the kids went through the program together and they would say at this day, at this time, your cohort would go. And they actually had planned activities for them so that they would have breaks from their study. Because I think that one of the things that they recognize, is a lot of people who get into these intensive programs, that they are so focused that they don’t make time for themselves. So, I thought it was very interesting that the school sort of did that. That they scheduled them in that way. Is that … do you do something similar? Is that something, a component that we’d see?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I can speak from personal experience, I had a number of clinic shifts, where the physicians would actually say “Okay, before we take a look at patient charts, before we get into the grind of seeing patients, let’s take a moment and ground ourselves.” And we would actually do a brief, brief meditation to just focus our energies in that anything that was going on outside, in our personal lives, or what have you, we put that and we leave it, literally, outside of the door and we can pick it up and take it when we’re done with shift. But this is our time to focus on patients. I found that very helpful. I actually had a clinic shift supervisor, when I was in residency, order me to take breaks. He said I’m not … case we were going around on shift saying oh what’s everybody doing for summer break and I said oh I’m just gonna pick up some extra shifts and he literally looked at me and said no you’re not.
Erin Brinker: Wow. Yeah.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: He said “No you’re not, I’m not gonna sign off on any of your hours, you need to take a break.”
Tobin Brinker: Yeah.
Erin Brinker: Well and that represents a culture shift in the United States, where in some industries, financial services especially, law especially, and frankly traditional medicine, if you’re not putting in 100 hours a week, people think you’re a slacker.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yeah, I think there is a shifting mindset and it’s not that we don’t expect work and we don’t expect solid work products from people, but I think there’s a recognition, especially with physician suicide, physician burnout, and the number of people who are quitting conventional medicine are not referring it to their younger colleagues. I think we’re recognizing that we need to do a better job of taking care of ourselves so that we can be the best medical providers for our patients. So mindful of stress reduction, there are so many different types of things that are starting to enter, even the conventional work spaces, because we’re recognizing that burnout is extremely costly and the amount of time and resources and money that is spent to educate a physician in this country is enormous. And to have that person burnout doesn’t suit anybody.
So I think that, in even further situations with more severity with physician suicide and substance abuse issues, because they’re using not great coping skills to manage the stress. I think those are very scary topics that we recognize in naturopathic medical education and we help to support our students. Many of them come with these life practices already, but recognizing that those life practices that we’re teaching our patients to manage stress, well guess what doc, you need them too.
Erin Brinker: Right? Physician, heal thyself.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Physician, heal thyself. I think that one of the things that I always focused on was self-awareness and with patients, with my students, with just everybody, is recognizing when you’re at that tipping point and knowing when you need to take a step back, regroup, head back to center, do whatever it is you need to do to get back into a good state.
Erin Brinker: So how do people get more information about the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges, or about you? How do they follow you on social media?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Oh gosh, we’re all over the place. So, we are aanmc.org, which is our website and feel free to sign up for information, either from us or from all of our member schools to get more information. We’re also on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, so all of those handles are on our AANMC website. If you go to our website, you can find out all you want to know about this. Double A, N, M, C.
Erin Brinker: Well as always, Dr. Yanez, it’s a treat to have you on the air with us. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: My pleasure and thank you for having me, both. I wish you a great rest of your Wednesday.
Erin Brinker: We wish you that as well, thank you.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thanks.
Erin Brinker: It’s time for a break for us. We are On the Brink, I’m Erin Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we’ll be right back.