“I wanted to help others by becoming the type of practitioner that I desperately needed – but could not find – when I was struggling.”
Dr. Ashley Biscoe was working as a public health researcher and project manager in Chicago when her health began to decline. “I was having all sorts of digestive issues, skin breakouts, extreme fatigue, and I just didn’t feel well,” she says. She visited several conventional doctors, but each one told her there was nothing wrong with her – that it was probably just stress. “I refused to accept those answers because I knew that I hadn’t always felt so awful. Something had triggered a change in my health,” she says.
She began doing her own research to find out more about her health problems, and discovered that the symptoms began after taking a long course of antibiotics several years ago. “This discovery led me on a limitless quest for more answers about how to get better,” she says.
“At the time, I didn’t know that naturopathic doctors existed, and I didn’t know how to find any sort of holistic practitioner who could help me, so I took matters into my own hands,” Dr. Biscoe explains. “I became obsessed!”
Exploring naturopathic medicine
She learned how to eat for optimal health, how to use herbs, and how to change her lifestyle in order to heal herself naturally. With the help of a holistic MD, she regained her health. This sparked a passion for Dr. Biscoe. “Because I’d learned so much about the root causes of disease and how natural medicine works, I wondered if I could become some type of natural practitioner,” she says.
“Having never heard of naturopathic medicine, one day I did a Google search for, ‘how to be a legitimate holistic doctor with a license’ and it led me to the website of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians,” she recalls. “I felt like I’d struck gold!”
She quickly learned that she lived just 20 minutes away from NUHS, one of the accredited naturopathic medical schools in North America. “That further solidified my belief that this career was meant for me,” she adds.
Dr. Biscoe promptly enrolled at NUHS and earned her degree. She gained much more than a top-notch medical education. “I also met some of the best friends and mentors I’ve ever had, and we’re still very close today.” One of these friends eventually became her business partner.
Starting her own practice
A year later, Dr. Biscoe moved to Colorado to open a practice with fellow NUHS graduate, Dr. Alison Egeland. “We complement each other so well and I love having another doctor around to consult with on cases,” Dr. Biscoe says.
The practice is called Attune Functional Medicine. “We’re in the early stages of building our practice, so we have to do a lot of marketing,” she explains. “When we’re not seeing patients, our time is spent creating systems for our business, writing marketing content, doing continuing medical education, bookkeeping, networking, and more. We have to wear a lot of hats!”
“I make it known that naturopathic doctors treat the person, not the disease, so we see a bit of everything in our clinic,” Dr. Biscoe says.
The doctors stay busy working primarily with women ages 30-50 who are fed up with their symptoms, as well as with male patients. “These people have been to their primary care physician and often several specialists, but they aren’t getting anywhere. Their conventional medical treatments aren’t working, or their other providers can’t figure out what’s wrong,” she says. “I would say that digestive complaints, skin issues and fatigue are the top three conditions I see.”
Dr. Biscoe has also found a network of medical professionals in her neighborhood. “Everyone in Colorado has been incredibly supportive of our work. We have become friends with many other professionals in our area: physical therapists, a massage therapist, a surgeon, chiropractors, psychotherapists and acupuncturists. We have great referral networks with them and they send patients to us.”
Finding fulfillment in life and work
“Despite working hard, I still find time to cook healthy meals, lift weights, hike, sleep, relax, and have fun because I believe in practicing what I preach,” she says. “That is such a priority for me. I have to take care of myself so that I can take care of other people.”
“People hear me say all the time that health is our number one asset; it has to come first. Without health, you can’t enjoy money, food, leisure time, or be there for your loved ones,” she says.
“For me, the best thing about being a naturopathic doctor is knowing that I have the skills, knowledge, and ability to maintain my own health as well as the health of my patients and loved ones,” she adds. “ND’s truly know how to prevent disease and reverse disease – and that’s so powerful! I also love the fact that I have so many therapeutic tools available to me as a naturopathic doctor. My toolbox isn’t limited to medications.”
Advice for aspiring naturopathic doctors
To those considering a future in naturopathic medicine, Dr. Biscoe has a reminder. “Know that a career in naturopathic medicine can be highly rewarding, but it is very hard work – from school, to boards, to practice,” she says. “Naturopathic medical school is not easier than traditional medical school. You’re learning how to be a physician; it’s not just about herbs and nutrition.”
In addition, she advises ND graduates to be open to starting their own practice. “Remember that there is no shortage of people who need our help, but you have to be a savvy business person as well as a competent doctor. If the people who would benefit from your services can’t find you, then you won’t be able to help anyone and your business won’t work,” she explains.
Therefore, Dr. Biscoe says it’s a good idea to get a head start on business skills while in school. “You have to start learning about business and online marketing before you even graduate,” she says.
“If naturopathic medicine is in your heart and it’s all you can think about, then you should go for it,” she adds. “Don’t EVER let fear, doubt and criticism dissuade you from pursing your goals! You have a responsibility to share your gifts with the world.”
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