Dr. Ellen Wong – CCNM

 I help my patients shift perspectives, so they can empower themselves to make the health changes they want to see.

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

After completing her undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences, Dr. Wong considered graduate programs in cognitive psychology and molecular genetics until she found naturopathic medicine. “Naturopathic medicine is the perfect blend of concepts I love – how the human body works and how the human mind thinks. So much of what naturopathic medicine is, is to motivate people to change behaviors.”  Dr. Wong loves the opportunity to work one on one with patients to gain an understanding of their health condition and offer individualized treatment plans to support their healing. “I love that naturopathic medicine embodies health as a combination of physical, mental and emotional aspect.” More importantly, the doctor-patient relationship, “allows the patient to feel heard and understood,” explains Dr. Wong, which is a huge component to unveiling the root cause of illness.

CCNM as a springboard

Raised in Toronto, Dr. Wong chose to pursue her naturopathic medical education at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine to stay close to her friends, family and community. She saw opportunity in the teaching clinic and felt an immediate sense of belonging.

“Anytime you pursue something that challenges you, you grow and you learn. At CCNM, I grew as a person and learned a lot – about naturopathic medicine and myself.” The clinical internship offered hands on experience in patient care along with the mentorship of experienced supervisors. “The challenging pace of the curriculum combined with the humbling patient stories, really taught me a lot about empathy and compassion. It put a lot of what I considered to be stressors into perspective.”

“Living the dream” after graduation

Following graduation, Dr. Wong was accepted into CCNM’s two-year clinical residency program. Shortly after graduation from the residency program, she transitioned into a full-time faculty role at CCNM. In addition to serving as a faculty member, Dr. Wong worked at two practices before establishing her own in Whitby, Ontario.

Dr. Wong continues to explore different ways to offer care to a larger audience through group programs and speaking engagements. “I think there are many ways I can improve the health of those around me, not just in a one-on-on setting of a traditional practice. The longer I practice, the more I realize that I need to adapt and learn to a changing environment. That’s not a bad thing at all, I’m quite excited to see where medicine will go in the next 10, 20, 50 years!”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

Dr. Wong finds fulfillment in her career through treatment and career options.

From a treatment perspective, naturopathic medicine offers many approaches to patient care guided by the principles of evidence-informed practice. “That means we have to make decisions encompassing best available evidence, our clinical expertise and our patients’ values and beliefs. I firmly believe that no matter what tools we have, the most important one is the ability to help motivate our patients (who are willing) to develop healthy physical, mental and emotional habits. You simply cannot have a patient eat a particular diet, exercise a particular way or take a particular pill and expect to change the way your patient thinks. Our thoughts create our reality so at the absolute core of what I do, I help my patients shift perspectives, so they can empower themselves to make the health changes they want to see.”

Dr. Wong appreciates the flexibility of her career. As newlyweds, Dr. Wong and her husband recently returned from their honeymoon. “Traveling is a huge passion of both mine and my husband’s, so the career I chose had to align with that. The great thing about balancing work at CCNM and my own private practice is that it has allowed me the flexibility to pursue the things that matter to me. In my private practice, I do my best to make sure my patients are equipped with that they need (from a health perspective) while I am away. They know they can receive care, should they need it, from a fellow ND.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

As a student, Dr. Wong reflects, “Sometimes I worked hard, sometimes I worked smart. I think that’s how it has to be – both in school and in life.” She dove into the subjects that she loved and recognized her responsibility for understanding parts of the curriculum that did not come as easy to her. “I stayed physically and socially active; put pressure on myself to study and do reasonably well but also recognized that if I didn’t perform as well, it was my responsibility to figure out how to improve.”

She focused on the end-goal of motivating her patients to better heath and contributing to CCNM. “I stayed curious and was both excited and at peace with the fact that I would never learn all there is to learn about medicine.” Knowledge of how to access resources is a valuable tool for successful naturopathic practice.

“When you first step into the halls of any naturopathic college, understand that you are about to learn the foundations of naturopathic medicine. Once you have experience with it all, you can choose to pursue what you deem as valuable and set up your career the way you want to.”

Dr. Wong encourages prospective students to explore career options. There are so many career paths in the naturopathic medical field. You have the flexibility to be your own boss, set your own hours and determine the work-life balance that is right for your family and lifestyle. Your schooling will teach you the foundations of naturopathic medicine, however a great deal of the learning comes from experience. “Choosing medicine as a career means you are choosing to continue to learn. This applies to both the science and the art of practice.”

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