“The sky is the limit with naturopathic medicine. You really can choose any path you like.”
Diversity and an eclectic nature is at the forefront of what has drawn Dr. Jaquel Patterson to the profession. In her own practice, she covers a variety of medical conditions from autoimmune diseases to allergies and from Lyme disease to anxiety/depression. It is this wide variety of coverage, coupled with the passion naturopathic doctors are known for that helped inspire her and continues to motivate her in the profession.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
For Dr. Patterson, the path to becoming a naturopathic doctor included a very personal inspiration. During her teen years, she saw her mother “struggle with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).” Both of these autoimmune conditions are debilitating, and Dr. Patterson felt that the conventional medicines and treatments did not address her needs fully. Prior to that, she had already been interested in alternative medicine as a child, having seen the benefits at home.
She took a break from the medical pathway to enter the business field for a few years. Once she decided to get back into medicine, she went back to school part-time (while still working a full-time job) to finish her pre-med requirements. After two years of doing this, she enrolled in the ND program at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM).
UBCNM as a springboard
When she attended an open house at UBCNM and was able to hear ND’s speak about their profession, she says that, “I knew I was in the right place. It felt like I was going full circle back to my roots.” The fact that the campus was close to where she lived and serviced a variety of diverse populations just served to seal the deal for her.
Dr. Patterson greatly appreciated the opportunities to learn at UBCNM and how it helped transition her into the community health side of medicine. She participated in the community clinics and then began to serve in a variety of community outreach capacities, including acting as the Health Chair of local chapter of the NAACP. She has also served with the Southern CT Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and was elected on the National Board for Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.
“Living the dream” after graduation
During her third year at UBCNM, Dr. Patterson attended New York Lobby Day. There, she met the CEO of a health center that saw over 65,000 patients. It was this contact that gave her an entrance into the field when she graduated. From there, she excelled by leading “quality improvement initiatives for childhood obesity, which was the highest in the Bronx at the time, diabetes and hypertension. My work was recognized by Community Health Care Association of New York State and was used to help develop models in other FQHC’s in the state.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
Since getting her start, she has continued working not only as a naturopathic physician, but also as an administrator, eventually becoming VP at a large community behavioral health agency. Her work directly impacted the behavioral health needs of 21,000 patients. Today, she has her own practice, Fairfield Family Health where she works “with a robust team of 6 other healthcare providers including naturopathic physicians, primary care consultant, pediatric nurse practitioner, nutritionist and physical therapist.” She is also the first UBCNM graduate to be elected President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, as well as the first person of color to hold this position.
Advice for aspiring NDs
To sum up her advice for aspiring NDs, Dr. Patterson has this to say: “It is a rare opportunity to find something that appeals to your heart and that creates butterflies in your stomach. If you have that feeling about naturopathic medicine, you need to make sure to follow that path.” She feels that this bold step will be the key to success and a life without regrets.
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