“I get to see people’s lives turn around. I get to see them actually heal.”
Having joined the navy, in large part, due to not knowing what to do with her life, Dr. Jennifer Bahr finally came up with a career plan: become a medical doctor. But not just any medical doctor. One who focused on integrative approaches.
She was so passionate about practicing integrative medicine that she vowed to travel the world just to soak in other cultures’ approach to medicine and utilize them in her own practice.
She thought to herself, “it’ll take a while to do it, but you’ll get there.”
Her self-guided research on integrative medicine led her to an article penned by a naturopathic doctor. It had been her first exposure to the term naturopathic medicine. In fact, she had to google it just to confirm it actually existed.
What she discovered became the life-changing moment in her career.
“This is what I was trying to do,” she said. “But I was doing it piecemeal. It already existed.”
Her google search showed results for Sonoran University and, upon further research, not only did Dr. Bahr fall in love with the prospect of naturopathic medicine, but she saw Sonoran University as the gateway to get her there.
Having graduated from Sonoran University in 2012, Dr. Bahr committed to a 2-year, self-created residency. She now runs her own clinic, where she focuses on psychiatric conditions.
Her patients suffer from conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar, schizophrenia and more. Many of her patients want to reduce their medications, so while she can write prescriptions for most of their conditions, she works with their prescribing psychiatrists to safely reduce and eliminate their reliance on meds.
“I am integrative at heart,” she said.
The best part of her career
“I’m never exhausted.”
That’s how Dr. Bahr knows she’s doing what she loves. Most days she sees up to 16 patients. Couple those long days with the time it takes to commute to and from work in San Diego traffic, and it’s surprising exhaustion hasn’t settled in.
But her patients keep her inspired.
“When I get patients telling me that their lives are turned around, that’s what keeps me going,” she said. “I get to see them actually heal.”
She remembers one recent patient, who, for 20 years, could not find a way out of her constant struggle with depression.
She finally came to Dr. Bahr. One week into her new treatment plan, and the patient wanted to do things; she was alive, motivated.
She confined in Dr. Bahr that she wished she hadn’t waited so long to turn to naturopathic medicine.
Which leads us to what Dr. Bahr would like to see for the future of naturopathic medicine.
A place where natural medicine is the first intervention, rather than the last
That’s what Dr. Bahr would like to see in the future.
“That’s where the medical system should be,” she said. “A lot of things can be reversed and avoided if people saw a naturopathic doctor first.”
This type of future particularly hits home for Dr. Bahr, who sees the impact of a lack of preventative medicine within her focus on mental illness.
“If we could talk about health in a way that reduces the stigma associated with mental health, and if people didn’t take drugs initially that made them feel numb or flat, I think we’d have a lot of happier, productive, safer people.”
She’s hopeful that naturopathic medicine as a practice will continue to grow, and that NDs will evolve into successful business people, in order to expand their reach.
“Being successful in business is a service,” she said. “It means we can help more people.”
What advice does she have for prospective students?
Dr. Bahr encourages all prospective and current students to develop and nurture their entrepreneurial mindset.
That mindset is what led her to create a flourishing practice so soon after graduation.
Of course, her successful practice wasn’t built overnight. It was a constant commitment toward making a name for herself in both her community and the industry as a whole.
She’s the President of the California Naturopathic Doctor Association; she’s led the profession’s legislative efforts in Sacramento for the past two years. Her involvement in legislative matters began years ago, during her time as a student.
That involvement doesn’t just feed her need to make an impact; it also provides fruitful networking opportunities for her to grow her business.
But in the end, her patients become her most effective supporters and marketers. They see the results and they share their passion with their friends and family.
“They can tell how much I care about them and their children,” she said. “They become my biggest fans.”
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