“My training and education have provided a bridge between two divergent worldviews. As an ND, I am not placed in either of these worlds – Indigenous or conventional, which allows me to maintain perspective and consider all angles of a research question, a community problem, or even a patient case.”
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
Raised in a small Indigenous community on the Deninu K’ue First Nation in the Northwest Territories, Nicole Redvers, ND, MPHc did not have access or exposure to naturopathic providers, although she spent much of her early life in nature, using traditional medicines when needed. She still recalls the scent of her grandfather’s bear grease that he used as medicine.
In what may seem as a twist of fate, Dr. Redvers accidentally came across naturopathic medicine while in college studying sports medicine. This lead her on the path to naturopathic medical school, where she then graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.
“I was excited to be able to have the opportunity to learn about other traditional medicine systems in addition to more Western ways of knowing. Coming from an Indigenous background, I found that the standard medical system wasn’t addressing my communities’ problems and was too narrow in treatment approaches. I wanted to have the flexibility and freedom like my ancestors did, to do what is right for the patient in front of me at that particular time.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
Following graduation, Dr. Redvers returned to the Northern Territories and launched a home-based practice which allowed her to stay with her infant daughter. Soon after, she and a few other local providers began the first integrative medical clinic in the area. Over the nine years that Dr. Redvers operated the clinic, it grew to include 17 providers and staff working out of a 4,000 square foot clinic.
In 2019, Dr. Redvers changed paths and began working at the University of North Dakota’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences as an assistant professor.
“My career has been diverse. I have been able to practice, teach, research and continue my work on the charity I co-founded, the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation. Having a diverse skill set enables me to keep the flexibility for the projects and work that needs to be done in the Indigenous health arena. Moving to an institutional setting has definitely been different than running my own clinic and practice; however, I am still able to keep up with many of the things I love.
I am very excited to be helping to develop the very first PhD in Indigenous Health in North America. Dr. Donald Warne, MD, MPH spear-headed this initiative and has brought together an amazing team of five Indigenous scholars to develop the curriculum for the program. I will be teaching two courses in the PhD program, two courses in the Master’s of Public Health Indigenous Health specialization, as well as supervising and mentoring students. It is somewhat sad that this is the first of its kind in North America; however, I am very proud of the University of North Dakota for taking leadership on this important endeavor. It is a post-master’s PhD that can be done from anywhere in the world with two onsite visits per year.”
Advice for aspiring NDs
Dr. Redvers encourages prospective students to think outside of the box. “There are many roles that NDs can play in society outside of clinical practice, so don’t feel pigeonholed to a specific path. Diversification can be a strength in this profession both financially, personally and professionally.”
Finally, remember your roots and the people who helped you along the way. “I would not be where I am today without the amazing support of family, friends, colleagues, and my communities. I especially wouldn’t be where I am today without the helpful guidance of my elders helping to set me on a path to support our Indigenous communities.”
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