“Naturopathic medicine has so much to offer. You can take the time to truly care for the patients you work with, making a profound impact on their health.”
Lisa Krebs, N.D. started out in graphic design and multimedia, where she channeled her creativity to educate and inspire people through documentary filmmaking. However, when she experienced a few abrupt changes in her life, she found a completely different outlet for her creative abilities: naturopathic medicine. “Sometimes life just throws you in the direction you’re supposed to go – our job is to trust it,” she says.
Krebs returned to her hometown in Chicago, and she became a live-in caretaker for her grandmother, who was in the early stages of congestive heart failure. Her grandmother’s condition meant spending a lot of time at the hospital, where Krebs soon became very comfortable and knowledgeable. “I got to the point where staff would inevitably ask if I had a medical background,” she recalls. This led her to consider the idea of pursuing medicine professionally.
“It wasn’t too far-fetched. I have several family members who are nurses and my mom has been a successful psychotherapist for over 40 years. My dad had been a research assistant for the University of Illinois Chicago psychology department,” Krebs says. “Even then, it would be a drastic turn-around from the creative identity I had built my career on.”
“I’ll never forget my mom’s comment, ‘I can really see you in a white coat, but with a more natural approach,’” Krebs says. Her family saw a homeopathic physician growing up, so she was no stranger to this way of healing. “Having had exposure to homeopathy from a very young age, I knew it could be a powerful modality for both acute and chronic conditions. I had also treated my own gastrointestinal and endocrine issues through the use of herbal remedies, supplements, and dietary changes, so the prospect of sharing these healing modalities with others was very exciting,” she says. Krebs decided to take the next steps.
Shifting gears to study naturopathic medicine
Krebs began researching the options for her new career, and quickly discovered that National University of Health Sciences was right in her backyard. “I stopped by that day to talk to the admissions department and learn more,” she says.
“When I read over the informational materials, there was this statement: ‘It takes both an analytical and creative mind to be a naturopathic doctor.’ It felt like a calling,” Krebs explains.
“I give the strong women in my family—mainly my grandmother and mom—credit for exposing me to natural medicine and giving me the courage to pursue this incredibly rewarding career,” Krebs says. “I knew it was the right path for me when I called Dr. Joel Shepperd, my family’s homeopathic physician, and asked him if he had heard of naturopathic medicine. Turns out, he actually taught homeopathy at NUHS! Dr. Shepperd is one of the foremost experts in classical homeopathy in the United States. Once I found out I would have him as a mentor, I never looked back.”
Another reason Krebs chose to attend NUHS was because of the curriculum, “which heavily emphasized the philosophy of naturopathic medicine—to create (or restore) the conditions for health. Once you establish a terrain which is unfit for disease, you have long lasting results. You have stimulated the body’s natural healing mechanisms. (Think—balancing the immune system, healing the gut, doing the mind-body work!) This is so much more effective than simply putting out fires when they arise. The curriculum emphasized this whole person philosophy with every modality we learned—botanicals, hydrotherapy, manipulation, nutrition, homeopathy, to name a few,” Krebs says.
Getting off on the right foot at NUHS
Krebs credits NUHS for thoroughly preparing her for a career in naturopathic medicine. “NUHS provided a very strong foundation in the medical sciences, including extensive anatomy and dissection,” she says. “In the clinical sciences, there was extensive training in hands-on modalities, including physical manipulation and hydrotherapy, which I feel are invaluable to patient care. Most important to me was the chance to study with some of the best homeopaths in the U.S.—and the opportunity to use this modality from day one of clinic rotations.”
“Of course, there was a great opportunity to network with other natural medicine practitioners, such as those in the Chiropractic and Oriental Medicine programs. This is how I met my fiancé, Dr. Joe Glowiak,” Krebs adds. “Above all, the emphasis on care that stresses the determinants of health first and foremost has made the greatest impact on how I view healing.”
During her time at NUHS, Krebs tried to take advantage of every opportunity available to her outside of her regular courses. “I took a host of seminars offered through the post-graduate curriculum at NUHS (you can do this as a student), including complementary medicine in cancer care, autism, and women’s health,” she says. “I also took extracurricular courses. One, in cranial-sacral therapy, offered through the massage school, is a wonderful addition to the mind-body work I do. Another course was in tincture formulation. Having the opportunity to create my own tinctures, salves, and lip balms from the raw materials gave me a much stronger appreciation for this art.”
“I also tried to keep balanced,” she adds. “Over a couple of summers, I received certification for self-care in Ayurvedic medicine, and I took a botanical illustration class—gifts for my creative self while going through med school!”
“One of the most valuable things I did, though, was to shadow physicians I admired in the field,” Krebs recalls. “I ended up working part-time in a hospital, and later in the clinic I’m at now. Exploring these options helped me clarify the kind of care I wanted to deliver after graduating. It also gave me the opportunity to create strong relationships early on. Developing a network of healthcare professionals you can count on is very valuable once you start practice.”
Building her career in naturopathic medicine
After graduating from NUHS, life was busy for Krebs. “Taking boards, planning my sister’s wedding, and working with my fiancé to plan our future together added some complexity,” she explains. “Joe and I considered everywhere on the map—from cornfields in the Midwest to Alaska. We ended up right here at home though, when I was offered an opportunity to work at the Center for Integral Health in Lombard, Illinois with Dr. Tim Fior and Dr. Joel Shepperd. I feel so blessed to be part of this incredible team.”
“The Center for Integral Health specializes in constitutional homeopathic care. We have a team of two naturopaths, two medical doctors, and a clinical assistant. With this integrative approach, patients receive truly individualized care,” Krebs says.
Now that Krebs has been working as an ND for a while, she finds that the statement from the brochure at NUHS rings true. “It is vital to use a little right-brained thinking—seeing your patient as a whole person, seeing disease as a dynamic process which involves many systems and circumstances, and the importance of focusing on both mind and body. However, you must also have the flexibility to process in a very linear fashion, synthesizing complex biochemistry and physiology and applying this to treatment plans,” Krebs says. “My mentor likened it to a chess game, where the best players see the individual pieces where they stand, as well as the entire game played out in any single move.”
Advice for future NDs
For those considering a future in naturopathic medicine, Krebs recommends exploring a variety of modalities and clinical settings. “Keep an open mind! You may come in with certain perceptions, but then leave with a very different idea,” she says. “I thought I wanted to work in a hospital setting and wound up in an integrative clinic! Keep exploring until you find your passion within the field.”
“With so many tools in your tool belt, as well as different populations and organ systems to focus on, the options are endless,” Krebs says. “The result is a very rewarding and challenging career.”