“I was captivated by a profession that strives to find and treat the underlying cause of disease and the whole person. These were aspects in my own personal health care that had been missing.”
Kelly Baltazar, ND, DC, MS is an attending clinician and assistant professor at National University of Natural Medicine. Dr. Baltazar earned her chiropractic and Master’s degrees from National University of Health Sciences, and her naturopathic medical degree from Bastyr University.
Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?
“I was a highly competitive gymnast in my youth. When I was 13 years old, I sustained an injury that ended my gymnastics career. At that time, I saw multiple medical specialists without any resolution of my pain. After being told there was nothing more that could be done, I started my own journey of healing which led me to naturopathic medicine. I was captivated by a profession that strives to find and treat the underlying cause of disease and that treats the whole person, aspects of my own personal health care that had been missing.
Being trained as a naturopathic doctor has provided me with so many tools for patient care. When a patient doesn’t respond to one treatment, I know there are many other options I can offer. I also resonate with the principles of naturopathic medicine – most specifically docere (which translates to ‘doctor as teacher’) which also may be why I love teaching students. Throughout the years, I have seen the therapeutic effect of just sitting and being present with a patient. I have also repeatedly seen how very low intervention therapies can have the greatest benefit on patients.”
Aside from teaching, Dr. Baltazar worked as a naturopathic oncology provider at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) in Chicago and served on the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physician’s board. She has provided training on sarcoma to CTCA residents, presented on MTHFR polymorphisms, and childhood obesity. Dr. Baltazar has been a medical volunteer at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer three day walk, and at multiple races in the greater Chicago-land area.
What can students learn from you?
“I have been teaching for eight years. The first six years I was the Chief Clinician of the Naturopathic Medicine program at National University of Health Sciences. I have just started my third year teaching at National University of Natural Medicine where I teach in each year of the program and in a variety of courses: Physical Medicine: Musculoskeletal, Orthopedics, Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation, Rheumatology, EENT, Oncology, Structure and Function, Pediatrics/Geriatrics, and Psychology, and Mental Health. I also have two clinic shifts which have a focus on Physical Medicine, Integrative Oncology and Primary care.
I strive to bring my clinical experience into each class discussion as a way to make topics more practical and engaging. On my clinic shifts, my goal is to provide students an environment in which they feel comfortable asking questions and asking for help. I hope that by the end of our time together that they have had at least one clinical encounter that pushed them beyond their comfort, whether it be performing a physical medicine technique on a patient or sitting with a patient with stage 4 cancer. It is in those moments that help sculpt students into the physicians they will become.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND and educator
“Students bring such great joy and excitement to their learning process. In so many ways, their excitement continually reminds me of why I chose this profession. I greatly enjoy when I can be part of, and witness a student’s experience of understanding a concept for the first time, or when they perform a successful spinal manipulation for the first time. ND students tend to be a very eclectic group and come from such diverse backgrounds. Having this diversity in one room allows for such engaging discussions where I, too, am always learning.”
What advice do you have for prospective ND students?
“If I were to choose three top qualities that make a strong ND student they would be: passion, self-motivation and balance. It is a rigorous journey but the result is so rewarding. Naturopathic medicine is the only profession that is trained to approach patient care with the principles of naturopathic medicine and the therapeutic order guiding us – a very powerful and effective approach to patient care.”