Tanelle Westgard is a third-year naturopathic medical student at Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (BINM). She shares her experience both in starting her journey into a career in naturopathic medicine, and as an ND student. Tanelle aspires to empower her patients through education and healing.
Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?
“I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that understood the importance of naturopathic
medicine. I had been to many different NDs that were able to help me and my family, and
always appreciated their alternative approaches. These experiences helped me realize that
naturopathic medicine was exactly the type of medicine that I wanted to go into – holistic, individualized, proactive, preventative, and integrative.”
How did you prepare for ND school?
“I worked hard and remained focused in order to achieve top grades. I always took a full schedule, sometimes more, to ensure I had completed all of the prerequisites. Outside of school, I immersed myself in a variety of extracurriculars such as volunteering for non-profit organizations, in hospitals, senior homes, and coaching special Olympics teams. These experiences provided me with growth which ultimately led me to Boucher.”
“My top priority for selecting a school was based on the community and culture. Boucher is a very small school with a unique community feel among students, professors, doctors, and staff. This extends to the naturopathic community within British Columbia as well. BC is my home and I could not think of a better place to learn and practice naturopathic medicine.”
What is your favorite thing about school? What surprised you?
“My classmates have become family; we have a bond that will last a lifetime. The professors and supervisors’ passion remind us of why we are working so hard every day.
As a class, we often reflect on how far we have come in the last few years. As new students, we thought we knew what we were in for. We were right in some ways, and wrong in others. The amount of information we have managed to learn, and knowledge we have gained is remarkable… but it is so much more than that.
What I didn’t expect were the non-academic lessons. Becoming a naturopathic doctor isn’t just a career, it is a way of being. Throughout the program we grow as students and as people. We learn determination, resiliency, adversity, empathy, courage, compassion, patience, and so much more. We have learned more about ourselves than we probably ever knew we could, and are just getting started!”
How do you maintain a school/life balance?
“During my first year at Boucher, a group of fourth-year students spoke to our class. One of the
quotes really stuck with me: ‘Boucher isn’t your whole life, it’s just a part of it.’
Recognizing the importance of work-life balance, Tanelle immersed herself in opportunities to build relationships in the Boucher community. While serving as an academic curriculum representative and as Co-President of the Boucher Naturopathic Students Association (BNSA), she established her connections with fellow students and staff and helped maintain community.
Currently, Tanelle is a student representative for a supplement company and works at Rize Fitness with her mentor and BINM alumna Dr. Aubrey Shannon.
“I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue to learn from Dr. Shannon on a weekly basis. I hope to one day do the same for a future student.”
What advice do you have for prospective ND students?
“Entering the program to become a naturopathic doctor was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Although challenging, it is a profession with so much potential.” Tanelle encourages prospective students to work hard and persevere through the challenges. Look for ways to keep yourself motivated by getting involved in extracurricular activities, volunteering, continuously learning, and finding a solid mentor.
“School can get busy, life can get even busier, but it is important to make time for the people who love and support you, and the things that make you happy.”
Click here to learn about other naturopathic doctors’ paths to naturopathic medicine.