“Although I enjoyed delivering care to my patients as a conventional medical doctor, I did not feel totally fulfilled personally and professionally.”
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
Xermã Palmares, MBA was already a Brazilian medical doctor when he decided to pursue a career change to naturopathic medicine. With experience as a cardiovascular surgeon, intensive care physician and medical consultant for many years, he needed more out of his career.
“Although I enjoyed delivering care to my patients as a conventional medical doctor, I did not feel totally fulfilled personally and professionally.” It took him some time to realize that what he wanted was more than the conventional approach. Dr. Palmares wanted to provide a holistic approach to health by focusing on prevention and all aspects affecting patient health including mind, body and soul.
Furthermore, adding to the discontent of his medical career, the stress of a demanding career with little flexibility was taking a toll on his family. He found himself unfulfilled and fatigued. Something needed to change.
“In the midst of a personal and professional crisis, I decided to regroup myself around my purpose and rebuild my professional life. I made an assessment of my personal and professional history.” Dr. Palmares found that the highlights of his career in which he felt most fulfilled were spent helping others better themselves in small community classes and seminars, as well as in organizational and corporate change. This realization led him to further his education in life coaching and leadership training.
CCNM as a springboard
It was in his quest to learn more about training for coaching and leadership that Dr. Palmares first learned about naturopathic medicine. The key words he used in his online searches matched those of the AANMC. “One day I clicked on the advertisement and read it. I was shocked! The description of naturopathic medicine was tremendously aligned with what I was looking for in a career.” He dug even deeper and explored resources available through the AANMC such as the naturopathic webinar archive. After speaking with those he knew who had experience in naturopathy, he decided to apply to naturopathic medical school. He jokes that “it seems that I have found the field I’ve always wanted to create!”
When deciding which accredited naturopathic school was right for him, Dr. Palmares considered the curriculum, financial investment and location. “Due to a combination of factors, and since my wife and our three children had been living in Toronto for a little while, I found the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine to be the best fit for us.”
“The whole process was really scary, and this history is still unfolding, however, my present feeling is gratitude for finding naturopathic medicine.”
Work/life balance as an ND student
The accredited schools of naturopathic medical colleges are full-time, in residence programs. CCNM students have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular seminars in which visiting companies inform students of the latest clinical and technological opportunities available. In addition, the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic offers hands on experience for students to engage with patients from all walks of life with a variety of health conditions.
One of the greatest learning experiences Dr. Palmares has experienced thus far, is the opportunity to coordinate with an ICU integrative team composed of a pharmacist, physiotherapist, two physicians, a therapist, and a nurse. Each member of the team offers their expertise in discussing clinical cases and lab tests to determine the best therapeutic strategy for each patient’s unique needs.
Dr. Palmares anticipates being directly involved with an integrative team following graduation. One of his goals is to combine his conventional cardiovascular experience with his naturopathic toolkit to offer a holistic approach to health.
Dr. Palmares describes the time away from his family as the hardest part of the journey, however in the long run he expects his career change will offer a better quality of life with more flexibility.
Advice for aspiring NDs
“Naturopathic medicine has a lot to add to healthcare. It is an expanding professional field that relies on many ancient and recognized medical traditions.” Consider all of the resources available to you when you are deciding if naturopathic medicine is right for you. Do your homework and research the schools, curriculum and financial investment of your education.
“As in any other professional field, there is heterogeneity, however, it is possible to find solid ground to establish a sound naturopathic medicine practice.”
Learn more about Dr. Xermã Palmares: