Dr. Chris Pickrell – CCNM

“Teaching students the tools of learning empowers them for lifelong learning.” 

Chris Pickrell, ND is a registered herbalist and the head of the botanical medicine program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) – his alma mater.

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

“I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare in some capacity, and for many years, I assumed that would be as a medical doctor. The more I learned about naturopathic medicine, the more it felt like the way I wanted to contribute. The best answer I can offer here, though I borrow it from a line I once saw written as an answer to this specific question, is – I want to be part of the solution.”

What can students learn from you?

“I coordinate the botanical medicine program at CCNM and teach the second-year botanical course as well as the advanced botanical elective course along with a senior colleague. I also teach botanical medicine and Chinese medicine within our specialized program for International Medical Graduates (IMG), a program that allows IMG students to use their training as medical doctors to become naturopathic doctors.

There are two ways I try to focus student learning. The first is to reframe the student problem. Most students come from undergrad with the primary focus of passing their classes and achieving good grades. Nothing wrong with that. But, as we move from that mindset of achievement-as-outcome into a broader approach to learning that includes both the mind and the heart, we reframe the context of learning into practical clinical application.

Similarly, the second aspect, another reframe, is to move the agency of learning back to the student. I often start class by saying, ‘We’re not teaching botanical medicine, we’re teaching how to learn botanical medicine.’ It is neither possible nor desirable to cover every single herb for every single condition. Teaching students the tools of learning empowers them for lifelong learning.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

The flexibility of a career in naturopathic medicine is very rewarding. “In my 10+ years of practice, I have started a walk-in community acupuncture clinic, a walk-in naturopathic clinic, and created a practitioner clinic with a focus on offering affordable naturopathic care to everyone. I have also enjoyed teaching, supervising in our student clinic, and even starting a botanical business on the side. I’ve also taken groups of CCNM students to Traditional Chinese Medicine hospitals in China.” There are so many opportunities in naturopathic medicine!

“I am most passionate about finding ways to support NDs offering affordable care. I’ve got a standing offer of support for any practitioner looking to make affordable care a focus of their practice. I want to see our profession do everything we can to make sure we stay part of the solution, for everyone.”

What qualities make a strong ND student?

“The qualities that make a strong ND student are the same as those that make a strong ND in practice. Foremost is integrity. Compassion, equanimity, passion for lifelong learning, and a broad mind are all required to excel as a naturopathic doctor.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Deciding to join any profession or take on any significant amount of schooling is always a major decision. Take your time, test it out, spend some time with at least a few different NDs, and visit a couple of the schools. Then, at a certain point, you’ll have all the information you can gather. With decisions this big, you can never know every possible variable, and that is okay. When you’re ready, sit down somewhere quiet and you’ll find you already know the answer that’s right for you.”

Learn more about Dr. Pickrell



The Herbal Clinic and Dispensary

The Health Happens Podcast

Advanced Botanical Prescribing

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Food as Medicine

Want to learn how to find health and healing in your kitchen? Join the AANMC and Dr. Aaron Wong for a free informative webinar to learn how your food choices can nourish your mind, body, and spirit. Good nutrition is core to overall health and fundamental to the naturopathic approach to wellness and disease management.

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

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To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.

About the Presenter

Aaron Wong, ND is a big proponent of food as medicine and growing your own food. He has been doing public talks on the importance of food and its impact on health from a mind, body, spirit perspective for many years. He is an avid gardener and an enthusiast of local plant medicine. After completing his degree in chemical and biological engineering at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Wong suffered a debilitating back injury that completely changed the course of his life. Through years of recovery and trying numerous conventional and alternative treatments, Dr. Wong found healing within mind, body and spirit medicine. Dr. Wong is a graduate of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (BINM) and has additional training in acupuncture, IV therapy and chelation. He is also a Registered Therapeutic Counselor. Dr. Wong is the clinical director at Butterfly Naturopathic in North Vancouver and is an experienced Clinic Faculty Supervisor at BINM supervising third and fourth-year clinicians.

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*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

Our Favorite Herbs to Stay Healthy

Herbal medicine has been used for centuries. Join Patricia Gaines, ND, RH (AHG) Chair of Botanical Medicine at SCNM to find out why!

Top Herbs Everyone Needs to Know About

The presentation covers:

-Common medicinal herbs along with their safety and use indication

  • Centella asiatica – Gotu kola
  • Matricaria recutita/Matricaria chamomilla –Chamomile
  • Crataegus spp. – Hawthorn
  • Urtica dioica – Stinging nettle

-Top conditions treated with botanical medicine
-Supporting research in the field of botanical medicine
-Patient case study
-Resources for those wanting to know more about the field of botanical medicine

Want to learn more about herbal medicine? Check out The Naturopathic Kitchen  where we explore the use of food as medicine.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Do You Have the Mind of an ND?

Naturopathic medicine is gaining attention in the media as people seek out alternative routes to solving their health problems. But it is also getting more attention because of the opportunities that it provides people for career paths. Regulated naturopathic healthcare is attracting more and more potential students to the field because of the flexible schedules and opportunities to make a difference in the community that come with this area of medicine. Could naturopathic medicine be the right path for you? If you are considering this exciting area, here are a few things you need to know about what makes for a great naturopathic doctor.

Do you have the heart and mind of an ND?

Do you want to shape the future of healthcare?
Do you want to spend time getting to know your patients in order to treat their whole self?
Do you believe nutrition and exercise are important for a healthy lifestyle?
Do you recognize the importance of treating both the mind and body?
Do you recognize the role stress plays into a patient's healthcare?

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A Holistic Approach

One of the main tenets of an ND’s practice is taking a holistic approach to treating patients. NDs treat the whole person, looking at how different systems and ailments are interconnected. In addition, NDs are more likely to take a team approach to treatment, looking at a variety of causes for health problems with help from many specialties.

Nutrition and Exercise

An important feature of an ND’s work is the reliance on nutrition and exercise to promote a healthy lifestyle. Naturopathic doctors are often called upon to act as educators, teaching their patients how to take care of themselves by showing them what they should and should not eat and how they can best exercise.

Mind-Body Connection

NDs look to treat both the mind and the body. Many naturopathic medical clinics feature ways of treating not only physical ailments, but mental and spiritual problems as well. These can include treatments for PTSD at veteran’s clinics or domestic abuse centers as well as providing safe spaces for migrants and the LGBTQ community.

Stress Management

Naturopathic medicine takes a proactive approach to health care, noting the importance to prevent ailments before they occur. Recognition of the role of stress in illness and teaching patients lifelong skills in stress management is core to naturopathic treatment plans. Mind-body medicine approaches are tailored to the individual patient in order to mitigate tension before it impacts our health.

Natural Approaches and Herbal Medicine

If you are thinking about becoming a naturopathic physician, you will need to become knowledgeable in natural approaches to treatment. NDs make it a point to seek out the gentlest treatments for their patients, reserving more invasive methods as a means of last resort. Herbal medicine is a key tool in the naturopathic tool belt. NDs honor cultural botanical medicine practices with modern advances in botanical research.

We’ve talked about the various areas licensed naturopathic physicians need to know in order to be a great ND and there are a few common characteristics of successful naturopathic medical students :

• Strong academic background
• Excellent communicators
• Socially conscious
• Passionate for disease prevention
• Inquisitive and excited to find the root cause of illness
• Recognizes the power of a holistic approach to patient care

All of these characteristics will help lead you into a rewarding career in the exciting field of naturopathic medicine. Find out exactly what the path to a career in naturopathic medicine looks like for you by visiting https://aanmc.org/request.