Tips from a Naturopathic Medical Student

Join the AANMC and President of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association – Blake Langley for an informative session on what it takes to thrive as an ND student!

Here’s what you can expect to learn:
-A day in the life of a naturopathic medical student
-What to expect from naturopathic medical school
-How to balance school and life responsibilities
-How to build your resume and experience as a student to prepare for a career you will love
-Advice for prospective students

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

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About the Presenter

Blake Langley is in his sixth year of studies in naturopathic and Chinese medicine at the National University of Natural Medicine. Hailing from the southeastern United States, he was raised in an area of the country underserved by naturopathic medicine. The therapeutic order and 6 principles of naturopathic medicine strongly guide his approach to patient care. He serves as President of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association and represents the voice of naturopathic students at the Integrative Health Policy Consortium and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He additionally serves as the Founding Co-Chair of the Student Committee of the American Society of Acupuncturists. With his passion for advocacy and administration, Blake hopes to integrate these into the next step of his career: residency.

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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 .

Blake Langley – ND Student

“NUNM changed my life. The person I was six years ago is very different from the man and clinician that I am today.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Hailing from southeast United States, Blake Langley, Naturopathic Medical Student Association President and ND student, knew medicine was his calling since middle school.

“Realizing there was a significant lack of focus on prevention and chronic disease management other than polypharmacy, I began researching holistic healthcare professions. That’s when naturopathic medicine fell into my lap. At my first site visit, I felt like I was home.”

Blake’s first step to pursuing his naturopathic medical education was meeting with the National University of Natural Medicine admissions team in to discuss his transcript and career goals as they aligned with the science, history, and philosophy of naturopathic medicine. “The pathway to true health and wellness comes from comprehensive care. Naturopathic medicine has a focus on each patient’s whole health, including prevention of disease and minimizing risk factors. The idea of using lower intensity interventions when safe and appropriate was so novel to me compared to the quick administration of drugs and surgery, that I knew I’d never be able to go back.”

NUNM as a springboard

“NUNM provided a safe space for me to express my opinions, study other healing modalities on top of my naturopathic medical studies, take part in a close-knit community, and live in an area of the country that has a diverse set of natural areas.”

“I discovered a year or two into my education, that the naturopathic profession has varying views on our core identity; however, the diversity of thought at NUNM provided a space for colorful discussion. I found it important to study real primary care medicine while adhering to core naturopathic philosophy and becoming an efficient and competent clinician.”

“NUNM urged me to pursue other areas of study like acupuncture and massage therapy, which will greatly increase my possible future job opportunities. I received my LMT during my time at NUNM, and practiced massage outside of my clinical experience at the school and during preceptorship.”

Furthermore, the NUNM campus’ unique old elementary school setting offered charm that the other schools could not compete with. “With easy public transit and pedestrian access, the urban setting is distinctly offset by stunning views of Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood on sunny days. Within two hours, students can have access to Oregon coastlines, river beaches, mountains, deep forests, and even high desert settings. With much-needed escapes from the didactic settings of medical school, I knew NUNM was the best place for me.”

“There are so many lessons I’ve learned throughout my time at NUNM. In my personal life, I’ve learned how to only bring things into my life that bring me joy; I’ve learned how to recognize when my body, mind, and spirit need restoration; I’ve learned how to communicate better with myself, my peers, my superiors, and those outside of the realm of naturopathic medicine. However, in my professional life, almost everything has changed. I have discovered how to efficiently learn on the fly, how to manage my time and investments, how to respect the interests and approach to medicine that others have, and what it means to provide patient-centered healthcare. NUNM changed my life. The person I was six years ago is very different from the man and clinician that I am today.”

“In school, I probably volunteered a little too much of my time sitting on the Honor Council, serving as Student Ambassador, representing on additional committees, working in multiple capacities with the Naturopathic Medical Student Association, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Integrative Health Policy Consortium, and more. However, it is through my work on these projects that I have found exactly where I will thrive in my future practice.”

Work-Life Balance as an ND student

I have always loved organization and facilitation of others’ clarity and efficiency. Over the last four years, I have invested an average of 30 hours per week into representing students on a national level in advocacy, training, education, and opportunity development through the Naturopathic Medical Student Association. I eat, breathe, and live the NMSA at this point in my life and it augments my clinical and didactic education in a way that keeps me passionate about what we do and teach. From my volunteerism with the other organizations in the profession, I’ve found my niche – as much as I love direct patient care, I know I will continue to be involved in administration throughout my career.

Furthermore, “I find that I have greater career flexibility from adding a second degree, receiving another license (LMT), and gaining training in organizational management from the NMSA. Because my focus remains in areas of high concentration of pre-licensed states, I’m very glad to have included the Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine during my time at NUNM. I can practice in any state in the country with both licenses. Additionally, this gives me the opportunity to influence parts of the healthcare entity that may not be open to NDs right now. Most medical providers have an idea of what acupuncture is and how it works. Using my LAc to work alongside these providers and introducing them to naturopathic medicine over time can build trust, long-standing relationships, and opportunities for future naturopathic doctors to receive gainful employment throughout the levels of the healthcare system in the future.”

Future Goals

“I’m currently working toward a residency; however, my hopes for a paradigm shift in the southeast United States remains a constant urge in the back of my mind. My goals are to move into healthcare administration and use my acupuncture license to move into areas of the healthcare system currently uncharted by naturopathic doctors. There is significant room for development within systems like the Veteran’s Administration where, if people are able to become credentialed, work, and build trust in the systems pre-existing structure, facilitating ND entrance can be more easily conducted.”

“The parts of naturopathic medicine that I have developed a great passion for are in advocacy and administration. During my time with the NMSA, I’ve learned that, as much as I love providing care to patients, I need a break to work in legislation and organizations that help the background of the profession. Most come into naturopathic medicine to provide for patients, but I’ve learned that I’m a better facilitator. I plan to work on state and federal levels for naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and integrative health and wellness to bring naturopathic physicians into systems throughout the United States for a foundational shift in the wellness of our country.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

“The greatest advice I can provide to those considering naturopathic medicine – or medicine in general – is to remain humble and open to other philosophies. In naturopathic medicine, we have the opportunity to learn from an array of lineages to promote diversity of thought and practice. As individual as our patients are, the physicians in our profession are similarly diverse. Even if you don’t agree with or understand certain practices (most commonly homeopathy or vaccination), you should train yourself to think critically for yourself without having to force any belief on another individual. Medical school is a time to explore not only your capability of gaining knowledge, providing patient care, and how you may want to practice in the future; it is also a time to understand how you work best, what your personal limits are, and challenge yourself to understand what you know and what you don’t know. I’ve seen classmates let their ego get ahead of them and create false preconceptions regarding subjects (which naturopathic medicine already has a challenge with to some extent with other parts of the healthcare community) and it has left them cynical and jaded. However, the classmates who challenge themselves to think critically and openly have noted their patient interactions are easier, their ability and willingness to learn is accelerated, and they graduate as healthier, happier individuals.”

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Dr. Carrie Baldwin-Sayre – NUNM

“It just made sense to find the root cause of illness rather than just put a band-aid on it, and use whatever natural means were effective FIRST, before elevating to riskier or side-effect ridden therapies.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

Dr. Carrie Baldwin-Sayre knew she wanted to be a doctor since elementary school, but it wasn’t until later in life that she found her calling in naturopathic medicine. As a young student she had never heard of medical systems outside of the conventional, Western model. As a pre-med student, she didn’t enjoy the level of competitiveness among students and what seemed to be financial motivations for pursuing a career in medicine. In an effort to stay true to her values, she changed paths and pursued a bachelor’s degree in sociology at UCLA. After graduation, she developed chronic non-seasonal rhinitis for which she was prescribed a steroid nasal spray with no explanation of the cause of the condition or use of the drug. The steroid spray didn’t work so she began her own research and discovered the now-classic book “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” The book contained a full chapter on alternative medicine which covered diet, herbs, and mind-body and referenced National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, OR. Dr. Baldwin-Sayre requested more information and was hooked. “It just made sense to find the root cause of illness rather than just put a band-aid on it, and use whatever natural means were effective FIRST, before elevating to riskier or side-effect ridden therapies.”

With her heart set on becoming a naturopathic doctor, she and her husband packed their bags and moved to Portland. While her husband attended law school, she worked full time and completed her pre-requisites at night. Seven years later, she made the transition from a lucrative career in high-tech public relations to a full-time naturopathic medical student. “As soon as I started studying the physiology, biochemistry, and mechanisms of action of nutrients and herbs, it just made perfect sense.”

NUNM as a springboard

Dr. Baldwin-Sayre describes her time at NUNM as turning point in which she found a community of students and faculty who were dedicated to an alternative healthcare approach. “That passion was important to me, and made me realize that I not only wanted to help individual patients, but also to introduce to a much wider audience the idea that we could do things differently in health care and have great success in the process. We all had different spins on how we wanted to do that, but we were absolutely united in that underlying goal.” Dr. Baldwin-Sayre’s former classmates are now her colleagues with whom she continues to work with, meet up with at conferences and consults regularly about tough patient cases.

“Living the dream” after graduation

After completing her residency in general practice and cardiovascular medicine at the Center for Natural Medicine and the (then) NCNM Health Centers, Dr. Baldwin-Sayre stayed on as an independent contractor at NCNM and then pursued a career in private practice.

“I was motivated to change my focus from private practice because of my work on the Board of Directors at the Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OANP) which subtly shifted my perspective from individual patients to naturopathic medicine as a whole. I realized the importance of helping to grow the profession and protect our rights as physicians. As the Associate Dean of Clinical Education at NUNM, I am now in a better position to do that than I ever was before.” Dr. Baldwin-Sayre currently serves as the President of the OANP.

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“I love supporting the profession in its growth and evolution. I am passionate about educating the community about naturopathic medicine and how it is changing the healthcare landscape. I really love introducing and advocating for our medicine to legislators, insurers, researchers, policymakers, other healthcare providers and just about anyone who could advance the profession and help open up opportunities for our graduates. “

Advice for aspiring NDs

Reflecting on her success, Dr. Baldwin-Sayre recalls the significance of residency in offering better opportunities for practice. Furthermore, she credits external preceptorships that helped her network with NDs in the Portland community. Many of those physicians remain important mentors in her life today.

Dr. Baldwin-Sayre advises prospective naturopathic medical students to *visit a local ND to gain a better understanding of naturopathic practice. **There is diversity in the practice of naturopathic medicine so it is important to keep an open mind with others’ approaches to treatment. She also encourages prospective students to establish a financial plan and take out the minimum student loans that you need to pursue your education. Work hard and set up opportunities to expose yourself to different types of practices to set yourself up to be the best doctor you can be!

*Find a naturopathic doctor near you in the United States and Canada.

**The scope of naturopathic medicine varies by state. To learn about the scope of practice in your state or province, visit the state affiliates of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians website or the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

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Naturopathic Medicine at NUNM: The Best of Both Worlds

Health care has experienced a revolution over the last 10 years—some could argue that it’s been taking place for decades longer. The pace of change has quickened. Naturopathic medicine is more accepted—evidenced by the growing number of licensed states and states closing in on licensure. Nowhere is that changing of the status quo manifested more than at National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, the grandfather of accredited naturopathic schools. Today, NUNM is the recognized leader in natural medicine and research, where healing resides at the very center of health care.

Naturopathic medicine combines traditional (sometimes called nature cure or “vitalist”) healing modalities with modern science and evidence-based medicine. This allows naturopathic doctors the ability to practice the full scope of their medicine—as primary care physicians who rely on natural medicine to help their patients regain or maintain health. This balance of incorporating traditional naturopathic medicine alongside a science-based curriculum has introduced a wide range of career opportunities for NUNM graduates. From practicing at Zoom+Care integrative clinics, to researching in hospitals, to practicing medicine in rural counties or underdeveloped countries—NUNM grads are practicing where health care is desperately needed.

The tide continues to turn in favor of natural medicine for NUNM graduates. In Oregon, legislation has increasingly recognized the efficacy of naturopathic medicine—a boon to NUNM clinics and graduates. Case in point: Legislators in Oregon are now considering an insurance “pay parity” bill that allows NDs to be equitably paid for the same services as those performed by MDs.

From Nature Cure to Evidence-Based Medicine

At the same time, respect for traditional naturopathic treatments—herbal medicines, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, has never been greater. NUNM Library is host to one of the largest collections of books on natural medicine in the nation. Its Rare Book Room holds more than 2,000 books, with volumes dating back to the 1600s, a wellspring of information for those researching the roots of the medicine. Last month, NUNM Press celebrated the completion of a project that’s been 10 years in the making: the final book in a 12-volume anthology presenting original writings from the early literature of several founders of the naturopathic profession. The Hevert Collection: In Their Own Words, edited by Sussanna Czeranko, ND, strives to reintroduce the thoughts and practices of the nation’s first naturopathic practitioners.

While the profession of naturopathic medicine has changed since its earliest days to stay current with the times, one thing that is constant is the deep desire to deliver the best possible care informed by evidence for naturopathic practices. This is what drives the NUNM naturopathic and research faculty in everything they do for their students. Many of our students are enrolled in dual-degree programs. Some, for example, study naturopathic medicine while learning how to develop research studies on specific areas of interest. NUNM’s Helfgott Research Institute, led by Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH, is justifiably earning a reputation as the best naturopathic medicine research institute in the country. In addition to millions of dollars in NIH grants awarded in just the past five years, in a recent issue of the respected Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Helfgott faculty submitted three of the 10 research studies published on advances in naturopathic medicine.

NUNM students, like Christine McClure, clearly benefit from this naturopathic and research expertise. Christine, who is studying for a naturopathic doctorate and master’s in research, learned in February that she was chosen as this year’s NPLEX Anna MacIntosh Junior Investigator Research Fellow for NMSA International, an award of $5,000. The award will help her implement a clinical trial of Pau d’Arco for premenstrual syndrome, which she designed as an element of her master’s thesis. She will present her results at the annual NMSA Conference to be held in August. Scientific research like Christine’s is essential to sustain the tradition of naturopathic medicine while continuing its advancement. It is helping to advance the concepts of healing and wellness within the paradigm of health care.

NUNM has long been rooted in the foundations of natural medicine. With a strong base in evidence-based research, our faculty, students and graduates continue to champion and evolve the naturopathic profession to meet the healthcare needs of our time.

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The Future is Bright for Naturopathic Medical Students

Guest post by Valerie A. Gettings, CNHP, NMSA president-elect, 3rd year naturopathic medical student, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, Ontario

Naturopathic medical students across North America came together earlier this month in Austin, Texas, for the annual Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA) winter workshop. During this event, student NMSA leaders representing nine schools across North America, met to conduct strategic planning, find common solutions, conduct conference planning, and further community building for the upcoming year.

“I am incredibly proud of my amazing board of directors this year,” said Blake Langley, NMSA President, and 6th-year naturopathic and Chinese medicine student, National University of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR. “Their drive and motivation to organize impactful events for naturopathic medical students at each of their schools is astounding. I am proud to say that, as an organization, we have recently increased the number of travel grants to 72 annual travel grants (over $14,000 in value), over four competitive fellowships (over $10,000 in value), and have put forth further investment into a truly collaborative environment with other organizations in the naturopathic profession. The future is bright!”

During the three-day event, students shared their chapter updates, helped each other to find solutions at each of their schools, and were able to gain additional leadership training. The team also worked diligently on conference planning for the upcoming American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)/NMSA co-located conference in Portland, OR, August 15-17, 2019 at the Oregon Convention Center.

This year’s NMSA Winter Workshop also allowed students to see the oldest naturopathic depository of books in the United States, housed in Austin, TX, at the Stark Center Library.

“I was so incredibly inspired and motivated after attending this year’s NMSA winter workshop,” said Sydney Freggiaro, NMSA VP communications, 4th year naturopathic medical student, Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA. “It’s been such a fulfilling experience to get to mentor each chapter president, watch them step into their roles, and be the voice of other naturopathic medical students at their schools.”

The NMSA international executive board, supported by executive director, Stephanie Fogelson, is made up of 16 student leaders, including nine chapter presidents, who oversee NMSA local boards at each school. The local boards put on local and community events and foster personal and professional development for students at each school.

The NMSA is a 501(c)3 non-profit that is a unified, sustainable, ethical and professional voice for naturopathic medical students across North America. The NMSA advocates for naturopathic physicians-in-training, and inspires educational and community building initiatives that prepare naturopathic medical students with tools, experiences and connections necessary to become successful physicians. The NMSA operates on the core values of empowerment, community, impact, and integrity. The NMSA serves to create opportunity, support, and represent the diversity of naturopathic medical students.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

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