Hello wonderful people. Today I want to answer a question that comes up a lot, what is naturopathic medicine? Also known as, “you’re a what kind of doctor?”
To be honest many of my colleagues have answered this better than I. For a great example see the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians description here.
What I would like to do, though, is answer what a naturopathic doctor is from my personal perspective. To do that, it is perhaps best to share a little bit about how I heard about naturopathic medicine the first time myself, a time when I myself was saying, “a naturo-what?” (There is actually a great article written by Jon Hikes on my story – check it out here).
I was always certain I wanted to be a scientist. I graduated from The University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League university in my hometown of Philadelphia, with a degree in molecular biology. I was fascinated with the molecular realm. The millions of actions taken in our cells every day to keep us alive just blew my mind, I loved it!
That is, until I saw what the ‘doing’ of molecular biology actually was on a day-to-day level. In practice this was working in basement labs pipetting clear liquids into 96-well plates under a sterile hood all day long, basically everyday. Maybe 1% of my time was actually spent thinking about the cool things that were happening in the petri dishes, the rest was – well to be honest – mind numbing.
I quit my job in a molecular ecology lab I was working in at the time, bought a rucksack and headed off to Central America. I was going to find myself (yes I am aware of how trite this sounds).
I was pretty sure I was going to make it all the way to the bottom of South America but I ended up falling in love with Guatemala and stayed there for quite some time. I worked on farms here and there and traveled until the money I had saved ran out. I met someone while traveling who, after hearing about my love for the intricacies of biology but also of my search for something that helped people, suggested naturopathic medicine. “Naturo-what??” I said. I had no idea what she was talking about.
After finding an internet café and a shop to place long distance phone calls in rural Guatemala I started my research into this field of medicine I had never heard of before.
Long story short, after nine months of travel, I had indeed found a path for myself. I flew home and started my journey to become a naturopathic doctor.