Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Reasons behind my decision to become a Naturopathic Physician and Oriental Medicine Practioner
Questions One and Two:
Please tell us how your experiences, background, abilities, interests, and/or hardships make you a good candidate for NCNM
What led to your decision to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine or Chinese Medicine?
In the fall of 1994, I was eleven; I lost my great-grandfather who was my best friend. “Pa” was 87 years old. He was the kindest, most patient man I have ever known. He was diagnosed with lung cancer several months before his death. I dearly wished that there was something that I could have done to help him. It seems as though we all know someone who has had a personal encounter with cancer.
When I was 14, my mother was diagnosed with Pulmonary Sarcoidosis (a little-known disease that causes fleshy, benign tumors to form and proliferate in the affected areas). There were periods when she felt sick, and others when she felt fine. As her illness progressed, there were times that she couldn’t breathe well, and she could hardly walk one hundred feet. Just taking a few steps would cause her to be short of breath and feel extremely tired. She was overweight as a result of Prednisone – at the time, the only treatment western medicine offered. She went to many medical doctors and pulmonary specialists but nothing helped. As a last-ditch effort, a close family friend suggested a friend of his. She went to the referral who was a nutritionist, and a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, Mark Mincolla. He used muscle-testing to evaluate her for food allergies or sensitivities. He eliminated most foods from her diet, allowing only a minimum of simple foods in order to help her body to “re-boot”. My mother soon abandoned Western Medicine’s typical treatment. She also started seeing a local acupuncturist. Rachel, the acupuncturist, and my mother grew very fond of each other and helped each other out, both professionally and personally, in many ways. Rachel and Dr. Mincolla helped to re-establish my mother’s health.
I didn’t know it at the time, but my barista job would send me down the path to health and wellness education. People would come in feeling miserable, wanting their usual coffee beverage, coughing and sneezing everywhere. Instead of their usual beverage, I suggested, “today instead of your coffee, allow me to make you a blend of teas!”. I mixed the loose teas gently together and squeezed a bit of lemon into them. The next day they would come in, breathing clearly, and ask for another custom tea-blend. They said that it was tasty and soothing.
As the year progressed, I felt a great urging to go somewhere I had never been. I was introduced to an older gentleman by the name Olinto who was going to New Mexico. I told Olinto that I wanted to go cross-country. He said that I could join him if I had liked. I decided to continue my journey on to Arizona. Once I got there, things fell into place. I found a job as a barista, and a new home. I knew there was something there for me, but I had not discovered what.
As winter was waning, I traveled back to Nantucket. I had an interest in how to grow and maintain the plants that were used in those teas I made. I applied for a gardening position, and discovered that I enjoyed the work. My knowledge and skills progressed rapidly. I became a crew leader, supervising 2 to 5 people. In addition, my responsibilities included teaching the other employees to become gardeners. During that season, I applied to massage therapy school in Arizona, because touch came very naturally to me and I have always been a “hands-on” type of girl. In the fall of 2005, I went to school for the first time since leaving high school.
After successfully finishing massage therapy school, I headed back to Nantucket continuing to garden and began a massage therapy business. My first client, now a long-time friend, would trade massage often; as he is a massage therapist too. He was the husband of the acupuncturist who helped my mother. I grew to know and love the very same Rachel.
I decided that I needed to continue my education in the health field, so I applied to Salem State College in Massachusetts. On my visits home, I noticed that Rachel was changing. Her body was extremely thin, and her hue had altered. In the autumn of 2008, Rachel lost her battle with Stage IV liver cancer. I don’t remember feeling that crushed since I lost my “Pa”.
While at Salem State College I gained a position as Lead Therapist, at LivingWell in Salem, MA. My growing knowledge of the body combined with that of massage; enabling me to better understand my clients’ needs and develop unique goals for them. My goal for each of my clients is optimal health. Between the client, the owner and myself, we develop a specific treatment plan, which we believe is best for them. I am proud to say that for each of my clients, I not only have a satisfactory professional relationship, but I also have gained their trust because of their positive results.
My experiences with cancer, the early loss of my Pa, and my friend Rachel – much too early in life- combined with massage therapy and teaching others have fueled my desire to continue my education in the field of health and wellness. I wish to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine. I wish to empower people to choose a healthier lifestyle. There is something spectacular about “getting dirt under your own nails,” and passing on a little bit of life, be it through gardening, or providing care for those around you, with the modalities learned.
I am an excellent choice for NCNM because I know of no one with a stronger desire and will to help people improve their health than I have; I am a professional gardener who understands a variety of plants, a licensed Massage Therapist and soon to be graduate of Salem State College who put herself on an accelerated program. I have learned that helping people is a calling within me. I have seen first hand what I am capable of providing for people so long as they are willing to listen and willing to walk the less beaten path. My limited knowledge leaves me wanting for so much more so that I may help people obtain their goals, and general well being in all aspects of their life. It is the driving force in my every effort. I believe that my calling is not to cure people, but to enrich and teach people an older tradition for care, which originates from our oldest human roots. I will be practicing naturopathic medicine and Chinese medicine eventually. I will be helping people, and they will have NCNM to thank for my
opportunity to be of service to humanity and the planet.
Question Three: What exposure have you had to the philosophy and modalities of naturopathic medicine?
As Hippocrates proposed the laws of medicine, these hold true to naturopathic medicine as well. The goal is to eliminate, not to suppress; and to coax the aliment out of the body without causing harm to the patient. Inside each one of us, with Nature’s help, lies the power and ability to heal.
We must recognize and identify an illness in order to treat it. We must be cognizant of our own abilities to treat and overcome illnesses. Naturopathic medicine looks at the person as a whole organism, consisting of systems and organs, from the macro to the micro. Maintaining our body’s health and possessing the knowledge of what we are challenged by, is our first defense. We will not be doctors as much as advocates and teachers of what prevention may do for each one of us. Some of the modalities consistent with naturopathic medicine are: nutrition, massage, homeopathy, and other non-invasive procedures and techniques.
Question Four: What is your understanding of the differences between classical and traditional Chinese Medicine?
The differences between Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM or CM) are what they are based on. CCM is based on inherited traditions, observations, practices, philosophies and experiences; whereas TCM is based more on modern medicine. In CCM the body is treated as a whole. TCM looks at the body as an independent entity. TCM could easily use the S.O.A.P. note method for documentation, whereas CCM would not be able to “color so neatly” inside these lines. TCM may be considered a body-mind medicine, whereas CCM is a body-mind-spirit medicine. CCM also uses the arts such as calligraphy, music, meditation, painting and journeys or traveling to expand the practitioner’s knowledge to understand the world around them.
TCM is the use of a physician, who is legally defined with ethical standards, who is skilled in the technicalities and imbalances between the bodily humors and advocates or calibrates the structural composition, through a process of elimination, such as boosting the immune system to defend against a virus. Health in TCM is defined as the absence of pathology. In CCM it is defined as an active process of refining the body’s essences and cultivating one’s vital forces. These essences and forces are sometimes called chi, or qi.
Chi or qi flow along meridians along our bodies and is the link between our organs. Without proper chi, our bodies slow down or speed up, and become out of balance. This imbalance is documented though touch, vision, and listening to a patient’s complaints, and likes and dislikes for food. Each organ is associated with one of the five elements: earth, metal, water, fire and wood. Also, each organ is associated with a specific time of day, occupying one hour at a time, and a total of two hours each day. Taking notice of when one feels best and worst though out the day is important for diagnosis, to figure out which organ and element is either strong or weak.