Staying Open to the Journey in Med School


Nervous. Anxious. Excited. Fearful. Sometimes a combination of all of these. This definitely describes my emotional whirlwind during the first week of naturopathic medical school. It seems like I have a thousand questions zipping through my mind every minute. “Will I be able to handle the course load? Does my financial aid cover my on-campus rent? Do I need to buy all of my medical equipment yet for all four years in the first week of school?” Endless questions.

In preparation for all of these questions and emotions, the amazing staff at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine was prepared. I brought the ball of emotions I felt inside me to orientation. I felt pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. On the second day we had a panel discussion where the second year, third year, fourth year students, and a successful CCNM naturopathic doctor spoke about their experiences. Suddenly, I felt all of the anxiety, fear, and nervousness melt away.

I started to get excited. Excited for the path I have chosen with all of my heart to make a difference in the world as a naturopathic doctor. A path to help people get better and lead their best life in health and harmony. I suddenly remembered WHY I started on this path in the first place – because my ND lit that spark in me.

During the panel discussion, I raised my hand and asked, “How do you stay open to the journey?” I know I have an idea of what type of environment I want to work in after I graduate from CCNM. I know what type of population I would like to work with. But, that may NOT be THE PLAN in how things play out. Who knows what will happen in four years?

I started asking fourth year students their experiences with how their path changed. I listened to them talk about how they could not have imagined that they would be working with a certain population or in a certain location. Most of the time they had no intention of going the path they did, but they just showed up and did the work and amazing things happened.

I know I have to keep my options open. But HOW do you do this when you are supposed to be networking and creating space for a practice once you graduate? I don’t want to have blinders on through school, only focusing on MY plan, while having great opportunities I might not have considered pass me by.

Here are the tools that I received that I would like to share with you. I know I will have to be reminded of them as I continue on this journey.

  1. Keep the big goal in mind. Studying for exams and completing assignments are important but ask yourself WHY you want to become a great ND. Focus on the type of ND you want to become. What type of qualities do you want to possess? How do you want to interact with your patients? What does a successful ND look like to you?
  1. Create a dream board. Take a bunch of cut out magazine pictures and paste them on a board to give you a vision of maybe what area, what type of population, and what success looks like for you in your future practice. This is totally fun to do in a group to see what people come up with.dream-board
  1. Be grateful for the opportunities that present themselves while in school. Networking starts from day one of naturopathic medical school. Keep your options open to the opportunities that come your way and get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you don’t know where an opportunity will lead you.
  1. Ask yourself again and again, “How are you staying open to the journey?” That may change along the way. We never stop learning once we graduate. We need to stay open to new information, continuing education, and to our patients’ needs. It’s ok for your practice to change and evolve once you are established.

I am very excited to be on this amazing journey to be a licensed naturopathic doctor. I really have no idea what will happen in four years after I graduate but I am starting to make peace with this fact. It means I don’t have to control everything in life. Thank God/Goddess for this! In the meantime, I will continue to show up, do the work, ask questions, and be present and loving to those around me. Thank you for letting me be of service.

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