Surviving the Midterm Academic Obstacle Course in ND Med School

By Valerie A. Kremer, 1st Year Naturopathic Doctoral Medical Student, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

I feel like I just competed in an Ironman crossed with a Tough Mudder of academics this week … and it’s just the first set of exams for this semester. We have just endured a week of six midterms in botanical medicine, homeopathy, anatomy, Asian medicine, biochemistry, and clinical physiology. Although I am mentally exhausted, I feel good overall and am relieved they are over.

spine

The transversospinal group drawn by Dr. Terzic.

So what were we tested on? What do we learn in ND school you might wonder? I can’t give away all of the secrets, since some students have not taken the exams (some have opted to resit), but I can share an overview with you. We competed in a variety of academic obstacles, with great success. I have never made so many flashcards in such a short amount of time in my life – nearly 400 of them!

So what did the obstacle course look like? Botanical medicine looked like a wall climb in actions AND Latin names of nearly 70 herbs. Homeopathy was an obstacle course of different homeopathic remedies and how they are made. Anatomy was a mud crawl of all our knowledge all of the bones, muscles and nerves of the back, neck and head (more Latin). Asian medicine was a hoop of fire of different conditions (excess, deficient, wind, cold, heat, etc.) based on the elements (some in Chinese). Biochemistry was an electric shock event of glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. And finally, clinical physiology was a plank obstacle of fever pathways, muscle twitches, and action potentials. Overall, it was glorious and definitely tested my strength and endurance.

Although exhausting, I did manage to put self-care in the forefront every day to keep up my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical strength. I love the hashtag, #SelfCareisHealthCare. If I am not taking care of myself, I cannot be there for those around me (or be kind to those around me) and be the person I aim to be in this world. Every single day this week, I made sure to eat healthy food, get 8 hours of sleep, work out, and practice gratitude. I know this essential for me in med school and will be essential in my practice.

As part of my wellness plan at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic at school, I had stress relieving acupuncture done during midterm week by my rockstar intern. I had my appointment the day before my Asian Medicine exam, which helped me see how a Traditional Chinese Medicine intake is conducted. I was also able to learn about issues that can lead to organ imbalance, such as liver stagnation causing skin issues. I left the appointment extremely relaxed and it felt like my anxiety had been washed away. It was an incredible experience that I encourage everyone to have. I can’t wait for this coming week of more stress relieving acupuncture!

When I started this program, I was told that naturopathic medical school would change you as a person. The person you were starting on day one would not be the same person as when you graduate. This is starting to show. Besides gaining a ton of knowledge in naturopathic medicine, my soft skills (listening, being empathic, understanding, etc.) are already becoming more fine-tuned. I am excited to learn more knowledge and stay open to the journey.

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