Studying at Bastyr University is hard work, with rigorous courses, high expectations from professors, and clinical training requirements for many programs. Many students add research projects, volunteering, tutoring and any number of club activities on top of their academic work.
With so much to do, students can forget their bodies need care along with their hungry, hungry minds.
"There's so much to learn, and we all come so hungry and excited to know it," says Sarah Lukhang Klippel, ND, who graduated in June from the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program and returned as a University teaching fellow. "Before you know it, your whole life has been eaten up by the program."
First-year students recently attended an orientation session on "staying healthy in school," led by Dr. Klippel and Christy Lee-Engel, ND, LAc, director of the Bastyr University Center for Spirituality, Science and Medicine. They gathered ideas from their own experience, from second-year students and alumni, and from new students themselves.
Seeking whole-person wellness — mental, emotional and physical — doesn’t just make school more manageable. It's also part of becoming an empathetic healer, Dr. Klippel says.
"Learning to find a balance in life now is going to serve you as clinicians," she says. "Your patients will have busy lives. If you have experience making healthful lifestyle changes, you'll be able to speak from the heart to your patients and develop a meaningful therapeutic relationship."
Many of their ideas are very fine indeed, so we're passing them along.
- Soak up nature in the campus trail system, the Medicinal Herb Garden and Saint Edward State Park. (Or the beaches and nature preserves in San Diego.)
- Make friends outside of Bastyr. Get out and explore Seattle or San Diego and the nature nearby. "There's a whole big world out there," says Dr. Lee-Engel.
- Cook with fresh organic produce. You can sign up to receive a weekly box from Full Circle Farms, which delivers to the Kenmore campus.
- Find nutrient-rich, whole-food meals in the Bastyr Dining Commons.
- Take advantage of the student rate ($15 per visit) at Bastyr’s teaching clinics.
- Make use of the campus Counseling Center, where students can talk confidentially to a trained counselor (often advanced students). Students can make up to 12 visits yearly for $15 a session.
- Stay close to your classmates — in school and beyond. "The relationships you make in this program are some of your lifelong lifelines," says Dr. Lee-Engel.
And here are some more fine thoughts that students and alumni offered via Facebook and email:
- "Sleep! It's so simple and yet so powerful. Also, eat lunch away from lecture. Trying to digest when you're in 'gotta-catch-'em-all mode' just doesn't work."
- "Stay positive and surround yourself with people who are positive. Continue to find joy and cultivate passions/creativity outside of school (hobbies, being a tourist in the city, going to church or place of worship, taking electives, yoga). If you're married or in a relationship, try going on weekly dates, and connect with your partner for at least 20 minutes a day."
- "When I'm overwhelmed I take some of those washable markers from Living Anatomy, write my frustrations all over the bath tub, and then wash it down the drain with a nice soak in some relaxing salts."
- "I've learned that no matter how many times people give me advice or tell me I should or shouldn't do things, the ultimate survival skill is to trust in yourself and not lose sight of what brought you to the present moment."
- "One of the best things I did for my health was find a primary health care provider. My ND cared for me throughout all my trials and tribulations. It was the first time I built such a relationship, and it's where I learned the most valuable lessons about becoming an ND while getting the care and support I needed."
- "Don't buy in to a culture of stress. ... Just because you're not as stressed as everyone else all the time doesn't mean you're not doing enough. I had a really hard time coming to grips with this."
- "Another mantra for all of us to remember: 'The basic work of health professionals ... is to become full human beings and to inspire full human-beingness in people who feel starved about their lives.' That's from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Embrace your vulnerability. Allow yourself to not know. Expect you will make mistakes. Talk about it with trusted others when you do. Forgive yourself for not being perfect."
- "Take at least 30 minutes a day for yourself no matter what else is going on — to breathe, walk, do yoga — something to center and ground yourself. Recognize that to meet all the outer demands of learning and doing, you need to find some way to continually anchor in your body and being."
- "Take walks to Lake Washington as often as possible. Make sleeping your number one priority. Study in groups and have fun with it!"
Finally, here's a gem from first-year student Naika Apeakorang, who earned a loud round of applause from her classmates for these words:
- "My suggestion is very general: I invite you all to love each other and to be loved. I challenge you to open your heart to receive that love. And I challenge you to give love to each other, because we can only survive by loving each other."
Much thanks to all who contributed!
Learn more about studying naturopathic medicine at Bastyr.