Recently, I moved from New York to Seattle to pursue a dream of mine: studying naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University.
Even though I've been trained to study allopathic (conventional) medicine all my life, I believe here is exactly where I'm meant to be, and this is exactly what I am meant to do. I am so happy to be here. This is the way I want to study medicine.
Naturopathic medicine is a system of medicine that is intrinsically holistic, treats people individually, and combines conventional and traditional/natural modes of therapy. Naturopathic medical school teaches conventional basic sciences (anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology, etc.), and combines these with courses on traditional medicine, natural pharmacology, integrative therapies, naturopathic theory, contemplative studies, etc.
One of my favorite professors says that we medical students are already healers, and medical school just brings the physician out of us. And our teachers are here to help us take the shape that we already have. So in some ways, I already am a healer. I'm just coming out of my shell.
With that said ... school is brutally difficult. The level of knowledge, detail and perfection required is unfathomable. I'm really not being dramatic. Every day is a battle of the mind and spirit. A lot of us medical students had this romantic idea of what medicine is and what being a doctor is about. But none of us knew the truth. It's impossible to know until you start. We're dealing with human beings and there is nothing cute or romantic about it. It's beautiful, but it's not cute. Dealing with peoples' lives is a serious honor and a tremendous responsibility that can't be taken lightly.
So I think of this process as a labor of love. I chose medicine — or medicine chose me — because I love people and want to take care of them. Healing, to me, is a synonym for loving. To heal is to love. To do that, I need knowledge. It's hard, but it's a sacrifice I'm making for you all. Even though it has ONLY been ONE week, this is the hardest thing I've ever done physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
It's been a struggle to stay grounded and healthy and sane, because the level of difficulty is almost unbearable. BUT some way, somehow, it's enjoyable. And I think it's only enjoyable for those of us who are doing it out of love.
Seattle is an interesting city. I live in a really cool and hip "it" town. Lots of funky little shops and people, and restaurants. I love it. It's a nice balance for me because my school is in the middle of a state park. It's gorgeous, but it's hella country. I live two blocks away from the water, which is such a treat since I lived on the beach back in New York. It's very relaxing, yet invigorating.
I thought the toughest part about medical school and living 3,000 miles away from everyone I know would be logistics and physical survival. I had no idea everything would be so emotionally challenging. This is a good thing, though. I feel like I'm a hard rock going through a ton of pressure and fire. But, once the process is done, I will come out as a diamond.
It's going to be beautiful. I feel it.
Apeakorang first wrote a version of this post on her blog. She graciously allowed us to reprint her thoughts.
Learn more about studying naturopathic medicine at Bastyr in Seattle or San Diego.