Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chaos and Wonder: California Student Reflects on First Year

Therese Kimbell reflects on the energy of her classmates and faculty and the challenges they overcame this year.

Faculty and staff on the San Diego campus
California faculty and staff congratulate the first class on completion of finals. Well done!

The inaugural class of Bastyr University California has completed its trailblazing first year. Naturopathic medicine student Therese Kimbell offers this reflection on the soaring lyrical energy of her classmates and faculty, the bumps they encountered, and the difficulty of studying at the beach with tanned, athletic surfers vying for their attention (such a hard life, theirs).

Like many of my classmates, when I found out Bastyr University was opening a campus in San Diego, I felt as if a big, golden door had magically appeared out of thin air. Feeling like a natural medicine pioneer, I leapt through that door, ready to be transported to warm sunny Southern California. I’m from New England, where gray skies are the norm and road rage seems like a friendly show of affection. So I welcomed the smiling strangers and huge surplus of vitamin D.

When I interviewed for Bastyr California, I was warned to expect a bumpy road and possible “chaos.” Being an adventurer, I waved the warnings aside and imagined biking to class every morning and studying on the beach every day. After my first year, I have not biked to class once, and the one time I tried studying on the beach, I found myself terribly distracted by surfers — because, honestly, who can focus on cholesterol metabolism when it feels like you’re on the set of a surfing documentary?

Kimbell surfingNot only is Bastyr University California a completely new campus with a completely new faculty, the University also implemented a new integrated curriculum in fall 2012 for the naturopathic program at both campuses. I have no basis for comparing the old and new curriculums, but I really feel the integration has done a wonderful job of tying things together and setting a foundation for students to think more systematically. It has also cut down on the amount of time in class, which leaves more room for beach trips, right?

Wrong. More time out of the classroom just means more time studying independently or more time conversing with peers about especially difficult topics (like cholesterol metabolism). But being surrounded by health-conscious people has been super motivating when it comes to putting balance in my life — including outdoor time.

Which brings me to the topic of my fellow classmates. I’ve never encountered a group quite like this inaugural class. We’re so similar, yet so different. We have artists and photographers and philosophers and science-minded researchers. Our interests are diverse and yet it’s very clear that we share a common goal of learning life-changing naturopathic medicine. Our personalities come together to create this infectious energy — visitors say they can feel it when they walk into the building.

To the credit of my admissions advisors, our first year has not been struggle-free. As with any startup, there are bumps. The hardest setback was probably not having students ahead of us to offer tutoring and advice on how to survive the first year. But we knew what we signed up for, and our bumpy road is nothing like what Bastyr’s original founders endured to create a naturopathic medical school from scratch.

Ultimately, it’s not the bumps but the collective attitude of the people involved in the chaos that matters. With our superstar faculty navigating the way, nobody doubts our success as a program. We’re ready for more.

By Therese Kimbell, naturopathic medicine student, Bastyr University California

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Learn more about studying naturopathic medicine at Bastyr's Kenmore and San Diego campuses.

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