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Catherine Youngblood, ND ('98), LM
Dr. Youngblood has both a private practice in Nairobi and a research-based practice with the Sambru tribe. Her clients in Nairobi are mostly middle to upper class Europeans. Her fees are in line with other medical doctors in the area at $25 per visit.
The Sambru tribe lives in the bush, 9 hours from Nairobi at approximately 4 degrees above equator. The Sambru are a nomadic tribe of about 1,000 people whose diet consists of meat, milk, and blood. Since health care in the tribe is the responsibility of the family, Dr. Youngblood treats more emergency situations with the Sambru such as setting broken bones, performing minor surgery, and treating malaria. She teaches medicinal plant gardening, science, health, math, and English.
How is natural medicine accepted in your region?
There are 15 naturopathic doctors in Nairobi with a center for research for HIV/AIDS and tropical disease. There is a very large interest in natural health care here. Surprisingly, there are several health food stores. My private practice is very busy.
What do you find to be the most interesting aspect of practicing?
Finding out ways to make do with less. I don't always have Thorne or other natural supplements on hand so I have to find other treatment or supplement options. Many times we use leftover supplies from safaris.
The challenging aspect of my practice in Africa is for me to not be judgmental in what they may do to their bodies for ritual and/or traditional sakes.
What are your overall marketing strategies?
I rely heavily on personal communication. I am really a talker and promote what I am doing in my practice and research. I always remember that everyone I meet is a potential client or at least a reference.
However, I did not move to Africa without contacts. I already knew some people and had a small network established. I just didn't expect my practice to grow so quickly.
What keeps you motivated to practice?
I am extremely passionate about this area. I am passionate about the people I work with and the patients.
What's next for you? Where would you like to place your energies?
I hope to take some of the things I've learned and turn them into larger research projects. In other words, take the research out to a larger arena.
The number one cause of death in this area is malaria (Tuberculosis is number 2). The UNICEF / Ted Turner AOL -backed project that I am working with has a goal to eradicate malaria by the year 2010. I have no doubts that we will be successful in meeting this goal. I have already started a project entitled Nets for Life in which 1,500 mosquito nets have been purchased for the area tribe members.
What would you like to see from Bastyr University?
I would like to see list of current periodicals being sold in the bookstore and a list of books that professors are currently using. The Bastyr University Web site should have articles in natural medicine so that alumni may keep up to date. I would also like to see Bastyr offer a highly reduced room rental rate for alumni, especially preceptors, so that more alumni may take advantage of the Bastyr University as a venue for seminars.
What are some of your interests/hobbies outside of healing?
Reading books from Oprah's book list. I have a strong social life in Nairobi. I also love safaris and often am hired by safari companies to serve as their doctor.
Interviewed Spring 2002