Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Break

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year.  Unfortunately, it is too often an exhausting, over-commercialized pressure to buy everyone that "perfect gift."  So, I try to ignore that extra stress!  For me, Christmas provides an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, time to relax and time to reflect on what is really important in life.  And, it cannot come soon enough!

I have to admit that I was naive about the energy required to consistently give my best to patients with chronic health care issues.  Burn-out can become a reality very quickly if not anticipated and prevented (The age old phrase, "Physician heal thyself" is so important).  I realize now that my expectations of being a naturopathic clinician were primarily based on my limited experiences as a patient.  As such, I projected much of how I thought being a clinician would be like by attempting to put myself in the health care professional's shoes so-to-speak.  But I am just one type of patient and I do not have any chronic debilitating conditions or diseases.  Needles to say, I have made some adjustments to the understanding of my job description.

For those of you interested in becoming a naturopathic doctor, as the style of practice varies substantially from one ND to another, do not base your expectations on one particular style of practice or patient group.  Although it is impossible to know exactly what to expect, and even what type of practice you want to have, getting as much experience with several different primary health care providers will also help you understand what it will be like to be an ND.

Have a refreshing holiday and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Continual Improvement

The format of the 4th year internship at CCNM gives the interns more patient interaction compared to some of the other naturopathic medical schools (where the supervising ND does the initial patient intake and the interns only do follow-up visits or work in pairs instead of alone).  Although the supervisor does make an appearance during the visit at CCNM, is available for consultation and is ultimately responsible for the patient, there is still a lot of responsibility on the intern to gather the correct information to guide treatment.  As such, I remember the anxiety walking into that very first visit.  It actually took several months for that apprehension to turn into excitement to see a new patient.

New changes at CCNM are following the format other schools have done to progressively integrate students into clinical patient experience.  This experience will help the intern build the confidence required to be ready for that first and subsequent patients.  Already, the 1st years have been doing an observation shift and the 2nd years sit in on patient visits and have the opportunity take patient vitals.  Starting in January, the 3rd years, under the direction of the 4th year intern, will have the opportunity to perform physical exams, and help with diagnosis and treatment plans. Although the CCNM academic team met some resistance from the 4th years in terms of our extra roles and extra responsibilities as mentors, I think the change will ultimately benefit CCNM graduates.  Additionally, the patient gets the benefit of a team approach to their health concerns. 

Peer mentorship, at the student level, is not well developed at any medical school yet but is an upcoming area of improvement in medical education.  Doctor as teacher is one of my favourite naturopathic principles and I believe is exemplified at CCNM in these new changes.