Thursday, March 10, 2011

CCNM Growing Pains

The fact that school at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) is very difficult is something I've written about several times before.  It has been argued by some students at CCNM (who have other medical degrees) that the diversity of material in the naturopathic program adds an additional challenge on top of the tremendous course load making it one of the most difficult medical programs.  Additionally, although CCNM is over 30 years old, it still growing to an ever expanding profession.  Furthermore, to accommodate a January enrollment, CCNM has long days of class packed into one of the shortest school years of all the accredited colleges.  So, as I've written before, this can be a recipe for exhaustion and burn-out. 

At first, the thought of burn-out at a 'holistic' school may seem ironic but it certainly happens.  Then, I thought this would change after getting into clinic.  But after treating patients for almost a year, I realized that it can still be very easy to take home an exceptional amount of stress.  Stress and burn-out is common place in well established schools too.  I subscribe to Medscape (which sends me a weekly email about the latest topics in conventional medicine along with blog posts from students and professors) and see there too that conventional medical students also frequently complain about the unrelenting difficulty of their programs.  One thing I notice though, is that they do not blame their school.

In contrast, at CCNM, the school administration and curriculum seems to take the brunt of the blame from students; and it may be warranted in some cases.  Yes, there are a lot of tedious requirements and it is difficult for the curriculum to address every naturopathic perspective in depth.  However, I can't help but wonder if some of the the students have taken the school's willingness to change as a sign of weakness instead of a sign of consideration for the students?  And, have some students perceived the never-ending onslaught of rules and requirements as an attempt to needlessly evaluate them instead of an effort to maintain credibility in a growing field?  Maybe this will be much in the same way as some people who did not appreciate their parents until leaving the nest.  While growing up they had perceptions of endless tasks and rules to adhere too, parents not allowing enough of this activity or that, and not until looking back did they realize their parents actually knew what was really best for them.

I think the naturopathic program should be longer and not streamlined into focused training on one modality.  From my experience, being able to use whatever is best and most indicated for patients, not being religiously stuck on one modality, is the ultimate difference a naturopathic doctor can offer.  I believe this is an advantage ND's have over any other primary care doctor.  The naturopathic profession is growing at a tremendous rate and CCNM grows correspondingly.  Ultimately, graduating from CCNM is no easy feat and will be something I remember for the rest of my weeks to go!


Erica L. Robinson said...

7 more weeks - isn't it unbelievable!?

Erika Krumbeck said...

As a 4th year student at Bastyr, I totally agree. The same thing happens here as well. I think students who are burned out and frustrated take their anger out on anyone they can - and a "faceless" administration is an easy way out. It is sad because every time I have discussed legitimate complaints with members of administration they are always addressed very quickly. But some people would rather gripe than have real change.

We are the future doctors of America (North America!). Lets act like them!

Congrats on your countdown.

In Health,

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Real change can be difficult but, I couldn't agree more...we are the future doctors of North America. Lets set the example.

Allie said...

Well this worries me a tad ... I have hopes of attending ND school in the future. On another note, your blog is a great resource, thanks for blogging and sharing your knowledge!

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Unfortunately, there are a few individuals in most every profession who can bring negative attention on the entire group. However, as long as the rest of us work to get along and do our best to advance all the benefits of naturopathic medicine, those few will be forgotten!