Dear Students of Naturopathic Medicine in years 1, 2 and 3,
I understand that at this point, and especially if you are currently at any stage in 3rd year, you might be wondering: is this all worth it? And, please, feel free to exhale because, from where I’m standing right now, in my first month of clinic: 4th year is worth it. It seems like the years you’re in, the first 3, hectic, joyless and spirit-crushing years spent in class, practicals and writing more exams than you can number off, come together at last to prepare you for your real job, your future life’s work. And what great work it’s turned out to be.
In 4th year, true to as you’ve heard, you have time to yourself. Real time. When you finish a 6-hour shift, you can come home and spend time with your family, you can make plans with your friends. With the extra time you can have hobbies, attend events in your community, you can live your life. There is patient research, but it’s fun. It’s creative. It’s yours to do, your own way, for real people that need your help. Not only that, the work you do during your 6 hour shifts is amazing. Even within your first few weeks you’ll experience immense growth and a beaming feeling in the centre of your heart, a self- assured feeling that, even though you’re not quite great at this yet, you’re on the right path. I’ve frequently doubted my path while massaging my temples at the end of a 4-hour lecture in a place where the “sun don’t shine”. You know the place. However, it seems that Lecture Dungeons just happen to lie right across your path (along with some dragons and trolls). So, stay the course.
You’ll meet incredible patients who, for whatever reason, have faith in you. They will help you realize that you learned some stuff while moping in the lecture theatre and studying for 90 exams. The interactions will make you feel human and whole again. Sure, there will be some that, for whatever reason don’t come back, but it’s just a reminder that you still have some more work on yourself to do.
The stress you’ve felt for 3 straight years will fade and you’ll be able to recognize it again as more than just background noise, the constant drone of a fan finally turned off. You’ll have time to read, to study the things that interest you in regards to our vast world of natural healing. You’ll practice self care. You’ll begin to develop your own philosophy and your creativity will flourish.
4th year isn’t quite a walk in the park, it is naturopathic medical school, after all. There are paperwork and dress codes and there is still a killer commute. But, it serves as a shining beacon of hope and reassurance that you are in an amazing field. You have the opportunity to work with an amazing group of practitioners and really make a difference in the lives of a huge group of people. You’ll start to learn how to do what you love. You’ll start to feel the world again.
While right now you might be in the darkest corners of the long long tunnel we entered when we signed our first tuition check, we in 4th year can feel the warmth of the light about to shine on us. And we know now that the Liver Qi stagnation will eventually fade away.
Peddle on, friends.
Talia M., CCNM – ND 2014