January was an exciting start to 2013. I was more than half way through my internship at CCNM and seeing lots of patients (see “What’s in my binder” to find out how I kept on top of it all). I was part of the first Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome specialty shift at the RSNC and was chosen to be part of the very first Canadian Naturopathic clinic within a hospital. The initiative started at the Brampton Civic Hospital and I was working 2 days a week. The clinic was a great success and only after a few weeks of its opening, we were booked 3 months in advance. The Brampton Naturopathic Teaching Clinic continues to grow and we have introduced additional shifts to supply the demand. February is always a tough month for me as it signals mid-term exams and the weather turns grey, cold and damp. This year was tough because I was going through a break-up only a few days before my birthday. I’m so grateful to have amazing family and friends to keep my spirits high. I was feeling exhausted from the busy days seeing patients and researching into the late night everyday. I had all of my vacation time left and so I booked a ticket to Maui, Hawaii for a week to visit a friend. That helped fuel my energy to finish off the year strong. I was also assisting several projects on the side, which helped to keep me balanced and motivated. For example, Naturopaths for Integrative Geriatric Care, co-planning the Graduation Gala event, being the student rep for Restorative Formulations, volunteering with Evas, working at a health food store, maintaining my website, weight training, etc. The end of my clinical year was bitter sweet. I was happy to get some down time but had a hard time saying goodbye to my patients. I had grown very close to them and they were “My Greatest Teacher”. Luckily, I had some incredible interns replacing me and I was very confident that they would be even better doctors than I. My grandparents came to visit from California for a month. They are in their 90’s and still moving and eating well! We made our annual trip to Montreal where my paternal grandmother is buried. The drive was long but I always enjoy walking around Old Montreal and getting delicious bagels. It was great having my grandparents and family at my convocation. CCNM was such an emotional endurance race that wasn’t about to end, but it was a great moment to reflect back. It hit me hard when I was given a letter I had written to myself at the very start of CCNM (read it here). I was honored to receive the Humanitarian Award at convocation and grateful for a community that supports independent initiatives. The students at CCNM are one of a kind. No matter how many assignments and exams the spirit is always alive and strong. A sincere thank you to the NSA (Naturopathic Students’ Association) and NMSA for their volunteered contributions to our profession. I know how much unrecognized work goes into it.
The day after convocation was the Grad Gala and our team was busy decorating and getting the last details in order. I spent a whole 30 minutes getting ready including hair, make-up, nails and outfit! Amanda, Stef and I were at the venue from 8am till the event began at 6pm and finished at 1am. That was fun! Convocation is typically the marking point for graduating students to start studying for the dreaded NPLEX board exams in August. You basically need to study from mid-June to August for 8+ hours a day, 5-7 days a week in order to pass. And it’s not only the amount of information, but also the endurance of writing 3 full days of exams and 1 day of practical examinations. The preparation for NPLEX is more important than the studying. If you feed your mind and body with optimal health then you can endure the long study days and exams without the burning out. I put together a thorough resource that you can download here for FREE. Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. Before studying for NPLEX I visited my Naturopath and was put on a comprehensive supplement protocol and was eating clean nutrient-dense foods. I had an incredible core group that I studied with once a week and we stayed accountable to one another. I was also physically active and made short-term training goals to keep me motivated daily. I planned to race in a mini triathlon at the end of July and do a couple photo shoots for my website. July flew by and I was really enjoying my daily study routine. With all of my preparations I wrote the board exams feeling positive and healthy. It would then be another month before I would get my results, so I kept myself preoccupied with travel and more projects. My boyfriend treated me with a trip to Newfoundland. We both had never been and wanted to see more of Canada. It was a fun trip staying in B&B’s and driving the Eastern Coast. I also visited Chicago where my best friend is currently living. I began a project to help other students get ahead with their profession: Start a Naturopathic Blog Blueprint. You can sign-up and access the eBook online as well as the webinar for free. I also put together some study material for NPLEX and OSCEs. In October I found out that I passed NPLEX! Yippi! I immediately got busy planning my trip to South East Asia. I applied to over 100 different resorts and wellness centers to work as a Naturopathic Doctor and booked my ticket to leave in November. I had no set agenda and wanted to keep it that way. I needed a little distance from a set routine until I found work. Getting a foreign company to hire a Canadian doctor and pay for their work VISA was more challenging then I anticipated, so I embraced being a tourist and went with the flow. So far, I’ve traveled to Hong Kong, Macau, Northern Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and now a small island in Southern Thailand called, Koh Phangan. If you’re interested in following my trip you can subscribe to my YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter. You can also get eLetter updates through my new website at www.DrAlisonChen.com and subscribing here.
After New Years I will start my search again to find a job as a Naturopathic Doctor and study with other health practitioners. I’ve already encountered a Medical Thai Masseuse who uses trigger points and massage to cure disease and re-balance the body. She helped me with my low back pain and upset stomach. I am really looking forward to 2014. I have my mother visiting Thailand for my 30th birthday in February and have 6 of my best friend’s weddings coming up! I have a ticket back home for July, 2014 but until then I’ll be living it up in Thailand!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND HEALTH FOR 2014!
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