Why I’m dropping out of ND school.

butternut4Yes, it’s true. I’m dropping out of ND school.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve been back to school since January 2013 to study naturopathic medicine at CCNM in Toronto, a 4-year intensive program to become a ND (naturopathic doctor). I completed the first two years studying full-time and even a few courses of the third year since I went part-time with the arrival of my baby last September.

I already invested a lot of time, effort and money in the process. 

To be precise, over 2 years of my life, many weekends and evenings of studying and over +$40,000.

I can’t start thinking about the many hours I spent studying anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, pharmacology, embryology, botanical medicine, Chinese medecine, homeopathy, physical medicine, clinical medicine, pediatrics and many more… And successfully writing a crazy board exam (NPLEX 1) last summer about everything I had learned in the first 2 years of ND school (while being 8-month pregnant).

I can’t believe I even studied anatomy on cadavers, poked people with acupuncture needles, massaged my classmates half naked and learned how to do full physical exams, including breast exams, gyne exams and DRE. I even went on a medical mission in Guatemala last year.

And it’s not even that I wasn’t successful at it. My GPA is 3.72 even though I have been writing and publishing books in addition to working with clients part-time while in school.

But sometimes circumstances change.

Dropping out of school isn’t something I had even seriously considered, other than when I would get discouraged during our crazy exam periods… It took me a lot of courage to even consider this possibility (especially if you remember bullet #4 of the 19 things you probably didn’t know about me).

But this winter, it just hit me.

And for once, everything was so clear in my head
and I knew this would be a BIG change, but the best decision for all of my family.

The cost of getting my ND degree, not only the financial cost
but also the cost in terms of time, efforts, sacrifices for my family
and our health, just isn’t worth it anymore.

It’s my life and I can stop it now.

The cost-benefit of becoming a ND is not worth it to me anymore

Don’t get me wrong, I still think NDs are great. I would have loved being one.
But I just think it isn’t the right choice for me anymore.

Yes, I have already spent a lot of money but would still have to pay over +$50,000 more to get my degree. That’s a lot of money and I can at least stop my debt from getting bigger now if I want.

Then, there is all the additional time I would need to invest in the next 2 years to attend classes, do the many practicals, prepare endless assignments and case studies in addition to studying for exams. Time that I would have to spend away from my husband and son. And since I don’t have any family living within an 8-hour radius of Toronto, it would mean having my little one spend a lot of time at the daycare. This baby is definitely changing my priorities. Every parent wants the best for his child. At this time, I really believe that more family time is best for all of us.

And believe it or not, our health is also negatively affected by my studies. My husband has to work a job he doesn’t like and that is very stressful for him, which is certainly not good for his health. Although my health is a lot better now that I have my digestion and hormones in order from all the healing I have done in the past years, ND school has been really rough on my adrenals. I feel like I lost a few years of life by doing so much in the last couple of years. I still don’t know how I was able to do what I did but I certainly paid a price for it. I became increasingly tired and gained weight (15 lbs in a single semester once!) despite eating and exercising the same way. Mood-wise, I just wasn’t feeling like myself anymore. It’s a miracle I was able to get pregnant so easily (but of course it happened while I was on break between 2 semesters)!

I know many other ND students also feel like they’ve never been so unhealthy as when studying naturopathic medicine. How ironic, isn’t it? ND school is not good for your health! :/

I can help people get healthier NOW

Going back to school was a way for me to gather more tools to better help people get healthier naturally.

I think one of the reasons I returned to school was because I was ANGRY at my profession as a registered dietitian (RD). After realizing that the food pyramid and that the conventional dietary guidelines were not as evidence-based as they should, I felt betrayed by my education. I had to research and learn everything  by myself, from scratch. I also felt uncertain about how to start a private practice and thought becoming an ND would make things easier. Although being able to order some labs and use tools like acupuncture and other naturopathic modalities would be great, my passion has always been and remains nutrition and lifestyle.

And even though I have always had doubts about my self-worth, both as an individual and practitioner, which I thought I could address by getting a ND degree, I now feel a lot more confident. I know that I don’t know everything but I know A LOT about health and nutrition. I know that degrees don’t mean everything either and that they’re often a poor indicator of how helpful a health practitioner can be for you. And I know that I can help people get healthier NOW.

Last summer, I opened my practice for a few months until the end of my pregnancy and I just LOVED it. Why wait to do what I love when I can do it now?

Every week, I receive emails from people asking me if I’m taking new clients and many of you are signing up for my waiting list. I don’t want you to have to wait any longer than you already have to get healthier.

Yes, becoming an ND might have allowed me to help people differently
but I think there’s already a lot that I can do. NOW.

After all, I’m not just any RD….

I’m a Real Food RD and health coach passionate
about helping people get healthier and happier. 🙂

(*I’m not saying this to brag, this is totally not my style. I’m saying this
because so many people have told me. Therefore it must be true.) 😉

I’ll always be a student for the rest of my life

I love learning. And I’ve definitely learned a lot in my 2+ years of ND school.

But I also discovered that learning as part of this school system is not the best way for me to learn. I learn best when I can follow my interests. I also feel like the rigidity of the school system has been killing my creativity and passion (something I realized after reading this amazing article about unschooling, which we are considering for our son).

I’d have a lot more to say about the ND program but that would be for another post…

For now, I’ll go back to studying what I really want to keep learning about
and what I will be focusing on in my practice as soon as I re-open it:

  • digestive health (IBS, SIBO, FODMAPs, leaky gut, autoimmunity),
  • fertility, PCOS, healthy pregnancy and beyond.

I’m SO excited about re-opening my practice soon!

My creativity and passion are now flowing back to me.
It’s a sign that it truly is the best decision for me. 🙂

Was this all for nothing?

Definitely not.

I love this quote:

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think you’ve lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” – Asha Tyson

I learned a lot too. I made new friends and met inspiring people. I have been transformed.

But now it’s time for a new chapter of my life.

* To my friends who are now NDs or are still in ND school, make your dream happen!
You have all of my admiration. And hopefully, we can all work together soon
to make more people get healthier and feel awesome. <3

So what’s next?

We are planning on moving outside of Toronto because rent is ridiculously expensive here. We’ll move somewhere cheaper, quieter and closer to nature too. I’d love warmer, but I believe it is difficult to get a work visa (in the US for example) when you’re self-employed… Let me know if you know otherwise…!

Anyway, our current lease is until mid-June so that leaves us a few months to look for the perfect place for our family to live. My husband will be able to say goodbye to his stressful job soon (shhhh! his boss doesn’t know yet!) 😉 and I’ll try to start my online practice from home while he takes care of our son. It’s scary but our dream is worth a try. <3

Our goal is really to simplify and minimize our life. Fingers crossed that our plan works. 🙂

Stay tuned for your chance to work with me, starting later this spring (May or June hopefully).
IF YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY WAITING LIST (you can still do here),
you’ll be the first to be able to book an appointment with me before everybody else. 😉

Life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
-Jim Rohn