After graduating from naturopathic college in 2003, I left Toronto to return home to Edmonton [*insert joke here]. After exhausting my brain and burning out my adrenals from four years of intense study, I couldn’t wait to get out there and start putting my theoretical knowledge into practice. I felt like naturopathic medicine was one of the best kept secrets and that once I put the word out there, people would say, “Wow, that’s EXACTLY was I’ve been looking for. I was ready to take on the world!
Well, things didn’t exactly start off the way I expected…
At the time, most people only knew to see the doctor if they were SICK or for their annual physical check-up. People weren’t connecting with the notion that a naturopathic doctor could help you increase your energy, get better sleep, soothe your gas and bloating, improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, lose weight, normalize your blood pressure and blood sugars, and on and on and on.
Instead, the people who started coming through my door were the REALLY SICK people. These were patients who had seen their family doctor and the specialists. They’ve already sought out the second opinions. Probably spent a lot of money trying remedies and alternative practitioners. Now, they were showing up saying, “You’re pretty much my last hope.”
[*insert panic here]
Fast forward to April 2013 at the American Association Of Orthopaedic Medicine (AAOM) 30th annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona. As I’m registering for the start of the conference, I’m surprised to see so many familiar faces – naturopathic doctors! One of those faces just happened to belong to my old colleague, Dr. Adrian Yeong. Throughout the weekend, we learned about the latest advances in prolotherapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and autologous stem cell treatments for joint pain and injury. The information was so MIND-BLOWING to us that the level of excitement reminded me of exactly how I felt when I first started practicing. Then, a bit of reality set in when we did the math about the costs of equipment, the logistics of setting up a clinic to accommodate these types of advanced therapies, and the time that it would take to get something like this going. That’s when I said to Adrian, “Too bad we couldn’t do something like this together…”
Fast forward to September 8, 2014. After many months of planning, Drs. Kira Cai, Adrian Yeong, and myself saw our first patients at the SCIMEDICA Health Group clinic in South Surrey. It is a 2,500 square foot facility that we had built out to our specifications and can now offer the most comprehensive and advanced therapies to our patients. We have things the ability to treat patients with a wide variety of conditions and levels of health. It has taken a ton of hard work and just as much good fortune (thank goodness I crossed paths with Kira and Adrian!) to realize this dream and now I practice as a naturopathic doctor in South Surrey (as well as in Burnaby). So now, when someone comes through our doors and says, “You’re pretty much my last hope,” I don’t panic anymore. I get excited – just like I did back when this whole journey began.