Insight On A Career In Natural Health From A Young Naturopathic Doctor

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This naturopathic doctor is busy. How busy, you ask? After only two years of working as an ND, Chris Habib is already very successful and holds several jobs.

Like many doctors, Chris pursued this career path because he wanted to be involved in science and healthcare.

“Find out exactly what it is about naturopathic medicine or being a naturopathic doctor that you’re passionate about and what you think you will be able to do well in, and put all of your energy towards that.” —Chris Habib, ND

Attracted by the philosophies of naturopathic medicine, he trained for four years at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) after completing his Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto.

After graduating from the college in 2010 and writing his board exams, Chris didn’t slow down. He began a two-year residency program which he says made his journey and entrance into the workforce a bit unique compared to those of other naturopathic doctors.

“The way the residency program works,” he explains, “is that a large part of it is being a teaching assistant for numerous courses. So a lot of what I had just learned was then being applied. And then the other big part of the residency program is the clinical aspect.”

Today he works as Clinic Director at Mahaya Forest Hill Integrative Clinic, Associate Editor at Integrated Healthcare Practitioners Magazine, and part-time faculty and Clinic Supervisor at the CCNM.

A day in the life of a naturopathic doctor

When he isn’t working at the college or the magazine’s headquarters, one of Chris’ many responsibilities is holding private practice hours at the clinic.

When he sees patients for an initial consultation, he answers their questions, fills out forms, performs a physical exam and discusses treatment plans. In subsequent appointments he follows up on previous treatments, discusses a long-term treatment plan, and asks about new concerns.

“I like to see people get better,” says Chris when asked what he enjoys most about his job. Especially when patients have already tried multiple approaches and seen other healthcare practitioners, it brings him joy to be able to find a way to treat them and improve their health.

What about the challenges of this unique occupation, and what advice does Chris have about pursuing this career? Read on to find out.

The biggest challenges of being a Naturopathic Doctor

1. Confusion about what it is exactly that naturopathic doctors do

Naturopathic doctors are primary healthcare practitioners who, among other things, conduct medical research, do medical exams and recommend natural treatments to alleviate health conditions. It’s easy to see where the public might not understand the differences between naturopathic doctors, medical doctors and homeopaths.

“I feel there’s not necessarily a unified mission between how naturopathic doctors will market themselves to the public,” Chris elaborates. “So a lot of the time what I’m doing when I’m talking with prospective patients, or doing initial consultations, is just clarifying what my role is in their health.”

 2. The fee-for-service payment model

Most healthcare practitioners who work privately can probably relate to this challenge. Instead of being paid by the hour, practitioners using this model are paid for each service rendered to the patient. Therefore, if there is a one-hour gap between one patient and the next, the naturopathic doctor is not getting paid for that time. If a patient is late it will affect the next appointment, causing the practitioner to run behind.

Advice for students and grads interested in naturopathic medicine

Choose this career path because you are passionate about it

Chris was successful straight out of school, but this may not be the case for all of new graduates.

“There’s a chance,” he warns, “that you will choose this career and you won’t be able to make money or you won’t be able to sustain it as a business, and you will have to find another job to pay the bills. So as long as you love what you’re doing, then it’s a good path to take.

“But if you’re going into it for a different reason, like you want make a lot of money or you want the doctor title or you want something that’s not because you love the work, then it’s probably not the right path for you.”

Focus your energy

“If you find that this is the field for you and you’re passionate about it, try to focus in even more,” advises Chris. “Find out exactly what it is about naturopathic medicine or being a naturopathic doctor that you’re passionate about and what you think you will be able to do well in, and put all of your energy towards that. So don’t spread yourself too thin.”

Interested in becoming a Naturopathic Doctor? Check out Chris’ online course to learn how you can hatch a career in this unique field!

Healthcare Week on TalentEgg, presented by Northern Health and featuring Rexall and Alberta Health Services

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