Interview with a third year Naturopathy student
Suzy Walsh is a third year Naturopathy student at Wellpark College. With Graduation only months away we caught up with Suzy to find out what she's been learning in the third year of her degree and why spending time seeing patients in our student clinic, the Prema Clinic is so important.
Suzy can you give us an overview of what you will be learning in your third year of your Bachelor in Naturopathic and Herbal Medicine?
In the third year we learn nutrition, pharmacology, herbal medicine, evidence based practice and clinical practice. Studying gets more practical in the third year, especially in clinical practice. We have just completed our first term and have been involved in seeing seven Wellpark year one students for Wellness Assessment Plans and also seen one client outside of Wellpark for a Wellness Plan.
A large part of your 3rd year is working under supervisions in Wellpark College’s Student clinic the Prema Clinic, can you explain why it’s important to have this clinical experience?
Our third year is about us putting into practice what we have learnt, as well as developing our skills as practitioners. Supervision is important to us and the clients we see. Clinic is a big step for us and there are many challenges for us to negotiate as we make our way through. We’re dealing with each client holistically and so each client is different, even if they come to us about the same medical condition. Our supervisors have years of clinical experience and they are there to lend us an ear, make sure we are on the right track and to offer us guidance and support. This protects us and our clients, making sure that client’s receive the best treatment and advice that they can.
Why would someone choose to visit at Naturopath?
You could come to see a Naturopath for so many different reasons. Maybe you want to make healthy changes in your life and you’re not sure where to start, maybe you just want to check in and assess your overall wellbeing, or maybe you have a diagnosed medical condition and you want to support your body in either overcoming your health concern or improving your quality of life. We focus not only on supporting existing conditions, but also on preventing disease from manifesting in the body and on promoting optimal health. We work with our clients to agree achievable and realistic changes that will have a positive impact on their health. Our end goal is giving our clients the information and tools that they need to take control of their health.
What are some of the ailments you are able to help with?
Again, Naturopath’s can help support a client with a wide range of ailments. The ailment may be something like everyday stresses and strains of life, or it could be supporting blood sugar levels, helping to improve digestion, or helping the body to remove toxins. It is probably easier to say what we can’t treat. Naturopaths are not trained counsellors and so we are unable to treat people who have been diagnosed with psychosis – having said this, talking and getting to know our clients’ story is a huge part of our therapeutic relationship with a client and we place great value on this part of the consultation. It’s important to know what could be impacting a person’s health and wellbeing and it’s important that they are heard. If we feel that someone needs additional support we will refer them to the appropriate health practitioner (perhaps a counsellor, a doctor, or an osteopath, for example). As student practitioners we are not able to see anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Qualified Naturopaths can help support people with cancer, but this is too advanced for students as part of their learning programme.
How many times would a client need to see you and what does each visit involve and how long does a typical consultation take?
This will vary as we progress through the year and work through different types of consultation. In term 2 (May and June) we will be seeing clients for Wellness Plan consultations. This involves an initial 2 hour consultation, a 45 minute appointment to present our treatment plan and a 45 minute follow up appointment:
2 hour consultation overview: we discuss any health concerns that a client may have, any diagnosed medical conditions, any medications or supplements they may be taking and any health goals. We ask the client questions about each body system – for example, the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, immune and gastrointestinal systems. We carry out physical examinations, such as blood pressure and any assessments we feel are necessary for our client.
45 minute treatment plan presentation: here we present the client with a treatment plan based on our discussions, assessments and analysis of the information provided at the initial consultation. This will usually consist of some health goals – which we discuss and agree with the client – and a herbal formula prescription that the client is welcome to purchase following the consultation.
45 minute follow up appointment: in the follow up appointment we will talk to the client about how they are going with their health goals and herbal formula. We’ll assess whether there have been any improvements and whether we need to revise goals – life happens and perhaps the original goals no longer work into the client’s lifestyle, or perhaps the goal has been achieved and we can move towards achieving other health goals for the client. If the client would like to continue seeing us for follow up appointments they can do, the choice is there’s and it depends if it would be worthwhile for that client and their health concern.
Does a Naturopath look at a client’s diet and nutrition, why is this important?
Yes a naturopath will assess diet and nutrition as part of our holistic assessment. Eating patterns and what we put into our body has a huge impact on health and wellbeing. Getting inadequate nutrients in the diet can cause or aggravate health conditions or symptoms. For example, one that most people are aware of is that low iron levels can make you feel tired. There is a lot of publically available information for our clients to process these days and we are here to educate and help our clients understand how diet and nutrition can improve their health and wellbeing.
What’s the best thing so far about being a 3rd year student?
The best thing about being in the third year has to be our clients. Every person who walks into our clinic has a different life story and different lessons for us to learn as practitioners. I have found my clients to be inspirational and it has been such a great pleasure to be part of their health journey. I guess, adding to that, one of the best things is seeing that we have helped a client to make a difference to their health and wellbeing.
Click to watch Suzy explain about why she choose Wellpark College to study for her Bachelors in Naturopathic and Herbal Medicine.