I spent the summer of 2013 preparing to start my first year of naturopathic medical school at NCNM. By “preparing”, I mean that instead of efficiently packing to move from Honolulu to Portland in an organized fashion, I spent an absurd amount of time pacing back and forth and searching the internet for an article called, “10 ways to ensure that you don’t do anything stupid during your medical education at NCNM.”
I was very upset to find that this article was not available. I told myself that after I finished my first year, I would try to write it. Impart my wisdom. Share the secrets to being prepared.
And here I am. I took the last final exam and completed my first year yesterday. I did it. But as I started thinking about writing my “guide to not messing up at NCNM,” I realized that it can only be written under the basic assumption that I know what I’m doing. Unfortunately, this automatically disqualifies me from writing such an article.
I was lost, confused and generally one step behind for a good majority of my first year. In the end, I was successful. I went to every single class, did well on exams and did it without completely losing my marbles, but I don’t have the audacity to pretend that I can tell anyone how to do it right.
However, I can do what I do best: write stories about stuff that happened to me. During my time here, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve felt weak, scared, stupid, inadequate. I’ve felt confident, happy, excited, important. I’ll write about these things. Maybe there will be wisdom in it. Maybe there will be a few lessons. That is my hope, anyway. I’ll do my best to make sure it’s, at least, entertaining.
This is the official introduction to my ongoing project. I will write and post stories about my experience at NCNM as I think of them, until I run out of ideas. Feel free to comment or email me with questions, story ideas or things you’d like me to write about.
Links to the available stories are posted below.
The time I realized that I’m not special. (new student orientation)
The time I thought it was tuberculosis. (speaking up in class)
I’ve reached my academic limit, and it has nothing to do with my brain. (grad school is expensive)
How I learned to turn insecurity into courage. (It’s super easy) (being myself and making friends)
How to study for an immunology exam. (a song about the human immune system)
I guess I write poetry now. (a poem about the doctor’s journey)
The time I forgot why it mattered. (it’s easy to forget what’s really important)
Find the sunflower seed. (a recipe for sunflower seed butter, with a side of personal wisdom)
I fight because I’m broken. (I still have hobbies other than medicine)
The lover and the fighter in me. (balancing my passions)
Hi, I’m James and I suffer from burnout. (I’m tired)
It’s not about being unbreakable. (NPLEX and a broken bone)
A few words on my goals and accomplishments. (I plan on changing the world)