My Journey

People often ask me why I chose to study naturopathic medicine, instead of conventional medicine. The short answer is that I chose to study naturopathic medicine because I wanted to have additional tools, beyond pharmaceuticals and surgery, that I could use in optimizing health. I had always been deeply interested in working in a healing vocation, but it was not until I heard about naturopathic medicine that I knew I had found my calling. Naturopathic medicine blends the best of both worlds: traditional healing modalities, combined with, and informed by, advances in conventional medicine. 

For the longer answer, let's go back a few years. I grew up in Birmingham, England. I have always shared a love for natural medicine with my dad, but if you had asked me if I knew what "naturopathic medicine" was back then, you would have been greeted with a blank stare. We moved to Cincinnati, OH when I was 15. I was a bit of a science nerd, aspiring artist and voracious reader in those years, and my interests were far reaching. After high school, I decided to focus on science and went on to study biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, thinking that I would likely apply to medical school after my undergraduate degree.

During my second year at Case, I happened to take a religious studies class which snowballed into an insatiable and deep interest in the academic study of religion, as well as second major. This, combined with my love to travel, led me to spend 9 months traveling in China, Thailand, India and Turkey studying comparative religions and cultures. During this time I became interested in moral philosophy and ethics, and was pulled to pursue graduate studies in bioethics, as the complex philosophical and ethical discussions surrounding advances in medicine, science and technology fascinated me. The field of bioethics allowed me to keep one foot in the study of science and the other in the study of religion and philosophy. Before I knew it, graduate school was over and I was left somewhat hesitant to start a career in medicine. I wanted to be involved in the medical field, but something was holding me back from applying to medical school just yet. So, I decided to pursue my love of bioethics further and moved to Baltimore, MD to work with a team of physicians at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics designing, implementing and evaluating clinical ethics education programs for medical residents, as well as with a team exploring the ethics of advances in medical neuroscience. 

During my time in Baltimore I became very sick. After ending up hospitalized 3 times, I decided it was time to seek additional supportive healing modalities. As part of my healing process, I started seeing an acupuncturist. During our appointments, we would have conversations about our idealistic views of medicine and health care. Eventually she said to me, "you know what, everything that you are telling me you seek in medicine is exactly what naturopathic medicine provides." I had never heard of naturopathic medicine, so she connected me with a naturopathic doctor (ND) in her office to learn more. I met with the ND for tea soon afterwards, and was blown away. She described an integrative, holistic, science-based form of medicine that I had never dreamed existed as an organized, accredited and regulated profession.  It was as if a light bulb went off: "that's it!" I knew that I needed to switch gears, go back to school and pursue naturopathic medicine. I knew then why I did not pursue conventional medicine earlier; because it did not offer everything that I wanted to be able to provide as a healer. Naturopathic medicine offered me what I was looking for, and more. As with any major life changing decision, leaving my work in the field of bioethics was a little difficult (as was the thought of going back to school for 4 years!). I was, and always will be, deeply compelled to engage in the moral inquiries of bioethics, but there was a level of action that was missing. Paul Kalanathi, MD beautifully described a similar conundrum that he faced in his life, in his memoir When Breath Becomes Air: "I wanted that direct experience. It was only in practicing medicine that I could pursue a serious biological philosophy. Moral speculation was puny compared to moral action."

And so, I quit my job, took a quick side trip to Eastern Europe for a couple of months, and then packed my bags to travel all the way to the other side of the United States to start school at the National College of Natural Medicine (now National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, OR. And the rest is history. 

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to pursue a profession that I am so passionate about and I love sharing it with others. After 6 wonderful years in the Pacific North West, I am happy to be back, closer to family, in the Midwest to share what I have learned.

I look forward to working with you!

In Health,

Dr. Khaira