“Naturopathic medicine is not just a career or a graduate degree, it is a philosophy and a system of health care. People are drawn to us as physicians when we embody the medicine in its entirety.”
Dr. Julie Durnan’s first position after earning her undergraduate degree was at an environmental consulting firm. “I spent my early 20s testing air and water quality in toxic homes, schools, and workplaces,” Dr. Durnan says. But it was more than just a job for her – it opened her eyes to a whole new world of medicine.
“During that time, I met many very sick people. I saw firsthand how they suffered because they couldn’t find treatment. I discovered a huge gap. We were testing the air in people’s homes, and they were sick. They knew why, but they didn’t know what to do. Conventional methods weren’t working, and these people were not getting better,” she says. “They had low immune function. They were suffering from neurological problems. They were dealing with hormonal imbalance.”
Then she discovered naturopathic medicine. “Unlike other medical models out there, naturopathic medicine acknowledged the trouble with toxicity and offered treatments that strengthened immune systems and improved many of the ailments these people were suffering from,” Dr. Durnan says. “I’d found my passion.”
After visiting a friend studying to be an ND, Dr. Durnan decided to pursue an education in naturopathic medicine. “I saw how intensive the education was, how thorough the clinical training was, and knew I belonged,” she recalls.
Beginning her journey at BINM
Dr. Durnan chose to pursue her studies at BINM, because she was drawn to the small class sizes. “I wanted to be a part of a small community with more time spent close to my instructors,” she says.
That is exactly what she got. “My experience at BINM was memorable beyond words,” she says. “I made some of my best friends while at BINM. I know people often say this about their alma mater, but we were only a class of 16 individuals and we have all remained a very tight knit group.”
Her education was also top notch. “The aspect I most treasure from my experience there over 4 years is that our instruction was given by mostly naturopathic doctors who had clinical practice experience and were experts in their fields of study,” she says. “I learned so much practical and clinically-relevant treatment information while there, and felt incredibly confident moving into practice after graduation.”
Branching out into naturopathic practice
That confidence helped her land an associate position at the Lonsdale Naturopathic Clinic in North Vancouver immediately after graduation in 2006. She spent three years there, while building her first practice. She opened Pacifica Naturopathic Clinic in West Vancouver in 2009 with co-founder Dr. Nina Lange. Five years later, she expanded her practice and opened Restoration Health Clinic in North Vancouver.
Now, Dr. Durnan wears a lot of hats. “As a clinic owner with a full-time naturopathic practice, two children, and a husband, life is full but incredible,” she says. “I live, work, and play in a small community in North Vancouver: Lynn Valley. Everything I need is within about a 5-block radius. I work in and on my clinic during the week and spend weekends off with my family, often out in nature in our beautiful community. I love my clinic life and feel like I have struck gold to be working and living in such an amazing family-friendly community.”
Building a practice on naturopathic tenets
Her family-friendly practice puts a focus on women and children. “I see women with fertility concerns, endocrine imbalances; I see women during the prenatal period; and I work with newborns and children of all ages,” she says. “Many of my patients do not have a family medical doctor, so they see me as their primary care physician.”
Dr. Durnan values the wide scope of treatment tools at her disposal as an ND. “I love that I have access to so many more comprehensive testing options than are available in conventional medicine,” she says. “I love that I have the opportunity to look in-depth into a patient’s nutritional habits, concurrently prescribe herbal medicine, a homeopathic, an IV nutrient therapy, and that I have the credibility to use a pharmaceutical if I so choose.”
Living a life in line with naturopathic medicine
On a daily basis, Dr. Durnan sees the benefits of naturopathic medicine, not only for her patients, but for herself as well. “My advice to anyone considering naturopathic medicine is to make sure you are ready to live out this form of medicine in your daily life. Naturopathic medicine is not just a career or a graduate degree, it is a philosophy and a system of health care,” she says. “If you know in your heart you want to live out this medicine and teach it to others daily, then naturopathic medicine is for you.”
This article was originally posted on the AANMC blog