Written by Chelsey Costa | Thursday, 23 July 2020
One of the most beautiful things about the practical side of being a naturopath, is that it is not your average 9am to 5pm full time job. Most naturopaths consult part-time and what they do with the rest of their days varies from parenting, teaching, research or doing further studies
When I first started practicing, I used to work three half days but have since transitioned to doing two full days as I prefer to concentrate my energy into these two days. I know this will change and expand soon but right now this suits my current goals.
Imagine waking up in the morning, in those few seconds before you realise what day it is and what you are meant to be doing today.
You realise it is a work day, and instead of the dread so many people might feel at that thought, you are filled with excitement for the day ahead. This is my reality when I wake for a day in the clinic. I always start these days off with a slow morning routine while I get ready to avoid being in a rush and starting the day off stressed out. The drive to the clinic is lovely and short, only two songs and I’m there.
A typical clinic day honestly goes by in a flash. Consultations are a mixture of new and existing patients ranging from acne management to PCOS to weight loss to pregnancy care. Every day is different, unique and certainly never boring.
I generally tend to schedule a 15 minute leeway break in between most patients to buy myself time to ensure their consultation notes and summaries are written up and all emails are sent to the patient. That way I can start the next consultation content that I have finished everything I needed to do for my previous patient. I also enjoy, when I have the time, making up my own patients’ herbal prescription where I can. I find so much passion in formulating their herbal prescription that I think it is fitting that I be the one that puts the love and joy into blending it up.
In my lunch break, I try to where I can, step outside for some fresh air and it get some sunshine on my skin, but admittedly, some days my lunch break involves me quickly writing up some notes or writing a referral letter to another health professional while I eat my lunch. I do try to eat as mindfully as I can.
In relation to food and eating on a day in clinic, I learned very quickly when I started practicing that my energy requirements on these days are significantly higher than my days off. As such I always prioritise having a large and filling breakfast, and packing plenty of snacks and a large lunch for the day. Your brain is so incredibly active all day in clinic, you cannot afford to have a blood sugar low and be thrown off focus.
Examples of what I might have on a clinic day:
The days I’m not in clinic will always include an outdoor walk or run to start the day off. This helps set me up for better energy and mental clarity for the day ahead. I will then work on all my case preparation for the week ahead. This involves reviewing cases, brain storming, researching different treatment option ideas, reviewing blood test results and checking in with patients as well. This is something many patients might not realise about their naturopath. Once you take on a new patient, it becomes your mission to get to the root cause of their health issue. In some cases, this can be an easy process and in other more complex cases, more time and investigations are required to find the answers. This investigative journey is one of the most enjoyable aspects of what we do because when we do find the answers then everything just falls into place.
Of course, a work-life balance is important so I do schedule in days where I don’t do any work or check emails. It can be difficult to create these boundaries but they are so important to have in place.
One activity on my day off (Monday) involves getting together with my wonderful colleagues and mentors where we will sit around talking through cases and getting some input and guidance where necessary. I know how lucky I am to be in a situation where I can get the best advice on a weekly basis or as needed. As a naturopath, you never stop learning, ever. You can also never know everything or have seen everything, as our patients can be quite complex and varied. This is why it is so important we share our knowledge with each other and help each other grow.
As you can see, for me at least, the days in a naturopath’s week vary quite a bit. This job is certainly not mundane in any way, but rather an extremely varied and exciting work life. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Chelsey is an Endeavour College Alumni and qualified naturopath practicing at Perth Health & Fertility in City Beach, Perth. She is passionate about all things women’s health and specialises in, among general naturopathic medicine, treating hormonal conditions such as PCOS, cycle irregularities, endometriosis, PMS and acne. In Chelsey’s graduating year, she graduated with the Naturopathy Academic Excellence Award and Dux Medal Award. Her goals are to continue her studies alongside clinical practice with hopes to one day complete a PhD and help contribute to the naturopathic research field. She is one half of @peppermintandsage_ on Instagram and has interests in health education and regularly conducts public based health education talks in the community.