“Being in the military and naturopathy are completely different career choices”.
This is a statement I hear quite often as a former Australian Army officer turned naturopathy student. And, to be honest, they are very contrasting vocations. However, on reflection there are also parallels between the two. I believe my time in the military has taught me three things that have prepared me well for my future career as a naturopath.
Appreciation. Exposure to scenarios both domestically and overseas make you realise how lucky we are in Australia. We are blessed with abundance, relative stability and opportunity. In times of unique and emotionally trying experiences, you increasingly appreciate the simple things in life, which are sometime unavailable or overlooked – a hug from a family member, the sweet taste of a mandarin or the ability to go for a walk. For me, the ability to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of nature has been therapeutically beneficial to the body and mind.
Think outside the box. There is always more than one way to look at a situation. I learnt through my time in the military the ‘usual’ way for a given situation may not turn out to be the right approach. Thinking outside the box requires you to educate yourself, try new things, adapt, grow and learn from the experience to gain more confidence in your analysis. This point resonates with the naturopathic principles and the tenets of evidence-based practice.
Look after yourself. This is such an important point for any person but it is often overlooked. You need to treat your whole person – body, mind and spirit. Fuelling your body with the right nutrients is key to maintain performance. I love the military phrase “rest is a weapon”. It highlights the importance of sleep and relaxation in order to prevent burn out, decrease stress and help with performance.
When I was deployed, rest provided an opportunity to consolidate my thoughts, unwind and prepare for future tasks. Looking after yourself also means speaking up if you need some help or even just someone to speak with.
So, why become a naturopath?I believe working to boost the health and wellbeing of others will be a privilege and a rewarding experience. Becoming a naturopath also aligns with the values I have for helping others and the importance of health, wellbeing and nature in my own life.
I recently experienced an epiphany moment in class when I knew for sure this is exactly where I wanted to be. The enjoyment of learning and pondering on how these lessons will support me to help patients in the future particularly resonated with me. It was such an exciting and thrilling point in my personal development.
Transitioning to the life of a student combined with cultural differences and a completely different gender ratio than what I am used to has been challenging at times. But what I have come to know is regardless of gender, age and background we are all here to help others through the application of natural treatments.
I truly believe that naturopathy and broader complementary medicine is an undervalued aspect of healthcare and there is opportunity to become a greater part of the Australian health fabric.
About Andy McLintock
Prior to pursuing a career in natural health, Andy McLintock was a full time Australian Army officer for 11 years. This involved several deployments to the Middle East. Outside of studying, he enjoys running, getting outdoors and cooking. Even though he lives in Sydney Andy is a Queensland boy at heart. Andy is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy at Endeavour College of Natural Health.
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