“Being a naturopathic doctor gives me a sense of congruence in my life – my work is an expression of my values, and that allows me to provide a service to my patients and students that feels deeply meaningful. So much of what we do boils down to respect and love: for our environment, for our communities and, perhaps most importantly, for ourselves. The more I learn about medicine, the more I learn about the world and my place in it.”
Greg Yasuda, ND is Associate Dean of Academics and Assistant Professor at Bastyr University. Dr. Yasuda is well-loved by his students and colleagues and is proud to be a Bastyr alumnus.
Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?
“My mother was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis when I was a child and her general practitioner recommended that she try yoga – 40 years later, she still does not take thyroid medication. I had witnessed the healing power of nature first hand before I even learned about this profession.
I chose naturopathic medicine because I was looking for what is true in medicine and healing. The scientific evidence base is continually growing, guidelines and opinions are always changing, and conventional standards of care are regularly improved upon…while this is a tremendously valuable process, it must also be balanced by some essential truths that do not change, principles of healing that are constant, reliable and timeless. This fascinated me before coming to naturopathic school and that fascination has only grown. “
What can students learn from you?
“I have taught various courses since 2008, and now I primarily function as a clinical supervisor and instructor for physical medicine and Naturopathic Theory and Practice, a year-long course in naturopathic philosophy in which I have been blessed to be mentored by Pamela Snider, ND, Christy Lee-Engel, ND, EAMP and Brad Lichtenstein, ND, BCB-HRV , all of whom were my instructors when I was a student between 1998 and 2003.
While it is important to learn to diagnose and treat illness, I make sure to teach students to also prioritize supporting the healing process. I believe this is our great contribution: to balance promotion of health with treatment of disease. In a diverse landscape of healthcare that seems hyper-focused on disease treatment, ours is a model of integrative practice that is both powerful and trustworthy.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND
“Being a naturopathic doctor gives me a sense of congruence in my life – my work is an expression of my values, and that allows me to provide a service to my patients and students that feels deeply meaningful. So much of what we do boils down to respect and love: for our environment, for our communities and, perhaps most importantly, for ourselves. The more I learn about medicine, the more I learn about the world and my place in it.
Working with students connects me back to my own beginnings – the innocent and exuberant optimism that made me want to change the world! So many of my students feel called to naturopathic medicine. It wasn’t a reasoned or even planned path: they heard about it and immediately knew they had to do it. That’s how Bastyr University started and that’s how I started, so I want to welcome that spirit here, to acknowledge it and bless it and cultivate its unique expression in each student. The late Bill Mitchell, ND, said that the full flower of naturopathic medicine has yet to bloom. These students are those very buds of unexpressed potential.”
What qualities make a strong ND student?
“I have seen students from all walks of life succeed here. While some have strong backgrounds in biomedical sciences, others have been musicians, teachers, engineers (like me), and countless more. What makes a strong ND student is strong character – they know who they are and why they are here. This helps them remain balanced and avoid the traps of absolutes. They are adept with the sciences, but are not threatened by the mystery of being. They can honor the past without succumbing to dogma. They are both leaders and collaborators. They understand the importance of narrative and the countless ways we each experience life – not only accepting diversity, but valuing it as a source of strength.”
What advice do you have for prospective ND students?
“Search your heart and find what you must do. Do not ask what you should do, what will make others happy nor what you’re good at – these types of questions only confuse the issue. Ask what you must do, what will make you come alive, what will bring meaning to your life and work. Talk to naturopathic doctors (click here to find an ND near you in the US and Canada), visit the schools, shadow a practitioner. Once you know the answer, trust your knowing, commit to it, and go do whatever that is regardless of the consequences. A calling does not go away – and neither do regrets.”
Originally published on AANMC.org.