Growing up, Dr. Laura Nurse never thought she would have had that title in front of her name. If you’d asked her, she would have said doctors work too hard, so that wasn’t the job for her.
However, she believes it’s important to take life as it comes. About half way through a business administration degree, life put a pamphlet in her hand that said, “You can be a doctor.”
The pamphlet talked about helping people through diet, lifestyle and natural therapies and medicines. Immediately, something within her lit up and she decided to become a naturopathic doctor.
“It was a moment of clarity,” says Laura. “You’ll know what you’re supposed to do when it’s time for you to know what you’re supposed to do.”
It was two years before Laura started the 4 year post-graduate program at The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and in that time she had some doubts.
“Honestly, most of my friends and family thought I was going to be a witch doctor,” says Laura with a laugh, but she trusted this was the path she was meant to take.
Laura has always been interested in health, fitness, and educating people about how to live healthier lives. After graduating and returning to Newfoundland to set up her practice, she’s also had to do a lot of educating about what naturopathic medicine is. Even after four years of training, many of her friends and family still thought she was a witch doctor for a while.
“I think the combination of my business training and my interest in it, as well as my passion for educating people is really why I got into naturopathic medicine in the first place,” says Laura.
“It said on that pamphlet, you can teach people to live and be healthier, how to create health, not just take an Advil and get your headache to go away.”
Although Laura’s educational path to becoming a naturopathic doctor wasn’t the most direct one, her business degree plays a huge role in how she operates her business.
“Most of my colleagues, especially upon graduation, would prefer to be an ND in someone else’s clinic so they don’t have to manage all of the business” says Laura. For her, however, the business side is a big part of what she does.
Laura has a strong online presence and offers information about health and wellness on her blog in addition to providing ways for patients to connect and learn from her both locally and through online wellness courses.
Although keeping up to date on the latest medical research is extremely time consuming, maintaining this online presence and handling the marketing side of the business is the hardest part of her job.
“I don’t say this to toot my own horn but I’m a confident doctor,” says Laura.
“I feel pretty good at my ability to help people once they’re in my office, but it’s getting people into the office that doesn’t always come to me naturally.”
In addition to always having something new and fresh to share and getting it out there in a professional, well-coordinated way, “you have to sell yourself.” Being the face of her business is difficult for her, but since that’s what she has to do in order to help people, she does it.
And helping people is what it’s all about.
Of all the aspects of her career, it’s her patients Laura loves the most. “I’m just so honored to get to hear my patients’ stories and where they’ve come from,” she says.
She feels a sense of awe and deep respect for the human condition through working with her clients. They’ve taught her a lot about what it is to be human and survive. “You don’t realize the strength in the people around you until you start hearing their stories,” says Laura.
The ability to help patients cope with whatever they’re struggling with, be it a health condition or life event, to guide people and see them get their lives back, is incredibly rewarding.
“You feel the work that you’re doing is actually meaningful, that it does create change in the world.”
She loves that about her job, and it’s why she works so hard at what she does. It’s what gets her through the times of struggle.
Training to be a naturopathic doctor was one of the hardest things Laura has ever done. It was 40 hours a week in class in addition to research, project time, study time, and reading time.
“It was an all-encompassing thing for four years and it really broke me in many ways.”
“I think fundamentally the program was meant to break us such that it could put us back together as doctors,” says Laura, “which is easy to see on the other side, but when you’re in the middle of it you just hate everything for a little while.”
But, says Laura, “whatever it is, you can always figure it out if you try and work at it. Does it mean you’re going to get it right? No, not the first time, and that’s okay too.”
Today, to help ward off and cope with the challenges that come her way, Laura says organizational and time management tactics are key.
In addition, she has her fiancé, who is also a business owner, along with some fellow doctors to offer support and help keep her on track.
When she’s not working, Laura loves to cook and spend time outside, breathing the fresh air. They’re two things that help keep her centered and focused.
“It almost doesn’t even matter to me sometimes that it’s raining,” says Laura. “You couldn’t be a Newfoundlander if the rain bothered you.”
Outside of anything she could tell people about gluten, sugar, or dairy, what really matters, says Laura, is whether or not you’re enjoying your life. She believes people need to slow down, and admits she has to take her own advice on that many times.
“We have so much pressure on ourselves to perform better at work, to be a better spouse or mom,” says Laura. “We put so much pressure on ourselves to get everything right. To have the house, the car, the kids, the stuff.”
“You are not going to enjoy your life if you spend the whole time trying to achieve … what it looks like on the outside to live a particular lifestyle,” says Laura. Not everything is going to work out, and that’s fine.
Of life, she says, “You don’t have to get it right, but you do have to enjoy it.”
“That would be the worst, to get to the end of [my] life and feel like I missed it because I was so busy trying to … be enough.”
“Sometimes,” she says, “we just need to slow down and be okay with the fact that things take time.”
Allow time for reflection. Enjoy a glass of lemonade on a sunny day; that’s okay. “You’re allowed to take that time and just relax,” says Laura. “You don’t need to be productive all the time.”
Want to get in touch?
Have some thoughts on Dr. Laura’s journey or have a question for her about naturopathic medicine? Scroll down to “Join the Conversation!”