Hello! Welcome to my wellness blog. Here I will be sharing some knowledge about health, disease prevention, and goal setting and break it down so that it is easy to understand. Duke Integrative Medicine’s Wheel of Health will be the tool I will use as the basis for weekly topics.
I’ll start by introducing myself and why I became an integrative health coach.
You could say I was born into the health and wellness field- my dad is an ER physician and my mom is a nurse. From elementary to high school I would say I wanted to grow up to be a doctor. (I should also note that I was obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy in the later high school years.) In my house medical jargon was thrown around the dinner table in between “how was school today?” People would come over or call with medical questions or show mom or dad their twisted ankles or kitchen knife cuts and ask what to do. I also learned a lot about the endocrine system and nutrition at an earlier age than most because my mom is a type I diabetic. My mom has always taken excellent care of herself by monitoring her glucose levels, injecting insulin multiple times a day, and reading nutritional labels carefully. The invention of the continuous glucose monitor (pump) made it easier for her, but managing this disease is time consuming and hard. If someone as diligent and knowledgeable about the ramifications of poorly controlled diabetes gets frustrated with the daily process, it is easy to see why so many people with type II diabetes choose to eat what they want, pop an insulin pill, and call it a day.
The reality of studying to become a doctor became all too real when I went to college and was on a pre-med track. I had always been a good student, but the workload was intense, and I found myself constantly asking, “why am I doing this again?” The problem was that I liked science and learning about health, but I wasn’t sure what that meant in terms of a career. I knew that I wanted to have a family one day and didn’t want to have a schedule that would cause me to miss out of aspects of my future kids’ lives.
Fast forward a couple years when I transferred schools and graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Health Services. This broad major exposed to me a number of different health professions that I had not really considered, such as nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. But the most important gem I got from this coursework was discovering the field of public health. Public health is different from other health professions because the focus is on communities and the emphasis is on prevention and intervention. This aligned more with my values and personality traits than any other career I had explored before.
After graduating I started working as an assessment worker at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, working mainly with the low-income elderly population in Philadelphia. I would go into people’s home or nursing facilities and assess the person’s health conditions, medications, and activities of daily living (ADLs). This job was completely out of my comfort zone- suburban, upper-middle class 22 year old going into the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in the city. It turned out that I was often sad, not fearful. It was humbling to see the conditions that so many people live in, and the toll that poverty and limited access to healthy foods has on a person’s health. I eventually left that job to pursue my Master of Public health full time at Drexel, but I still take that experience with me because it reminds me how much the field of health coaching is needed.
While at Drexel, my concentration was community health and prevention. I learned how to plan and evaluate health education programs, communicate health information effectively, and utilize prevention principles in community settings. I started working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after I graduated, but quickly came to realize that being part of a massive hospital system was not fulfilling.
By this point I was getting frustrated. I just wanted to work with people and educate them on health topics. That’s when I figured out I needed to go back to school. (I love school by the way.) I knew that I wanted to incorporate some holistic medicine into what I would teach, so I did some research and discovered integrative medicine. It was easy to decide to go to Duke Integrative Medicine’s Professional Training Program because they are world renowned in health coaching. At about the same time that I started at Duke, I enrolled in a teacher training in Classical Yoga and plan to use yoga within my health coaching practice.
So that is how I got here. It seems I’ve been working on the “Professional and Personal Development” aspect of the Wheel of Health for quite some time. I am beyond excited to start this new adventure and am grateful for all the support and encouragement. It’s scary to follow my dreams and leave the safety and comfort of the “known,” but I am pretty sure it will be worth it.
I’d love to know- what aspect of self care are you working on?