Before I was a Doctor I taught high school science. This was a slight detour on my path to becoming a physician but I truly believe it has made me a better doctor. Here is my story.
I always wanted to be a doctor. Initially it was veterinary medicine (age 15), which then became traditional medicine (age 17), but this still didn’t feel like the right choice for me. I decided I would check off a few of my “to do in life” boxes while I was figuring it all out. I have spent many months travelling the world at different intervals in my life (another story for another time!) but had never lived in a different country, and had I not yet learned a new language. I knew that whatever form of medicine I went into the education bill would be high so I decided to go abroad and live, teach, and learn, while saving some money to return to medical school. The plan was set: a year in Kyoto, Japan, teaching English and learning to speak Japanese.
This plan took a slight detour when I learned that if I held a Bachelor of Education I would be able to privately tutor on the side and the cost of Med school no longer seemed as daunting. So I applied and was accepted into the 12 month Bachelor of Education program at UBC…. and then I would go to Japan and continue on with the plan.
But once again, the universe had a different idea. When I was 6 weeks from completing my program I was offered a teaching position at a brand new high school in West Vancouver teaching math and science. It was such an amazing opportunity that I put Japan on hold (again) and took the job. Four years later (time flies) I realized that I loved teaching but had to make a decision: was I a teacher or a doctor? I decided that my heart was really dedicated to improving the health of others so I quit my teaching job and headed back to school. Over the past few years I had discovered Naturopathic medicine. I was immediately drawn to this profession for the basic principle of using the body’s ability to heal! I graduated four years and two children later (another good story).
Looking back at my journey to becoming a Naturopathic doctor I realize that my brief career as a teacher taught me to be a better doctor than I would have been without it. Being a teacher as a doctor allows me to teach my patients about their health, to help them understand what the body needs to heal and what they must do to live a long and healthy life.
Dr. Heidi Rootes