BINM alumna Dr. Cassandra Connolly ND, BSc shares her insights on what it was like to be a parent and a naturopathic student at Boucher.

1. What does it feel like to go through the program with a small child on your hands?

Have you ever felt like you were running a marathon and the finish line was nowhere in sight? That is what it feels like to go through this program with a child. All joking aside, honestly it is tough but totally do-able. The biggest thing that I had to adapt to was time management. When you have a small child to attend to your priorities need to change. I no longer have hours to surf Facebook or daydream about my next vacation somewhere. I generally spend the majority of my waking moments either quickly getting an assignment done or bathing my son, out and about around running errands or cramming for a test while nursing.

2. What is your background and why did you decide to go through an ND program?

I graduated from Mount Saint Vincent University with a BSc in Molecular and Cellular Biology. I have always had an innate desire to help others. I became passionate about medicine at a young age after watching my mother struggle with her health. I started my journey to become a doctor in the conventional world. I completed the first year of Medical School before I quickly became disillusioned with the conventional medical system of treating symptoms not the person and the over prescribing of pharmaceuticals. I knew that I was on a road to unhappiness if I didn’t make a profession change. I took a few months and turned inwards, spending a lot of time reflecting on what makes me happy and what gives me the feeling of fulfillment. It was during this time that I realized that I still wanted to be a doctor but that I needed to be able to utilize other therapies besides pharmaceuticals. I found out about Naturopathic Medicine through a friend and did some more research to discover it was the medicine I had been searching for, that was 4 years ago and I haven’t looked back since!

3. What does your typical day look like?

This is a scary thing to even think about! Some days my day looks like a calm ocean on a sunny day and some days its more like a hurricane in full force. The average day looks like this:

  • alarm clock goes off at 6am
  • breakfast, packing lunches, getting my son ready for daycare, nursing, walking the dog and getting into the car all needs to happen by 7:15 am
  • Drop my son off at daycare and head to school for 8 am
  • School or Clinic from 8-5 pm
  • Pick up my son from daycare by 5:30
  • Play time, dinner, dishes, walk the dog, bath my son by 7:30
  • Nurse and bedtime for my son by 8pm
  • Clean up the house, get the bags ready for the next day, laundry, shower, study, clinic patient prep, spend some time with my husband until 10 pm and then I get to go to bed!

4. What made it possible for you to be able to go through the program with a small child?

I could NOT have done this program without my AMAZING husband. He was my rock through the tough times and was beside me every step of the way. I strongly believe that a partner will either make or break you in this program. My husband is a very involved father and this made the world of a difference for me. When I had a lot of tests to study for he would simply take over and do all the parenting tasks so I could focus on school. When I have had to pick up clinic shifts and stay late, he again would hold down the fort and get everything done so I could come home and fall into bed at the end of a long day.

If you have a partner, parent or friend to help you through this program then it is a lot easier than trying to do it on your own. I honestly don’t know if I could have done it on my own. Having someone to share the tasks with and to be able to cry with, laugh with made this journey so much more bearable.

5. Do you have any advice for parents who wish to apply for this program?

My few words of wisdom:

  • Have a partner of some sort to help you. Whether that is a parent of friend, you will need the help!
  • DON’T be afraid to ask for help, medical school is a huge endeavor without a child let alone with one. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength to know your limits and work within them. It takes a village to raise a child, seriously!
  • As hard as it is going to be, make time for yourself and for your partner. If you are running on empty constantly then eventually you will have nothing to give back to your child, partner or your patients.

6. How do you imagine your schedule will change once you finish the program?

I honestly am not sure it will change that much. I will still be busy, now I am a doctor as well as a mother and wife. Although school life is over and the long hours of studying for tests and writing assignments has come to an end that doesn’t mean the learning is over. I imagine for the first few years that I will feel just as busy, maybe even busier. Researching patient conditions, running a clinic, being a doctor and a business owner is going to be a huge undertaking. With time and experience I believe the patient prep will be less and then I will start to live more of a “normal” life but until then I will keep running the hamster wheel. I think the biggest thing that will change is I am now able to dictate where I spend my time each day and thus I hope I will be able to incorporate a bit more self care into my daily routine.

7. Is there anything you would have done differently?

I would have incorporated more self care into my daily routine, even if it was just for five minutes a day. I spent a lot of time looking after everyone for myself and I feel the effects of that. I have a lot of working out, eating better, sleeping, etc to catch up on now that I am done the program.