“It’s a demonstration of just how dedicated those who choose this profession are. We truly believe in what we do and what we can offer the world.”
Dr. Rae Nicole St. Arnault’s career path began with a desire to change the world. She was pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies, Geography, and Sociology, and she had plans to study law and perhaps work for the UN. “But what I discovered in this process is that while yes, change certainly is needed on a global level, change also needs to happen at an individual level,” she says.
She began to feel burnt out by her work, and noticed that many around her were experiencing the same issues. “When we are stressed and sick, we have nothing to give to others, never mind the environment or the rest of the world. The world needs people who are resourced, happy, healthy, and able to give back,” Dr. St. Arnault explains.
This realization is what led her to pursue naturopathic medicine. “I started with myself, and went into a career where I could both improve my own health, enjoy my work, and help others to do the same with their lives,” she says.
Finding her way
“I’m a West-Coaster by birth, and I didn’t even consider leaving the area,” Dr. St. Arnault recalls. She discovered BINM and decided to apply. “I am grateful for BINM existing in our area and still am. I later found out how incredible a school it really is.”
Her time at BINM provided her with a top-notch education, life-long friendships, and a plethora of opportunities for personal growth, but it was also challenging. “With the sheer amount of knowledge that is packed into four years, it never ceases to amaze me that so many make it through to the other side. It’s a demonstration of just how dedicated those who choose this profession are. We truly believe in what we do and what we can offer the world,” she says.
She’s since found that the challenges were more than worth the rewards. “The schooling itself was really difficult, no doubt, and starting a business soon after has also been exceptionally challenging, as all businesses are. But the personal growth through my colleagues, coworkers, and patients has been like nothing else in my life,” she says. “I know I’m on the right path every day when I’m challenged to be a better person, and held accountable to my own health and healing by people who care for me, both at home and at work.”
Starting a business and building a healthcare team
After graduation, Dr. St. Arnault joined an existing clinic as an associate, where she gained valuable experience and insights. However, she quickly realized it was time to branch out on her own. “Within the year, I was already planning to open my own clinic with my business partner, Helen Loshny. She is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor and we met on a level of wanting to help people through transformational healing processes.”
Their clinic, Empower Health, combines their knowledge and talents in business, community development, naturopathic medicine, and personal growth. “We are three and a half years into operations of Empower Health and we are finally ‘over the hump,’ so to speak, in terms of business growth,” she explains. “We are beginning to realize moderate financial success that is allowing us to begin to reinvest more in our growth and development.”
Collaboration is a vital component to the clinic’s success. “I am surrounded by a team of amazing individuals who practice diverse modalities in very unique ways. I feel like I’m part of a business family, where I am being challenged every day on a leadership level to lead by example, accept help, surrender to what is, and keep my eye on the goals,” she says. “I never envisioned practicing solo, or being ‘everything’ to one person. I love seeing the diverse web of support and therapy grow for an individual, as well as their own internal capacity and resilience to look after themselves.”
She is most passionate about being involved in the full scope of her patients’ health. “More and more, I’m a pivot point for the myriad of health endeavors (and adventures!) in someone’s life. I help them collect all of their past diagnostics from other practitioners, and put them in one place. I communicate with other health practitioners, and help guide them into the therapies that they need,” she says. “I envision long-term relationships with my clients not being one of dependency, but instead being one of mutual growth and evolution. I am here when they need to get back on track.”
Advice for future NDs
Dr. St. Arnault finds the versatility of naturopathic medicine to be one of its biggest assets. “We are able to truly respond in areas that we as individuals have therapeutic strengths, in order to provide truly individualized medicine to people,” she says. “People want and need this. A healthy, diverse medical system is just part of a healthy, diverse society.”
With that in mind, she urges aspiring NDs to hone their business skills so that they can offer their unique strengths to patients. “I think it’s a common problem in the healing arts in general; we think we are healers before business people, but in order to survive, we need to think of ourselves as business people before healers. Or at minimum, strike a very good balance,” she says. “You must either enjoy the concept of being in business, or do work to get there. Business, when done ethically and sustainability, can literally change the world.”
“Sometimes the day to day aspects of being in business take away the joy of what you do; there is no doubt. I have been to the depths of existential crises where I wondered what the heck I am doing with my life. That will certainly arise on a regular basis during school for anyone, as four years is a LONG time to be doing the same thing, and the goal will appear more and more distant,” she warns.
“Connect with what you are doing and why you are doing it. Connect with your community, your friends, and your family,” she says. “Don’t lose yourself in your career, find yourself in it.”
Learn more about Dr. Rae Nicole St. Arnault:
This article was originally published on the AANMC blog.