Ten and a half years ago, almost to the day, is when I first stepped foot in Tucson, Arizona. It was 2007 and I had traveled away from my medical school as a knowledgable and somewhat competent 4th year student, to explore more of the Integrative Medicine concepts I had learned over the last few years. I had already completed rotations in all the major medical specialties but knew there was more to medicine than medication and symptom management.
I still recall driving the manual transmission car I had learned to drive the weekend prior to the start of the rotation. It had been leant to me by the medical student who was housing me and I loved the thrill of shifting gears and idling safely. That little car, a Honda Fit, took me everywhere and changed my view on what driving should be like.
The most amazing place it took me was to the site of the Integrative Medicine Medical Student Rotation sponsored by the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. I walked in to the Spanish style hacienda, noting the beautiful desert landscaping and wildlife, and immediately felt like I was home. And I was! Inside the hacienda, a group of 15 incredible student/resident healers had gathered. We were weary from our medial training and were searching for better options for both ourselves (“Physician, heal thyself”) and our patients. And man, did we hit the Motherlode!
Over the following 4 weeks, we delved in to a wide range of healing modalities, including Native American rituals (including a sweat lodge experience), botanical medicine, yoga, Buddhist meditation, sound healing, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Feldenkreis, massage therapy and the like. Our teachers were world-renowned experts in these areas, including Drs. Randy Horwitz, Victoria Maizes, Tieraona LowDog and the man who started it all, Andrew Weil.
For the first time in our student lives, the focus was shifted to self-care and sustainable, natural medicine. Years of stress, doubt and insecurity that runs rampant in medicine, were shed from our bodies. Soul-level friendships were made as we formed an instantly congealed family of love. It was such a gift and it was a truly INCREDIBLE experience!
Since that time, my friends and I have all gone on with our lives. Most have families and jobs they love. They continue to inspire me in their marks on the world, like Hansie’s recent endurance run of ?100 miles? and life adventures in New Zealand; Adam’s gift of communication and ability to be the calm in any storm; Stacy’s movement to ensure safe sidewalks in her community and her raising awareness of food allergies in the country; Gurindher’s political and social activism in San Francisco and Surya’s steadfast groundedness that I was able to re-witness firsthand while we worked together for a time in New Mexico. These people will always inspire me.
I dedicate this post to them.
With love from Tucson,
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