When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my brother playing outdoors in the Arizona sun, building forts, climbing trees, building bike ramps, and other cliché stuff like that. I literally did the whole “walk across the street and knock on the door to ask if my friend could play” thing. I was also lucky enough to grow up with horses, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, even a cow at one point. It was great, and at a young age really instilled in me a sense of loving the outdoors, being productive, and being active. Subsequently, my brother and I were always involved in sports – particularly ice hockey.
As I got older I really began to find my niche in hockey, and started to take that pretty seriously. For whatever reason I became fascinated with what I could do off of the ice to improve my game on the ice, and this is where I got my foot in the door of training. Early on, it was lots of calling up coaches and asking for their advice, searching google, and lots of my own imagination. Most of my workouts were outdoors in our horse arenas, because it was typically the most flat, open space in our backyards. Over the years there was a healthy share of good, bad, and ugly training that I put myself through, but it was great to experience it all first hand and see the game-time implications. All through high school I was my own personal trainer, taking a lot of my training knowledge from Nike SPARQ, Twist Conditioning, and USA Hockey.
Following high school, due to my own interest in training, human health, and some serious health issues my mother had encountered, I entered Northern Arizona University in pursuit of my bachelors in Biomedical Science. Then about three months in I changed it to Exercise Science, then back to Biomedical Science again later – because it wouldn’t be college if I didn’t change my major. I still had a huge emphasis in exercise physiology, human physiology, and biochemistry with the ultimate goal being naturopathic medical school, or a miraculously random shot at the NHL. Taking my freshman year off of competitive hockey, I took time to get the flow of college and then tried out for the NAU Ice Jacks (ACHA) in my sophomore year. The ACHA is not funded like the NCAA, so it took a hefty chunk out of the wallet. Following an unforgettable season, I decided to hang up the skates, after thirteen years of play, in my junior year. That year I decided to pursue my personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and start an LLC., Arizona Vitality.
At this point in my academic career I was still certain of my desire for naturopathic medical school. So, to broaden my education, the following year I added to my personal training practice by earning my nutrition coaching certification through Precision Nutrition. I put it all to work as a personal trainer at the NAU Health and Learning Center. Ending my career at NAU, in my senior year, I worked as both a personal trainer and a class supplemental instructor (basically a class tutor) for Anatomy and Physiology II. Graduating in 2014 as a former collegiate athlete, trainer, coach, tutor, and I was about to head to Bastyr University for medical school.
I am currently a third-year student at Bastyr Univeristy in the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program (ND, Class of 2019). My current academic and medical interests reside in physical/sports medicine, functional neurology, behavior change, and nutrition.
Education and Training
- Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Candidate 2019 (ND, Bastyr University)
- Fellow of Functional Neurology Candidate 2019 (FACFN, Carrick Institute)
- B.S. Biomedical Science (Northern Arizona University 2014, Cum Laude)
- NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist
- PN1 Nutrition Coach
- Certified Revolution in Motion Trainer (I-III)
- Certified Stecco Fascial Manipulation Practitioner (I-III)
Why Naturopathic Medicine?
A lot of people have asked me, “With your background, why didn’t you decide to become a real doctor?”
I was only fourteen years old in October 2006 when the Mayo Clinic, various medical universities, and MD specialists had given my mother the expiration date of November 2006. As a freshman in high school with no father figure, this was an absolutely terrifying and deeply saddening idea to try to wrap my head around: medicine was giving up on my only mother. In a last ditch effort, the nurse of an integrative MD my mother had been seeing in Jackson, WY had suggested International Biocare, an integrative hospital outside of the United States. With no other options, I had to say my, potentially last, goodbyes to my mother in the hospital where she would stay for two weeks. Undergoing intensive treatments during her stay for severe heavy metal poisoning, she had come out of her stay against all odds – alive. Now, we were not living near Jackson, WY anymore near her previous doctor; we were back in Phoenix, AZ. Upon her release my mother was referred to “the best” and most capable doctor for her particularly complex and “physiology-defying” case, Dr. Brian J. Popiel NMD. Unaware of the various doctor titles and stigma surrounding natural medicine, in my mind, Dr. Popiel was just a phenom in medicine, and I wanted to be that man. I wanted to influence lives in the same way that he had influenced mine and my brother’s. My mother’s years after the hospital have not been picture perfect or story book. They have had ups and downs that Dr. Popiel has handled with phenomenal composure, diligence, and success, despite the many times that, I am certain, he was just as scared as we were. I saw Dr. Popiel as a real-life (compassionate) Dr. House, and I wanted to be a naturopathic physician just like him.
One of my favorite things to quote that I had heard shadowing an ND at one point goes like this,
“There is no such thing as naturopathic biochemistry. It’s just biochemistry.”
In my heart of hearts, Naturopathic Medicine makes sense. I understand the strengths and limitations, and I intend to reach out and practice in a truly integrative manner with other practitioners, in the same way that saved my mother’s life.
She wouldn’t be here today without MDs. And she sure as hell would not be here without NDs.