My East Coast Mentor

When I was introduced to naturopathic medicine I knew I had finally found the profession I had been looking for all along. My west coast mentor had been practicing naturopathic medicine for about 60 years when I left to go to school. When I moved to the east coast to attend UBCNM it was a completely fresh start; I knew absolutely nobody. As I was taught the philosophies of naturopathic medicine by Dr. Sensenig in the early part of my education, I gained a deeper appreciation for my experiences with my mentor that had brought my awareness to the profession. I was fortunate to have an incredible mentor from the beginning, but in Dr. Sensenig I saw great confidence and leadership that inspired me to be even more. His lessons seemed personal and resonated with great force in my heart, as the truths I’d always known, but never had words for. I’ll never forget when we first spoke and got to know each other. He asked me where I was from and how I had come to UBCNM. I was surprised to learn that he knew my mentor whom he considered his Elder, which I now understand was a huge compliment. Apparently my mentor had tried to play matchmaker for Dr. Sensenig many years ago. He had also left an impression on him for holding a good understanding of the philosophy and practice of naturopathic medicine. It wasn’t until further into my education that I fully realized who Dr. Sensenig was and all he had done for the profession. I felt incredibly fortunate to have him be a part of my education. He inspired in me a deep desire to further the profession that I was already deeply passionate about. While I was in school I acted on the desire and became active in state and national legislative efforts. More importantly, he taught me the importance of philosophy in clinical decision making. I studied the philosophy textbooks as though they held the secrets to curing disease, rather than just informative history or an abstract world view. When the time came to preceptor I went to his practice and suddenly I was home again. I watched naturopathic medicine practiced according to its philosophies. People got better… quickly. I saw the surprise in their eyes as he would describe the underlying disease and solutions where so many others had failed. I saw people take their first full breath, despite living for many years. It was frequent miracles and progress, and reminded me of time spent with my mentor on the west coast. It was contagiously fun and rewarding. His passing is deeply saddening. I hope that his legacy lives on through those of us who knew him. In my daily practice I attempt to honor him along with my other mentors and Elders by practicing naturopathic medicine as he did. The fire he lit inside me and our profession still burns brightly. His leadership will be sorely missed and while it will take many to fill the void it is my hope that we can come together to do so.