Getting aligned…why I decided to offer a sliding scale

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Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

I feel like this post has, in one way or another, been rumbling around somewhere in my psyche, waiting for me to bring it to the surface, for many years.

I recently made the decision to officially offer a sliding scale for my naturopathic services. I’m not the first ND to offer this, and I won’t be the last, but I wanted to take a minute (or 5) and I explain why came to this decision.

I’ve always been a highly empathetic person. I knew I had this trait as an adult, but it wasn’t until I came across one of my report cards from kindergarten that confirmed that this has always been one of my stronger traits. I realized this is just me. When I was studying nursing, I really resonated with our lessons on the social determinants of health. One of the strongest social determinants of health is income and social status. In general, those who have more money are healthier. Learning about these types of concepts are what inspired me to become a public health nurse. I wanted work with marginalized populations, offering education, tools and resources to prevent and manage disease. As a public health nurse I was so blessed to work with amazing clients. I worked with different populations. Some with addiction challenges, some who were underhoused, many who barely had enough money to keep themselves and their families fed.

As much as I loved my job, I had always had an equally strong desire to study naturopathic medicine. To dive much more deeply into the body and all the natural ways to support health and healing. I wanted a career where I had more creativity and autonomy, and where I could use some of the modalities that naturopathic medicine offers. I knew, however, that I was getting into private health care, and this was something that I struggled with regularly. I remember when I toured CCNM (the school I attended) I asked my tour guide how she felt about the fact that our services aren’t accessible to the general population. She said that we work hard for 8 years (true! we have to do a 4 year undergraduate degree and then CCNM for 4 more years) and that we invest a lot of money into our education (very, very true), and so we deserve to charge those rates for our services. The truth is, I don’t disagree with this. I don’t think naturopathic doctors overcharge for their services. In fact, based on all of the research and effort that is put into our work behind the scenes, we are realistically probably under charging a lot of the time. Most people who become NDs don’t do it for the money. They do it because they are passionate about the career. You see the power of the medicine and you want to share it with others. But then you graduate and you realize that now you need to be a doctor, a business person, an accountant, a social marketing expert, a top notch researcher, oh and maybe also live your everyday life. It’s not easy.

But the reality is, many people can’t afford our services. There are more and more private health insurance companies that are covering naturopathy, and yes there are people who can afford the services no problem, but many can’t. I will argue that some people could choose to prioritize their health care more, financially, and maybe spend less in other domains. But there are also many people who, no matter how they prioritize their money, wouldn’t be able to afford it. Most of my best friends are artists: singers, dancers, actors, etc. They are my favourite people in the entire world. They feed my soul and make my heart sing. Most of them will never see an ND. They don’t have private health insurance, they probably never will, and their financial stability is up and down.

So, I had to ask myself. Where do I stand? What feels right for me? A sliding scale feels right for me. I want to be able to service artists. I want to be able to service single Moms. I believe that alternative health care should be accessible to everyone. One of my favourite teachers from CCNM, Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, has been offering a sliding scale for years and it has been very successful for him. I recall him telling me that some of his patients who couldn’t afford the full rate finally got a job where they were making more, and they felt proud and excited to be able to offer the full price for their visits. I believe people don’t take advantage of these options, they use them because they need to.

When I finally came to this decision I immediately felt lighter and more like myself. When you are trying to do what you think you are supposed to do, and it doesn’t align with your deepest ethics, it weighs you down. I encourage my patients to listen to their deepest and truest self, so if I’m not doing the same, how can I ever expect anyone to heed my advice?

Is my decision the smartest business decision I could make? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Maybe I will be wildly successful. Maybe I will fail miserably. But I’d rather listen to my heart, try and fail then to have never tried at all.

I have a fixed rate for all of my standard appointments, however, if the rates do not match your current financial situation, please speak with me and we will work together to find an appropriate rate.

When I registered my business with CRA I called it Metta Health Services. I learned the word Metta when I did a ten-day silent meditation retreat. It means “loving kindness”. It’s a meditation practice where you send yourself loving kindness, and then you extend the circle and send it out to your friends and family, and then finally to all sentient beings. This is my way of practising Metta.

May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

Sincerely and from my heart,

Dr. Madeleine Elton, ND

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Tapping: Emotional Freedom Technique

You might be reading the title Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT) and thinking “what is this energetic hippie non-sense that this Naturopath is making me read?”. Well, believe it or not, this is a technique that actually has a great deal of evidence behind it, including an array of Randomized-Control Trials!

This technique has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, stress, pain, anger and tension headaches, just to name a few of it’s benefits! I kind of like to think of this technique as a good substitution for those who tell me “I can’t meditate” or “I hate meditating!”. Some people find sitting in silence a painful experience, and although I still highly recommend meditation to anyone (trust me, it can be enjoyable), EFT it a nice way to experience a lot of the same benefits without motionlessness and silence.

So, I guess the next logical question you are asking is, what the heck is EFT?? Well, I’m here to tell you! It involves tapping on specific acupuncture points (with your fingers) while focusing on an upsetting memory, issue, or emotion. As mentioned above, it can help you to lighten or release emotional distress, become more present in your body and shift your perception.

Here is how to practice EFT:

1. Choose a specific memory or experience.

2. Rate the emotional intensity from 0-10

3. Set-up: Tap the Karate Chop point on the side of the hands while saying aloud three times, ‘Even though I have this…., I deeply and completely accept myself’.

4. Tap the sequence of points, with a reminder phrase. If your phrase was “Even though I felt embarrassed when I had to speak in front of the class, I deeply and completely accept myself”, the reminder phrase would be “embarrassed when I spoke in class”.

5. Tapping the points: tap each point 7-10 times while repeating your phrase, with 2-4 fingers. The points are top of head, eyebrow, side of eye, under eye, under nose, chin, collarbone, under arm (see image below).

6. Rate your emotional intensity again from 0-10.

EFT image copy

If the emotional intensity hasn’t lessened after your tapping sequence, try to become more specific with your phrase to get at the core of the emotion you are feeling.

I love this technique because it is a reminder that no matter what happens in life, we must always return to the love that we have for ourselves. This should be our landing strip, our comfort zone, our default setting. In the words of Brené Brown (the queen of quotes that hit us in those deep feeling spaces!):

When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible“.

If you’d like to learn more about EFT or other ways to help manage stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and more, I would love to chat! Until then, happy tapping!

Dr. Madeleine Elton, ND

 

References:

Benor, D, Rossiter-Thornton, J, Toussaint, L. A randomized, controlled trial of wholistic hybrid derived from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and emotional freedom technique (whee) for self-treatment of pain, depression, and anxiety in chronic pain patients. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2016 Jul 18.

Bougea, AM, Spandideas, N, Alexopoulos, EC, Thomaides, T, Chrousos, GP, Darviri, C. Effects of the emotional freedom tehcnique on perceived stress, quality of life, and cortisol salivary levels in tension-type headache sufferers: a randomized controlled trial.

Church, Dawson & Marohn, Stephanie. Clinical EFT Handbook. Fulton, CA: Energy Psychology Press; 2013.

Freedom, John. Heal Yourself With Emotional Freedom Technique. Great Britain: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc; 2013.

Gaesser, AH, Karan, OC. A randomized controlled comparison of emotional freedom technique and cognitive-behavioral therapy to reduce adolescent anxiety: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Feb;23(2):102-108.

Pagett, Lawrence. Principles of EFT. London, UK: Singing Dragon; 2014.

Suh, JW, Chung, SY, Kim, SY, Lee, JH, Kim, JW. Anxiety and anger symptoms in hwabyung patients improved more following 4 weeks of the emotional freedom technique program compared to the progressive muscle relaxation program: a randomized controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015 Oct 11.

 

 

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Starting Life as a Naturopathic Doctor

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Sometimes you wait so long for something to happen that it’s hard to believe the time has actually come….I am so happy to announce that I am officially a Naturopathic Doctor in the province of Ontario! I began my journey into this career back in January 2014 after working as a Registered Nurse for a few years. The photo above is of me and my best friend from CCNM named Andy. Graduation day was certainly a day filled of pride for us!

Once CCNM (the most intense schooling I have ever experienced) was done, the journey was not over. Oh no, no, no. This past summer consisted of me spending most of my days studying for NPLEX II (a three day core clinical science examination) which you have to pass before you can apply for registration as a Naturopathic Doctor with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario.

The entire process is complicated and sometimes frustrating and sometimes terrifying, but one day you wake up and BAM, it’s all done! And now the time has come to start my ND practice – what joy! I will be working at Elevated Health Associates Inc. on Danforth Ave. The clinic owner, Toni Sharman, is an amazing Osteopath who serendipitously was brought into my life, and I am so grateful! The clinic is about halfway between Coxwell and Woodbine station and has a really wonderful, welcoming energy. I can’t wait to see who I get to treat in the future and the wonderful results that occur.

Hope to see you soon!

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Canadian Infertility Awareness Week: May 7-13, 2017

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As we approach the end of Canadian Infertility Awareness Week I wanted to write a blog post on this topic, as I am very passionate about this area of health. Over the last year, I had the privilege to be on the Fertility and Reproductive Health Shift at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic with the wonderful Dr. Zeynep Uraz. Now that my Naturopathic Medical schooling is complete, I am gearing up to write the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam in August 2017. After passing this exam I will begin to see patients in private practice, and I intend to focus a lot of my energy in the area of infertility.

From all that I have learned so far, it has become clear to me that, by and large, infertility is a poorly understood topic among the general population. I don’t just mean this in the sense that people often don’t understand it medically, but also, and perhaps even more so, emotionally.

When we see our friends on social media, it isn’t uncommon to see a pregnancy or birth announcement. What is much less common is to see a post from an individual or couple saying, “it’s been 14 months of trying to conceive and my period came again”, or “another failed IVF, I feel so hopeless”, or “I just got diagnosed with infertility, I never thought this would happen to me”. The shame and sadness is often kept hidden, tucked away, into living rooms filled with tears or cold medical offices. Infertility can be a reality for a person of any age or gender.

Sometimes people who are facing infertility get asked questions like, “why don’t you just adopt”, or they receive the common advice of “just relax and it will happen”. While these statements may be well meaning, they are rarely helpful.

Fertility Matters Canada is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn more about this topic. I especially love the #1in6 section of the website, where couples share their personal experiences with infertility. The name of this is based on the fact that 1 in 6 couples are diagnosed with infertility. So whether you have been diagnosed with infertility, have a friend who is on this journey, or would like to learn more, I highly recommend checking out their website.

I will end on this quote:

There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their story

– Marjorie P. Hinckley

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Province Apothecary meditation blog magic!

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I am a big fan of Province Apothecary: a Toronto based company that makes all natural skin care products. I met the founder, Julie Clark, at a friend’s house a few months ago. She is a genuinely kind person who is passionate about her work! After chatting with Julie, I offered to write a guest blog post on their website. I decided to write about my top three favourite apps/websites for guided meditations. The post was published on Thursday, and you can read it on their website here.

Happy meditating!

Madeleine

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Tea with an ND-to-be: Jennah Miller and Caleigh Sumner

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Caleigh (left) and Jennah (right) doing patient research!

In this final month of 2016, I have brought back Tea with an ND…..to-be! Meet Caleigh and Jennah, fourth year interns at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic. I have had the pleasure of being on shifts with both of these ladies this year, and thought it would be interesting for readers to learn about some NDs-to-be!

Here are their answers to five rapid fire questions…..

Question 1 – What did you study for your undergraduate degree?

Jennah Miller (JM): Dietetics at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

Caleigh Sumner (CS): Health Sciences at Western University in London, Ontario (I started in Kinesiology but it was too sporty for me!).

Question 2 – Why did you choose to study Naturopathic Medicine?

JM: I have always been very interested in nutrition, and I know that it is a foundation of Naturopathic Medicine. I found that dietetics was not as holistic as I wished it would be, it was more by the book and not what I saw for myself in the future. Also, in grade 12 career management class, I was told I would make a good ND!

CS: Naturopathic Medicine was a part of my life before I was even born, and a huge part of my life growing up. I was always used to integrative medicine and it was normal for me to see an ND as a child. Ever since I was really young I knew I wanted to study Naturopathic Medicine!

Question 3 – Where do you plan to practice and why?

JM: I plan to work somewhere in downtown Toronto, hopefully in the west end because I really like that area (somewhere between High Park and Christie). I feel like people who live in that area are more focused on health and that Naturopathic Medicine is more mainstream….so the demand is there, and the area is not overly saturated with NDs.

CS: I’m planning to practice in Halton Region (specifically Milton or Burlington) because I’m a very suburban girl and I’m used to suburban communities. I may also practice in King West because that’s where my boyfriend lives…or I may just live in King West and commute to Burlington!

Question 4 – What are the top three things people can do for their health?

The ladies decided to answer this question together….here’s what they said!

JM & CS: A big one is definitely self-care. Taking time for yourself that isn’t a chore….so not necessarily going to the gym or taking your supplements. Someone at an OAND conference said “self care if anything you do for yourself that makes you feel sweet that isn’t a sweet”. It should be a nice moment. Try to figure out what serves you and get rid of what doesn’t. Surround yourself with people who build you up and who love you. Like-minded folks who make you feel at ease, like your friends and family.

Secondly, drink water! This is so simple and yet so important. Drinking more water can improve your health in so many ways. Water is important for immune health, digestive health, your integumentary system and general detoxification.

Finally, sleep! Routine in the basis for all health. Try to keep a consistent sleep routine, meaning go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and you will see the benefits!

Question 5 – How will you stay healthy (and have fun) over the upcoming holidays?

JM: I’m going to take time to recharge and not feel guilty about being “lazy”. I feel like a lot of people have many obligations over the holiday break, and it’s important to remember that it’s okay to take time for yourself. You can’t fill from an empty cup! I will be going to visit my parents in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. We will put up the Christmas tree on New Year’s Eve day (an annual tradition) and then I’m headed to Montreal for New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend. For fun I will be eating cheese fondue on Christmas Eve and drinking lots of craft beer from the brewery my Mom works for.

CM: Over the holidays I will be spending time with friends and family in Mississauga and Niagara-on-the-Lake. For health I will be doing intermittent fasting….probably for 16 hour chunks (overnight). Over the holidays I try to burn all the extra calories I will be consuming by staying active throughout the day (skating, walks in High Park, etc). For fun I will partake in movie madness, where I go to the theatres and watch a few movies in a row. My guilty food pleasure over the holidays are ginger molasses cookies!

Thank you Jennah and Caleigh for taking the time to answer my five rapid-fire questions! If you wish to see Jennah or Caleigh, they are both accepting patients at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic until April 2017. 

Stay tuned in the New Year when I publish my first post in 2017! Happy Holidays!

Madeleine

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