Jennifer Kerr: Integrate naturopathic and conventional medicine to lessen burden of the health care system

Since 2017, the Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation has helped support 16 post-secondary students in the fields of applied sciences in sustainable agriculture, applied biology, food and the environment or horticultural programs and in naturopathic medicine across the country’s most prestigious universities and college such as the University of British Columbia, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; Durham College, and Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) – Boucher (formerly Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine) and Toronto campuses.

The Foundation believes that supporting these undergraduate students are wise health investments in the future – for our interdependent health care and our food systems.

To highlight our support for naturopathic medicine, we assigned Wayne Cutts, our liaison officer, to interview Jennifer Kerr, our recent bursary recipient at CCNM-Boucher and current student in naturopathic medicine graduating in 2024. Below is her interview with Wayne and here’s a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sle6TYeATCQ

Wayne Cutts:

Hello, my name is Wayne Cutts and I’m a liaison officer for the Plant a Seed and See What Grows Foundation. It’s a registered national charity here in Canada. We help support programs in seed preservation as well as school and community gardens. We also provide educational resources for kindergarten to grade three students, and we offer post-secondary bursaries in sustainable agriculture and naturopathic medicine. Today, we’ll be speaking with one of the Foundation’s recent bursary recipients in naturopathic medicine. Our guest completed her undergraduate degree at Acadia University with a double major in chemistry and neuro psychology. She is currently a naturopathic medical student that the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, at the Boucher campus and New Westminster, British Columbia. She grew up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where she was surrounded by the beautiful and rich agricultural lands that inspired her love of nature, right from a very young age. We’re very pleased to have with us today, Miss Jennifer Kerr.

Jennifer Kerr: Hi, Wayne.

Wayne Cutts: Hello, Jennifer, and thank you so much for accommodating our request for an interview today.

Jennifer Kerr: Thank you for having me.

Wayne Cutts:

So, we’d like to get to know a little bit more about you and your interest in naturopathic medicine, and especially how our shared values and health and wellbeing helps the public. So, let’s get started. Tell us just a little bit about yourself, please.

Jennifer Kerr:

Certainly. So, like you said, I grew up in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and grew up around farmlands and wineries in that region and started working on farms when I was about 12. And just loved being outside and ended up working on a farm in Germany and just really wanted agriculture to be a part of my life. And I think we have a really tight knit community and really emphasize growing our own food and spending time in nature, which really shows in our community members.

Wayne Cutts: Well, interesting. Tell me what, what made you choose naturopathic medicine as your field of study?

Jennifer Kerr:

I think naturopathic medicine is the most sustainable form of medicine, which is important for the future and looking ahead. And I also chose it because I had just seen how well it worked for myself and my family and friends, and the success they had with their health using it.

Wayne Cutts:

So how are you liking your courses at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine?

Jennifer Kerr:

I’m loving them. It’s really hard. It’s long days for sure. But it’s everything I’ve ever wanted to learn all in one place, which is incredible. And yeah, they’re so fascinating.

Wayne Cutts: Good, good. What’s your favorite course right now? If you have one and why?

Jennifer Kerr:

I think it’s probably a toss-up between botanical medicine and counseling. I really love [that] in botanical medicine we can use the entire plant to heal somebody, and it’s really powerful, and I’ve had amazing benefit with it myself. And then I think counseling just goes hand in hand with everything and to heal anything we need to get to that root cause and do that little bit of counseling.

Wayne Cutts:

What do you think are the current opportunities for naturopathic doctors and students in this particular field of study?

Jennifer Kerr:

I think there are a lot of opportunities that are coming up now. And there will be more in the future for sure, in like government and with supplement companies, and also in television and media and just spreading the good word about naturopathic medicine. Yes, I think there’ll be some great opportunities in the future for us.

Wayne Cutts:

But what do you think of the current challenges of for naturopathic doctors and students such as yourself today?

Jennifer Kerr:

The biggest challenge I’ve seen is that in the past, we’ve been discredited in medicine, and just trying to encourage people to like work alongside us, especially with conventional medicine. I think if we can just integrate naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine, we could really take a lot of the burden off the health care system that’s happening right now, as we’re trained as primary health care providers as well.

I think if we can just integrate naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine, we could really take a lot of the burden off the health care system that’s happening right now, as we’re trained as primary health care providers as well.”

Jennifer Kerr

Wayne Cutts:

So, if you could tell us how do you intend to overcome some of these challenges?

Jennifer Kerr:

I think just letting the general public come to us when they’re ready and not forcing anything onto them will provide a better, more trusting doctor patient relationship. So just being patient and letting people find us as they come.

Wayne Cutts:

How has the Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation helped you in your studies?

Jennifer Kerr:

Not only has it ease some of the financial burden that comes with studying for as long as I have. But it really gives me hope to see what the Foundation does. And on those long days of studying, I find a lot of hope, looking at what you guys do, especially with children, I think it’s so important to like integrate nature and encourage children to explore nature more.

Wayne Cutts:

So, if you could tell us how do you intend to overcome some of these challenges?

Jennifer Kerr:

I think just letting the general public come to us when they’re ready and not forcing anything onto them will provide a better, more trusting doctor patient relationship. So just being patient and letting people find us as they come.

Wayne Cutts:

How has the Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation helped you in your studies?

Jennifer Kerr:

Not only has it ease some of the financial burden that comes with studying for as long as I have. But it really gives me hope to see what the Foundation does. And on those long days of studying, I find a lot of hope, looking at what you guys do, especially with children, I think it’s so important to like integrate nature and encourage children to explore nature more.

Wayne Cutts:

We share that same hope with you. What would you like to say to the Foundation?

Jennifer Kerr:

Just a huge thank you. And I think the work you’re doing is really important. And I’m just happy to be a part of Plant a Seed and See What Grows [Foundation] and I’m excited to see what we do in the future.

Wayne Cutts:

Good. Do you have any parting words that you’d like to share with us today, Jennifer?

Jennifer Kerr:

Firstly, just thank you for having me. And secondly, I just want to encourage everybody to keep an open mind [about naturopathic medicine] and it’ll bring you more fortunate than you can imagine.

Wayne Cutts:

Thank you very much, Jennifer. It was a pleasure speaking with you today. On behalf of myself and Jennifer and the Plant a Seed and See What Grows Foundation, thanks very much for joining me.

To view Jennifer’s full video interview, please click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sle6TYeATCQ

The Plant a Seed Foundation is proud to support our other bursary recipients: https://seewhatgrows.org/programs/

So that we’re able to support more hardworking students to help sustain the healthcare and food systems, please donate here: https://seewhatgrows.org/donate/ or to raise funds click here: https://tinyurl.com/yezea7vx

Related article: Natural Medicine and Sustainable Healthcare by Sandra Grace https://www.atms.com.au/natural-medicine-and-sustainable-healthcare-by-sandra-grace/