Welcome to our leadership blog series! This month Randall Block, Chapter President at Bridgeport University discusses how life experiences and hardships along the way can be a source of true strength or a calling card when discussing federal legislative initiatives with workers in the U.S. Congress and Senate.
Lessons from DC FLI – How to Sell Yourself
DC FLI is a trip with a purpose. Most students attending want to make a difference in their profession, and in turn make a meaningful difference in the world. The trip also facilitates growth in the students themselves. Being an NMSA leader, I’ve come to understand that some of the only ways to truly grow involve putting yourself out there and being in uncomfortable situations. This doesn’t have to be an unfortunate experience if you are willing to push yourself and rise to the challenge. The world often forces us to grow and adapt in new ways. Being actively involved as much as possible in that process allows you to develop into the future physician you want to be.
At last year’s annual NMSA conference, I decided to take advantage of a discounted course on business that was offered to ND students. During the course it was proposed to us that most doctors fail to embrace who they are as people, and rather put on a plastic persona to appeal to the masses. By doing so, many of their practices end up being ordinary, and in turn a burden to the practitioner or not as profitable. I caught myself heading in a similar direction with my future practice and realized how inauthentic it was to not share your true self with patients. Prior to coming to UBCNM, I had always been an open book. Most importantly, I recognized that I never wanted an ordinary career when I committed myself to the path of naturopathic medicine.
As part of my commitment to myself and my authenticity, I would like to use this opportunity to share more of my story with this community. For almost eight years, I had a serious drug problem. The last few of those years were engulfed by heroin addiction and completely losing everything that meant anything to me in life. After my recovery I vowed to work to help people in the same predicament. The 10 years leading up to naturopathic medical school were dedicated predominantly to this work, and it shaped who I was as a future physician. I learned how to work with people from diverse backgrounds and help motivate them to get through addiction and recovery. This is what started my journey towards wanting to become a healer. Upon entering medical school, I decided to hide that part of my life and story because it was not “professional.” Sometimes I would share certain aspects of my past with peers, but I never got into the details of how much it had truly shaped me. Halfway through my program I realized that only a few of my closest friends really knew the specifics, and therefore really knew me. However, this business course inspired me to bring my full self and story into practice. I realized I needed to start that process now, with other students, and learn to be more open about it.
When we were asked to speak to politicians this year at DC FLI about the bill on medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction, someone suggested I speak about my personal experience with rehabilitation. That was the first time I ever publicly spoke to a stranger about my history of drug addiction, which at first felt overwhelming. However, I was able to use something I used to hide about myself to the benefit of the naturopathic profession and my peers. It was a pretty awesome and liberating experience, which gave me permission to no longer worry about or hide that part of my life anymore.
At this point I have realized that there are going to be people in the world who will not like me or my story, whether I am true to myself or not. Therefore, I might as well be myself. My post-graduate plans include opening a medical detox and rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol addiction in a state where we have prescriptive rights. This bill I worked on at DC FLI would enable that process to go much smoother and for me to help more patients. Currently there are no robust or widely available medical detox programs to help people taper off of medication-assisted treatments. From personal experience, people need just as much help with that next step away from their addiction in rehabilitation. I intend to make that a viable option. I came to this profession believing that I would be successful in it because it is a heart-centered healing journey for a community I can deeply serve. If you really want to be successful, sell the thing you believe in most. I hope for all of you that is yourself and the story that brought you here.
Author: Randall Block
Bridgeport University School of Naturopathic Medicine