Centre College student Mackenzie Weiland ’18 is participating in an eight-week undergraduate research internship program at the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) located in Portland, Oregon.
Throughout the program, Weiland has taken a course on integrative medicine and learned about different modalities of naturopathic medicine. She has also had the opportunity to conduct extensive literature reviews on current integrative medicine research, discuss the findings and limitations in natural medicine research and evaluate evidence-based medicine in the integrative health field.
“One of the more exciting or engaging parts of this internship involved the opportunity to not only design but lead an independent N=1 clinical trial, which we will present at the research symposium at the end of the program,” she said.
In addition, Weiland has attended seminars led by graduate students and faculty members on the research being done at the Helfgott Research Institute at NUNM.
“We have also had the opportunity to shadow both naturopathic and Chinese medicine physicians in the NUNM teaching clinic,” she said. “Some of the interns, including myself, have also decided to experience integrative medicine from the perspective of a patient, which has been a really eye-opening, incredible experience.”
Weiland’s experience at NUNM is preparing her for a future career in the medical field that she’s had her eyes on since she was very young, but it has taken a different direction than expected.
“Coming to Centre and realizing that having a passion for science and a compassion for people did not mean I was limited to going to medical school and becoming an M.D. was really transformative,” she said. “As a result, the last three years have been filled with feverishly testing different career plans and evaluating their potential for satisfying my fulfillment with my place and purpose in this world.”
During her sophomore year, Weiland took the YouScience career and aptitude test, through the Center for Career & Professional Development, which matched her with a variety of physician specialties.
“One of my high matched specialties included naturopathic physician, something I had never heard of before,” she explained. “I immediately started doing research, and I quickly became aware of just how closely this career aligned with my values and aspirations.”
After attending multiple webinars with the seven accredited naturopathic medical schools, she came across this particular internship.
Due to the program being research-centered, Weiland’s background as a biology and behavioral neuroscience double major has given her the foundation she needed for the internship. Throughout her experience, she has been able to see the importance of a liberal arts education, and she has connected several of her classes to what she’s learned this summer.
“In my opinion, every class at Centre has helped prepare me for this experience,” she said. “My internship this summer has, for the first time, really exemplified the weight of a Centre education, and I am so hopeful for all that is to come in my future as a lifelong learner.”
Weiland’s internship has also transformed her personally and academically, identifying strengths and weaknesses on a personal level throughout the program.
“Regardless of where I end up in the future, I will take what I have learned here about health, vitality and harnessing the natural power of our own bodies to heal and apply it wherever I can,” she said.
After Centre, Weiland plans to take two years off and find an avenue to gain medical research experience, possibly as a research technician or conducting research while pursuing a master’s degree abroad.
“If this experience has given me nothing else, I have the comfort and support in knowing that a career in science is not linear; it is often abstract, messy and incredible,” she concluded.
by Kerry Steinhofer
August 1, 2017