Prep for Your Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination II It’s been about 4 weeks since NPLEx II and Ontario board exams and I have parted ways. It has taken me that much time to want to even think about it again, too. But, I feel it is important to share with you some of the tips I think are necessary to get through both the study period & the exams themselves. Keep these in your back pocket for your NPLEx venture, whether in February or August.

Pre-Study Prep:

  1. Attend a prep course. I chose Pass NPLEx offered by Chris Habib, ND. It suited my needs exactly. I know a lot of people benefit from Dr. Anderson’s course, too. It’s up to you whether you take one or both.
  2. Pick a study buddy (or group). My study buddy is the reason I survived!
  3. Make a study schedule. It took my study buddy and me about 3 days to put it together.
  4. Organize your study materials. I created a binder and divided it up into sections for the blueprints for NPLEx and the Ontario board exams, pathophysiology, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, manipulation, jurisprudence, etc. This helps because you always have a place to put notes, documents, drawings, etc.
  5. Take a SMV (social media vacation). Let everyone know you are embarking on a super intense study period and that you may fall off the face of the earth for 10 weeks. P.S. The SMV part is totally optional – I’d love it if you kept reading my blog, hehe.

Study Time:

  1. Stick to your schedule as best as you can. You may be surprised to realize this exam study is very different from your usual study technique that you employ for exams during the school year. You really can’t study all day and all night because you will burn out. It’s much better to stick to your scheduled hours and take time off when you need it. It will feel very much like a 9-5 job during the first few weeks of study. You can cram during the last 2 weeks.
  2. Take brain breaks to be entertained by funny things. I really liked small breaks for Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee or Seventy Equals ND.
  3. Exercise. We all know why this is good for us. Just do it.
  4. Eat well. This may not be the time to try the latest detox or prep for a bodybuilding competition (although, I do know people who have done this during NPLEx study). Best to stick to the ND rules – whole foods diet. Some people choose to avoid alcohol during this time, too. I found a glass of wine in the evening helped me relax and turn off my brain, but it’s up to you.
  5. Supplement. My go tos were Medi Herb Bacopa Complex & Gingko ForteAscenta Omega 3 oil, Thorne Basic B-complexBiotics Bio-D-Mulsion Forte (let’s face it – I wasn’t getting any sun), and SISU Ester-C 1000.
  6. Sleep. It’s important to make sure you are getting enough sleep especially during the initial study weeks. It can be really hard to sleep by the end of the testing period because you are so worked up. I created a routine each night – I drank a cup or two of Yogi Tea’s Bedtime tea, had 1 tsp of Natural Calm Magnesium, and then had 2 Pascoe Pascoflair tablets. If I was really struggling I used melatonin.
  7. Meditate. Your brain can definitely use a heavy dose of calm, and it doesn’t have to take all night. Take 10-30 minutes to meditate or do yoga. I liked options from Andrew Johnson (his Exam Support & Deep Sleep meditations work wonders). You can also try Get Some Headspace.
  8. Make a countdown calendar. Give yourself something to look forward to. I scratched out each completed day with major satisfaction.

Right Before:

  1. Day Off. Some people follow the rule of taking the day off before the exam. I took the Sunday off before the exam (it was a gorgeous day & I really wanted some pool time), and then I took half the day off before the exam.
  2. Pack Your Bag. Print off your ticket for NABNE, gather your earplugs, photo ID and clear water bottle. Pack your bags for your board exam based on what your board tells you you can bring to the test.


  1. You’re going to feel really good going into your exams. And after the first day you will probably feel terrible. This is normal. This is how pretty much everyone feels. Crying helps.
  2. It’s going to feel like a marathon both during the test writing and then during the evenings when you are prepping for the next day. My friend and fellow ND, Christopher Knee, gave me a great tip: "Split the exam into 3 parts. Get through part I and then take a break to look out the window or use the washroom. Do the same after part II. Then you only have 1 part to go and it feels much more manageable."
  3. Bring lunch with you to the exam – no use having to waste your break searching for a meal or getting sick off something new.
  4. Try to have someone prepare your meals for you, or pre-prepare your meals for the week so you don’t have to worry about it.
  5. Try to sleep. This will be hard. See #6 above for some help on this.
  6. Decide ahead of time whether or not you will want to study during your breaks and whether or not you want to talk about the exams after you have written them. Choose your break-time groups accordingly.
  7. It is NOT fun.
  8. You will probably behave terribly towards your loved ones.
  9. You’re going to think that you have failed. You likely haven’t.

So – that’s that.

If you’re interested in my exact study schedule I would be more than happy to share it.

Graduation Day!

It is with great joy, pride, and exhaustion that I write this post the day after my graduation from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. What an incredibly, overwhelmingly, amazing day that yesterday was for the Class of 2013. I still can't really put it all into coherent sentences, but I will do my best. On Wednesday night my jitters started. I knew a big day was ahead of me and I couldn't sleep with anticipation (I can't imagine what I will be like the night before my wedding). On Thursday I was up at 6am ready and raring to go! I jetted over to Blo King West to have my hair done up. I then went back home where I continued to literally buzz around the house until I had to leave at 11:30am. I couldn't keep my excitement down. I think I annoyed the crap out of my fiancé and sister who were trying to do work before the event.

Finally, I got dressed and headed out the door to make my way to the University of Toronto's stately Convocation Hall where the event would be held. I love the architecture of this beautiful building, it makes the event so much more celebratory. Gowns and hoods were received and a line up was created to help us make our way into the hall. Parents, partners, family and friends circled the graduates as we took our seats. The applause was amazing. The ceremony of it all was priceless!

The rest of the event was an incredible mix of emotions from excitement at hearing our president, Dr. Bob Bernhardt, speak about the current state of naturopathic medicine in Ontario, to tears of pride while reciting our oath, to laughter and joy at hearing the words of our class from our valedictorian, Tim Searle.

The true crowning moment was taking the stage one by one to be hooded by our dean, Dr. Nick De Groote, and receive the official paperwork. I was lucky enough to receive it from my mom, Tosca Reno, who sits on the Board of Governors at CCNM. Thanks Mom! My classmates said I was shaking with excitement when I received my hood. I just did my absolute best to take it all in. I won't soon forget it.

The day progressed with tons of photos, a lovely reception at Knox College, and an amazing dinner with family at Sidecar on College.

And the celebration doesn't stop there. Tonight we have graduation formal!

Studying for boards can wait until Tuesday. For now, I am basking in the glory of officially being a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine! Bam!

Finishing School

Well, folks, that's it - my ND training at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine is over. All that remains now is a giant set of board & licensing exams in August. I've spent the past few days gathering my thoughts about the end of school, but the reality is - I am still in total shock. When you dedicate so many years of your life to post-secondary education it's a total mind warp when you realize it's over.

It's been a journey I will never forget with many highs and lows. I am forever grateful for the support of my friends, family, colleagues, and teachers who have supported me through the never-ending years of school.

I am also very grateful to my patients who took a chance on me as a new intern at The Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic. It was an honour to be chosen to help you on your path to wellness.

The next few months will see me studying hard to pass my licensing and board exams, but  the end of school does not come without celebration. Convocation on May 23rd will be the official event for the Class of 2013 and I can't wait!