The Smartest Naturopathic Student… Ever

The ZRT Cup
Jared M. Skowron, ND

 

The sandstorms were picking up again in Phoenix. The airport would be temporarily shut down for the evening until the air was clear again. This didn’t affect most of the naturopathic doctors at the 2011 AANP convention at the Biltmore. They were drinking and catching up with old friends in the big wicker chairs outside, but not Kim Sanders. As usual, Kim was busy studying. She just came out of the ZRT semi-finals, where she led University of Bridgeport (UB) to a 290 – 60 trouncing of NCNM. She is on her way to becoming the 2011 MVP, answering half the questions all by herself (there are 8 people playing simultaneously). Let me introduce you to Kim Sanders, the smartest naturopathic student ever.

The ZRT Cup is a trivia-type competition between the naturopathic medical schools played during the AANP conference. Groups of four students from each school compete against one another, answering medical questions in this fast-paced, adrenaline-filled international meet. While only in its infancy, the ZRT Cup has been played a total of 4 times. NCNM was victorious for the first 2 years of the competition, but the title moved to the University of Bridgeport for the following two years. Why? You guessed it: Kim Sanders.

There was a debate on the UB team in 2010, regarding whether a first-year student should be allowed onto the team. Many of the other students protested: “She’s only taken Anatomy and Physiology.” “She’s fresh out of college!” “She hasn’t even been in clinic.” But, as Kim does in her quiet and humble but definitive way, she easily silences her critics. She was the co-MVP in 2010, helping UB win its first ZRT Cup. She won the 2011 MVP, helping UB win its second ZRT title. Remember, this competition takes place at AANP in August. She had just taken her basic science boards the week before and then studied the clinical science board material in order to ace ZRT.

What drives someone like Kim? Where does she derive her motivation? A graduate of an elite Catholic high school on Long Island, she pursued her BS in biology from Fordham University (#53 in US News best National Universities). While biology helped prepare her for school, she also minored in Latin, having studied for 7 years. This type of undergraduate student would seem to have anything she wanted from the academic world. So why naturopathic medicine?

Kim simply states that a ”perfect storm” brought her to the University of Bridgeport. While she was growing up, her parents would often take her to a chiropractor, and she was always interested in medicine. She went to the library one night while she was in high school and found a 25-cent herbal book and read it overnight. Discovering naturopathic medicine, she turned her sights toward our profession. Her advisors tried to talk her out of it, but once you get to know Kim, you understand that once a goal is in her sights, I advise you not to get in her way.

While she is the academic leader of her class, she is always thankful of her fellow students. She says, “I couldn’t do this myself. There’s not just one player that makes a team.” She has huge pride in UB. Interestingly, the schools that played in the final round of the ZRT Cup in 2010 and 2011 were UB vs. Boucher and UB vs. National (Chicago). “The smaller schools want to prove that they are also excellent educational institutions,” Kim comments. This resonates with the heart of the naturopath, the underdog fighting hard to prove himself, David beating Goliath.

So what is in store for the future? The ZRT Cup gets to experience two more years of a fierce competitor. The University of Bridgeport gets to experience a student that makes professors raise their education bar. Our profession gets to experience a valuable colleague in the near future. Over the next ten to twenty years, we can only hope to have more new doctors like Kim. Our profession will soon be in the hands of our new graduates. I can only hope that our medicine attracts the highest quality of student as well as the highest quality of person to make the changes to our healthcare that need to be made.

 

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