While pursuing my undergraduate degree at Georgia Tech I worked as a research assistant investigating breast cancer. I felt that in our research we were looking at the wrong end of things. We were looking for modern treatments for cancer but we weren’t looking at what causes cancer. As a nursing assistant and from shadowing doctors I saw patient care first hand and I knew there had to be more to medicine. Visits were rushed, the same prescriptions were being handed out over and over again. Honestly, from a practitioner standpoint it felt boring! There was no variation in patient care. When I learned about naturopathic medicine it was everything I was looking for. Naturopathic medicine looks for the root cause of illness and focuses on prevention. We approach patients as a whole person and treat them as individuals. Every day is exciting and different. Even if every patient comes in with the same chief concern they will likely all have different treatment plans. My favorite part of my job is connecting the dots for patients. Together we work through their concerns and dig in to the root cause. I love the lightbulbs that go off and the empowerment they have knowing they are taking charge of their health.
What are you currently working on in your professional life?
I am fascinated by nutrigenomics. This new field analyzes your genetics and uses those as a guide for what diet, lifestyle, nutrients, supplements might be most beneficial for you. With low cost genetic testing available we have so much more information about our bodies at our fingertips. I like to think of genes as building blocks. We are each given a certain amount and shape, we build with them what we choose. Just because you have the building blocks that could create cancer (family predisposition) that doesn’t mean cancer is your destiny. Our environment, (what we eat, how we feel, how we move our bodies, chemicals we are exposed to..) all play a significant role. Knowing your genetic information can be very empowering. This is a new field and I try to take as many continuing education courses as I can as more information becomes available.
What is your favorite food?
I adore hamburgers. The Twin Cities have many options for grass-fed beef burgers. I love to make my own hamburgers as well. My favorite toppings are caramelized onions, mustard, and arugula.
How do you spend your free time?
I try to spend as much time as possible with my family, which includes our two “fur-babies” Charlie and Lucy. My partner and I are constantly tending to our growing backyard garden. I also serve on the board for Naturopathic Doctors in Minnesota and spend some of my free time working on educating the community about Naturopathic Medicine and growing continuing education opportunities for NDs in Minnesota.
If you could change one thing about healthcare what would it be?
I couldn’t pick one so I wrote two…
More collaboration and respect among health care providers. I believe as providers we all have our place and role in healthcare. I often see patients who aren’t helped by conventional medicine. On the other hand, there are times when I will send patients to a conventional medical doctor for a prescription medication. Working together is in the best interest of the patient. I would love to see our system change to be more inclusive, respectful and collaborative.
Patient empowerment. Too often I see patients who feel disempowered by the healthcare system. I want my patients (and everyone!) to know they are in charge of their bodies. It is a doctor’s job to lay out all of the options for the patient but ultimately the patient makes the decision.
Take your first step towards optimal wellness and schedule a free consultation with Dr. Barrett .