Dr. Eli Ber received his Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in August 2000. His career commenced in his father’s busy holistic medical practice, where he honed his skills using electro-dermal screening, acupuncture and several allergy elimination techniques. In 2004, Dr. Ber opened his own practice in Scottsdale becoming proficient in prolotherapy, as well as intravenous therapies. Dr. Ber was beloved by his patients for his kindness, compassion, attentiveness, competence and an all-encompassing sense of humanity. Dr. Ber passed away November 30, 2011.
This scholarship in his memory is awarded to a student enrolled full time and in good academic standing. Most importantly, the recipient must display the characteristics of Dr. Ber: perseverance, sense of humor, humility, caring, compassion, overcoming challenges, empathy.
I was born and raised in Novi, MI. I took a medical careers explorations course my senior year of high school where we shadowed different departments of the hospital each week. While on rotation with the pathology lab, we saw an amputated gangrene foot immediately after it was taken out of the operating room. Much to everyone’s surprise, I was extremely fascinated and, as much as my family and friends still tease me, that was the moment I knew I wanted to become a doctor. I didn’t want to amputate deceased limbs. Instead, I wanted to help my patients prevent themselves from ever reaching the point of no return with their health.
During my freshman year at Michigan State University, I became extremely sick. My whole life changed in a matter of a few days. I had always been very energetic, social, and loved exercising. However, one day I woke up experiencing bone-deep stabbing pains, aching legs, brain fog, drastic weight changes, and extreme GI distress. My family spent years sending me to the top MD specialists around the state. While each one concluded that I was indeed very ill, no one knew or took the time to figure out what was wrong or how to make it better. I began to feel hopeless and really started to question whether allopathic medicine was truly my calling.
While I had gone into it skeptical, the only treatment that offered relief of my symptoms was acupuncture. I fell in love with naturopathic medicine and knew I wanted to make a career out of it for myself. Almost five years after my symptoms began, a naturopathic physician in Scottsdale – Dr. Jessica Stefanski – was finally able to reach a diagnosis and begin my healing process. She took the time to really get to know who I am as a person as well as details about my health, compared my lab value trends for several visits, and did her own investigation. She did not give up on me just because my case did not match the textbook description of my illness.
I want each one of my patients to feel how important their health is to me. I will make a point to see the whole person I am treating, involve them in the decision making, and never give up on them. At this point, I would like to work with complicated women’s health cases, autoimmunity, or autistic children. The Dr. Eli Ber Memorial Scholarship has allowed me to dive deeper into naturopathic medicine. I have been able to focus more on researching my interests to better serve my future patients. I cannot wait to see what the future holds and I am so grateful to be a recipient of this scholarship!
Katie Branch was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and has loved medicine ever since she was a child. She moved to Evanston, Illinois after high school to earn her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern, she competed on the Women’s Varsity Swim Team where she discovered naturopathic medicine. During her athletic career, she experienced first-hand the benefits of a naturopathic approach to patient care. She quickly fell in love with the practice.
After working to pursue a career in allopathic medicine for most of her life, she discovered that the philosophies embedded in naturopathic medicine truly defined medicine. She believes that patients are more than just signs and symptoms and discovering the root cause of illness is what it means to be a physician.
Katie’s favorite part of being a student at SCNM is the challenging, yet encouraging environment that allows students to fail, succeed, and grow into physicians. The professors, doctors, and students challenge one another to constantly consider and dream of better health care for patients.
This scholarship helped Katie pursue her passion for naturopathic medicine by allowing her to expand her knowledge and add more tools to her future practice. Katie is excited to see how the field of naturopathic medicine will grow and impact the lives of so many people around the globe.