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Talking Stick

Talking Stick/Sharing Circle

Sticks were widely used by the Native Americans; they were used to plant corn, to beat drums, as pipes and flutes, and as walking aides. The talking stick was taken to council meetings or gatherings and used as a symbol of the speaker's importance and was decorated to show the individual's accomplishments and spirituality.

Everyone has a story about how and why they decided to become an ND—what’s yours? During the SCNM Talking Stick/Sharing Circle at New Student Orientation, you’ll have an opportunity to share your story. Each new student attaches an article of personal significance to the class stick. Once all the pieces have been attached, it is a powerful symbol of the class’s purpose and unity in their journey through medical school.

Water Ceremony

The SCNM Water Ceremony occurs on the final day of New Student Orientation. This tradition has been passed down from SCNM co-founder and naturopathic physician, Dr. Kyle Cronin, and has been a part of orientation since the inaugural in the Fall of 1993.

Each new student is given a glass of fresh water and asked to say a special thank you to the person(s) who has helped them in their journey to SCNM. As they give their thanks, they add the water to the collective water that represents all SCNM students who have entered our program. This water is then stored and brought out for future Water Ceremonies.

White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony signifies a milestone, a transition from theory to practice. Students attend this ceremony before they enter the clinic. Their coats are a symbol of responsibility and knowledge. These students have years learning about the human body, mind and condition as parts of a whole. At this stage, they begin to put the pieces together and understand how to treat patients as a whole entity.


Prior to commencement, the new graduates celebrate with our community (staff, faculty and students) in a “gong ceremony” in the main hallway. The new graduates take turns hitting a gong, dancing to drumming and celebrating the end of their classes. Festivities continue at the commencement ceremony in one of the Valley’s venues.