HEART-IM Testimonials


I learned about myself, my patterns and tendencies; I learned how to think about other people in my life and to reframe differences between people in terms of ayurvedic constitutional differences that were helpful for me in thinking about how to have a healthy relationship with that person. We did incredible (healing and loving) deep reflection.

2016 HEART-IM Participant

... I was so drawn to the philosophy and mentality of HEART that I became (as far as I know) the first non American to attend the programme … it was so effective in connecting me to a part of myself that needed healing that I stayed on for a month with one of the mentors in Colorado to continue the work. Now, back in the UK, I'm continuing this work as I finish medical school. After I qualify my goal is to set up an integrative family practice that empowers patients to pursue health excellence and that benefits from a rich transatlantic HEARTie network.

Francis Pollen, 2014 HEART Participant

I use the non-violent communication skills I learned at HEART every day with patients and colleagues. Today I had a very upset pt family member. She wouldn't calm down enough for me to explain her options. I used one of the phrases I learned during the NVC workshop at HEART and she immediately and visibly relaxed. We were able to work everything out and before I left the room she gave me a big hug and thanked me for understanding her worries. This is just one example of the many skills I learned at HEART that helped me to become a better physician.

Jessica Mae Urzen-Smith, DO, 2013 HEART Participant

… I attended HEART after hearing about it from previous AMSA leaders and after my best friend from medical school, (who) attended the year before me. It truly was a life changing experience. The overwhelming sense of community, and a truly safe space to share our thoughts, fears, and hopes for the practice of medicine was a blessing. I still maintain connections with the HEARTies from my year and from years before and after ... This experience has helped amazing physicians and healers rediscover their purpose and strength to successfully navigate the rigors of medical training, and to bring their best to themselves, their patients, and their families. HEART is a gift, a treasure, and something we all hold so dear in our hearts, and bring to the heart of our medical practice.

Aliye Runyan MD, 2012 HEART Participant

HEART quite literally renewed my faith in medicine, and potentially was the difference between me leaving the profession after my bills were paid and staying, even thriving.  The connections I made during the rotation, and the ideas I was exposed to, made me realize that I could practice in a way that I believed in.  I am now a practicing Family Medicine physician, and am very aware of the many ways that I can continue to grow in my profession largely because of that rotation.

Adam Holt, MD, 2011 HEART participant

The single biggest outcome HEART had on my life and practice was in regards to self-care. As a driven over-achiever that so many doctors are, I had more or less lost touch with how to gently, consistently, knowledgeably notice and meet my own physical and emotional needs during medical school. I was first in my class, but not first for myself. The HEART retreat was a coming home to myself. Such camaraderie and community taught to better care of ourselves and each other and there is no value that can be placed on that.  It was, simply put, a radical shift in my life for the better, a shift that I feel dramatically decreases the chance that I will burn out in my profession in the future.

Megan Furniss, 2011 HEART Participant

HEART offers a unique opportunity for medical students to hear from experts in CAM and also build community with other medical students at a crucial time in our careers -- just after the match, and before launching into internship. My colleagues from HEART have remained extremely important connections for me as I've gone through residency. I have used techniques I learned in HEART to help my patients manage pain, anxiety, and grief and also feel that I have a much better understanding of the complementary and alternative treatments that many of my patients have tried or are interested in.

Carolyn Fredericks, 2010 HEART Participant

There is no way I can put into words how valuable this was for me. Time for reflection aside, I can also say that the most enduring friendships I made in med school were at HEART. I keep in touch with most of these friends, and have been inspired to see where these inspiring people have gone. I also attend the annual HEART reunion when I can, because it always reminds me of why I went into medicine to begin with and reinforces my desire to create a better world through health care.

Jake Donaldson, MD, 2008 HEART Participant

I was one of the HEART planners in 2006.  That experience was transformative for me, and I have found nothing quite like it as a practicing physician.  Since that experience, following a residency in family medicine, I have entered the field of integrative oncology and currently provide supportive and survivorship care to cancer patients at our university cancer center.  When physicians learn the importance of self-care and restoration, they can better impart that wisdom to their patients.  In order to provide meaningful advice about lifestyle, self-care and self-love for our patients, we need to first learn to walk that path ourselves.  Without that authenticity, just giving advice can feel superficial.  HEART is a remarkable way to learn the importance of living a healthy life filled with joy, restoration and meaning.  This lesson has been particularly important considering the population of cancer patients that I have the privilege of working with.  HEART has been one of the most important experiences in my professional life.

Leila Ali-Akbarian MD-MPH, 2006 HEART Participant

I am a family physician now in an integrative medicine fellowship for the underserved.  My focus is teaching mindfulness and stress reduction to an impoverished Hispanic population, as well as providing much needed primary care …  HEART changed my life.  The well-rounded curriculum which included inspirational mentors from many different fields including global health, food as medicine, mind-body medicine and working with the underserved, encouraged me to pursue the path toward becoming the physician I am today.  I acquired knowledge and experiences not found within the traditional medical school curriculum, and felt empowered to be an agent of positive change.  Without a doubt, HEART helps shape the lives of young doctors in training in a way that few electives can.

Leyna Bautista, MD, MPH, 2006 HEART Participant