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 Utah. My passion for health came when I began my undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University in Utah. I initially chose Mechanical Engineering as my major, but after a year of thinking and talking to trusted friends and family I decided to pursue a career in health or medicine. Not long after that, I learned about the field of Naturopathic Medicine, and everything clicked.
My goal with Naturopathic Medicine is to teach lifestyle changes to as many people as possible so they can learn how to best manage their own health. I have many friends and family members who I see struggling with poor health simply because they don’t know how to live a healthy lifestyle. I believe that there are multiple ways I can have as large of an impact as possible which is why in addition to medicine, I also work in digital marketing. I own an advertising agency that allows health practitioners like acupuncturists, biological dentists, functional medicine, and naturopathic medical doctors to find new patients daily and help them regain better health. Through that agency, I am motivated to know that hundreds of people each month are finding better solutions to their health problems.
I am a current 2nd year student at Sonoran University. My current goal is to work in the landscape of chronic disease possibly in cardiology or with people struggling with autoimmune diseases. I also hope to have an educational presence by speaking, writing books, and educating online. In addition to school and work, I love rock climbing and hiking with my wife Heidi, I enjoy reading, and I try to pursue better health for myself each day.
Natalie has wanted to be a doctor ever since she was a little girl, and her life’s journey has kept her on this path ever since. Natalie was introduced to medicine at the young age of 8 when she began suffering from a chronic genetic disorder. Because of her mother’s own 40-year health journey that ultimately led her to holistic medicine, Natalie was able to be treated with natural means and it is the reason she is healthy enough to be in medical school today. After her experience, she knew she could not be a mainstream doctor whose Band-Aid style medicine largely left patients unhealed. Instead, she decided to become a naturopathic doctor so she could get to the root cause of disease, treat the whole person, use nature to heal, and have relationships with her patients.
In line with her natural medicine journey, Natalie received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Grand Canyon University in 2018 and went on to become a certified birth doula in 2020. Now as a Q11 naturopathic medical student, she gets to live her passion every day.
In her future practice, Natalie will be a family doctor focusing on women’s and children’s medicine and endocrinology. She also plans to become a midwife after graduating so she can help women deliver their babies in a sacred and unadulterated manner, and then care for the mother and child holistically for the rest of their lives and their future generations. Her favorite modalities are botanical medicine, acupuncture, nutrition, and hydrotherapy.
Kat has called Arizona home since 2008. Her medical career began right after graduating high school to be trained as a massage therapist. Massages were encouraged by her mom at a young age and her intuitive touch has been her cornerstone ever since. At the age of 19, she worked in a chiropractic clinic while also attending Yavapai College. Three years later, she and her now-husband moved to Flagstaff to complete her bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at Northern Arizona University.
After a month-long road trip camping through the western United States, Kat started working in Prescott, Arizona as Fitness Coordinator and Physical Therapy Technician for the Cardiac Rehab group and Physical Therapy division of Yavapai Regional Medical Center. She quickly advanced to a full-time Exercise Physiologist where she expanded her patient care and knowledge of the medical field. Her husband was hired as a high school teacher in Ahwatukee, Arizona, so they moved to the Valley where Kat gained employment as an Exercise Physiologist at an integrative medical clinic.
After years of working with patients in various preventive-based holistic fields, she noticed the benefits and gaps in patients’ overall health and felt compelled to change their experience in pursuing health. The philosophy of naturopathic medicine and the wide variety of modalities that can target many populations at various states of health to provide true healing became her main motivator. She knew naturopathic medicine was the future of healthcare.
Kat is graciously accepting this scholarship to further her passion for practicing naturopathy and is excited to dedicate her fourth year to learning the core philosophies of this medicine and how to deliver it effectively. Like Dr. Ber, Kat naturally provides a caring humility when approaching patients, offering a light-hearted approach while maintaining attentiveness and compassion to every individual.
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 Sonoran 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.