This is the first installment in our series “Getting to know your practitioner” and we’re kicking it off with Tina Jenkins, Naturopath. Tina has been practicing at Fertile Ground Health Group for more than five years and in that time she has inspired and supported hundreds of women and couples with her diligence and knowledge of all things reproductive! Tina shares with us some insight into why she’s so good at what she does!
When did you first know you wanted to work as a naturopath and what inspired you?
My start to Naturopathy was an interesting one. When I was in Year 10 in high school we had to do Work Experience and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. The Careers Advisor got me to fill out a questionnaire and the top profession it indicated for me was naturopathy! I then arranged work experience at a local naturopath clinic and from my first day there I knew I had found my career! From the moment I stepped into that naturopathic clinic when I was 16 years old, I just knew that was what I wanted to do. At the end of my first day I remember coming home and telling my parents how excited I was about naturopathy. I still remember attending some of my first classes in naturopathy at the Southern School of Natural Therapies, many years later and realising some of the herbal medicine textbooks were books I had already purchased and read years earlier just out of interest!
Naturopathy is such a broad discipline with so many different tools, could you offer some insight into how naturopathy works best for you as a practitioner and which areas you particularly love treating?
All naturopaths work slightly differently. I try to incorporate both a traditional naturopathic approach (which sees all aspects of the body working in synergy) along with a more medicalised approach, which includes looking at blood test results etc. I love working in the area of fertility. It is an area I have been fascinated with for many decades. I was fortunate enough to spend 4 years working in an IVF clinic in Singapore and this solidified my interest in the area and expanded my knowledge significantly.
At Fertile Ground many of our patients are coming in for reproductive and fertility support, could you share with us how best naturopathy can support these areas?
I think naturopathy offers another way of looking at fertility issues. We are trying to not only work out medically what may be happening in terms of a “diagnosis” such as endometriosis, low sperm count, PCOS etc., but also looking at what other factors are affecting the health of the starting products (the egg and the sperm) and the uterine environment. This includes looking at how other systems of the body may be affecting this, as well as dietary and lifestyle factors that may be impeding this process.
What do you find the most challenging in your daily professional life and what gives you the biggest motivation to continue practicing naturopathy?
I am always motivated every day to come to work at Fertile Ground! It is such a supportive and collaborative environment that offers a wonderful range of services for patients. However, it is really the ongoing benefits that I see everyday in practice that are the most motivating. Being part of a person or couple’s journey towards parenthood and to experience the joy associated with bringing a new life into this world is incredibly rewarding. Having been in practice for more than 20 years, it means I have been fortunate to see many women and couples during a number of their pregnancies; many of whom had been told they would never conceive naturally.
How do you view naturopathy in relation to conventional medicine?
I see Naturopathy as part of a holistic health care system. There are many wonderful benefits associated with conventional medicine and I think Naturopathy also offers many wonderful benefits but in different ways. For example, IVF will bring together the sperm and egg and create an embryo that can be transferred back into the women’s uterus, however this doesn’t always mean that the embryo will implant and go on to progress to a baby. Naturopathy offers another way to improve chances of success with this process because it focuses on trying to improve the quality of the starting products (the sperm and the egg), as well as the whole uterine environment that the embryo is being transferred back into. So we are looking at things from a different angle but we are all working together for the best results for our patients.
You are also a busy mum, so you certainly understand the pressures experienced as a parent. What three pieces of advice would you give to mums regarding self-care whilst juggling the demands of work and motherhood?
Self-care is such an important part of good health and is really necessary to ensure we stay fit and healthy. My three pieces of advice are:
1. Make sure you have specific times of work and specific times away from work. I always make sure I complete work related things within my specific days/hours that I am working (and this includes responding to emails, writing letters to patients specialists etc) which then allows me to have time off where I can fully engage with my family, friends etc and not focus on work. In today’s world it is very easy to be “on” all the time whether that is attending to patient and/or student emails or following up work-related issues. It is really essential to have some time off from that and to just enjoy spending time with loved ones and having a break.
2. Be organised!! Juggling kids, work and life in general is a challenge and the more organised you are the better. I grew up with a super organised Dad and have been fortunate to have some of his skills in this area rub off on me.
3. Don’t stress the small things and find something to be grateful for every day. Life is too short to spend time and energy worrying about minor things. There are always people who are better off than you and there are always people who are worse off than you. Always be thankful for the positive things in your life.
A big thanks to Tina Jenkins for sharing her passion with us! You can find out more about Tina here:
Tina Jenkins, Naturopath
Tina is a highly qualified naturopath bringing more than 20 years of experience to FGHG. After finishing her final year of studies at the Southern School of Natural Therapies, Tina worked as a naturopath in Singapore for 12 years. During her time there, she practiced in multidisciplinary clinics alongside gynaecologists/obstetricians and spent 4 years working as a naturopath in an international IVF clinic alongside a leading IVF specialist. Tina returned to Australia at the end of 2008 where she resumed practice and completed her Masters in Reproductive Medicine through the University of New South Wales.