Mia Potter isn’t your typical doctor. She doesn’t see dozens of patients each day. She isn’t fixated on conventional medicine. And she doesn’t focus on your symptoms.
Potter is a naturopathic doctor (N.D.). She completed a naturopathic medical doctoral program*, passed the national and state board exams for licensure, and works as a primary care physician at Selah Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.
Her initial appointments with patients last between 60 and 90 minutes; follow-up visits are 30-45. An average appointment with a conventional doctor is 15 minutes.
“I have space with people to hear their stories,” she says. “It’s so rewarding when someone feels heard and when a treatment plan works.”
Potter’s treatment plans are as varied as the patients she sees; she doesn’t settle for a one-size-fits-all approach. “If three different people come to me with headaches, they might need three different treatments,” she says.
It takes time and patience to find and remove the root cause of an illness, and Potter is committed to finding the truth — not merely suppressing symptoms. “A headache might be caused by hormones, an allergy, lifestyle, diet, ergonomics or something else,” she says. “I try to be a detective with my patients.”
‘We want to be fixed quickly’
Many of the people Potter helps are disappointed with conventional medicine and desperate for lasting relief. But the naturopathic approach to health is not necessarily the fastest.
“We want to be fixed quickly, but it took many years for most of us to create the patterns that impact our health,” she says. “It takes years, if not a lifetime, to relearn how to live and function differently.”
Years of retraining may seem daunting, but Potter knows the rewards are worth the struggle. “It’s very much like our walk with the Lord,” she says. “As we change and grow, it can be new and awkward and confusing, but God has created things to support us. My hope is that I can journey with people while encouraging, empowering and equipping them to live healthier lives.”
‘A transformative year’
Potter’s own journey to naturopathic medicine began years before she knew what a naturopathic doctor was. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from UC Berkeley before becoming a nutritionist. Through a conference she met Mission: Moving Mountains, a holistic community development agency serving countries around the world.
Potter decided to join their ministry in Senegal, Africa, but she had to prep first: One of the requirements was a strong biblical foundation. That’s how she found herself enrolled in the graduate certificate program at Multnomah.
The 12-month course was a pivotal point in her life. “It was a transformative year,” she says. “I grew up in church and was taught a doctrine, but at Multnomah there were so many different perspectives. I was in awe. The box I had God in got exploded.”
Living on campus only enhanced her experience. “My roommates became my closest friends — we studied, prayed, cried and had a lot of fun together,” she says. “It was a really special, supportive community. I still have friends from then.”
‘A better resource’
Once Potter graduated she joined Mission: Moving Mountains in Africa, where she served on a team as a nutritionist. After six months, she returned to Oregon and married a young man she’d met at Multnomah.
The next season of Potter’s life was filled with career development as she conducted exercise and diet research at the Portland VA Hospital and Oregon Health and Science University. She worked part-time as a nutritionist in between her research jobs.
“My job made me discover that I wanted to be a better resource for my patients,” she says. That’s when her husband stepped in. “He told me I should be a naturopathic doctor. I said, ‘What the heck is that?’ But once I looked into it, I realized it fit perfectly into the path the last decade of my life had taken.”
‘The ultimate holistic healer’
That path has led her right to Selah Natural Medicine, where she practices as a primary care physician. She also teaches classes on nutrition and eating disorders to graduate students at the Helfgott Research Institute.
The biblical wisdom she cultivated at Multnomah continues to inspire Potter and her career. “My faith influences every aspect of my work,” she says. “So much of naturopathy is steeped in the Scriptures. Think about the manna for the Israelites and the living water for the woman at the well. God provides for people in the ways they need; he goes to the root cause of their issues. He is the ultimate holistic healer.”
Potter says MU fostered an openness to talk with the Lord that still influences her prayers today. “There are so many things I took from Multnomah,” she says. “I learned to walk with open hands. I pray for my patients. I trust that God will bring them to me if they’re supposed to cross my path.”
And when they do, Potter is ready to hear their stories — and help change their lives.
*Accredited, naturopathic medical doctoral programs are comprised of the hard sciences, clinical and lab diagnosis, pharmacology, treatment modalities such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, and physical medicine, as well as clinic internships. Learn more about naturopathic medicine.