Naturopathy graduate Amy Sartorel named NHAA Student of the Year

 Amy Sartorel winning NHAA Student of the Year

Amy Sartorel’s battle with chronic illness led to a career change that saw her graduating with a Bachelor of Health Science – Naturopathy degree, opening her own clinic, and receiving the NHAA Student of the Year Award in May 2023.

At the NHAA Naturopathic Symposium 2023, recent Torrens University Naturopathy graduate, Amy Sartorel, received the NHAA Student of the Year Award. Amy was nominated by her former lecturers, in recognition of her dedication and academic excellence, and by fellow students and colleagues, who saw her as a positive influence in their classes.

The award also acknowledges Amy’s contribution to reinvigorating SydHerbs following the COVID-19 restrictions. The New South Wales chapter of the NHAA (Naturopaths & Herbalists Association of Australia), SydHerbs runs meetings, talks and other events for herbalists and naturopaths, and works to advance the profession within the community. To take on this responsibility, especially in the final year of her course, was a major commitment for Amy and her student colleague Vanessa Cairelli, who was also nominated for Student of the Year.

We hope that shining the spotlight on Amy’s Naturopathy career will inspire our students who are setting out on their academic journey and anyone who’s considering studying Naturopathy.

Why did you decide to study Naturopathy?

‘Ten years ago,’ Amy explains, ‘I was suffering chronic fatigue syndrome, which morphed into an auto-immune condition. I was seeing lots of Western medical specialists who gave me few to no answers and heavy medications. With no improvement, I finally decided to research my condition from a holistic point of view. I started going to a naturopath and an integrative doctor and had immediate positive results after my first gut rebalancing protocol. Astounded by this I decided I’d study Naturopathy and Nutrition. That was five years ago. My autoimmune disease is now in remission and I no longer have CFS.’

What does it mean to you to receive the NHAA Student of the Year Award?

‘I feel very honoured and privileged to have received this award, as recognition of my hard work throughout the degree, and post degree as a part of the organising committee of SydHerbs and my research work with Torrens academics. I have been a member of the NHAA since the start of my degree, first as a student member and now as a full member. They have always been incredibly supportive of my journey in the industry.’

Can you tell us about your research paper?

Taking part in the NHAA Symposium, Amy presented a poster of the research paper she is writing with Torrens University academics Dr Amber Moore and Assoc. Professor Greg Connolly. The poster is titled: ‘The efficacy and safety of Vitex agnus-castus (VAC) for premenstrual syndrome (PMS): A critical literature review’.

Amy says, ‘The poster is about a condition known as premenstrual syndrome and a specific herb called Chaste Tree [Vitex agnus-castus]. There is amazing scientific evidence that this plant can help treat PMS symptoms.’

Speaking more generally about naturopathic medicine, Amy explains, ‘It recognises the inherent self-healing process of the body. The goal is to support and stimulate this process by identifying and removing obstacles to health. Some of the therapies involved are herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and lifestyle medicine based on research and science coupled with empirical and traditional knowledge.’

What are your career aspirations and how did your course help you start to achieve them?

‘For more than 20 years I worked as a make-up artist in the entertainment industry, and when I started my course, I thought I’d combine my knowledge of skin and hair with my knowledge from the Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy),’ Amy says.

‘As the course went on, though, I realised I wanted my practice to be much more than that. Graduating with the Bachelor degree means I have the highest qualification available to naturopaths in Australia. The course is evidence based with methodology that draws on scientific research. In January 2023, I opened my clinic and as I build the client base, I'm seeing all types of chronic illness. Everything from skin conditions to reactions from Long COVID, autoimmune flareups, and people with digestive issues. And I'm seeing a lot of perimenopause and menopause issues too. So my clinical practice is varied, which makes it very interesting.’

‘Also, writing the research article shows me that I want to continue working in research as well as in the clinic.’

How will you continue to contribute to the Naturopathy industry and profession?

‘I would like to support the NHAA and the naturopathic community to get Naturopathy registered as a profession, so we can help our patients access our services at more affordable rates, and remove the stigma attached to natural medicine by some medical professionals.’

What advice would you offer anyone who wants to study Naturopathy at Torrens University?

‘Take your herbs! You’ll need them. This degree will change your life – for the better, of course. It will push you to your limits, build resilience, and provide the skills you’ll need to confidently treat your clients on the other side of the degree. It is a science degree, so get ready to love science! Study hard, keep up with the workload and give it all you have. And join an association like the NHAA as soon as you can and integrate yourself into the community, head to some seminars (at student prices) and meet the leaders of our industry. It is an incredibly supportive community that will embrace you with open arms if you reach out. You will reap the rewards from the seeds you plant along your journey.’

Check our Natural Therapy Courses to learn more
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