Does that sound like what your doctor orders? It is for patients of Dr. Corrie Marinaro ’00, who wants to restore balance to her patients’ lives. Marinaro has made nourishing a mind-body wellness connection the integral root of her practice on Main Street in downtown Waterville, New England Naturopathic Health.
“[People] need to spend more time with their community,” Marinaro says. “They need to pay attention to what goes into their bodies, they need to drink water, they need to breathe healthy air, get outside from time to time.”
Since opening its doors in 2012 “Dr. Corrie’s” practice has seen steady success, growing rapidly to a current roster of 600 active patients. She manages all this with the help of one medical assistant and one office assistant out of a historic building that is a throwback to another era—complete with antique door handles and elevators with hand cranks.
Until recently she had an office dog, Raj. When he passed away at the end of the summer, the outpouring of support from her patients and staff was overwhelming. It was one of the moments that makes her realize she has built a practice—and a community.
After graduating in 2000 with a double major in Spanish and anthropology, Marinaro had no plans to become a naturopath. But her interest in health care had been piqued by a senior-year course called Medical Anthropology. “I had never been exposed to the idea that different cultures view medicine differently,” despite being raised in a family of medical doctors and nurses, she said.
It was a life-altering revelation.
She moved to California and had experiences working at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and an osteopathic surgery clinic. Each experience left her believing that there was a better way to practice medicine. “I started looking for other sorts of ways that I could study medicine. I stumbled across naturopathic medicine and started interviewing practitioners in my local area.”
The naturopathy track was a big undertaking. “I had to go back and take biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, organic chemistry,” Marinaro said. “It took me two years to actually get to the point where I could apply to go to medical school.”
Naturopathy is a distinct approach to health care that has gained traction and popularity over the last few decades, as more and more patients seek out treatments that are outside of the conventional norm. Many of Marinaro’s patients find her when they are frustrated as they try to find remedies for complex, chronic conditions. Bastyr University, where she earned her doctorate, lists seven principles that lay the foundation for naturopathic treatment: the healing power of nature; identify and treat the causes; first, do no harm; the doctor as teacher; treat the whole person; prevention; wellness. For Marinaro, finding naturopathy was an “aha” moment combining her passion for helping people with her desire to disrupt what she says is the standard system of treating symptoms instead of people.
“The self-care piece has been an evolving challenge, for sure. I sort of look at myself as an experiment in my medicine.” —Dr. Corrie Marinaro ’00
Marinaro’s vision and tenacity continue to push her forward personally and professionally. She recently concluded a three-year term as president of the Maine Association of Naturopathic Doctors, during which time she worked exhaustively lobbying for legislation that would mandate that private insurance companies in Maine cover naturopathic medicine—the practice in other states, including Vermont and New Hampshire. She also had to remember to take her own medicine, as she worked tirelessly to build her practice and advocate for naturopathy as an option for Maine patients.
“The self-care piece has been an evolving challenge, for sure,” she said. “I sort of look at myself as an experiment in my medicine. I have to eat really clean; I have to sleep a minimum of eight hours a night. I could probably do the doctoring, medical part on very little sleep, but I couldn’t do the most important thing about naturopathic medicine, which is actually making a connection.
“Listening and being there and connecting fully. Because that’s what everybody is looking for in a doctor or health care practitioner—that connection. Being listened to and fully heard. That is part of the healing right there.”