Nursing major Adrienne Dudla RSC ’18 spent the first week of June 2017 in Oceanside, California, at the highly selective Leadership & Education Program for Students in Integrative Medicine. Dudla was one of only 20 – and one of the few undergraduates – accepted to the program that attracts medical and health sciences students from the nation’s best schools.

Adrienne Dudla

Integrative medicine is often defined as “an approach to care that … addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.” It is informed by evidence and may include conventional medicine combined with chiropractic care, mind/body/spirit practices and more.

“My interest in integrative medicine stems from my beliefs about how I think an individual should be treated,” said Dudla. “I believe that if there’s a therapy that can heal our patients without the use of prescription medications or invasive surgeries, these should be practiced first. We’re taught since day one of nursing school to intervene using the least invasive [before] the most invasive procedures.” Dudla said highlights from LEAPS included daily lectures from medical school professors and medical doctors as well as the gardens at the Old Mission at San Luis Rey retreat center, where the program was held. “We were encouraged to take short breaks to enjoy the beauty of the environment,” she said. “I feel like often we are so tied to our daily routines, we forget what’s right in front of us.”

Before she left for LEAPS, Dudla proposed and gained funding for an integrative medicine club at Sage, to host guest speakers and activities like cooking classes and meditation instruction – perhaps even mindfulness experiences in Russell Sage College’s peaceful gardens and courtyards.

“Nursing school has been one of my biggest challenges, yet a rewarding one,” said Dudla, who works as a home health aide and volunteers with a hospice residence and at a program that supports grieving children while she attends Russell Sage. After earning her BSN, she looks forward to pursuing a graduate degree in the health sciences and a position that will allow her to combine her passion for healing and her determination under pressure. “I want to specialize in trauma and ER,” she said. “I would love to be a flight nurse and travel all up and down the coast of California.”