Emily Anne McDonald, MD earned a medical degree from SUNY/Downstate College of Medicine three years ago. Before she could complete her first year of residency, however, she decided to quit.
That may sound crazy to some, but to her, it made complete sense.
Instead, Ms. McDonald plans to open Chrysalis Holistic Healing in Cutchogue next week, a space focused on connecting the physical aspects of the body with the mind, heart and spirit.
“It was very clear. I’m doing exactly what I went to school to do,” she said. “It’s harder for other people [to understand]. But not for me.”
She said medical school provided exactly what she needs for this venture. She will use that formal training even though she chose not to go the traditional route.
“I was challenged by the actual industry and from the inside of being a researcher, there were things that didn’t seem to be in patients’ best interest,” said Ms. McDonald, 31. She added that she had to listen to her intuition and decided to look into different ways to take care of people beyond drugs.
She began her medical career as an OB/GYN, wanting to help women make decisions about their bodies, but she found it difficult to think critically about the type of care she was giving while being a practicing physician.
“It didn’t feel right. There was something different for me that I was supposed to be pursuing,” she said.
The Mattituck native graduated from Mattituck High School in 2005 and studied biology at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. During medical school, she had plans to become a cancer researcher.
But after leaving her residency at North Shore/Long Island Jewish Hospital, she began her new journey with yoga teacher training.
“My biggest issue with health care in its current form is that it’s really focused on the body and from having a strong practice in yoga, I knew that was not true,” Ms. McDonald said.
Chrysalis Holistic Healing will have a staff that includes energy healers, herbalists, a flower essence practitioner and a crystal healer. It will also host meditation and yoga teachers and an astrologer, along with an organic farmer.
These approaches may sound unorthodox to many, but Ms. McDonald explained they are just alternative modalities that use different tools to transform a person’s energy. Chrysalis may, for example, incorporate acupuncture or meditation, or even use flower vibrations as a form of balancing energy.
Chrysalis is not a place to go for a diagnosis, she said. The ideal customer might be someone with chronic disease looking to manage their symptoms, or someone newly diagnosed with an illness who is seeking treatment options other than pharmaceuticals.
“There are people who are looking to take their health into their own hands,” she said, adding that people also come to her who want to get off medications.
“I am someone who can help them process what is wrong,” Ms. McDonald said. “I take a holistic framework and help them organize their life.“
In addition to opening Chrysalis, Ms. McDonald is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical bioethics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
She is also starting a local nonprofit called Ethos Rising that will offer more affordable holistic care at the Cutchogue facility. It will also host a free clinic on select Wednesdays that will provide more short-term consultations.
Ann opening ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. at 28080 Main Road in Cutchogue.
Photo caption: Emily Anne McDonald will open Chyrsalis Holistic Healing in Cutchogue next week. (Kate Nalepinski photo)