Dr. Paul Hrkal, ND

Class of 2011, CCNM - Toronto
Class of 2011 graduate Dr. Paul Hrkal, ND, shares his plan for success and how he attained it
When it comes to success – whether it’s professional, financial, or academic – Dr. Paul Hrkal, ND, always has a plan and the motivation to see it through. He was in grade 12 when he realized he wanted to be a naturopathic doctor, and shadowed with CCNM faculty member Dr. Paul Saunders, ND, while studying kinesiology at McMaster University.
He eventually became a representative for Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR) and went on to become their medical advisor after graduating in 2011. In May 2017, he was promoted to medical director. He also practises at two clinics – the Pain and Wellness Centre in Vaughn and PureBalance Wellness Centre in Mississauga – and is a husband and father of three
A lot of people ask Paul how he manages his responsibilities. He believes his family, whose constant and unwavering support allows him to work late hours and take on extra duties, is part of his success. The second is simply because naturopathic medicine is his passion.
“I’m living the dream! I’m able to formulate products, see patients, make an impact in people’s lives, and do it on my terms. That is the best thing that I could’ve ever hoped for. So getting out of bed and working from 6 a.m. to midnight on some nights and weekends doesn’t feel like work. I feel like I’ve been given a gift that I need to share.”
Making connections
Paul is an interesting mix of idealism and business skill, and doesn’t shy away from discussing the financial and practical aspects of being an ND. He calls himself an “entrepreneur at heart” and believes that a career in naturopathic medicine is a ticket for opportunities.
“I really believe in diversifying who you are as a naturopathic doctor,” he explains.
“We’re trained as NDs but we can be so much more. I have colleagues that have written books, who work in Health Canada, or in private industries.”
He also comes from a family of teachers,band while he always knew he didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he nevertheless embodies the principle of docere.
“My big focus is, ‘How do I teach people, my colleagues, friends, and other professionals about the science and application of naturopathic medicine?’
My goal is to educate others about all of the things I’ve learned and how they can succeed as well,” he says. “Ultimately I want the best for our profession and my family and I think those are aligned.”
When it comes to future success, having the best grades isn’t necessarily an indicator, he says. The friendships and connections he formed with supervisors, colleagues and fellow students were far more meaningful.
During his time at university, Paul played varsity volleyball and was the captain of the McMaster University men’s team. At CCNM he met good friend and classmate Dr. Colin O’Brien, ND (Class of 2011), who also played for Western University. The two – who “were attached at the hip,” according to Paul – would attend Unity Summit each year to speak to and motivate the new crop of students.
“I say this all the time to colleagues and students – it’s not about the marks you get, it’s about the relationships that you create while you’re in undergrad and at CCNM. I believe the most successful practitioners are the ones who got the most involved at CCNM and really embraced student life.”
Giving back to the profession and CCNM
Now seven years post graduation, Paul is at a point in his professional career where he’s sharing the knowledge he’s learned and actively giving back to CCNM and the profession.
“I’m a believer in no regrets about what you experience,” he says, “I’ve put a lot of work into different programs and presentations that ended up going nowhere. Building my practice was hard work, but the recipe is the same as what my mentors told me. If you put yourself out there – with articles, social media, public speaking, whatever your skills are – patients see and feel that confidence and are attracted to your message. That’s how you build a practice.”
Never one to lose sight of his goals, Paul always takes a long-term perspective, which has paid off quite well. He’s free to work on his own terms and wants others to have the freedom to do the same. And as acceptance for NDs and naturopathic medicine increases, this is the perfect time to make an impact.
“We’re at the best point we’ve been ever,” Paul proclaims. “There are growing pains, like with any growth process. But my hope is that we can find a way to work and create unity together, for the sake of growth. I think the future of naturopathic medicine is extremely bright. We’re making steps in the positive direction.” *
Learn more about Paul at:
This article was originally published in issue #22, Mind|Body|Spirit, summer 2018, page 34
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