By Tutti Gould ND
At first glance a person might not notice Virginia Oram. She's not on the lecture circuit. She doesn't give courses. She hasn't written any books. In her own words, she is a "watcher, an observer," and apparently these traits have served her well. Her naturopathic practice in Eugene, Oregon is fully booked.
Years earlier, after Virginia had obtained an undergraduate degree in psychology, she found herself drawn to a course in homeopathy at the local community college. The course, Homeopathic Home Remedies for You and Your Family, was taught by Dr. Stephen Messer. Sitting in that class she had the thought, "This is it. I want to do what he's doing, what Dr. Messer is doing." It wasn't the teaching Dr. Oram was speaking of, it was the homeopathy. "I just had that knowing. This is what I wanted to do with my life. That class blew me away." She approached Dr. Messer after class curious about some of her own health concerns. He suggested an office appointment where he took her case and prescribed a homeopathic remedy. "I had dramatic results. The homeopathy was very profound." Not that she needed it, but this reconfirmed her desire to become a homeopath herself. When she spoke to Dr. Messer about learning homeopathy he suggested Virginia first study naturopathy so as to better understand disease and its progression and to then learn homeopathy.
Fortunately, Oregon is home to one of the oldest and amongst the most respected schools of natural medicine so Virginia didn't have far to travel. She did need to fulfill some prerequisite courses before attending the naturopathic college in Portland. During this period, a part time position for a receptionist in Dr. Messer's office became available. "I had this feeling, 'That's where I'm supposed to work!'" Virginia applied for the job and was, at first, turned down. She was really surprised and thought to herself, "Well okay, I guess there's going to be something better... but I really thought I was supposed to work there." When the person who was hired didn't work out, Virginia was offered the position where she worked for three years before going to study in Portland. The job gave her "a huge amount of experience being around the remedies."
The National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland took four years of study plus another year of residency. During her year of residency Virginia was considering where she wanted to set up practice. She traveled to Austin, Texas and loved the area but felt "it wasn't the place for me." As she was finishing her residency in the spring of 2000 she was talking to Dr. Messer - he was still Virginia's Homeopath - and he told her he was moving to Arizona to become a full time instructor at the South West College of Naturopathic Medicine in their Department of Homeopathy. Virginia's first question was who was going to take care of his patients. He told her his colleague would be taking over. Virginia then asked, "What about the naturopathic piece?" His colleague was an M.D, homeopath and as such didn't consider nutrition and herbs as a naturopath would. "So I said, 'What about me doing that? What about me coming down there and taking over your practice? And he said, 'Well, let's talk about that.' And I said, 'Okay' and we ended up talking about it and it worked out and I ended up buying his practice and here I am in (what was) his office."
Dr. Oram's new patients may come with a chronic condition looking for naturopathy and find themselves with a constitutional remedy as well. Virginia doesn't see homeopathic treatment as a separate aspect of her practice. "The large majority of people don't even know they need a homeopathic remedy. The people who come looking for me because I'm a homeopath are the minority. I think the homeopathy is huge - it can really open things up." One of her more memorable examples was a woman who came to her with an extreme case of endometriosis. "She was bedridden with pain. She came to me after nine pelvic surgeries, including a hysterectomy. It (the endometriosis) kept coming back every single time. She couldn't live her life. I gave her a liver detox formula of herbs and a remedy and she phoned to say she was worse for about a week and then just continuously got better. She didn't even come in for her follow up appointment. She phoned to say she was doing fantastic. She was better."
Virginia is a natural at developing rapport. "I feel like I'm able to draw them out. People feel comfortable with me. It gives me the insight I need. It allows me to get the case."
Dr. Oram practices classical homeopathy. When asked about the future of homeopathy, she spoke of her desire to see all the various approaches to homeopathy come together even if the practices aren't similar, to unite as homeopaths. "I'm a hopeful person and I have hope for homeopathy - worldwide for sure. In the U.S. I hope the word continues to get out."
"I remember Dr. Messer saying to me, 'You'll do fine anywhere because you care about people, and that comes across.'"
And that is something that does come across, in a quietly spoken way. Her manner, her way of speaking, her thoughtfulness her warmth are wrapped in a humble yet matter-of-fact demeanor that had me feeling very much at ease. Dr. Virginia Oram's presence is much greater than one might originally think.
Dr. Virginia Oram can be contacted at :