Case study

Medical herbalist — Nikki Biddiss

Nikki started her degree in Herbal Medicine at the University of Glasgow and graduated from the University of East London with first-class honours. She now works as a medical herbalist

How did you get your job?

My first degree was in economics and I followed a traditional banking career path, becoming a director in my division at the age of 29. I had a great job but I felt that as my career progressed I was moving further and further away from what I enjoyed - building relationships.

I launched a wellbeing programme for my team and dreamed about retraining and setting up my own health and wellbeing business. I read lots of books but they didn't tell me what to do or how to do it. I focused on the hobbies and interests I had and discovered that I could link my passion for the traditional use of plants, natural healthcare and wellbeing by becoming a medical herbalist. This would also allow me to use my skills in relationship management, analytical thinking and decision-making. I started with a ten-month introductory course in herbal medicine and fell in love with the subject.

When I graduated I set up a clinic room at home and hired out clinic space at Napiers the herbalists in Glasgow. While both sides of my business began to grow, I found that I enjoyed working in the Glasgow clinic more, as I liked being around other people.

What's a typical day like as a medical herbalist?

I see up to ten patients a day for herbal consultations. We discuss current health issues, medical history, diet and lifestyle. I then draw up a tailored prescription to meet their individual needs and arrange a follow-up consultation to closely monitor progress.

I love dispensing herbal prescriptions and we have over 200 herbs in our dispensary.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I couldn't be happier with my new career. I love working with people to improve their health and wellbeing using traditional plant medicines, and since graduating I have studied cognitive behavioural coaching, so I can support my patients as they make steps to alter their diet and lifestyles to become happier in their lives.

What are the challenges?

My banking career was very stressful. I learned how to take care of myself by eating well using herbs and learning how to relax so I can manage any challenges that arise.

In what way is your degree relevant?

I use the knowledge gained from my degree every day in consultations. So it was worth working hard as a student.

How has your career developed?

I wanted to develop my career, so at the end of last year me and my business partner bought the Glasgow shop and clinic. It's amazing to finally own my own herbal business. We are currently working on launching an online business too.

How do I get into herbal medicine?

  • Take a degree course in the subject.
  • Research multi-disciplinary clinics in your area and ask to hire out space.
  • Be prepared to work hard to raise your profile, offer to write for magazines and websites and give talks.

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