The autobiography of Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord tells the tale of the first female Navajo doctor in the United States. Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord is of Navajo background and upbringing has brought about many different challenges as well as various opportunities compared to those in different positions or those who come from different upbringing/various backgrounds. Due to her unique circumstances and available resources, Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord was raised through her tribe in which several different practices are exercised which differ from typical Western studies. One of the unique aspects her tribe practiced was the concept known as “Walking in Beauty” which is encompassing the beauty of all parts of an individual, thus recognizing a person’s body, mind, soul and spirit (everything else).
Her tribe emphasized the importance of this concept by describing it as “living a balanced and harmonious life” (Alvord 3), and highlighted that it leads “a path to better health and healing in life” (Alvord 3). In comparison to Western studies, Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord needed to deviate from her Tribe’s culture and habits in order to excel in the study of Western medicine. This ideal concept that her tribe practiced poses an issue as it is a religious belief that may conflict and interfere with practices exercised through Western medicine and study. Instead of forgoing her past and dawning a new future in the field of Western medicine with a clean slate, Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord took it upon herself as a challenge and opportunity to inherit this tribal concept that is cherished among her people, and incorporate it into the way she studies and practices medicine. Dr. Lori Arviso argues that modern medicine, rather, Western medicine and studies do not acknowledge any sense of relation to spirituality which she identifies as a key component which could further research in Western medicine if applied.
Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord’s inspiration stems from her interest in further pursing her medical knowledge. In her words, “One of the most intimate things you can do with a person is to cut them open and change what is inside of them”. Although Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord comments on this, it conflicts with her cultural and tribal beliefs and nature of having a profound sense of reverence with the body. Although this aspect conflicts with her interest in surgery, Dr. Lori Arviso found that she could be convinced early in her career that the Navajo philosophy of the harmony of all things “Walking in Beauty” is a philosophy that ultimately can be used to aid the healing process for her patients. Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord believed that by incorporating this ‘barrier’ into her research, she could use that as her tool to excel. This later became Dr. Lri Arviso Alvord’s unique edge which allowed her to find a balance between the existing harmony of all aspects in her patient’s treatment and healing. Dr. Lori Arviso demonstrates a passion which helped her overcome the many challenges and barriers in order to identify and select the most optimal choices given the various opportunities.