Let's be honest.

If we want to create a new health care experience for women, one that values, respects, and provides for the unique needs of women, we have to redefine the role of the doctor in the doctor-patient relationship. 

The typical doctor-patient relationship is an unequal power dynamic. It requires complete vulnerability from you, but none from me. In fact, it is considered inappropriate for a doctor to be too "personal" with a patient. As a doctor, I am expected to use my computer, desk, white coat, and title as a shield against such inappropriate vulnerability. 

But if I were to do that, I would be the biggest hypocrite ever. I can't tell you that your health care experience will be about compassion, connection, collaboration, intimacy, and integrity, but then not be vulnerable with you, not show you who I really I am, and not share my experiences with you. 

Vulnerability is a requirement for connection. This is nonnegotiable. In order for you to feel seen, heard, valued and understood in your health care, we have to connect. In order for us to connect, I have to show up as a real person, a person who struggles just like you. We can't do this work if all I am is an authoritative doctor.

So before we even meet, I am going to be vulnerable with you. I am going to show up as a real person. 

So who is Dr. Carly?

An introvert.

I love solitude. I hate small talk. I have stonewalled (unintentionally) many a patient who has attempted small talk. For me, interacting with another human being is about creating meaning and connection. So we will either get to the business at hand or dive deep into our experiences. But don't let the fact that I don't adhere to the social rules of engagement put you off. My introversion is one of my superpowers, allowing me to be introspective, analytical, and a great listener. All really important qualities in a doctor!

Dr. Carly Polland, ND

a cat lover.

While I love all animals, I have a special connection with cats. We just get each other. When I am not busy doctoring, I am usually snuggling a cat or two. So that means that all of my clothes are always covered in cat hair.

a book worm.

I read. A lot. I have a somewhat eclectic taste in books. I love science fiction & fantasy but I also have a passion for personal growth & philosophy books. Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Brene Brown, and Harriet Lerner. I also like to keep up to date on the trending books in health and integrative medicine so I am ready to answer questions/debunk the info for my patients. 

A recovering perfectionist.

I spent the first 22 years of my life using perfectionism as an armor against vulnerability. This meant I was constantly hustling for my worthiness, never feeling like I was good enough. I was standing on the outside of my life, never engaging, never showing up, missing out on connection, intimacy and joy because a little voice kept whispering "Not yet. You aren't ready. You are not perfect yet".

You know the voice I am talking about. The one that says, "Lose that last 10 pounds and then you can book that beach vacation." "Don't let the kids' friends over because you haven't done the dishes, the laundry is piling up, you have no idea when you last vacuumed, and what would the other parents think?" "You can't go to the store looking like that. You need to style your hair and put on makeup first!" 

We think that if we wait until we are "perfect" we won't get hurt. Not only is this not true, but also the hustle for perfectionism is exhausting. 

After my first quarter of naturopathic medical school, my hustle for worthiness became unsustainable and miserable. The disconnection my perfectionism had cultivated was leading to depression. My inability to experience intimacy started affecting my relationships. My self-criticism dissolved any false sense of worthiness my perfectionism granted me. 

I was unhappy and it was time to change. And the work I was doing to become a healer required that I achieve some level of emotional literacy and agility that I did not possess.

So I started a journey of self-healing and personal growth. It has been equal parts excruciating and joyous. But it has taught me how to engage in life from a place of worthiness. This means that I show up as I really I am. I can say "This is who I am and this is what I want." What is the result of that? I feel truly seen, heard, and loved in my relationships. I spend my time and energy on things that fulfill me and bring meaning and purpose to my life (and I say no to the things that I don't). 

I still struggle. Every day. But my struggle is no longer to create a mask to hide who I am really am so my feeling can never be hurt. Now I struggle to show up. To be engaged. To feel. To live a full, messy, authentic life. 

I am grateful every day for this struggle because it has allowed me to become a doctor who can create a new paradigm for women's health care.

Why naturopathic medicine?

What you need to understand about me, is that I have a different way of seeing the world. Some may say that I march to the beat of my own drum. So when I realized I wanted to be a doctor, I didn't just want to be any doctor, I wanted to be a different doctor. 

You see, my experience with conventional medicine had left me frustrated and pissed off. The doctors never listened, never answered my questions, and I always left the office feeling confused and frustrated. You know exactly what I am talking about. So I realized that I could NOT be a part of this system. That I could not do to my future patients what my doctors did to me. I had to find another way.

So I did.

I discovered naturopathic medicine through the magic of Google. I stumbled upon the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges. As soon as I read the six principles of naturopath medicine, I knew. This was my path. I applied to Bastyr University that week, interviewed a month later, and started school 3 months later. I really had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew it was right.

Why 'Dr. Carly'?

You may not realize it, but how you address your female doctors is a very touchy subject. Most female doctors face daily discrimination and sexism because medicine is a man's world. No one ever stumbles in addressing a male doctor, always granting him the title doctor. But many female doctors are slighted, even amongst their colleagues. At medical conferences, female presenters are often introduced without being granted the title doctor, while all their male colleagues are addressed as doctor. So for many women, it feels insulting and disrespectful to not be addressed as Dr. Last Name. 

I get it. But I am not trying to fit into the masculine medical paradigm. I'm creating a medical paradigm for women and by women that prioritizes feminine values and creates a doctor-patient relationship based on compassion and connection.

Going by Dr. Polland does not work in this new paradigm. It would skew the power dynamic between us as doctor and patient. So I choose to go by Dr. Carly.

Now, I keep the title of doctor for a couple reasons. One reason is my ego. I did work very hard for a very long time to become a doctor, so I can't help wanting some recognition for that. But this is the only way in which I let my ego enter the doctor-patient relationship. The second reason is to serve as a gentle reminder of my education and training. Some people like to think that because they can use "Dr. Google" and because they read one article on a topic, they are now an expert who is qualified to dish out medical advice. So I use my title of doctor as a gentle reminder that no matter how many articles you have read online, they cannot even begin to replace my decade of education and training. Now, I rarely run into this issue with my patients, because you ladies are smart. And let's face it, this "internet expertitis" tends to be more of a male disease than a female one. 


Western Washington University

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology, Emphasis in Cellular Biology, Magna Cum Laude, with Honors
  • Minor in Chemistry

Bastyr University

  • Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
  • Advanced CranioSacral Therapy training with Dr. Stephen Hall, MD
  • Plant Stem Cell Extracts/Phytembryotherapy/Gemmotherapy training with Dr. Robin DiPascale, ND
  • Biotherapeutic Drainage training with Dr. Dickson Thom, ND
  • Advanced Chronic Disease training with Dr. Dickson Thom, ND
  • Hormone Balancing training with Dr. Ginger Nash, ND
  • Sleep Medicine training with Dr. Catherine Darley, ND
  • Rubimed Therapist Level 1


California State Naturopathic Medicine Committee, Board of Osteopathic Medicine

  • License to Practice as a Naturopathic Doctor