Caitlin Bernhard MSN FNP
CEO & Founder Azalla Health & Wellness, Nurse Herbalist Massage Therapist
Caitlin has long had an interest in wellness and the healing arts. In 1999, she earned a bachelor’s degree with Individual Concentration in Pre-Naturopathic medicine—an academic track she developed herself—from UMass Amherst. Feeling frustrated with the lack of access to Naturopathic medicine on the east coast and within the medical establishment, Caitlin switched gears: she studied native plant horticulture, Hatha Yoga, and Usui Reiki; completed an herbalism apprenticeship, labor and post-partum doula training; and completed integrative massage and bodywork training at the Green Mountain Institute of Integrative Bodywork and the New York College of Health Professions.
Seeing limitations with working strictly within bodywork modalities, she started studying nursing in 2010. Throughout this time, she hoped to be able to work with medical cannabis when it became legal and was optimistic about its therapeutic applications. She earned her bachelor’s in nursing in 2011 and her master’s in nursing with a specialty in family practice in 2013 from Pace University in New York City, NY. Soon after graduating, she returned to western Massachusetts in 2014 to begin work as a family nurse practitioner at MinuteClinic—a retail health clinic run by CVS—in Amherst, MA. There she was met with the brutal reality of modern health care: a broken system driven by pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, overpriced insurance premiums with high deductibles, overpriced services, and fear of litigation—a healthcare system that profits from illness and ignorance of preventative health and wellness.
In late-2017, Caitlin finally entered into the cannabis medicine field when she joined the team at Canna Care Docs (CCD), a chain of medical cannabis evaluation clinics. She worked for them in locations throughout Massachusetts, not only recommending but also researching, creating, and presenting material at informational events and workshops throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. While working at CCD, she completed training in Holistic Wellness Coaching at the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy, while continuing her studies in herbalism through Sage Mountain’s correspondence program. With a renewed sense of purpose and focus, during this time she founded Azalla Health and Wellness, LLC, a cannabis and wellness coaching, consultation, and education venture. Since starting with CCD, Caitlin has worked with several other cannabis clinics in Massachusetts while launching Azalla Health and Wellness and planning a new CBD/Wellness store, Azalla Wellness, which will be located at The Local Yoga Joint in Turners Falls, MA.
Caitlin approaches patient care from a place of deep listening and patient autonomy. As a Holistic Wellness Coach, she knows that the most positive and lasting changes come when people are intrinsically motivated and empowered to shift patterns that no longer serve them. One of the reasons she loves working with Cannabis medicine is that the very process of learning to medicate with this plant is empowering to patients. Working with cannabis allows patients to take their health into their own hands. Furthermore, her approach aims to motivate patients to make other changes in their lives, such as including other daily wellness activities, making nutritional changes, or finding joy in physical activity. Caitlin sees people holistically and looks for patterns and connections with all parts of health and wellness, from sleep disturbances, to food and drink intake, to overmedication and beyond. She looks for ways to make change fun and easy, which streamlines the process and allows for deep and lasting transformations.
Caitlin lives in Northampton, MA. She enjoys kitchen witchery and making plant-based medicines, cooking with seasonal whole foods, watching for hawks and owls, travel, research, and relaxing by the fire with her partner and cat.