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Report on Professional Advancement: 900 Gather for Naturopathic Conference with Holistic Doctors

© John Weeks

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by John Weeks . View all columns in series
Summary: Over 900 NDs, MDs and others gathered August 12-18, 2008 at the Arizona Biltmore for the annual convention of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). The Cleveland Clinic sponsored continuing medical education credits for medical doctors learning from NDs at the NDs conference, a first. Three score members of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) attended, mixing things up in meetings, on the dance floors and in the pools. A plenary panel and private luncheon convened leaders of 7 national professional and educational organizations to consider joint policy efforts. Expansion of a residency program was described. AANP executive director Karen Howard announced that a Congressional Resolution, developed by the AANP, had been introduced to advance wellness and empowerment in any medical reform plan. Presentations on international opportunities in at the Harvard-Dubai Healthcare City and in Nicaragua added additional spice to the offerings. Here is a look at the naturopathic medical profession through the lens of one of the most robust, future-thinking practitioner gatherings in recent years.

Report on Professional Advancement: 900 Gather for Naturopathic Conference with Holistic MDs

Summary: Over 900 NDs, MDs and others gathered August 12-18, 2008 at the Arizona Biltmore for the annual convention of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). The Cleveland Clinic sponsored continuing medical education credits for medical doctors learning from NDs at the NDs conference, a first. Three score members of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) attended, mixing things up in meetings, on the dance floors and in the pools. A plenary panel and private luncheon convened leaders of 7 national professional and educational organizations to consider joint policy efforts. Expansion of a residency program was described. AANP executive director Karen Howard announced that a Congressional Resolution, developed by the AANP, had been introduced to advance wellness and empowerment in any medical reform plan. Presentations on international opportunities in at the Harvard-Dubai Healthcare City and in Nicaragua added additional spice to the offerings. Here is a look at the naturopathic medical profession through the lens of one of the most robust, future-thinking practitioner gatherings in recent years.

Image
American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
1. Some recent AANP history from an interested party ...


Roughly 100 years ago, I served in the formative period of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)
as their first paid (somewhat) executive director. Actually, it was 1989-1993, but with each integrative healthcare year equal to 6 normal years, that's almost a century. While I have not been directly involved with the AANP since 1996, I have continued to observe the profession's organizational development with interest.

And the developments in the last decade, which underpin the action at the recently concluded 2008 conference, have been robust. The profession organized a Naturopathic Coordinating Council for leaders of all of the profession's organizations to meet twice each year and share action steps. The AANP began an annual lobby day in Washington, DC. As a profession in which 75%-80% of its new doctors are females and which is seeking to raise the number of states in which its members can be licensed to practice, a potentially brilliant strategic move was made to succesfully place executive director Karen Howard on the board of the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
naturopathic physician, integrative care
Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, AANP president
Outreach to holistic medical doctors and holistic nurses has led to participation in new coalitions. Regular support from holistic MDs for expansion of licensing has been guaranteed. Meantime, the organization's operating budget has doubled since 2003 to $1,300,000 annually. The AANP has escaped red ink and developed a substantial operating reserve for an organization of its size.

The 2008 convention, in which the AANP partnered with the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), offered a sense of what the might come next for the AANP
with author and integrative cancer expert Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, serving as president.

2. Opening up the ND guild to collaboration and coalition with MDs and others

The naturopathic medical "tribe" - just 4500 licensed practitioners in North America - may be viewed as a sort of vanguard for integrative practice. In the 1980s, the modern profession's leaders set standards for a deep, rich, residential, integrative medical education, long before such a concept had begun to germinate in conventional medical education. That "integrative medicine" is presently mainly associated with medical doctors is sometimes the cause of bitterness. (See
Time for a Heretical Model? Ballard, Quinn, Manahan & Simpson on 'Integrative Medicine," July 29, 2008.) The decision to co-locate the conference with the AHMA was controversial. Some NDs wondered if a tribal experience would be compromised. Others saw their tribe expanding. Debate was the subject of some excellent back-and-forth. (See Expanding the Family: More Comments of Holistic MDs and NDs on Their Co-Convening in 2008, February 24, 2008.)

TAI Sophia
Dianne Connelly, PhD, MAc - focus on the language of healing
But while any healthcare profession in this era serves patients by viewing its work as necessarily focusing on team and new inter-disciplinary relationships, such a small group as the NDs must act through collaboration and coalition to realize its mission. And this requires a change in perception among its members. This change seemed to be facilitated at the conference by the selection of keynotes. The first day featured a conversation with Dianne Connelly, PhD, MAc, co-founder of Tai Sophia Institute. Connelly explored the "language of love for the treatment room" through images, poetry, song and anecdote, before the attendees dipped into their more typical fare of such topics as "Risk Factors Potentiating Human Papillomavirus Pathenogenesis and Evidence of Natural Teratment Options: A Review of the Literature" and "Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer - Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment Options." (Through the work of AHMA, attending MDs were awarded 12.5 CMEs for such content through
the Cleveland Clinic.)

The next morning, attendees were again pulled out of their left-brains to a wild, shamanic ride into "shaking medicine" by psychologist Bradford Keeney, PhD. This connection with primal healing energy seemed to open the audience to core mission rather than guild mission, to inclusion and connection across the disciplines. They were also prepared for the shared challenge of transforming U.S. healthcare as presented in the 3rd keynote by philosopher and clinician Nortin Hadler, MD, author of Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America. If connecting with one's healer self is insufficient grounds for reaching across to healers of other stripes, Hadler's iteration of the medical system's awful problems argued that the naturopathic profession certainly needs some membership extender to succeed in being a significant contributor in transforming this mess.


Image
Helen Healy, ND - longtime Minnesota leader
3. Two MDs honored with ND leaders in successful Minnesota licensing


Many non-MD professionals have little respect for the challenges academic MDs face in trying to secure new footholds for integrative education and practice inside conventional academic health institutions. Just so, few MDs grasp the Sisyphysian commitment it takes to go back to a state legislature session after session, organizing, fundraising and educating to pass licensing for a formerly unrecognized profession. With small numbers, and licensing in just 15 states, legislative success in new states for naturopathic physicians is arduous. When successful, it is celebrated.


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Carolyn Torkelson, MD - assisting the licensing effort
Leaders of the Minnesota Association of Naturopathic Physicians' (MnANP) such as
Helen Healy, ND and Tom Stowall, ND (now deceased) began their effort to pass licensing in the late 1980s. At the AANP conference, the MnANP finally had their moment on the AANP stage. This year, they finally gained licensing status. Healy was there, together with the current president, Leslie Vilensky, ND. What was new, and partly an outgrowth of the AANP's strategic design, is that the group that was called to the stage to be honored also included Bill Manahan, MD, a long-time holistic medical leader (and Integrator adviser) and medical educator and integrative clinician Carolyn Torkelson, MD. Torkelson's professional work includes practice as a holistic doctor and service as a representative for the University of Minnesota's integrative medicine team on the Clinical Care Working Group of the 41-member Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. The message: MDs and NDs working together created this new healthcare opportunity for citizens of Minnesota.

4. Naturopathic Education and Research Consortium advances ND residencies

natruopathic medicine residencies
Tori Hudson, ND - NERC co-founder
Another up-by-the-bootstraps aspect of the naturopathic profession's development which would not be known to their MD colleagues is the process for creation of residencies. Federal support allows medical doctors to take these for granted. Literally billions of governmental funding underwrites this part of conventional medical education. Not a single federal dollar supports naturopathic residencies.

In response, nationally-known women's health educator and clinician Tori Hudson, ND, and her colleague Margaret Beeson, ND, formed the
Naturopathic Education and Research Consortium (NERC) to offer community-based residencies for NDs. The 501c3 organization addresses a widespread interest in the profession to expand clinical training opportunities for graduating naturopathic physicians beyond the few residencies available through the profession's teaching clinics. Each NERC residency must be accredited through the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), the profession's federally-recognized accrediting agency. A specific focus of the NERC residencies is on educating practitioners in "community and collaborative medicine" through work in practices of MD specialists in their communities.

natruopathic medicine residencies
Margaret Beeson, ND - NERC co-founder
The Hudson-Beeson team reported at the AANP meeting that the program, which began with residencies at their
Portland, Oregon and Billings, Montana offices, respectively, has expanded to include additional accredited programs in Seattle, Hawaii and Colorado. An oncology residency, an international residency and an integrative clinical residency in the office of Integrator adviser Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA are among new sites under development. ( ' ); document.write( addy79181 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->
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About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields of complementary, alternative and integrative medicine since 1983. Happily, I have learned some things. I was once called an "expert in alternative medicine" by......more
 
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