Tammy Ashney, ND is an associate professor at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM), attending physician at NUNM Clinics, clinical supervisor for residents and student interns, and the medical editor for Women in Balance Institute monthly newsletter. She shares her path to naturopathic medicine that started with a baccalaureate degree in Anthropology and a minor in Women’s Studies. Her practice has come full circle, building on her undergraduate passions.
Why did you choose to become a naturopathic doctor?
“Naturopathic medicine beautifully combines my deep anthropological interest in people, my love of teaching embodied in the naturopathic principle of docere, and my deep belief in the healing power of nature. I became a vegetarian at the age of 12 and then subsequently became very interested in environmental health and herbal medicine. I found naturopathic medicine after a circuitous journey that included waiting tables, teaching kids, fine art and photography studio work, and cross-country travels.”
What topics in naturopathic medicine are you passionate about?
“I love being able to help women understand their bodies more deeply, discuss sensitive topics and utilize natural therapeutics to help support them.”
Dr. Ashney also has a special interest in environmental medicine. “In the fall of 2019, I petitioned the Portland mayor’s office and the Oregon governor’s office to create city and state proclamations to celebrate, in accordance with the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), the second Thursday in October as Children’s Environmental Health Day. October 10, 2019 marked the first Children’s Environmental Health Day in Portland and in the State of Oregon. Moving forward, I hope to work with others to create community events to invite parents, families, patients, and the community at large into fun educational opportunities about how to prevent and protect children from environmental exposure that can affect their health.”
Finding fulfillment as an ND and educator
Dr. Ashney has been teaching since her graduation from NUNM and the start of her residency. She is the course director for the Parenteral Therapy and Environmental Medicine, lectures in women’s health, and teaches the reproductive lab.
“I am humbled by student engagement and their ability to bring forth new information and collaboration with their peers.” Often times, Dr. Ashney learns from her students as well.
A note of gratitude
“I am a mother of two young children and have been married to my husband for 18 years. While this article is mostly meant to discuss my professional role, these are the people who constantly humble me, inform my humanity and keep me grounded in the here and now. I am a better person because of them and a remarkably better teacher and physician because of the lessons they impart on me every single day.
Additionally, I am also the culmination of all the learning and mentoring of the teachers who have come before me. I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to honor some of them who believed in me. The saying, ‘I am standing on the shoulders of giants’ seems particularly relevant. Immense gratitude to: Kim Winstar, Tori Hudson, Walter Crinnion, Nancy Scarlett, Melanie Henriksen, Steven Sandberg-Lewis, Heather Zwickey, Rich Barrett, Sheryl Estlund, Wayne Centrone.”