What do you spend your nights thinking about? For the AANMC and our member schools, it’s how we can do better, teach better and impact more lives through training competent naturopathic physicians. As such we held a summit in early March 2020 with admissions and enrollment staff, deans, faculty and college presidents to explore how we could better serve diverse student populations and keep our curriculum in pace with changes in higher education, healthcare delivery and student learning. We also held lengthy discussions around how to potentially reconfigure our clinical and didactic curriculum to mature with the ever-changing higher education landscape. Demand for naturopathic medicine, as evidenced by increasing scope and coverage of licensed doctors is also spurring us to think about this student of the future, and the role of naturopathic medicine in North American healthcare delivery.
Currently all AANMC committees are collaborating to ease the strain of campus and clinic closures on our students and ND communities. Our resiliency and ability to pivot with creativity and teamwork has been inspiring. The collective AANMC response to COVID-19 has been rapid, and ever-evolving, based on the information we have to date. Once campuses normalize, our regularly scheduled activities and strategic plan will commence.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is front and center for so many of us. From the #MeToo movement to a desire to better understand and meet the needs of our underserved and minority students and patients, AANMC and its member schools are committed to creating strong naturopathic medical environments that foster safety, creativity of thought, and learning for all. We assessed how to better spread the word about naturopathic medical education to diverse student populations, and more so, how to meet their needs once they become students. We paid attention to where diverse students dropped out of the funnel, and more importantly – why. Additionally, AANMC is working with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of our US professional association, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) to better address DEI issues of our future doctors as well. We are advancing diversity training for our current students and staff further into campus culture. Some of our member schools have brought on dedicated DEI staff, and we are sharing best practices in order to raise awareness of these issues and sensitive topics at every one of our member schools.
Another key issue that we would be remiss without mentioning, and that impacts both our diverse student groups and our vast career changer population is addressing barriers to entry into the field. We created a task force dedicated to identifying and reducing these barriers for all students. They are reviewing industry data on predictors of success in the classroom, and beyond so our decisions to address these barriers will be data driven.
Innovative curriculum and clinical education are also on our minds. Technology has changed the way education is delivered, and in many ways how healthcare is practiced. The recent public health pandemic has highlighted the positives and negatives involved in online course delivery. However, student learning expectations are changing; technology in the classroom and clinic is the norm. It will only play a greater role in both in the years to come. We are looking ahead to better harness these powerful tools to prepare our students for the medicine of tomorrow.
This past summer, we completed the first revision of the AANMC Clinical Competencies for the Graduating Naturopathic Doctor. The Competencies are used to inform curriculum and clinical education delivery at the accredited schools. The key changes made from the first edition were around diversity, use of technology and professionalism in all platforms, including social media.
It is an exciting and busy time for our nimble profession, as we tackle these hot topics head on!