Written by: Blake Langley, NMSA President, 2018-19

It was four years ago that I first became involved with the Naturopathic Medical Student Association. One day, the Chapter President of NUNM notified me that I was nominated for and voted into the position of Social Events Coordinator – all without truly understanding what that meant. In my first year of leadership… we will just say I failed miserably. The learning curve was great, I was unfamiliar with the vision of the NMSA, and school was my top priority. It wasn’t until I helped get the first annual Black Tie for the FLI fundraiser event going that I was caught – hook, line, and sinker. The NMSA was where students could get together to enjoy their community outside of the study area or classroom.

Onto the next years, I rose in leadership positions from NUNM Chapter Secretary to International CAO to International President-Elect, and I now serve as NMSA International President. My understanding of what the NMSA is and does has dramatically changed as I have become more involved in the organization. At its very root, the NMSA holds to the values of Empowerment, Community, Impact, and Integrity which influence our every decision. With representation from each CNME-accredited naturopathic medical school in North America, the NMSA becomes the unified voice of naturopathic medical students at the planning tables of the profession while bringing educational and revitalizing events to the individual campuses. More than anything, the NMSA creates a space where students can join and collaborate on what most affects them: receiving quality education, developing leadership skills, and gaining access to opportunities that will aid them in their future practice.

Simply put, the NMSA offers travel grants, scholarships, Fellowships, intercollegiate competitions, exciting Naturopathic Medicine Week events, and a professional annual conference in conjunction with our national partner organizations. Access to these opportunities is what NMSA members appreciate most: the ability to further develop their skills and education of their own accord. On an organizational level, the International Board of Directors seeks out opportunities for the student voice to be heard, such as with the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC), American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), Institute for Natural Medicine (INM), state associations, and more. With many of these organizations, the NMSA holds a position within their Board of Directors to provide feedback and input into the directives of the organizations our student members will be members and leaders of in the next 4-6 years. For those willing and able to serve on the Board of Directors at a local or international level, they will receive extensive training on the inner workings of a 501(c)3 non-profit, what the legal and developmental aspects of things like contract and grant writing look like, and standard code of conduct of professional organizations. As students, most do not have this opportunity and the NMSA promotes the cultivation of those leadership skills.

Without a doubt, the NMSA thrives on the diversity of student voice. A Board of Directors from an array of school sizes and educational practices, and with a multi-generational, multi-racial, multi-gendered, and multi-talented team, the NMSA strives and achieves representing the diverse population of naturopathic medical students in a way that is unique and valuable. In the coming years, the NMSA plans to further advance scholarship access, expand representation within more organizations, and develop member benefit development to ensure our students graduate from school with the best possible toolkit and with the confidence in their ability to lead, teach, and heal. The NMSA is always looking for feedback and recommendations from students and we urge you to contact info@naturopathicstudent.org or to contact me at president@naturopathicstudent.org.