Erin Sweet, ND, MPH, FABNO – Bastyr University Faculty Spotlight

Name, title, and degrees

Erin Sweet, ND, MPH, FABNO

What do you teach? How long have you been teaching, and what can students expect to learn from you?

My focus has been primarily research-oriented since 2008. I have mentored students that were awarded NIH-funded T32 pre-doctoraI fellowships and have been a preceptor for students interested in oncology and clinical research. I will be teaching Research Methods for Asian Medicine in the Spring.  Dr. Traci Pantuso and I also started a clinical research shift at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health called, “The Prospective Outcomes Trial in Patients Undergoing Care with Naturopathic Providers”. We collect prospective outcomes data on patients coming in to the clinic for care. This shift offers student clinicians important exposure to research in real time during their clinical training. 

Students should expect to learn some of what is required to become a physician-scientist from me.  My hope is that those interested in pursuing research will feel inspired to obtain the additional education and training necessary for an active research or physician-scientist career. Our profession needs more naturopathic physicians actively contributing to what is understood about complementary and integrative therapies.

Why did you choose to pursue naturopathic medicine? 

I originally intended to become a midwife. I wanted to augment my midwifery training with a degree in Naturopathic Medicine as a way to offer comprehensive care for women and babies.

What do you like most about being a naturopathic doctor? What aspects are you passionate about?

My relationships with my patients are what motivate me as a naturopathic doctor. I work with a medically complex patient population, and have found the most important tool I have is time and a willingness to listen.

Do you focus on treatment of a specific health condition(s)? If so, please explain why you chose to focus on it and how naturopathic medicine can make a difference in treating that condition.

I am board-certified in naturopathic oncology and it is my sole clinical focus. I came to the field through my mentor, Dr. Leanna Standish, who has an active research program in integrative oncology. I started working with her after completing my residency training and never looked back.   

What advice would you give to those considering naturopathic medical school?

Bring your curiosity and motivation. Keep an open mind and nurture a willingness to learn. Be prepared to seek engagement with others who think differently than you.Have the motivation to create your own pathways to success. Identify potential business opportunities in your community before you apply. Spend time shadowing healthcare providers in a variety of settings to see if naturopathic medicine is a good fit for your interests and skills.

What qualities make a strong ND student?

Strong ND students are resilient and persevere when they face challenges that are inevitable during their clinical education and training. Another valuable attribute would be being proactive to seek their own opportunities for growth.

Besides teaching, are you or have you been involved in the naturopathic community in other ways? If so, please share more about your involvement.

I have primarily worked in research and am currently an Assistant Clinical Scientist at the Bastyr University Research Institute.  In 2014 we completed a 5-year trial, “Breast Cancer Integrative Oncology: Prospective Matched Controlled Outcomes Study”. This was a large NIH-funded clinical trial in conjunction with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It was conducted as a prospective observational case-control study of the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Integrated Oncology (IO) and their effects on breast cancer patients in community settings. Our study showed that IO care improved the health-related quality of life of cancer patients as compared to women with similar disease states and prognoses who did not receive IO care or who used CAM treatment on their own.

We are currently conducting another large clinical study titled, “The Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study (CUSIOS) Advanced Integrative Oncology treatment for patients with advanced stage cancer: a prospective outcomes study”.  This is the first international study of its kind and will describe survival outcomes in advanced stage cancer patients receiving Advanced Integrative Oncology (AIO) care by board-certified naturopathic oncologists (Fellow of American Board of Naturopathic Oncology-FABNO) in the United States and Canada. 

This year Bastyr University will also be hosting the first annual patient-oriented integrative oncology conference called Cancer Wellness School on October 16-17, 2021. This will be a gathering of researchers, patients, advocates and healthcare providers. The conference is oriented toward anyone living with cancer and will offer the latest information on advanced integrative therapies in naturopathic oncology.  

I am also proud to be a board member of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology Board of Medical Examiners. The board’s job is to create, manage and administer the naturopathic oncology board certification process.


Links to Dr. Erin Sweet

Breast Cancer Integrative Oncology: Prospective Matched Controlled Outcomes Study Identifier: NCT01366248

The Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study (CUSIOS) Advanced Integrative Oncology treatment for patients with advanced stage cancer: a prospective outcomes study Identifier: NCT02494037


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