Dr. Eli Andersen is a naturopathic primary care doctor at a federally qualified health center (FQHC) serving the north Oregon coastal community. He shares his path to naturopathic medicine and his passion for providing care to underserved communities.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
Like many naturopathic doctors, Dr. Eli Andersen knew he was destined to become a doctor from a young age. His path to discovering naturopathic medicine and the type of doctor he wanted to be was not as straight forward.
“I did not grow up with an awareness of naturopathic medicine. My life took a number of turns as I pursued personal interests, all the while searching for the right vocation. Throughout my twenties I supported myself as a firefighter, construction worker, furniture and surfboard maker. I volunteered for a year in a community school in Brazil, traveled as much as I could and spent a lot of time and energy living out adventures in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest coast. I became aware of naturopathic medicine in my mid-twenties, and it was a revelation for me. The philosophical approach to health and the practice of medicine resonated with my values, and offered a profession with a broad horizon.”
Dr. Andersen recognized his calling while serving as a medical care advocate for his dying grandfather. He says the last earthly gift his grandfather gave him was the courage to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine. With the support of his family and community, Dr. Andersen began naturopathic medical school at the age of 29.
NUNM as a springboard
“National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) was the right fit for me. I gained the clinical and practical skills to be very good clinician, the knowledge and understanding necessary to serve people, and a role within my community which is deep and fulfilling.”
While in school, “I considered what I wanted my life to be like as a doctor. My goals were to serve and be part of a community on the coast of the Pacific Northwest. I think naturopathic doctors are the ideal primary care providers, and I wanted to be a part of this movement within the profession into settings which have generally been dominated by allopathic practitioners. Communities are looking for integrative clinics, and there is a need for NDs in every community setting. With this in mind, I pursued clinical and preceptor opportunities during school which served this goal.”
Following graduation, Dr. Andersen became the first naturopathic provider at Rinehart Clinic – a non-profit, federally qualified health center (FQHC) serving the north Oregon coastal community.
Finding fulfillment as an ND
Dr. Andersen is a naturopathic primary care doctor for patients of all ages. He and his team are committed to serving the community within and outside the walls of the clinic.
“Naturopathic doctors represent an exciting leading edge in the ongoing evolution of the practice of medicine in this country. There are structural realities of how healthcare is delivered in this country which I consider to be unjust, and which lead to poorer outcomes for many communities. I am glad to be practicing within a clinic which is part of the push against these troubling realities.”
Aside from patient care, Dr. Andersen offers community classes and presentations. In his free time, he enjoys surfing and is currently in the process of building a boat.
Advice for aspiring NDs
“The naturopathic profession requires lifelong learning and offers so much room for personal growth. More naturopathic physicians are needed in this country. Spend a few years after undergrad gaining a variety of life experiences prior to entering any graduate school, but especially medicine. Collect some successes and failures out in the world – they will help you understand yourself and your future patients more clearly.”
To read more about other naturopathic doctors’ success stories, click here.
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