The University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine has undergone a number of changes during the 2018-2019 academic year.  With the new president came the restructuring of 14 university programs into three colleges, with encouragement from university and college leadership to enhance collaboration among the schools within each of the colleges. Administrators in the recently formed College of Health Sciences (CHS) now meet regularly to create, develop, and complete projects as one consolidated unit, rather than isolated efforts that have sometimes produced redundant results. One example is the current review of the Integrative Clinic, a collaborative effort of the faculty and students within the College of Health Sciences. The University of Bridgeport’s Naturopathic Medicine Clinic offers team-based medical care with a focus on patient education and the use of natural and preventative therapeutics.

Pictured below: Naturopathic medical students take the oath at the white coat ceremony.

Collaborating to offer integrative health care

The programs within the College, including the Acupuncture Institute, Fones School of Dental Hygiene, the School of Chiropractic, and the School of Naturopathic Medicine, are in a unique position to collaborate and offer patients and students a fully integrative approach to health care, with the inclusion of these four distinct disciplines providing patient assessment and services as one functioning unit.  Student teams, with representatives from each discipline, meet with each patient, followed by a collaborative discussion of their findings, under the supervision of their respective, experienced clinicians.  Patients recognize the benefits of this collaborative work, and follow up with the team of student clinicians in the Integrative Clinic, and individually, with selected disciplines, as indicated.

UBSNM is currently exploring strategies to improve tracking and analysis of the outcomes for this collaborative work – both from the perspective of patient and student outcomes.  Pre- and post-surveys of participating students have revealed growth in their understanding and in their competencies in working collaboratively, while enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the other disciplines involved in the Integrative Clinic.

With the addition of the School of Nursing and the Physician’s Assistant Institute to the University in recent years, we are exploring expansion of opportunities for both patients and students in all of these disciplines in the Integrative Clinic. Another component of integration is sharing space, and the Naturopathic Medicine Clinic and the Chiropractic Clinic are about to embark on sharing clinic space, with the start of the upcoming academic year.  We have all moved around a bit, and are looking forward to this increased opportunity to learn from one another!

Curriculum changes

With input from students, faculty members, and administrative staff, we completed an assessment of the program and the curriculum the Fall term of the 2018-2019 academic year, and developed the plan for the upcoming years in January of 2019.  We explored the concerns regarding the number of hours in the classroom, information redundancy, and the desire for more time to prepare for patient visits.  The resulting changes include more opportunities for collaboration, course consolidation, shifting courses to semesters that provide enhanced preparation for clinical rotations, and reduced seat hours!  We are all looking forward to the implementation of these improvements starting in the 2019 Fall term.

Pictured below: Every February, the UBSNM community honors World Wetlands Day with a courageous winter dash into our very own waterfront: The Long Island Sound. It was only 10 degrees. Note the ice on the sand!

Increasing clinical opportunities

The clinical opportunities for third and fourth year students have continued to expand.  The rotation at one of the local YMCA’s residential facilities was so successful that we expanded to two more YMCA facilities in Bridgeport.  More students can participate in these settings, and gain experience with a wider range of populations and pathologies, in a setting that is convenient for patients – in their own residential facility. The clinical rotations in Generative Medicine have moved over to the UB Naturopathic Clinic.  With this physical move, we are working to better integrate this approach to health care with the rest of the clinical opportunities, through collaboration and cross-referrals.

Excellence endures

The most talked about news regarding the UB School of Naturopathic Medicine, and of which many of you are already aware, the university has decided to close the program.  We will complete a teach-out program over the next three years, closing with the last graduating class in May 2022.  We are all enormously sad and disappointed about the closure, but plan to keep our focus steady, continue with the high standards that we have come to meet in recent years, and celebrate throughout this time, with each event, each student, continuing to build relationships with those in the naturopathic profession.

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