Clean water. Healthy food. Sustainability. Access to health care. Social justice. These issues have become part of the realities of our everyday lives and can no longer be ignored or passed on to someone else. The planet is a smaller place. The world is more connected than ever. We can no longer separate the health of the planet from the health of the individual.

At NUNM we think and act “wholistically.” Whole person. Whole community. Whole world. That’s why we offer our students unique opportunities to act at each level of the macrocosm.

Like all naturopathic medical schools, we provide care to underserved patient populations in order to make a difference in our local community. We have community clinics throughout the Portland-metro area in accessible places like multi-unit housing centers, churches, and community centers. We do it differently by providing clinical training opportunities in the profession’s only Tier Four Patient-Centered Primary Care Home naturopathic teaching clinic.

Do we embrace the principles of naturopathic medicine? Absolutely. We seek the “and,” not the “or.” Our new president, Christine Girard, ND, MPH, knows we can do both nature cure and primary care. She’s done it. We are disruptive innovators. Our Director of Helfgott Research Institute, Ryan Bradley, ND, MPH, knows. He’s written about it in Medicina. His article, “Naturopathy as a Model of Prevention-Oriented, Patient-Centered Primary Care: A Disruptive Innovation in Health Care,” speaks to how naturopathic medicine can both disrupt and run parallel to  conventional medicine, securing its future.

We research what we do on the community level. Our most recently published community-based research project was the Food as Medicine Everyday (FAME) research project published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019 (Tippens KM, Erlandsen A, Hanes D, et al. Impact of a Short-Term Naturopathic Whole-Foods Based Nutrition Education Intervention on Dietary Behavior and Diabetes Risk Markers: A Pilot Study, J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Feb;25(2):234-240.). The FAME project evaluated a multi-site, community-delivered, nutrition education intervention on eating behaviors and cardiometabolic risk factors including weight and inflammation.

And speaking of Food as Medicine, everyday, since 2014 we have partnered with the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, providing incarcerated women with basic nutrition education and equipping them with tools to overcome the many obstacles to healthy eating. Talk about doing good work in our local community.

Do we work internationally? Yeah, we sure do.

NUNM is the pioneering site for an international longitudinal cohort study focused on student health. The International Cohort on Lifestyle Determinants of Health (INCLD Health) is a longitudinal cohort designed to measure students’ dietary and other self-care behavior, as well as stress and wellness, to learn the trajectory of student quality of life and health over the course of their education. Online data collection, remote blood-spot sample collection, and 16S RNA microbiota sequencing are among the innovations in INCLD Health. NUNM is actively recruiting students, with Endeavor College of Natural Health (Brisbane, Australia) and Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, Canada) aiming to recruit in 2020. INCLD Health provides students with an opportunity to experience research first-hand through active participation, as well as help grow the structure for future research.

In fact, we’ve recently expanded our global reach. Dr. Girard speaks often of her interest in the area of intersection between naturopathic medicine and public health both locally and globally.

We continue to position ourselves in the global community. Having recently acquired IPSL: The Institute for Global Learning, we have expanded the opportunities for NUNM students to participate in service-learning programs as part of their degree. In addition, we now offer two international master’s programs: Master’s in Community Organizing and Social Activism and Master’s in International Development and Service. These international programs offer students more opportunities to explore the world and to become change leaders and advocates for social justice.

Christine Girard, ND, MPH

President, National University of Natural Medicine

So, do you want to change the world? Yeah, so do we. Come join the changemakers. NUNM.

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