From philosophy to naturopathic oncology
You never know when a life-changing moment is just around the corner. For Dr. Dan Rubin, that moment occurred during his time working at a health food store.
Having been drawn to health and fitness since the early 90s, Dr. Rubin took a job at a health food store because of his interest in both why people were taking certain supplements and how these supplements (and food choices) impacted their lives.
But it was a neighboring MD who set him on a course toward naturopathic medicine. The doctor – whose office was attached to the health food store- practiced drugless medicine, focusing on homeopathic approaches to addressing his patients’ needs.
Dr. Rubin was intrigued. Armed with his philosophy degree in hand, he dug deeper behind this doctor’s approach to medicine, to the point that he himself began to wonder if a career in medicine was his true calling.
It didn’t take long for him to realize the answer was a resounding yes. Despite having no science background at all, Dr. Rubin committed himself to becoming an ND. The doctor whom inspired him to take this path wrote a reference letter on his behalf, which Rubin attributes as a major factor for why he got into SCNM.
“It’s interesting that I was referred to the profession by an MD,” Dr. Rubin said. “Because such a massive focus of my practice is integrative medicine.”
Today, Dr. Rubin’s practice of naturopathic oncology (Naturopathic Specialists, LLC) is an integral part of the Phoenix metropolitan medical community. In 2004, he became the Founding President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP).
Why the focus on oncology?
Dr. Rubin is a naturopathic oncologist. He chose to focus on this area because – even from his days at SCNM – it’s the area that kept him most engaged.
“Oncology is moving faster than any sub specialty, as far as I can tell,” Dr. Rubin said. “[Oncology patients] are really sick, and I saw a great use and utility in naturopathic medicine to help conventional treatments more appropriately.”
As a naturopathic oncologist, Dr. Rubin welcomes the endless opportunities to take naturopathic medicine to places it’s never been to before. With the constant advancements taking place in his field, Dr. Rubin can continually use the most advanced techniques in medicine to further integrate naturopathic medicine within the greater medical community.
What’s the future of naturopathic medicine?
In a word – globalization. Dr. Rubin’s personal mission is to allow everyone – around the world – the opportunity to choose naturopathic medicine in the continuum of their care. “Not force them,” he explains. “But to give them that choice. It needs to be available to them. If they don’t know, then they can’t choose.” Achieving his personal mission means NDs need to find their space in the global medical community as leaders in the personalized, functional approach to medicine.
“Naturopathic medicine and the 6 precepts are more powerful today globally than ever before, simply because they’re more believable,” he said. “Medical doctors are doing functional medicine. They’re doing things we’ve done for years, so now it’s time to take part in that.”
But how can NDs take part in this push? While individuals can make a difference, it’s up to NDs as a collective community to help drive their message.
“Go out and speak to hospitals and the greater community,” Dr. Rubin said. “We need to speak the language of medicine intelligently, but in a way that’s also understandable by the greater community.”
Not other than you – with you
A key belief Dr. Rubin holds dear to is that creating a divide between NDs and MDs is not only counterproductive toward our growth, but also detrimental to patients. It’s not a this or that mentality. “We need to approach things with acceptance, and immense confidence,” he said.
What advice do you have for prospective students?
At the end of the day, the best advice Dr. Rubin has for prospective and current students is to create their own opportunities. “I think that’s at the heart of naturopathic medicine,” he said. “We don’t really have a rule book you can open. It’s not created for us.”
He suggests that ND students use the precepts to create these opportunities. Whether it’s building a relationship with a working doctor, or establishing your own private practice, each ND is unique, and thus their journey into naturopathic medicine will reflect their own goals and dreams. The one commonality we all share is that it’s on us to create our opportunities and to pursue them with assertiveness, confidence, and ingenuity.
One more tip for future NDs The future is digital. It’s important – according to Dr. Rubin – for NDs to look toward digital medicine. That includes anything from activity trackers to continuous glucose monitoring patches, contacts that assess the biochemistry of tears, and whatever else connected, digitized medicine will bring in the future. “The world is changing,” Dr. Rubin said. “Soon people will upload their Fitbit data and we’ll accrue information faster, and less expensively.”