Hot Topics at the AANMC

What do you spend your nights thinking about? For the AANMC and our member schools, it’s how we can do better, teach better and impact more lives through training competent naturopathic physicians. As such we held a summit in early March 2020 with admissions and enrollment staff, deans, faculty and college presidents to explore how we could better serve diverse student populations and keep our curriculum in pace with changes in higher education, healthcare delivery and student learning. We also held lengthy discussions around how to potentially reconfigure our clinical and didactic curriculum to mature with the ever-changing higher education landscape. Demand for naturopathic medicine, as evidenced by increasing scope and coverage of licensed doctors is also spurring us to think about this student of the future, and the role of naturopathic medicine in North American healthcare delivery.

Currently all AANMC committees are collaborating to ease the strain of campus and clinic closures on our students and ND communities. Our resiliency and ability to pivot with creativity and teamwork has been inspiring. The collective AANMC response to COVID-19 has been rapid, and ever-evolving, based on the information we have to date. Once campuses normalize, our regularly scheduled activities and strategic plan will commence.

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is front and center for so many of us. From the #MeToo movement to a desire to better understand and meet the needs of our underserved and minority students and patients, AANMC and its member schools are committed to creating strong naturopathic medical environments that foster safety, creativity of thought, and learning for all. We assessed how to better spread the word about naturopathic medical education to diverse student populations, and more so, how to meet their needs once they become students. We paid attention to where diverse students dropped out of the funnel, and more importantly – why. Additionally, AANMC is working with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of our US professional association, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) to better address DEI issues of our future doctors as well. We are advancing diversity training for our current students and staff further into campus culture. Some of our member schools have brought on dedicated DEI staff, and we are sharing best practices in order to raise awareness of these issues and sensitive topics at every one of our member schools.

Another key issue that we would be remiss without mentioning, and that impacts both our diverse student groups and our vast career changer population is addressing barriers to entry into the field. We created a task force dedicated to identifying and reducing these barriers for all students. They are reviewing industry data on predictors of success in the classroom, and beyond so our decisions to address these barriers will be data driven.

Innovative curriculum and clinical education are also on our minds. Technology has changed the way education is delivered, and in many ways how healthcare is practiced. The recent public health pandemic has highlighted the positives and negatives involved in online course delivery. However, student learning expectations are changing; technology in the classroom and clinic is the norm. It will only play a greater role in both in the years to come. We are looking ahead to better harness these powerful tools to prepare our students for the medicine of tomorrow.

This past summer, we completed the first revision of the AANMC Clinical Competencies for the Graduating Naturopathic Doctor. The Competencies are used to inform curriculum and clinical education delivery at the accredited schools. The key changes made from the first edition were around diversity, use of technology and professionalism in all platforms, including social media.

It is an exciting and busy time for our nimble profession, as we tackle these hot topics head on!

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Dr. Robert Kachko – UBSNM

“NDs are the professional voice of every patient who wishes to get well and stay well through a sustainable and comprehensive approach that honors them and their unique story.”

Laying the groundwork to become an ND

An arrhythmia first led Robert Kachko, ND, LAc into the world of natural medicine. Desperate to find answers, he sought the care of a Chinese medicine specialist. The result was a clean bill of health at his cardiology follow up.

His personal health and professional experience as an emergency medical technician, led Dr. Kachko to explore career options in healthcare. Knowing that he wanted to offer patient-centered care, he found his calling in naturopathic medicine.

“Naturopathic medicine has always been the original inspiration for the Integrative and Functional Medicine movements. What sets naturopathic doctors apart, is that the core tenets of our medical philosophy are infused throughout every interaction we have with a patient. Rather than thinking about how to replace medications with otherwise more “natural” substances, we approach each case with an understanding that our primary role as physicians is to work with the body’s complex adaptive capacity for self-healing. As NDs who work in the realm of integrative medicine advocacy, it is essential that we have a seat at every table when it comes to healthcare reform. NDs are the professional voice of every patient who wishes to get well and stay well through a sustainable and comprehensive approach that honors them and their unique story.”

UBSNM as a springboard

Dr. Kachko pursued his education at the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine and a master’s in acupuncture. Dr. Kachko was the class president during his first year of school, and the founding president of the University of Bridgeport chapter of Naturopathic Medical Student Association (NMSA). He was a student representative on the House of Delegates for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).

Since graduation, Dr. Kachko has remained an advocate and leader in the naturopathic profession. He currently serves as the President of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is also a past board member and legislative chair of the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicans‘ Legislative Team. Dr. Kachko practices at Inner Source Natural Health and Acupuncture in New York City and is the co-founder and CEO of TribeRx.

“While I see patients, I’ve also spent much of my time since graduation working toward reaching a larger audience. Through advocacy with the AANP, I’m able to work toward ensuring that every American has the option to choose an ND as part of their healthcare team. I’ve also worked in healthcare technology, developing a start-up that aims to resolve the social determinants of health for people living with chronic disease. We help patients get the support and understanding they need, which is very much aligned with the naturopathic medical philosophy. Finally, our knowledge as NDs is highly valued – this has allowed me to advise multiple non-profit and for-profit organizations hoping to bring the naturopathic medical perspective to their own work.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND

“In my opinion, there are two types of people who see naturopathic doctors: those who are proactive about their health and view NDs as an integral part that, and those who see NDs as a last resort, because nothing else has worked for them.”

Dr. Kachko is passionate about helping both groups, and is thankful for the tools he has acquired in his education and years of clinical practice to help his patients prevent ailments. He also finds considerable joy when those who come in as a last resort benefit from naturopathic medicine.

“It sets a lightbulb off in them, and that’s really rewarding. The physician-patient relationship is sacred, and we have an opportunity to spend time with people and share in their journey.” Dr. Kachko sees the naturopathic profession’s biggest strengths in “the eclectic, individual nature of how of how NDs practice.”

“The most rewarding part of my time with patients is the fact that I really do get to spend time with patients. First visits are usually 1.5 hours, follow-ups often an hour. Patients come to understand that their healing comes from them, and these thorough visits give them the confidence and understanding they need to take better care of themselves and their families. In spending time and digging deep to understand the root cause of each patient’s suffering, I have the honor of hearing their stories of healing unfold.”

In his free time Dr. Kachko says, “You can usually find me at the park with my dog Maya, exploring Brooklyn with a good audiobook, at the gym, reading or spending time with family and friends.”

Advice for aspiring NDs

Dr. Kachko has never lost sight of why he chose naturopathic medicine – not just to help people, but to become a part of their lives. Through the rigors of school, and the demands of practice, Dr. Kachko believes it’s vital that young NDs and future students never lose sight of their why.

In order to stay rooted to his why, Dr. Kachko stays actively involved, and recommends others do the same. “It wasn’t enough for me to say I want things to change. I encourage current and prospective students to make the changes they want to see happen. Naturopathic Medicine is a profession that will ask a lot of you, but will usually give you so much more in return. I’m grateful and proud to be part of a community of doctors who are working hard to change medicine, one patient visit at a time.”

Pursuing your passion is possible at any age. “I had classmates who had either just started their first career, or were way into their original careers, who took the leap and made the change to a new profession. I think it’s a testament to the strength of naturopathic medicine that people are willing to take this leap and make that change.” Click here to learn more about three professionals who changed careers to naturopathic medicine.

Learn more about Dr. Kachko:

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Put Your Health First with These Naturopathic Resolutions

After the holiday presents are unwrapped and the New Year’s glitter settles, the reality of a fresh start hits us. The new year offers limitless possibilities and new beginnings, how do we make the most of it? As you find yourself considering your vision for the year, where does your health fit into the equation? Doctors, professors, and other experts in the field of naturopathic medicine believe that setting wellness-driven resolutions will help you reach your full potential this year. Here are nine naturopathic new year’s resolutions you should consider adopting.

Resolution #1: Focus on the best ‘now’ possible

“Naturopathic medicine is about listening to your body and being in tune with the changes that need to be made to bring about health, wellbeing, and balance. Don’t wait to make a change that needs to be made—start today.”

One resolution that can have a resounding impact on health and wellbeing is the art of being present.

Mindfulness and being in the moment is a powerful tool for the following reasons:

  • It allows us to fully engage and focus on the opportunities in front of us.
  • It minimizes the stress that comes with the ‘what ifs’. We don’t have power to change the past—our power is in the now.
  • It minimizes the stress that comes from worrying about the future.
  • It allows for better connection with our body and environment.

When we are fully present and in tune with our body, we can better understand the root cause of an issue and the impact of any one thing on us.

I think of mindfulness like a muscle—the more we practice, the stronger and more natural we get at it.

4 Short Mindfulness Exercises

1.Mindful bites

Use the daily opportunity of eating to practice mindfulness! Take first couple of bites of any meal or snack you eat, and focus on the full experience—from the smell of the food, and how you feel as you anticipate eating, through to the textures and sensations as you eat. Apply gratitude to the nourishment and support it gives you to create a strong and functional body. Are the food choices we are making moving us closer or farther away from our health goals?

2. Too much screen time?

Give your brain a break! Instead of reflexively going to a device in the five minutes between meetings, or while waiting for something, try looking out your window and focusing on nature. Use mindfulness to give your brain a break rather than filling up every tiny space in your day by automatically reaching for a screen.

3. Scan your body

Scan your body, top to bottom for any sensations of discomfort or tension. Try softening any sensations of discomfort by breathing into those spaces, and filling them with healing light. Next, scan your body for areas of peace and relaxation.

4. Do one action mindfully

If none of the above work for you, pick one thing you do daily and choose to do it mindfully – paying attention to each step in the process and doing it all without judgment.

Wishing you all peace in the New Year.

JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE

Executive Director, Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC)

Resolution #2: Make self-care non-negotiable

“The best resolution is to commit to listening to and honoring your body’s needs. The work that we do as NDs requires an ability to be fully present with our patients, which becomes quite difficult if we don’t first take care of ourselves. Put another way, the more we can love and respect ourselves, the better we can help our patients do the same. In reality, this isn’t a resolution at all (everyone knows that most people give up on their’s within a few weeks, anyway) but rather a decision to make self-care non-negotiable.”

Robert Kachko, ND, LAc

2020 President, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Resolution #3: Reflect on what you need in order to practice to the best of your ability

“My practice is focused primarily on supportive cancer care. I remember a patient asking me several years ago, ‘What is it you would most like to do right now?’  I answered that I would like to ski in the mountains of British Columbia for the first time. She replied, ‘Then what is stopping you? We will always think we’re too busy, or it’s too expensive, or some other excuse we tell ourselves. There will always be a reason not to. But I promise you that you will not regret it when you’re there, or when you look back on your life.’

Practicing naturopathic medicine takes a lot of work, compassion, focus and integrity. In order to practice to the best of our abilities and truly love the life we live, we must support ourselves by spending time with loved ones, being in nature or however we best recharge – what would you most like to do in 2020? “

Mark Fontes, ND

Chair, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND)

Resolution #4: Enjoy nature, find time for self-reflection

“With so much chaos in the world and a global sense of being overwhelmed, my new year’s resolution is to spend more time in silence and reflection and enjoying nature. My goal is to practice the art of intention and to remind myself (and my patients) every day of the power of the mind and the ability of the mind to heal. I am excited about the possibilities!”

Iva Lloyd, BScH, BCPP, ND

President, World Naturopathic Federation

Resolution #5: Don’t bite off more than you can chew, know when to say ‘no’

“My resolution is to not bite off more than I can chew! That relates to all aspects of life. Choosing healthy food portions, healthy work life balance, and sometimes saying ‘no’ to what seems like an important new endeavor to get involved in. There are so many opportunities to participate in with inspired, capable people doing good work! My goal is to keep laser-focused on the priorities I set out for me, in the year ahead.”

Michelle Simon, PhD, ND

President, Institute for Natural Medicine

Resolution #6: Don’t put off healthy habits

“My resolution is to develop one new habit that is good for my health that I’ve put off and stick with it, and to rekindle one interesting hobby—perhaps playing music.”

Fraser Smith, MATD, ND

President, Assistant Dean, Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), National University of Health Sciences

Resolution #7: Make time for yourself

“Clear the mind and make time for self:

  • On New Year’s Day, spend at least two hours reflecting on how to incorporate some small, healthy habits into your lifestyle.
  • Spend at least one day away each year with no television, phone, or distractions; this was a common practice by beloved Maya Angelou.
  • Dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to meditation, prayer, or mantras.
  • Spend time in nature for 10 minutes a day or at minimum once a week (e.g. walking and observing your surroundings and the environment).

Be clear on your goals:

  • Write down one to two health goals for the year and look at them each day. Place these goals in a prominent place to be reminded daily (e.g. next to your nightstand, bathroom mirror, etc.). Reminders and reinforcements are key to resolutions.
  • Profess your goal out loud. Sharing with others helps to create accountability.

Be reasonable and love yourself:

  • It’s important to make baby steps towards your goals and also to be kind to yourself if you make a mistake or are not on track. Slander towards oneself is a self-defeating affirmation that makes it more difficult to reach your goal. Reflect, review, reaffirm, make a plan, and move on!
  • Remember that life is a marathon not a race; thus the small incremental health steps you make daily are much more impactful than short-term gains.”
Jaquel Patterson, ND, MBA

2019 President, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Resolution #8: Resolve not to make resolutions! 

“Resolve not to make resolutions! Rather, make the effort to improve your ability to set health related goals and achieve them. In practicing sports medicine, it has become apparent that those with effective goal setting skills, generally speaking, have improved long term athletic success and in doing so have inadvertently learned the art of resiliency.

How are these athletes any different from you and I? There are two factors at play. They are highly motivated to achieve performance and also excellent at defining performance indicators (through goal setting) that allow for successful outcomes. However, not only do their goals fit the principles of ‘SMART’ goals (i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely), but athletes tend to add to their goal setting technique.

Many successful athletes have a training log. This tactic forces a goal to be recorded. In doing so, the athlete has established a contract with themselves, resulting in accountability, which helps drive improvement in performance.

Another key benefit of logging information is that it allows for the ongoing evaluation of a goal. An athlete’s training journal provides a way to review historical change and more clearly identify key challenges that may be barriers to success. These challenges can then be addressed quickly, leading to more timely success in goal achievement.

The final aspect that athletes take into consideration is a factor of reality when participating in sport—injury. Physical performance can be considerably influenced through the process of injury and subsequent therapy. As such, the willingness to have reversibility of goals allows for the unexpected in life to occur, while concurrently building the resiliency that is required to reset a training plan and, subsequently, build a new set of ‘SMART’ goals.

By engaging yourself in three additional goal setting tactics (recording, ongoing evaluation, and reversibility) you are positioning yourself for ongoing success, not only at the start of a new calendar year, but consistently over the course of life.”

Lowell Greib, MSc, ND, CISSN

Past Chair, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND)

Resolution #9: Be mindful, every day

“Practice 10 minutes of meditation every day.”

Joshua Goldenberg, ND

President, GastroANP

Resolution #10: Prioritize family

“In this day and age, the speed and reality of our day-to-day lives just seems to get faster each day—email, social media, or the logistics of family schedules—all pulling us away from the most important things in life: quality time with family and self-care.

This year, I resolve the following: to make the health and well-being of my family the priority.  To commit to regular meditation and nature time, self-care, and humor with my family every day. I resolve to make the health and well-being of my family and myself the top priority—before the Facebook feed, the online games or apps, the endless email, or the to-do lists that just get longer. Set it all aside and laugh and give health to yourself and to your family. Breathe life into that dream and vision for yourself. Take the plunge with me!”

Tabatha Parker, ND

Board President, Executive Director , Natural Doctors International, Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine

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A Whirlwind Week Taking Naturopathic Medical Education to the Next Level

Guest post by JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE

Naturopathic doctors from across North America came together mid-August for a week during the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) conference in Portland, Oregon to unite brains for the betterment of accredited naturopathic medical education and patient care.

The AANMC kicked off its meetings with two back-to-back days  for the Council of Chief Academic and Clinical Officers (CCACO). Clinical and academic leadership came together to collectively take naturopathic medical education to the next level. Higher education, health care systems and students are rapidly changing. Naturopathic medical education needs to be responsive and adaptive to those changes. Our prospective students, current students and doctors are speaking, we are listening.

A few things we’re looking at:

  • Modernization of prerequisite requirements to match data on student performance
  • Clinical education that meets the demands of a changing health care system and patient population
  • Increasing diversity in both student and leadership population
  • Harnessing technology to teach smarter and more efficiently

CCACO not only tackled these topics – but also adopted the culmination of over a year and a half’s work revising the Core Competencies of the Graduating Naturopathic Student. The competencies are intended to align curriculum and define expectations of recent graduates from accredited programs, and are used throughout North America to demonstrate the abilities of our graduates to legislators and insurers alike. They were initially published in 2015.

​Many in our faculty and academic community participated in the Naturopathic Summit on the Future of Naturopathic Medicine. The guiding purpose of the Summit was to unify the ND community around actionable steps to elevate the profession. Five key topics dominated the day:

  1. Education Reform and Modernization
  2. Naturopathic Identity
  3. Professional Collaboration
  4. Graduate Success
  5. Research

AANMC is excited for next steps and community input in modernization of naturopathic curriculum that honors our past and principles while looking forward to the future needs of students and patients. We are committed to each of these areas and especially the success of our graduates.

The AANMC Board of Directors then convened their quarterly meeting and welcomed in Dr. Christine Girard as the new Vice President. The Board heard from our academic, professional and student communities, and are ever-striving to lead in improving the quality of naturopathic medical education in North America.

Many of the AANMC member schools capped off Thursday night of the AANP conference with alumni festivities and an all-school dance. It’s always inspiring to see decades of graduates coming back to both honor their teachers and institutions as well as connect with old friends and colleagues. So many of our classmates often feel more like family. So for many of us – coming together at the AANP conference isn’t just about professional connections and continuing education – but more of a family reunion.

The conference continued with over 100 vendors in the exhibit hall, stations for self-care – where we can practice what we preach – and cutting-edge continuing education that will propel ND clinical practice to the next level.

​AANMC hosted an exhibit hall table (Dr. Yanez is pictured at left) to educate students and practicing doctors on the recent changes in naturopathic residencies. Big thanks to the NUNM residency team for helping to staff the table and provide valuable insight from both resident/student and site director perspectives. For more information regarding naturopathic residencies and our new, online, centralized application – click here.

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Tips from a Naturopathic Medical Student

Join the AANMC and President of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association – Blake Langley for an informative session on what it takes to thrive as an ND student!

Here’s what you can expect to learn:
-A day in the life of a naturopathic medical student
-What to expect from naturopathic medical school
-How to balance school and life responsibilities
-How to build your resume and experience as a student to prepare for a career you will love
-Advice for prospective students

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

Register Now!

*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.

About the Presenter

Blake Langley is in his sixth and final year of studies in naturopathic and Chinese medicine at the National University of Natural Medicine. Hailing from the southeastern United States, he was raised in an area of the country underserved by naturopathic medicine. He serves as President of the Naturopathic Medical Student Association and represents the voice of naturopathic students at the Integrative Health Policy Consortium and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He additionally serves as the Founding Co-Chair of the Student Committee of the American Society of Acupuncturists. With his passion for students, advocacy, and administration, Blake hopes to integrate these into the next journey in his career as a physician.

Register Now!

*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .