Naturopathic Doctors as Part of the Health Care Team

While many naturopathic doctors work in private, solo practices, there is increasing demand for NDs as vital members of the health care delivery team. Interprofessional healthcare occurs when different disciplines collaborate to collectively provide patient care. Patients benefit by having the right expert advice, at the right intervention point. Improved cross-profession communication also decreases care delays, medication interactions, and promotes team members working together for optimal patient care. Naturopathic doctors are an integral part of interprofessional healthcare delivery in many types of patient care settings. We speak with several naturopathic doctors in various interprofessional healthcare settings to learn how they work to uncover the root cause of illness, coordinate care with numerous professionals, and ultimately educate and empower patients toward wellness.

One of the NDs we interviewed is Dr. Arvin Jenab, a naturopathic doctor at the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine (SSCIM) at the University of California-Irvine Health. He serves as  Medical Director of Naturopathic Medicine and the Director of the Naturopathic Residency Program. He works directly with medical residents and patients and is actively involved in research and education. Dr. Jenab develops new programs to increase access to integrative medicine by underserved communities across Orange County, California.

Interprofessional healthcare benefits patients and doctors alike – the days of one doctor treating one condition are behind us – we have moved into an era where patients need a village of doctors and doctors need a team of colleagues!  Interprofessional healthcare results in team-based, patient-centered, compassionate care. Patients feel heard and more extensive efforts and resources go into determining the cause of illness and developing the most effective treatment plan. With the complexity of chronic diseases and overwhelming number of influences that impact health, it is increasingly important to create opportunities for interprofessional healthcare whereby both patients and doctors can engage in meaningful exchanges aimed at changing the context of health.”

Arvin Jenab, ND

Graduate, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

Uncovering the Root Cause

Naturopathic medicine is grounded in recognizing the power of identifying the root cause and limiting suppression of symptoms to only when necessary for patient safety or comfort. This is why initial visits with naturopathic doctors are likely to last between 60-90 minutes. Topics such as nutrition, digestive health, family history, stress, sleep, and mental health will be addressed regardless of the issue presented with the understanding that the body functions as a complete system, and that each of these pieces are components and contributors to overall health.

Dr. Sunita Iyer is the Clinic Director and Founder of Eastside Natural Medicine, PLLC where she and her colleagues see primarily perinatal and pediatric patients, offering midwifery care, mental health care, acupuncture, lactation management, minor surgery, and primary care for all ages. Dr. Iyer’s specialties are the Five Ps: preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, parenting, and pediatrics.

“When patients have each part of their body addressed by a separate health care provider, there is a presumption that health and well-being happen in isolated systems.  We know this isn’t true. When working as an integrated and interdisciplinary team, we can better understand our roles, contributions, and limitations to communicate more effectively about the person we are treating rather than the systems. Patients know that we are all working toward their health together, and that when something isn’t working, we will all problem solve together.”

Sunita Iyer, ND, LM

Adjunct Faculty and Graduate, Bastyr University

Dr. Tegan Moore is the Executive Medical Director and Co-Founder of WHEELHOUSE Center for Health and Wellbeing. Her practice sees a variety of patients from pediatrics to oncology who are looking for a team-based approach and personalized healing solutions for chronic illness. Dr. Moore’s team works together to provide a one-stop-shop for genomic and microbiome analysis, personalized nutrition and lifestyle interventions, acupuncture, and cognitive/behavioral health.

“Naturopathic doctors are trained to search out and address imbalances in the body that cause symptom patterns—a method of doctoring that often requires unique treatment strategies catered to the needs of the patient. This approach to treatment often stands in contrast to allopathic protocol-based treatment plans and can act to augment care plans and improve health outcomes.”

Tegan Moore, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Many times, conversations with patients reveal symptoms or health issues that may have not otherwise been addressed, and can serve as a first line of defense against chronic disease, greatly reducing the need for future healthcare intervention.

Dr. Lisa Taulbee is a primary care provider who specializes in women’s health and gynecology. She works for ZoomCare, which is an on-demand interprofessional health care clinic system with specialists who are available to see patients without referrals seven days a week.

“Patients often require multiple approaches and therapies to best manage health conditions.  All the providers on a patient’s care team are able to provide input in regards to their own specific areas of expertise, including naturopathic doctors.  Natural therapies can augment conventional therapies and even prevent the need for conventional therapies that may have adverse risks associated.”

Lisa Taulbee, ND

Graduate, National University of Natural Medicine

Dr. Jacob Wolf serves as a naturopathic provider at Lake Health Integrative Medicine, a practice which consists of osteopathic physicians, medical doctors, and chiropractors.

“With current heavy reliance on opioids and polypharmacy, a growing number of patients are looking for non-drug alternatives that an ND can offer.”

Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl. OM

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Furthermore, “NDs are investigative diagnosticians. They take the time to gather a fair amount of information including labs and imaging, analyze and interpret based on defining and guiding principles of naturopathic medicine, develop hypotheses, and follow through with sometimes complex treatment strategies.  Our uniqueness is our systems-based approach to health and disease, and our consideration of the mental and emotional factors that influence patients’ health,” adds Dr. Jenab.

Dr. Dawn Siglain specializes in autoimmune, pulmonary, and renal health at Inner Source Health in New York City. She also is trained as a Reiki instructor and acupuncturist.  Dr. Siglain describes a visit at Inner Source as unlike any other doctor appointment, with an in-house variety of providers for women’s health, pediatrics, mental health, chronic pain, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular health and metabolic syndromes, Chinese Medicine, Lotus Physical Therapy, Pelvic Floor Therapy, and massage therapy.

“Naturopathic medicine extends beyond what labs may reveal about a current physical state.  Using a preventative eye, I assess labs with a narrower reference range which allows for detection of imbalance in the body before symptoms of discomfort may arise.”

Dawn Siglain, ND, LAc

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Doctor as Teacher

The first step to treatment is providing patient education with medical professional insight. Naturopathic doctors take the time to explain how factors could be contributing to illness so that the whole person is treated, not just the symptoms. In doing so, naturopathic doctors may collaborate with other medical professionals to provide the most comprehensive care available. Most importantly, the patient is involved and given options in each step of the process.

Dr. Dan Rubin is a board-certified naturopathic oncologist, founding president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and Medical Director at Naturopathic Specialists, LLC., where many of his oncology patients are sent to him on referral from medical doctors. His team of interprofessional healthcare providers sees patients for pain management, diet and nutrition, IV therapy, and more.

“As part of an interdisciplinary team, each physician is presented with the same patient, but each physician, given their specialty, is going to see the patient a little bit differently. NDs are very attuned to identifying the cause of illness rather than just addressing the symptoms.  This focus on asking “Why did you become ill?” rather than jumping straight to “do this to get better,” helps to facilitate patient education and draw attention to the patient’s accountability in maintaining their own health.  It’s that vital step that makes personalized medicine and care possible.”

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Dr. Heather Bautista is a naturopathic provider at Edward-Elmhurst Integrative Medicine Clinic. She works alongside medical providers to offer holistic patient care.

Simply put, interprofessional healthcare gives patients options. Being in an outpatient hospital setting, I often get statements like ‘I don’t want to go on medication’ or ‘I don’t want to be on this certain medication’ followed by ‘What can I take instead?’  It is not about replacing a medication with a supplement, but giving the patient options of what they can do at home with their lifestyle, food choices, possibly looking into environmental exposures, stress levels, detoxification pathways, etc.”

Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

If the patient desires care outside the specialties or training of one health care provider the naturopathic doctor will make referrals to another.

Dr. Erica Joseph is a naturopathic oncologist at Seattle Integrative Oncology. In this busy practice, naturopathic doctors offer patients additional care in addressing symptoms and side effects from their treatments – a service that other providers do not have time to offer.

“Within the realm of oncology, each practitioner has a very specific role that they play and the different modalities can be quite separate, from radiologists who provide imaging, to surgeons who perform biopsies or curative surgeries, on to medical oncologists or radiation oncologists who provide their respective treatments. As a naturopathic doctor, I work with patients through each of these different stepping stones and help them to have a cohesive and optimal health care plan. By having the option to see multiple providers, patients gain more knowledge about their health and are given more options for treating their health conditions.”

Erica J. Joseph, ND, LAc, FABNO

Graduate, Bastyr University

Many times, naturopathic doctors can work with patients to incorporate lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet, nutrition, and stress management that provide a more natural approach to healing and longevity.

“From a family medicine perspective, the interdisciplinary model is priceless. Being able to see a child, and also take care of the parents, and even grandparents, provides insight not only into the symptoms in that moment; we gain a critical view of all of the social dimensions of health which often supersede the healthcare encounter in terms of effects upon a child’s or family’s health,” Dr. Iyer adds.

Interprofessional Feedback

Naturopathic doctors share the feedback that they have received about their naturopathic approach from their interprofessional team members.

Intrigued by whole-person approach

Dr. Jenab states, “My colleagues are intrigued and interested in learning more about the naturopathic approach to patient care.  Specific feedback is that we are thorough, hold a lot of information in context, are effective at engaging patients, and create a therapeutic space that encourages patients to speak openly about their health including their emotions, thoughts, and beliefs.”

Open to new approaches

As a licensed naturopathic doctor who practices in a pre-licensed state, I am always surprised by the positive feedback I get. My day-to-day interaction in my practice is with osteopathic physicians, medical doctors, and chiropractors who fully understand and appreciate the training of naturopathic doctors and value my approach to patient care. Other colleagues outside of my practice have occasionally been skeptical of treatment or diagnostic techniques that I have used, but have been open to trying new approaches,” says Dr. Wolf.

Surprised by extent of patient care

Dr. Iyer provides a different context on feedback she’s received. “I have a lot of friends who are other healthcare providers: nurse practitioners, surgeons, dentists, and physical therapists.  When they heard that I am a naturopathic physician and midwife, they hesitated.  They aren’t sure what that means.  Do I run wild in the countryside with scissors? Am I anti-vaccine? Am I anti-medicine altogether?  The way I describe my approach is as ‘natural-lite.’  Which isn’t to say that I don’t find natural therapies incredibly powerful or effective in my practice.  What I mean is that my approach is very much a marriage of methods.  All are welcome. Over time, I subject both natural and conventional therapeutics to scrutiny.  I don’t think one side is ‘better’ than the other.  I don’t think that there are sides.  We live, as do our patients, in a system. For our patients to be healthy but also well-resourced, we must work within the system to get their needs met.  Other providers are surprised that the naturopathic approach and the holistic approach involves the larger healthcare context of our patients, and not just using herbs or supplements to treat symptoms.”

Patient Success Stories

Naturopathic doctors share success stories of interprofessional patient care.

Cancer

“As a cancer specialist, I see the benefits of interprofessional healthcare firsthand. I really believe that ‘it takes a village’ when it comes to the treatment of a person with cancer.  If a patient only sees one physician, there’s realistically only so much care that they can receive. By involving medical, surgical, radiation, and naturopathic oncologists, the care they receive is more rounded and the patient is well-supported; it’s a team effort to provide the best care possible. I also believe the principle that ‘iron sharpens iron.’ The interactions and experience that I’ve had with my multidisciplinary colleagues over the years has made me a better physician, and enhanced the care that I provide by expanding my own knowledgebase.”

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Breast Cancer and Hypothyroid

“I am treating a patient with metastatic breast cancer who has been on a trial drug for about two years. During this time, she has had multiple joint pain, severe fatigue, as well as insomnia. We had been attributing her fatigue to treatment side effect, however upon deeper investigation we found that she was hypothyroid, likely due to the variety of treatments she has received. By improving her thyroid function, she has regained significant energy as well as improved sleep. She was also starting to develop elevated liver enzymes due to her treatment and although she has been responding well, there was concern she might not be able to continue. Working together with her medical oncologist, we were able to come up with a plan to stabilize her liver enzymes which has allowed her to continue treatment. Additionally, I provided her acupuncture, which has greatly improved her pain level and daily functioning.”

Erica J. Joseph, ND, LAc, FABNO

Graduate, Bastyr University

Lower Back Pain

“A patient came to me for acute low back pain on referral from a neurologist. His symptoms were initially concerning for a potentially emergent condition, cauda equina syndrome, but there was no evidence on MRI. Since a surgical treatment was not an option, he was referred for acupuncture. I used a combination acupuncture techniques and targeted supplements to resolve the majority of symptoms including peri-anal numbness, thigh and groin pain, and low back pain. However, he still had a “stuck” feeling in his right sacro-iliac joint when moving from seated to standing. He began a series of biweekly manipulation sessions. Additionally, he began treatment with a massage therapist available in our practice. He now has complete resolution of symptoms and is back to full function.”

Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl. OM

Graduate, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine

Women’s Health

“A 39-year-old female patient presented initially for an evaluation of acute abdominal pain. She was ultimately diagnosed with NSAID-induced gastritis.  After questioning the patient, she revealed that her high NSAID use was due to severe dysmenorrhea from stage 4 endometriosis.  She had previously desired to preserve her fertility and declined contraceptive options and hysterectomy for treatment.  We initiated numerous natural therapies to help control her pain as well as counseling her on all options, including surgery.  Her pain was so severe and limiting her life to such a degree that ultimately, she made the decision to move forward with hysterectomy.  I referred her to a surgeon I frequently work with who was able to perform the surgery. Though it was not natural therapies that ultimately resolved her issue, I believe that having the time to try multiple options as well as counsel her on the risks associated with surgery and answer her questions as well as address her fears, she was able to make the decision that freed her from the excruciating pain she had been dealing with for decades.”

Lisa Taulbee, ND

Graduate, National University of Natural Medicine

Weight Loss

With hopes of making a full recovery after a work-related back injury, my patient considered the advice of his physical therapist to start exercising and lose weight and was referred to me to help with this lifestyle change. After four months, he lost 84 pounds. This patient has started intermittent fasting with continued weight loss.

Heather Bautista, ND, CNS, LDN

Graduate, National University of Health Sciences

Pregnancy and Birth

“One of my favorite stories is of a new mother that was in the care of a midwife at my clinic. During her care, she came to me for management of her thyroid with medication, lifestyle, and nutrition, which was very different than what her prior primary care physician was able to offer.  Given the nature of my working relationship with her midwife, we were able to jointly manage her care plan, labs, and follow up.  In the course of her pregnancy, she required a TDaP vaccine, which she was then able to walk right upstairs and receive with our team.  After her baby was born, she was having lactation difficulties.  I was able to step in to help with some botanical lactation support, she was able to see our acupuncturist for milk supply augmentation, and was able to connect with our mental health counselor and psychiatric nurse practitioner to assist with her postpartum anxiety and depression.  I was able to work with both her mental health team members to offer nutritional and supplemental support, and to ensure that her treatments were synergistic, not overlapping, and certainly not antagonistic and causing harm.  Most importantly, she was able receive all of this care in one place. She came in with her baby and was able to move between appointments seamlessly, with each of us shifting rooms to accommodate her while she breastfed or pumped.  While there are so many stories like hers, what we have created in our clinic in terms of interdisciplinary and integrated care that holds families is an incredible experience for us as providers, and for the families that we care for.”

Sunita Iyer, ND, LM

Adjunct Faculty and Graduate, Bastyr University

Psoriasis

“A recent success was the complete remission of an intractable case of psoriasis that presented in the ear canals and genitals and produced chronic and constant itching and irritation that was very distressing to the patient. The team approach included naturopathic internal medicine techniques including specialized genomic analysis of the patient’s inherited gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms that were potential contributors to immune dysregulation, genomic analysis of the patient’s microbiome to address inflammation that could be contributing to the immune activation, personalized nutrition offered by our skilled nutritionist as well as process cognition sessions with our hypnotherapist to support anxiety and improve the patient’s stress management skills. I am happy to report that the patient’s skin lesions healed within six weeks after treatment began and they are still symptom free to this day!”

Tegan Moore, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Mental Health

“I had a patient suffering from mental health concerns which were severely impacting his personal and work life.  He wanted only all-natural treatment; however, he was taking medications to keep his mood stable.  He had an appointment with his prescribing physician, but told me that he wasn’t going.  I strongly advised him that it was in his best interest to go to the appointment, explain his desires to his medical doctor and continue taking the medication as prescribed.  For him, naturopathic medicine could only work in conjunction with conventional medicine.  With the patient’s consent, I reached out to his psychiatrist and sent him my recommendation plan for this patient’s naturopathic appointment. It was so important in this case to have continuity of care including clear communication with his prescribing physician.  We were both concerned for the patient’s well-being.  In addition, this patient needed the support of naturopathic medicine combined with allopathic care to achieve his optimal state of mental wellness.”

Dawn Siglain, ND, LAc

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Continuous Learning and Excellence in Patient Care

Naturopathic medicine serves as a key component to interprofessional patient care. With the collaboration of health care professionals, naturopathic doctors serve as a teacher and guide in navigating patients through their healthcare options. Furthermore, interprofessional care encourages open-mindedness and continued education between providers to establish the best care possible for each unique patient.

I consider myself an idealist and hold a personal vision for an integrated model of care where the naturopathic paradigm helps to inform the overall team approach. Although many integrative health settings currently offer naturopathic care as a ‘supportive’ or ‘complementary’ modality, it is my hope that the heightened interest in holistic and functional approaches to healing makes room for naturopaths to act more often as the central hub in integrated clinical settings.”

Tegan Moore, ND

Graduate, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

In the words of Dr. Rubin, “In the end it’s all about the medicine and supporting the patient in a positive way. Having a community of health care providers, each with their own perspective and experience, looking at one person and weighing in on what options they have while supporting and enhancing treatment is a wonderful standard of care to aspire to.  In my opinion that’s how medicine should be delivered and exactly the care I would want to receive.”

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Dr. Mitchell Hubsher – UBSNM

Mitchell Hubsher, DC, CCSP, DABCO, ND is a senior lecturer and supervising clinician at the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine.

Why did you choose naturopathic medicine?

After practicing as a chiropractor for 15 years, Dr. Hubsher suffered a back injury that forced him to close his practice. He went to law school (which he loved) but found that a career in law would not fulfill him. With a yearning to return to healthcare, Dr. Hubsher began looking into programs. In doing so, he came across the University of Bridgeport and the world of naturopathic medicine.

Holding a natural and preventative health philosophy as an integral part of practice, Dr. Hubsher describes the career change from chiropractic medicine to naturopathic medicine as easy. In fact, he discovered that he had been incorporating naturopathic tenets into his practice all along.

In 2005, the University of Bridgeport offered Dr. Hubsher an opportunity to teach physical medicine. “I never thought in a million years that I would be teaching nor that it would have a passion for it. But my alma mater needed some help, and I was willing to give it a try. I found out that I love teaching! I love the interaction with my students and being on a college campus. I love being at the heart and soul of naturopathic medicine.”

What can students learn from you?

“I currently teach orthopedic assessment, therapeutic exercise and sports medicine, physiotherapeutics, jurisprudence, outreach medicine, and general life experience. I also supervise an in-house drug and alcohol rehab clinic and a community-based HIV clinic. In addition, our outreach clinics are open to the general public. Students learn how to provide quality medical care in underserved and underfinanced communities, with an emphasis on HIV and drug addicted populations.”

Finding fulfillment as an ND and educator

“As a naturopathic educator, I am passionate about my interactions with my students and my patients. I have developed a specialty in educating students in outreach practices to underserved communities. I love working with naturopathic students because they have a tendency to think outside of the box and are passionate in their approach to naturopathy.”

What advice do you have for prospective ND students?

“Have a passion. If you’re not passionate about naturopathic medicine, if you don’t have a strong philosophy and a strong love of the medicine, then you’re not ready to practice the medicine. Strong naturopathic students tend to have excellent critical thinking skills, a thought process based in a strong philosophical understanding of their profession, and they are people who tend to be very well researched in their studies. They are also greatly aided in their endeavors if they can learn to think outside of the box.”

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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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Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter and Humor

Few things are as emotionally satisfying as a good belly laugh. Many people became familiar with laughter as medicine thanks to the work of Robin Williams in the movie Patch Adams. Based on a true story, Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams established the Gesundheit Institute dedicated to spreading humor, laughter, and joy to patients.

“There is so much literature specific to the beneficial effects of humor on health, but one truly advantageous benefit that is often missed is the impact on the doctor patient relationship. We are social individuals by nature, and humor is such an efficacious tool to allow a patient to feel comfortable and establish a sense of connection.  Humor has the ability to transform a dry and stagnant interaction to one that embodies the opportunity for trust, conversation and most importantly, compliance.  Patients want a chance to be heard and be themselves: a good joke, laugh, and smile is many times the simple answer!”

Joseph Vazquez, ND

Assistant Professor and Attending Clinician, National University of Health Sciences

Experiencing optimal health is a multifactorial process, usually thought of involving a healthy diet, exercise program, and other lifestyle choices. Laughter is a universal characteristic of all humans, and having a sense of humor and finding opportunities to laugh have been linked to better overall health, both mentally and physically. Everyone enjoys a good laugh. Here are some ways laughter can help you live a healthier and happier life!

Psychological Health

Mood

Not surprisingly, humor and laughter are great for the mood. Many studies have shown that laughter and humor are excellent stress relievers and effective at lowering anxiety by increasing levels of the “happy” brain chemicals, dopamine and serotonin. Cortisol and epinephrine (the stress hormones) decrease with laughter. A study involving “laughing yoga” classes, found that participants reported increased vigor and reduced tension. 1,2 Laughter has also been shown to alleviate depression and improve sleep quality. 3

Quality of Life

The stress of caring for sick loved ones is well-documented. Laughter therapy has been used to improve the psychological health of HIV patient caregivers. 4 Nursing home patients also saw improvement in quality of life markers with just a little levity. 5 Laughter therapy has also been shown to significantly improve the quality of life in cancer patients. 6

Cognitive Health

Laughter even has a beneficial effect on cognitive health.  In one study, watching humorous videos improved short term memory, learning and visual recognition in elderly diabetic patients. 7 And of course, laughter is a fundamental way of connecting socially and improves relationships across the board. 8

Physical Benefits

Pain Reduction

Laughter and humor also have significant physical health benefits.  For example, in a study involving pain tolerance and muscle soreness, watching a comedic movie for just 30 minutes significantly and immediately reduced symptoms compared to a placebo group that viewed a documentary. 9

Cardiovascular Health

It is well-established that conditions such as depression and anger are detrimental to cardiovascular health, but whether or not the opposite is true, that is, if positive feelings are beneficial to cardiovascular health is still being studied.  One study did find that watching comedic films increased vascular function in healthy adults compared to those who watched a documentary. 10 In patients awaiting organ transplants, laughing yoga classes significantly improved cardiac function, and their moods improved immediately. 11  Another study involving over 20,000 people investigated the correlation between how often the participants laughed and their risk of developing heart disease and stroke.  Those who claimed to rarely or never laugh had significantly higher occurrences of both conditions than those who said that they laughed daily. 12  Daily laughter was also linked to lower mortality and heart disease in a Japanese study. 13

Immune System

Laughter and humor can also boost the immune system. In a study involving postpartum women, it was found that laughter therapy increased immune function significantly over placebo (14), and in another study investigating obese women, laughing therapy reduced the inflammatory markers, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6).  The participants’ blood glucose levels were also decreased. 15

 

Dr. Vazquez shares a story of a patient treated with humor

“A male teenager and his mother came to me for weight management issues. He was overweight and had a family history of diabetes and obesity. He performed well academically and was an avid fan of video games and water polo; however, he recognized that his health and weight were becoming an issue. Actually, his mother recognized this. In fact, it was his mother who answered the majority of my questions, interjected with stories and clinical caveats, while he sat there, and didn’t say much besides an occasional ‘yes’ or ‘no’ teenage head nod. 

I was able to speak with him more when his mother left the room, and he confirmed that he wanted to lose weight, eat healthy and become active again.  He had already taken initiative and was proactive about the process, eating meals that his mother prepared for him and getting more movement throughout the day.

From my assessment, he was on the right track!  I asked if his mother was helping with the process and he agreed.  I asked if she was helping “too much” and he finally cracked a smile.  When I was ready to deliver the treatment plan with both of them in the room, I asked a few more questions directed to the mother.  “Are you preparing healthy meals for him?” to which she animatedly said “Yes!”  I said “Great,” and immediately moved on to the next question, “Does he suffer from any hearing loss or impediment?”  Again, she vehemently denied, but now seemed curious as to my line of questions.  I again said “good” and asked my next question, “Do you remind him that he needs to eat healthy and exercise?”  Her eyes grew big and enthusiastically said “Oh yes, absolutely!”  I quickly asked “How many times a day?”  She paused and then answered, “A few.”  I smiled and asked again, “Does he suffer from any hearing loss or impediment?”  At that point, the mother began to laugh out loud and quickly covered her mouth.  Her son looked at me with open eyes and a big smile, surprised that I “caught” his mother in the act, so to speak. 

We continued to have a long discussion on how to best support her son, and for him to acknowledge and show appreciation.  There were both tears and laughter on her part, but by the time the visit was over, she gave me a big hug and delivered a heartfelt “Thank you.”  Her son shook my hand, with the same smile that never went away 10-15 minutes prior.  The visit was so much more than a plan addressing weight loss and lifestyle modifications, rather, addressing the relationships that either get in our way or support the process.”

Joseph Vazquez, ND

Assistant Professor and Attending Clinician, National University of Health Sciences

So, it would seem that laughter really is the best medicine! In the words of Patch Adams, “The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy,” so let yourself be, and remember to take time to fill your days with laughter.

To find out more about the comprehensive and patient-centered plan NDs take, click here.

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2019 Year in Review

A Year of Academics, Scholarship and Community Outreach

Each and every year, the field of naturopathic medical education advances significantly. We are proud to recap the advances our seven accredited naturopathic medical schools made in academics, scholarship and community outreach during 2019. Looking ahead, there is a lot to be excited for as well!

Click the tabs above to read messages from each of the schools.

A Year of Inclusion and Equity

Bastyr University
Campuses in San Diego, California & Seattle, Washington

As Bastyr University concludes its 41st year, we reflect on some of the milestones and achievements that have furthered our mission to create a more healthful world for all:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training. Bastyr welcomed Dr. Kortet Mensah as the inaugural Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Starting in fall quarter of 2019, all faculty, staff and students at the Kenmore campus participated in DEI trainings, which included community-based conversations about levels of oppression, factors that contribute to and derail oppression, and strategies to advance inclusive diversity and equity at Bastyr and beyond. DEI training at Bastyr University California will begin in winter quarter of 2020.

Health Equity Speaker Series. The Center for Social Justice and Diversity also launched a Health Equity Speaker Series this fall, with its first topic titled “What is Health? The Need for Health Equity.” Students who helped facilitate this event are a part of the Center’s Student Leadership Certificate Program, designed to support students in developing skills in the areas of professional leadership, social justice, and cultural humility. The one-year program complements existing degree programs through its focus on practical and engaged leadership skills

Support for Susan G. Komen. On November 3, the Bastyr University California Sports Medicine Club provided services in the survivor tent at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Students practiced physical medicine modalities such as light massage and stretching, taping, icing, trigger point therapy and cupping. In addition, ND students and residents provided health screenings in the main event area for the 9,000 participants. Students enjoyed giving back to the local community and educating participants about Bastyr University Clinic’s integrative oncology services.

2019 marked 100 years of licensure in the United States — a milestone achieved through the tireless efforts of many individuals. Our 141 newest ND graduates join this great community and look forward to bringing more innovations in naturopathic medicine into the new decade!

To learn more about Bastyr, click here.

A Year of Commitment and Excellence

Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The Boucher Institute would like to once again congratulate its students for outperforming the average NPLEX results by a healthy margin. We credit the ability and commitment of our faculty that continue to be second to none in terms of preparing our students to become excellent, compassionate doctors.  BINM would also like to congratulate the school’s team of students who once again, came first at the NMSA cup competition in Portland, OR last August.

Our academic team will be expanding in order to support the school’s growth and new programs. Additionally, we have invested in developing new and exciting fundraising sources to benefit students and ensure that our tuition costs remain as steady as possible over the longer term.

New programs are being built to ensure continued graduate success and employment opportunities for BINM graduates. Our core program will continue to teach our students the benefits of practicing collaborative medicine, and we are in process of creating relationships with other higher education institutions to broaden student opportunities in areas like research and recruitment. Boucher graduates are grounded in the roots of the naturopathic medicine and its supporting science, because it represents the soundest form of sustainable medicine. We look forward to what will be an exciting 2020.

To learn more about BINM, click here.

A Year of Research and Innovation

Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

For CCNM, 2019 can be characterized by the terrific strides the College has made in research and innovation. Our efforts this year focused on a few key areas.

The microbiome. More than just a buzzword, the microbiome plays a significant role in maintaining our health and preventing disease. CCNM embarked in a landmark study to explore the interplay between our environment and the microbiome in mothers and newborns; particularly, how exposure to pharmaceutical drugs and environmental toxins affect health outcomes during pregnancy.

Lab testing. CCNM launched a high-quality, evidence-informed webinar series in September to examine the value of laboratory testing in clinical practice, and support NDs and other health-care practitioners in diagnostic decision-making. The first two webinars are on the topics of hematology, kidney and urinalysis.

Student scholarship. Now in its second year, the Student Innovation Fund is a grant competition that nurtures student-led research at CCNM. This year’s winners are currently assessing the impact of naturopathic care being provided to patients with fibromyalgia at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic, CCNM’s academic medical centre.

It’s no surprise that CCNM is considered a hub of naturopathic research. We look forward to even more discovery in 2020!

To learn more about CCNM, click here.

A Year of New Opportunities

National University of Health Sciences
Chicago, Illinois

National University of Health Sciences continues to expand its Clinical Clerkship program for naturopathic medicine students. Throughout 2019, NUHS added three new clinical opportunities. These internships at the Aurora Clinic, Salvation Army Clinic in Chicago and the Center for Integral Health in Lombard have unique patient populations that can help students prepare for various types of practice and provide hands-on, real-world experience for our student clinicians. They also have the added benefit of being located in the Chicago area near campus.

As part of a homeopathic rotation at the Center for Integral Health in Lombard, students are able to work alongside Timothy Fior, MD, who is also a lecturer in Clinical Sciences at NUHS and Lisa Krebs, ND, an NUHS alumnae. “Students will come away with the confidence and skills to accurately use this important modality in practice,” Dr. Krebs said.

At the NUHS Whole Health Center in Aurora, NUHS has added a ND faculty clinician who will attend shifts at the clinic each week with ND interns. NUHS also added an ND faculty clinician to supervise students at the Salvation Army clinic in Chicago. This supervision allows interns to provide more naturopathic modalities at the clinic such as basic bloodwork and constitutional hydrotherapy treatments.

Faculty members look forward to working with students as they continue to take advantage of these opportunities in 2020. For more information about clinical internship opportunities visit the NUHS website.

To learn more about NUHS, click here.

A Year of New Leadership and Advancement

National University of Natural Medicine
Portland, Oregon

NUNM welcomed our new president Dr. Christine Girard, a 1997 NUNM graduate who is already building on NUNM’s history of thinking and healing holistically. She’s excited about NUNM’s role in the intersection between naturopathic medicine and public health, and recently shared an update in AANMC’s November newsletter.

Through our 2019 acquisition of IPSL Institute for Global Learning, we have expanded the opportunities for students to participate in service-learning programs as part of their education. We also now offer two international master’s programs, giving current and future students greater opportunities to become advocates for social justice. We’re very excited for what this new partnership has in store for 2020!

Next year, we look forward to our students continuing to bring integrative health care to our local communities through programs at our academic health centers. NUNM’s new shared clinical rotations allow students studying in both the ND and Chinese medicine programs to mix the two approaches in practice, providing patients with more integrative tracks to health. Our newest sites, opening in 2020, will be located in residential facilities in the Portland metro area where access to holistic care is less available. This model of integration has proven to be effective at maintaining patients’ engagement with their care regimens, and we’re excited to enhance patient outcomes and student learning through these new sites!

To learn more about NUNM, click here.

A Year of Transformation and Innovation

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
Phoenix, Arizona

In Fall of 2019, SCNM announced plans to launch two 100% online Master of Science in Nutrition degrees – the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition (MSCN) and the Master of Science in Nutrition Business Leadership (MSNBL). Both programs will seat their first class in April of 2020. The MSCN will educate and inspire the next generation of leaders and practitioners in the field of clinical nutrition and the MSNBL will educate and inspire current and future leaders to grow the global natural products industry. Both programs will equip graduates with evidence-based and sustainable practices that safely, ethically, and effectively enhance the health and well-being of the people and communities they serve.

Additionally, SCNM is in the early building stages of The Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research. This state-of-the-art molecular biology and phytochemistry laboratory will work in collaboration with the natural products industry and other academic institutions to develop new products and improve existing botanical therapeutics through scientific exploration grounded in herbalism’s rich tradition. Scheduled to open in 2020, the Institute will conduct analytical testing, cellular and molecular biology assays, and metabolomic testing. Furthermore, the Ric Scalzo Institute for Botanical Research will expand research opportunities for students.

To learn more about SCNM, click here.

A Year of Change and Celebration

University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine
Bridgeport, Connecticut

In October, the College of Health Sciences hosted more than 150 statewide experts and healthcare leaders for its inaugural symposium, Building Bridges: Implementing Healthcare Solutions to Prevent Opioid Addiction and Chronic Pain in Connecticut.

In March 2019 the University of Bridgeport announced that the School of Naturopathic Medicine will be closing its doors, based on a wide variety of factors, including a restructure of the University. The students enrolled as of the spring semester will complete the teach-out, with the last class graduating in May 2022.  In the meantime, however, we are celebrating every success and appreciating all the little things that are often taken for granted. Each event, including the Back to School Barbeque, Philosophy Day, and the Thanksgiving Pot Luck takes on new meaning.  We have had so many folks reaching out and helping us to champion our profession and the level of achievement that we have reached in the last few years.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!