Monday, November 22, 2010

Reflections from the Board of Directors

By Sara Thyr, ND

Bastyr University. Copyright © 2010. All Rights Reserved.
I was in Seattle in November for my last meeting with the Board of Directors of the AANP. It was an unusual mix of emotion for me. I have felt ready to be free of the substantial time commitment for some time now, but felt the melancholy creep in well before the end of the meeting.

The largest change in the years that I have been on the Board is moving from a reactionary board to a visioning board. Rather than putting out fires and throwing money at the crisis du jour, we are looking into the future and planning in a way that can only benefit the growth of our profession.

All of the governance documents are available for your perusal on the AANP website (you must be logged-in to view). If you haven’t already seen what we’ve been up to for the last few years, it will be worth your time to take a look. Your voice and involvement in your national association makes it all work. It should be evident from the ends and measures that we have set forth that we do this work for everyone in the profession (actually, everyone in need of healthcare in our country).

Looking at the future and where the Board sees the profession down the road is quite exciting. Everyone in the United States will know what a naturopathic physician is and have the opportunity to utilize naturopathic medicine for their healthcare. Can you see it?

I went to school at Bastyr University and graduated over 10 years ago. Being back on campus and seeing how it has grown in the years I have been gone was incredible. We stayed in the “village” – the LEED-platinum certified dorms on campus. They are beautifully designed and a much-needed advancement over previous dorm life. The herb garden has emerged to be a fixture on campus that is quite a bit more than the little circle of plants that was started when I was there. The students have more tools to study anatomy and other topics. Even though we were just there on a weekend, it was evident that much has improved. And with that growth and change will come great leaders in the profession. Not only do we have a student Board member, but we also had the President of the NMSA (Naturopathic Medical Students Association) present. With their input we can move towards better tools for graduates and our profession. The AANP Board will continue to grow, visioning and leading the profession with the best, most adapted tools that we and our staff can conjure.

The level of reporting on processes, the work plan, the budget and how well we are meeting our goals has substantially improved with changes and additions to the AANP staff over the years. The involvement in state licensing has increased and the connections for all legislative efforts have improved since my earliest days on the Board, largely thanks to the work of Executive Director Karen Howard, lobbyist Jan Lipson, outgoing Board member Michelle Clark, and now, our new legislative liaison, Gene McGill. Let’s not forget the countless volunteers in every state who work exceptionally long hours in order to make it all happen and improve our profession.

What will I miss the most about the being on the AANP Board? Well, I have had the great pleasure of serving with some truly remarkable people in our profession. In my experience from working at the state level from New Hampshire to California, I know of no other profession who has so many brilliant, caring and committed leaders. So I will miss being around these great minds, working arm-in-arm with them, and seeing that powerful impact we can have on the future of naturopathic medicine when we roll our sleeves up and move towards our goals.

I know that I leave the Board in capable hands. It is an exciting time to be involved and to see our profession expand its reach, just as the Bastyr’s herb garden expanded its reach. But as the last minutes of the meeting rolled by, I found myself just a little bit glum that it will be my last one for some time.

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