Monday, December 20, 2010

Remembering Daniel Leek

By Christine Girard, ND
AANP 2010 Physician of the Year

Daniel Leek, SCNM second year medical student. Photo courtesy of SCNM.
The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine mourns the loss of Daniel Leek, a second year medical student, in a tragic car crash that occurred Thanksgiving morning.

Dan grew up in Rockford, IL, and attended Southern Illinois University – Carbondale where he received three Bachelor’s of Arts Degrees: in psychology, physiology and biochemistry. He started his professional life as a senior research associate at the University of Chicago, conducting research in muscle physiology and molecular biology.

Dan started SCNM in the fall 2008 and made an immediate impression with his exuberance for experiential learning and his passion for research. Dan worked closely with Drs. Langland and Waters on research projects both at SCNM and at the ASU Biodesign Institute. He is an author on a recently submitted article, “Quantitative evaluation of the broad-spectrum anti-microbial activity of colloidal silver.”

In August 2010, Dan had the opportunity to speak before researchers and clinicians at the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians conference. He presented “The Regulation of Inflammatory Gene Expression by Immunostimulatory Botanicals” – and won the student research award which was presented at the formal awards ceremony that concludes the conference. He also presented research findings at the September 2010 SCNM Board of Trustees meeting – and wowed the Board members. Dr. Schwalm, the president of the Board, when informed of Dan’s passing extended his and the Board’s deepest sympathies for the loss our community has sustained.

Dan’s ultimate goal was to pursue a career in research, through an NIH post-doctoral fellowship, to expand knowledge in the area of naturopathic medicine.

Those who knew Dan, knew that he was a spiritual guy – and a guy with a big brain for big teachings whether the Bible, the Upanishads, Ram Dass, or quantum mechanics. Many of the stories about Dan involve hours-long conversations. He loved to talk about where we might go with a topic, be it spiritual or scientific.

Dan paraphrased Ram Dass by saying, “Moments of suffering in life are the fuel for bliss if interpreted spiritually.” Dan would want everyone to remember that.

Dan is well respected and well loved. He remains with us as an integral part of the fabric of the SCNM community. Memory Eternal!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Year in Review

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

The AANP turns the page on another year. Image by andy.brandon50 via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
As we approach the final days of 2010, I find myself in a reflective frame of mind, looking back at the past year as well as ahead to 2011 with hope and anticipation. Personally this represents my halfway point as AANP President. It’s been an active, exciting and challenging journey so far, and my suspicions have been confirmed that being in this position in the AANP is an opportunity for growth. I think all of my fellow officers and Board members past and present would agree.

The Board and Staff have just completed the work and budget planning for the next two-year cycle and it has made me think about the present state of the AANP and naturopathic medicine.

The AANP is in a very good place. Unlike many associations struggling in these economic times and tapping into their reserves to continue to function, the AANP ended the year with a balanced budget. We are living within our means, in no small part due to the vigilance and management of our executive director, Karen Howard. The AANP is fully staffed as we close out the year, having hired a new marketing and membership associate (Mandisa Jones) and state government relations director (Eugene McGill). In the coming year you will see more resources dedicated to state licensing, inclusion in the federal healthcare system, and benefits to support our membership, among other things.

The AANP Board continues to grow and evolve. This month we say “au revoir” to our departing board members Lise Alschuler, Michelle Clark, Bill Benda, Tabatha Parker and Sara Thyr. We thank you for your service and dedication to the naturopathic profession and wish you much success and happiness as you move on to other opportunities and challenges. On January 1, 2011, we are welcoming Holly Lucille, Joe Pizzorno, Carrie Runde, Keri Marshall and Cindy Breed to the Board as they begin their two-year terms. We are very excited to welcome these new members who bring a wealth of experience and willingness to serve the association and profession. Michael Cronin begins his term as President-Elect in 2011 and is taking on a greater leadership role within the Board as he prepares for his presidency.

As a profession, I believe that naturopathic medicine is in a better position to “take off” and serve more people than perhaps it has ever been. More states are on the cusp of licensure and, with the help of Gene McGill, I hope to see new licensed states soon. We are making inroads on Capitol Hill as Congress and regulatory agencies begin to implement healthcare reform, and I look forward to seeing ND inclusion in federal programs including loan repayment opportunities. Our DC FLI event in May is growing every year and we are now known in D.C.

As I write this it appears that CNME will be re-accredited by the US Department of Education for the next 5 years, the longest time allowed under the rules. Enrollment in the naturopathic medical schools is growing with plans for new schools in the next few years, and more NDs are graduating and bringing naturopathic medicine into their communities. Science and research opportunities are increasing with new NIH grants awarded to ND researchers, and the founding of Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), led by Carlo Calabrese, which will focus on developing studies to examine whole-practice naturopathic care. The Naturopathic Post-Graduate Association (NPGA) is up and running, coordinating residency opportunities amongst the colleges to increase the number of residencies offered and matching residency sites with candidates to improve the residency experience.

Our state naturopathic associations are becoming more sophisticated and active, developing marketing as well as continuing education programs to serve their membership. Better communication and coordination between AANP and state associations is occurring. Rick Marinelli, ND, was recently appointed to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee on advancing pain research, care and education, the first ND on any IOM committee.

So 2010 has been a good year for naturopathic medicine and the future looks bright. We have much to be thankful for as we take stock of 2010 and look forward to 2011 and beyond. As always, it comes down to the people who make things happen and the relationships we form—with each other, our patients, other like-minded groups and organizations, our local, state and federal representatives, and so forth.

YOU are the AANP; YOU are the profession. Everything the AANP does is filtered through the question: How does this serve our membership? As 2010 comes to a close, I want to thank everyone reading this for all you do, great and small, as every step moves us that much closer to realizing our dreams and goals for our profession and for the health and vitality of the communities in which we serve.

Have a joyous holiday season and a healthy and prosperous 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The End of the Innocence

By Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

Photo by tibchris via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons License.
Yes, the time has come. After four captivating (and at times interminable) years, the “let’s let an MD on the Board” experiment has come to its predetermined end and the data has been analyzed. The following is my technical report:

It was very interesting.

It was interesting to learn that our commonality was actually based more upon similarities in personality and style then clinical expertise or professional ideology. Idealistic, aggressive, principled, paranoid, outspoken, insecure, clear on others’ shortcomings but in denial of our own, tilting at windmills to save the world – naturopathic medicine has been more a mirror of my own life than anything allopathic medicine has had to offer in 35 years of practice.

It was interesting to discover that our future lies in fact upon the shoulders of our students, and not in the posturing and proclamations of those who claim to really, really know what is best for us.

It was interesting to feel the buffeting between the forces of science and intuition, observing the quick footwork as “evidence-based medicine” shuffles to keep up with the fact that evidence constantly changes with the analytical tides, while intuition remains an immovable constant that no academic text or research submission can ever hope to emulate.

It was interesting to experience the unceasing anger and derision directed at my own professional heritage, allopathic medicine, partly deserved in your struggle for equity, and partly an old story somehow needing to be retold within every conference hall or blog conversation.

It was interesting to feel like a father at a birth, not really allowed to get my hands into the actual delivery, but still knowing I had something to do with the blessed event, even now as I cut the cord.

It was actually far more than simply interesting – it was exhilarating, and painful, and fulfilling, and empty, and all the things we feel when we really do commit to a relationship knowing full well that it will someday come to an end. But of course I cannot hope to write of these things and expect they will be allowed in print, so I will leave this at goodbye.

So goodbye, dear naturopaths – I leave you in mostly good hands, grateful for the time that I have had with you, and how my life is the better for it. Goodbye to my fellow board members past and present – hopefully you have grown as I have, but with a fraction of the irascibility and frustration. Goodbye to Karen and David and Jan and all who have dedicated your emotional lives to this profession – you can still call on me to be your hit man from time to time if you find you just can’t pull the trigger yourselves.

Goodbye. Another adventure awaits . . .