Monday, September 26, 2011

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

By Bill Benda, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
2011 Naturopathic Champion Award Winner

Dr. Benda accepts the Naturopathic Champion Award at the 2011 AANP Convention Gala.
I received an award at August’s AANP annual convention at the Biltmore, a brand new one entitled the Champion Award, which from this time onward will be given to a non-naturopathic individual recognized for his or her contributions to the field. It was a bit of a bittersweet moment, for a number of reasons, which, in my semi-shocked and semi-intoxicated state, I revealed to the gathered audience of several hundred.

Monday, September 19, 2011

President's Message: Convention Notes and the Search for a New Executive Director

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

AANP President Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc, and President-Elect Michael Cronin, ND, with their
wives Michele Hangee-Bauer and Kyle Cronin, ND, respectively.
It’s been two months since my last President’s blog and there has been a lot of water under the bridge since.

The 26th AANP Convention at the Arizona Biltmore has come and gone and was a success by all measures. I had a great number of people come up to me and tell me that this was the best conference they could recall, from the quality of the sessions to the results of the elections and annual awards. Everyone seemed to enjoy him- or herself at our favorite convention venue.

There are many congratulations in order. Dr. Michelle Simon is our newly-elected Board member, with Drs. Kasra Pournadeali and Dr. Michael Reece re-elected to second Board terms. Dr. Joe Pizzorno will succeed Dr. Corey Resnick as our next Treasurer, and Dr. Bruce Milliman was elected the next Speaker of the House of Delegates. And, as you all know, Dr. Michael Cronin will be succeeding me as your next AANP President in January.

Thank you to all who ran for Board or House leadership positions, congratulations to all who were elected, and thank you to all who have served and will be moving on to more challenges and opportunities, particularly Board member Dr. Trevor Holly Cates and House Speaker Dr. Helen Healy.

Our 2011 awardees were met with great appreciation and applause by attendees at the annual awards banquet. Dr. Shiva Barton is our 2011 Physician of the Year, Dr. Louise Edwards received the Vis Award, Dr. Bill Benda received the new Champion Award, and Dr. David Field received the President’s Award. Emerson Ecologics was named AANP Corporation of the Year and Dr. Ryan Bradley and Joshua Goldenberg, ND candidate, received research accolades. These awardees have all demonstrated great dedication to the naturopathic profession and have accomplished great things, some over a lifetime of service. They are examples to us all and we thank them and congratulate them from the depths of our hearts.

Just a few days before the start of the convention, Karen Howard called to inform me that after nine years as AANP Executive Director, she has decided to retire and move on. The announcement was later made to the Board, House of Delegates and the convention attendees at our annual meeting. Karen’s decision has reverberated through our community and set a tone at the convention that was reflective of her many accomplishments, her impact on the naturopathic profession, and the mixed emotions in the community with her moving on.

Karen joined the AANP during a time of great change and has been an instrumental force in our move to Washington, D.C., and our greatly increased federal presence. She has overseen many developments in our organization that we take for granted today, including development of practice development resources, the state alliance, our website, strategic coalitions with groups aligned to our purposes, and of course our annual DC FLI.

Her fiscal prowess has been exceptional. When she started as Executive Director, the AANP had a $276,000 deficit. As of the end of 2011, we have a positive balance of $402,000. We owe much of our prosperity and fiscal good health to her steady hand.

Karen has offered to stay on as Executive Director while we begin our search for her successor, and there will be plenty more to say before she completes her work with the AANP. I plan to devote one of my next blogs to Karen and the impact she has had on the AANP and the naturopathic profession, so stay tuned!

With Karen’s announcement, I immediately activated our succession planning process and appointed an Executive Director Transition Team (EDTT) consisting of Dr. Michael Cronin, Dr. Joe Pizzorno, Dr. Keri Marshall, Dr. Lise Alschuler, Dr. Harry Swope, David Matteson, and me. The EDTT has been meeting weekly to establish a rational process for succession. Our first steps have been to assess strategically the current state of the association, the needs and goals of the organization over the next five years, and the assets and profile of an ideal executive to fit our needs now and in the near-term future. We anticipate completing our assessment and posting a job description in October, and hope to begin the interview process soon afterwards.

We will do our best to keep in good communication with you as we move through this process, and appreciate the community feedback we have already received. This is some of the most important work we will do as an association over the next three to six months and the choices we make will affect the progress and goals of the AANP over the next five to ten years. The better the job we do now, the better we will meet our common goals. If you have any ideas or feedback that you think would help us be most successful, please send it to me at

We plan to keep you up-to-date with these monthly blogs and in other venues as needed or appropriate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tempus Fugit

By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO

Last June, Louise Edwards, ND, (who had occupied our guest room the night before) helped me load a grandmother clock into the back of my car and haul it home. We’d been for a walk in the park with the dog and stopped at an estate sale on the way home. Not only did we leave with the grandmother clock (a smaller version of a grandfather clock), but also a new nightstand for her bedroom. Well, actually Rena and my guestroom, but since Louise is such a frequent guest, we sometimes refer to it as Louise’s room.

The clock has the Latin words "Tempus Fugit" on the faceplate. This seems to be a common thing on clocks. It translates, of course, to mean, “time flies.”

Given that the clock chimes on the quarter hour, it certainly enforces that thought. Rena and I have gotten into the habit of saying "tempus fugit" out loud each time the clock starts to chime away. It adds a bit of urgency to what already felt like busy days.

Thus when we attended the AANP convention this past month in Arizona, it’s those two words that started echoing in the back of my mind, something of a little mantra. Over the last few years at each of our conventions, time has been set aside to remember colleagues who are no longer with us or who, at the present, are in such need of divine intervention, that I suppose we figure that some sort of communal prayers won’t hurt.

This year is was Konrad we remembered and Molly we prayed for.

Time flies. None of us are getting younger as the saying goes. We are fast approaching the time when losing colleagues will not be a rarity but for will seem all too commonplace.

On our website Rena and I have a photo posted from the 1934 convention of the American Naturopathic Association:

A group photo from the 1934 convention of the American Naturopathic Association at the Albany Hotel in Denver, CO.

At the time the picture was taken (probably using Kodak black-and-white film), the American Naturopathic Association was celebrating its 38th annual congress.

Time flies. From the look of these delegates, as smartly dressed as they were, the majority, if not all of them, were long passed before the first AANP convention.

Time flies. Our profession experienced a resurgence over the last few decades and that first wave of new doctors are not getting any younger. It will only be so much longer that we have to listen to stories about going to school in Kansas. At some point Kansas will be a secondhand memory.

Time flies. That clock keeps ticking and chiming away the minutes as I write. I’d swear it was going faster and faster. My beloved wife has developed a habit of reminding me that our life together may be more than half over. It’s a sure way to cut the foundation out of any disagreement we might be having. We have those talks about what we want to do with the rest of our lives. Where do we want to live? Those of you at a certain age surely know what I’m talking about.

Time flies and we start making lists of things that we still want to do. We joke about our new purchases and that they should last the rest of our lives. There is that book I keep meaning to write. Is it time to set aside the time? What was it supposed to be about anyway?

Time flies and we keep going to work and seeing patients who it seems each year come in sicker and in greater despair than I recall from years’ past. Or perhaps their despair is more contagious? They certainly seem sicker. How ludicrous that any of our schooling was devoted to otitis media when many days all the patients we see have cancer. Metastatic cancer. Our patient population has aged along with us.

Time flies and I find myself thanking a deity for the minor events in my life, for sustaining me long enough to once again taste a fall apple, for a taste of this year’s honey, for another week of work, and for patients that feel better.

Time flies and I’m reminded by an email from the AANP office that I have a blog due later this week. That clock makes it hard to get lost in distraction. How can one drift into oblivion reading a good mystery when with every tick of the clock another second has been lost.

Time flies and I’m not halfway through with today’s to do list. I’ve got the dishwasher fixed, the Natural Medicine Journal review draft finished and sent in, and almost enough of this AANP blog post written to call it quits. There’s still email to check, the dog to walk, supper to cook and a complex patient to be ready for in the morning. Time flies and what a pleasant ride it is…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

PoY Boy, Two Thousand Eleven

By Shiva Barton, ND, LAc
2011 AANP Physician of the Year

As you probably know, I had the distinct honor of being awarded the AANP Physician of the Year Award for 2011. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply honored and grateful I am to have received this award. It continues to be very moving to me to be nominated by my peers and to be deemed worthy of this award.

I don't really remember much of my acceptance “speech”—I hope it was inspirational, or at the least, coherent. In any event, I am sincerely grateful and moved, and appreciate the vote of confidence. Naturopathic medicine is such a wonderful healing art. I think we take for granted that everyday, besides helping the garden variety illnesses, we are helping people that do not have any other options to get well. At least, that is much of what I see in my practice. We help people who, for whatever reason, are medical outcasts. And we can help many of them recover their health and lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.

It is an honor to be able to share naturopathic medicine with my patients, to teach about it at the conferences, and to inspire preceptees who come to visit my practice. So I am very grateful for being recognized as contributing to the improvement of this wonderful and challenging profession and will truly cherish this award for the rest of my life.

OK, enough with the sappy stuff...

I'm reminded of the famous quote: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Well, a few days after I returned home from the conference I get an email from the great Matthew Santoro of the AANP. (I say “great” when referring to Matthew because he is doing such a great job sending us the AANP Clips. Always informative, and frequently clinically relevant. Please send Matthew a big email thank you!) So Matthew emails me. Here is the subject line of that email: 
Congratulations on the PoY Award and a Request!
Well, it took me a few seconds to realize that PoY was not the Hawaiian delicacy, but AANP shorthand for Physician of the Year. As for the request, I figured that he wanted an autographed picture of me to hang in his office. Well, that would be a problem... The only picture that I have of myself in a suit - not including the snapshots of me in a tuxedo—but that's another story...—was taken about six years ago.

When I came home from this conference and told Elena, our office manager, that I had won this tremendous honor she told me in no uncertain terms that I had to publicize it. Now, if you know me—and I do remember saying this in my acceptance speech—I am the kind of person that likes to sit in the back of the room, be quiet and not draw any attention to myself… OK, well maybe crack a few jokes while I'm back there. Hence, I never make the effort to do the publicity stuff that I should be doing, such as keeping a current picture to provide to autograph hounds and to send out with press releases. This is one of the ways the PoY has already changed my life. I have to take this publicity thing seriously. (Note: neither publicity nor serious is part of my primary genetic code.)

So in order to fulfill my office manager's order and my supposition of what Matthew wanted, I had to get a professional picture taken. I arranged to have a photo session at the local portrait photographer's studio for last Tuesday. I think the idea of me potentially damaging my DNA by getting an up-to-date professional portrait was too upsetting for the forces of nature. How do I know this? Well, Hurricane Irene blew through our area and knocked out the power to the photographer's studio—one of the few structures in our community that was affected by the power outage. As of this writing, she still has no power, so the laws of nature so far are preserved. (Preserving the laws of nature, of course, is very important to us as naturopathic physicians.) Such are the obstacles encountered on the path to naturopathic greatness, or maybe even a spot on Oprah. Needing a picture, I had to take one of myself. I think I'll keep my day job...

Well, it turns out that Matthew wasn't asking me for an autographed picture after all (I still think he's great in spite of this). This is what he wanted:
We request each year that the PoY become a regular writer for our blog, Physicians Who Listen, and I’d love to have you on board! Your first due date would be the Friday, September 2, by 5 PM EDT. You can write on a topic of your choice or, at your request, we can suggest a topic for you...
This is where the “No such thing as a free lunch” comes in... Win an award, write a column. I think Matthew didn't realize that my favorite author is Dave Barry. Not sure how inspiring that will be. I remember one time riding shotgun while my brother-in-law was driving down the highway, reading a Dave Barry column about dressing up as Batman for his young daughter's birthday party. I remember we were laughing so hard and I couldn't see because the tears were running down my eyes. I remember hoping my brother-in-law could see and thinking that I was glad I wasn't driving or I would be dead. Had I died, I never would have lived long enough to get this award and write for this blog. For that I am eternally grateful, or will be grateful for as long as I live, which will not be for eternity, guaranteed... But the point of naturopathic medicine is not to help people live forever. It is to help them to be as healthy and happy as they can be, and when it is time to go, to pass peacefully, and maybe tell a few jokes on the way out.

So, Matthew, here is my first column. As you can see, I picked a topic of my choice. How do you like the picture I took?