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?

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