Tuesday, October 18, 2011

President's Message: Changes at the AANP and in the Health Industry Landscape

By Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP President

It’s a busy time at the AANP (as always) and has been particularly busy for me with the leadership changes on the horizon. Many wheels are turning and progress is being made. Let me bring you up to date on a few key events and activities.

Executive Director Transition Planning

Last month I reported on the Executive Director Transition Team and our first steps. I’m happy to report we’ve made significant progress and are moving ahead at a steady pace. Most of the past month we’ve been involved in talking with experts, reviewing and discussing the future needs and goals of the association, and visualizing what personal and professional attributes are most important in our next ED. After reviewing multiple executive search firms and holding in-depth interviews with our top three contenders, I’m pleased to report that after Board approval and legal review, we have contracted with Association Strategies, Inc. (ASI), of Alexandria, Virginia, to work with us in our search.

ASI fits the needs of the AANP quite well. They have significant experience in both the non-profit world and health industry. ASI is a woman-owned and -managed organization with 25 years of service and hundreds of associations served. Their systematic approach includes an organizational assessment, a rigorous nationwide search and screening process, transition planning, and follow-through after the hire of our next ED. They have high satisfaction rate and good credibility in their industry. If you want to know more about them, here is their website: http://www.assnstrategies.com/

The AANP has selected Association Strategies, Inc., to aid in the search for the next Executive Director.
Now this process is going to speed up! It takes at least three months and more typically close to six months for a process like this to come to fruition. The latter time is more likely, given that the search will be in process over the holidays. Karen Howard has been as busy as ever, perhaps even more so recently, as she approaches the end of her tenure at the close of November. Terri Deerr will be stepping in as Interim ED December 1st. We hope to have identified and hired our new ED by the end of March.

We’ve received feedback from many of you and welcome your input. Please watch your e-mailboxes over the coming weeks as we will be surveying the AANP community to find out your wishes, vision and feedback. We’ll be talking with national and state leaders past and present, NDs across the country, teachers, staff and others intimately connected with the naturopathic community. If you have any ideas or feedback that you think would help us be most successful, please send it to me at Carl@SFnatmed.com. We will listen to all voices. If you want to apply for the position, you can contact me directly and I will connect you with ASI once our search is actively underway.

Trends Affecting Naturopathic Medicine

It has been interesting to observe some of the societal trends that have an impact on our profession recently. First, I’m certain most of you have observed some of the negative studies released in the past few weeks on vitamins and health, including the Iowa Health Study on middle-aged women, and another about associations between Vitamin E and prostate cancer risk. Since a majority of our doctors have in-office pharmacies and almost all recommend nutritional supplements as part of their treatment protocols, the public perceptions of health risks associated with vitamin use present us with challenges and opportunities. It is incumbent upon our profession to consider these studies carefully and respond intelligently and effectively. The AANP has issued a press release to this effect and I look forward to the analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of these studies in the coming weeks.

The American Medical Association (AMA) and its affiliates continue to attack and oppose expansion of practice scope and titles for a number of health professions, naturopathic physicians included. In recent weeks we have seen the news about the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) opposing "any expansion of naturopaths' scope of practice that is not strictly supported by their training, such as extending them liberal prescribing authority or permitting them to perform work/school physical exams or surgery." And in no case, said the delegates, should these individuals be granted "primary care physician" status. The AMA opposes use of the term "doctor" for any doctorate-level provider who is not a medical doctor (MD). I recently submitted a letter to the New York Times editor on this topic.

The AANP is working with others within our profession to craft thoughtful responses to the AAFP and AMA. With our partners such as the Coalition for Patient Rights, we are keeping an open dialogue and working to educate and inform these groups about our training, practice and professionalism. There are many misconceptions to correct, and this kind of "turf protection" argument doesn’t serve our professions or the public in this time of need for better health care. I for one believe that all health-care professions are first about doing good and working with people to improve their health. It’s a shame we can’t work together better, with good communication and mutual respect. We as NDs need to lead from the high road as we work to change this dynamic.

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