Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Progress in Puerto Rico
at 6:35 AM
2012 AANP Physician of the Year
San Juan, Puerto Rico
This year, the AANP honored me with the 2012 Physician of the Year Award in recognition of all the work that I have done in raising awareness about naturopathic medicine and establishing the profession as legitimate and regulated. Though my journey has been long, it has been very productive.
I fell in love with the profession of naturopathic medicine in 1982. I decided to leave my home of Puerto Rico, in the East Caribbean, and attend school in Portland, Oregon, in the western part of the US, to get my ND degree. In 1984, I was sitting in a meeting at NCNM where Dr. Jim Sensenig was discussing the need to organize an association to promote and develop our profession. At the conclusion of the meeting, he asked me, “After you finish your degree are you going back to Puerto Rico to help us expand our profession?” I answered, “Yes, I will. That is my country. It is where I was born, where my family and friends live. And I’ll go back and help them with their health.” I graduated and returned home to Puerto Rico in 1986.
As soon as I arrived home, I started taking steps to regulate the profession. Eleven years after my return, our dream was realized and our law that regulates naturopathic doctors was passed. Since then, NDs on the island have been able to practice without fear of being prosecuted by MDs. Our scope of practice is broad but not full. Next year, we will be working and lobbying to clarify the language of our regulation, so it will allow us to practice to the full extent of our naturopathic medical training.
We have also recently been working on health insurance coverage. And lastly, but certainly not the least, we are working on getting the naturopathic program at Universidad del Turabo accredited by the CNME. The program met the CNME eligibility requirements in April and is moving through the self-study program and will hopefully be up for candidacy in 2013.