By Efraín Rodríguez Malavé, ND
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.
It is fall and we are right on schedule with our calendar
and planning process. The annual planning for the 2013 work plan and budget has
us at the stage of surveying our members in preparation for updating and
editing the work plan at our next Board meeting. The Board planning process also
includes reviewing and refining the AANP strategic objectives and Ends
statements. Through this discussion our CEO, Jud Richland, will identify AANP’s
priorities and put together a draft work plan and budget. The Board will work
through the details of his draft and approve the final work plan and budget in
The naturopathic profession continues to grow macroscopically
with an increase in the number practicing NDs, rising student enrollment, and
more patients visiting naturopathic physicians. This past weekend the ND
program at National
University of Health Sciences in Illinois became the 8th fully
accredited program in North America. Congratulations NUHS! Bastyr
California began its San Diego program in September. An ND program in Puerto
Rico is seeking candidacy for accreditation to become the 9th
accredited program.We also see progress
in California with an expansion of the naturopathic physician’s scope of
practice which now includes IV therapy.
Gaining licensure in more states is our most urgent need. The
largest impediment to our growth is that only 4 states (Minnesota, Idaho,
Kansas and North Dakota) have been licensed since California in 2003.Our opposition is more organized. The closer a
bill gets to passage the more back room lobbying occurs to hold bills. Our state
legislative efforts must be better prepared, have excellent lobbyists, have stronger
media coverage and have more positive testimony and lobbying from patients
wanting naturopathic care.
We recognize the important contribution that testimony from
conventional physicians familiar and supportive of naturopathic medicine and
doctors has to counter the claims of our opposition. Our legislative efforts need relevant evidence
and scientific data demonstrating our history of safety and effectiveness.
Our 2013 plan will improve AANP’s support in all
these areas so that the tools needed to grow our profession are available for
our membership to leverage.
"Physicians Who Listen" is the blog of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the national professional society representing licensed or licensable naturopathic physicians who are graduates of accredited four-year, residential graduate programs.
Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and natural therapies to enhance their bodies’ ability to ward off and combat disease.
The views expressed on this blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official positions of the AANP, its Board, or its House of Delegates.