Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Progress in Puerto Rico

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.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn at AANP

By Michael Cronin, ND
AANP President

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 December 2012.
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.