Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Massachusetts Law Falls Short

Michael Cronin, ND
AANP President

Governor Deval Patrick, of Massachusetts, did not sign the Naturopathic Practice Act. The bill passed both chambers of the legislature in a special session in December 2012 and required his signature to become law.

This brings up many thoughts and emotions for me. I feel disappointment over a legislative process that seems slow and unfair. And there is anger at a process that placates the desires of the Massachusetts Medical Society over serving the health needs of the public and the desire of the Commonwealth. However, my dominant emotion is pride and amazement at the dedication of our ND colleagues who for 18 years have worked to achieve licensure for the Massachusetts NDs.

Our profession is now at a new legislative high water mark for licensure in the United States. According to our history as described in the Textbook of Natural Medicine (pg. 71 Vol. I, 3rd edition), it is described in the California based International Society of Naturopathic Physicians 1948 membership directory as 13 states, the territory of Hawaii and 3 Canadian provinces. There were 32 state associations then.

There are currently licensing laws in 16 states (up from 5 in 1978), the District of Columbia, the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 5 Canadian provinces. We have 7 healthy, accredited North American colleges and there are now 43 state associations..

Naturopathic Medicine is a profession that thrives on the passion of its doctors and the generosity of its volunteers.

  • We have the tremendous efforts of our state associations that are operated by volunteer board members and supported by member dues. These organizations fight to improve licensing laws where we have them and acquire laws were we do not. 
  • We have the dedicated members of our state licensing boards. These NDs do the difficult and often unrecognized work of regulating the professional activities of our licensed NDs and bear that unique burden of judging unprofessional conduct and administering remediation and punishment. 
  • The members of the Federation of Naturopathic Medicine Regulatory Authorities provide support to the licensing and regulatory authorities. 
  • The members of the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) which accredits naturopathic medical education programs. North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) and Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination Board which work together to manage the NPLEX examination process. 
  • I applaud the NDs who are board members of the colleges and the many faculty and other committees that keep our colleges improving. 
  • I appreciate those who forward our medicine by serving on specialty societies such as HANP, OncANP, PedANP, AANM, INGM, NAEM, NMSA, NP-GA, AANMC, SpiritMed, and IV Micronutrient Therapy. 
  • The serious work of the innovators, those who create the Naturopathic Education and Residency Consortium (NERC/STAIR) and Naturopathic Physician Research Institute, (NPRI).

All this work begs the question, “Why do we do this?” Well…what else would we do? We have our health; we have a noble profession that we love, serve the needs of our communities, and forward the understanding of true healthcare for the coming generations. Indeed, I know no better outlet for my daily bread.

I send the highest kudos to our ND brothers and sisters in Massachusetts. May you heal your wounds and come out fighting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It’s said that everything changes except change

Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
AANP Past-president

On December 31, 2012, I ended 5 years on the AANP Board and 4 years as an AANP Officer. I have been both blessed and challenged by participating in and witnessing some of the most significant changes the AANP has experienced in its recent history.

It is hard to sum up or even know where to begin.

The entire AANP staff has changed, much of it in the past 2 years, and the association has moved to a new headquarters in Washington, D.C. Most notably, our Executive Director of close to 9 years, Karen Howard, resigned in 2011 and, after a mindful and exhaustive search, our new CEO Jud Richland came on Board in 2012.

I was AANP President for 2 years and worked closely with 3 other AANP Presidents, Drs. Jane Guiltinan, Lisa Alschuler and Michael Cronin, as well as numerous Board members who have come and gone; by my estimate somewhere around 40+ leaders of the naturopathic profession. We moved from a “Working Board” to a Governance Model to better reflect the maturity of our association, expanded our footprint in Washington, D.C., and celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2011.

While I have witnessed many victories, both on national and state levels, I am aware at the same time of how much more needs to be done:
  • all 50 states licensed to full scope of training and modern ND practice,
  • full inclusion and non-discrimination in federal and state programs,
  • equal access for patients via their 3rd party reimbursement programs,
  • membership by all NDs in their state and national associations,
  • and better relationships with other professional health association.
These are but a few of the larger goals that we as an association need to keep a keen focus.

I’ve seen a community that is both united in our common interests and yet at times divided in our goals and communications. One of my greatest disappointments has been witnessing how our internal politics sometimes reflect the greater dysfunction we see in our national politics—the polarization of ideals and approaches, the unwillingness at times to come together in compromise, the determination of our leaders, the apathy of many of our colleagues, and how disagreements can become personal.

So, like everything else in our universe, the AANP has experienced many changes in recent years. With all the pros and cons, I am extremely optimistic at where we are now and are headed.

The members of the AANP Board are some of the most committed and far-sighted people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Your Board is committed to growth, maturity, and inclusion of the naturopathic profession. It is focused on public recognition, expansion of state licensing and scope of practice, inclusion in federal programs, promotion of state licensing, and better relationships with state and other affiliate associations. Dr. Michael Cronin is one of the hardest-working and passionate AANP Presidents I have known and Jud Richland comes to our organization with a stellar background and deep love of who we are and what we do. The AANP House of Delegates, under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Milliman, is becoming a more active body and working more closely with the AANP Board in governing this association. Our staff in D.C. is hard-working, professional, and committed to excellence. In short, I believe we are on the right path and the AANP is in a good place.

It has been an honor and privilege for me to be an AANP Board member and to be elected President. It has also been a growth experience, a tremendous challenge and opportunity. I thank you for allowing me the ability to serve the naturopathic profession.

My asks of you are to stay involved, be a member of your professional associations, and use your talents and voices to teach others what you already know—naturopathic medicine holds many of the solutions to the health challenges individuals and our society face, and access to naturopathic medicine by all Americans will help us meet our common goals of good health and well-being.

Change is not always random; it is in our hands, and our work and wisdom can guide it. Be the change you want to see.