Guest Commentary: Call to Membership

Greetings fellow Naturopathic Physicians, Students, and other supporters of Naturopathic Medicine.  With all the changes in health care, it is an exciting time for our profession.  Since beginning my tenure as President in January, it has been a busy and things are moving rapidly.  We always have exciting projects underway at AANP, and now is no different.  Aside from busy clinic and family life, I have spent the other third of my time preparing my administration, populating committees, making appointments and setting personal priorities for my upcoming three years of service.  

Just as in Washington State when I served as your WANP President, one of my main priorities at AANP is to “get things done!”   To that end, I have named several strategic committees populated by thought leaders to help the AANP board designate our priorities.  This way our elected leadership is informed how to best foresee and respond to opportunities.

For example, our State and Federal Affairs Committee (SFA,) which I Co-Chair along with Laura Farr, (Oregon) provides strategic guidance to further our agenda of including naturopathic doctors in federal and state law, regulations and programs.  

Our Public Education and Media Affairs Committee (PEMA), managed by Chair Jaclyn Chasse, identifies strategies to best promote NDs and our practices while improving public perceptions and awareness of naturopathic medicine. 

Our Scientific Affairs Committee, chaired by Michelle Simon, supports research that furthers the public policy goals of the AANP.  Global Health, with Mike Cronin and Tabatha Parker as Co-Chairs, is dedicated to promoting the ability of NDs to practice in other countries. 

Professional Affairs, with Simon Barker and Mike Cronin as Co-Chairs, is purposed to enhance communications with members and help doctors on-the-ground have successful practices. 

If you have unique skills, or have served at the state level in one or more of these arenas; and you wish to be part of the team guiding the leaders of our profession, I invite you to contact me directly.

Although I have served on the AANP Board of Directors for five years, and I served at the WANP for nearly ten, I am continually amazed at how our associations continue to develop and mature despite our volunteer leadership having busy outside lives.  I am even more amazed at the level of dedication that our WANP and AANP staff provide on a daily basis.  I am thankful for having the opportunity to work with people  possessing such talent, and although the level of personal sacrifice to business and family can at times be daunting, it is also a great gift to know that we are continuing to make a difference for our doctors, patients, and the communities that need us.

Yes, it is an exciting time of growth for our associations and our profession.  We have been fortunate to realize many great successes here in Washington State: Scope, modernization, formation of the Naturopathy Board, improved public outreach, and Medicaid inclusion to name a few.

Equally, AANP has made noteworthy advances. Examples include  multiple states supported to licensure, the recognition of “Naturopathic Medicine Week” by the US Congress, appointment of naturopathic doctors to federal agencies, and leading the physician charge for patients’ rights to access compounded medications.  All this considered, we have much left to do.  To cite one example, AANP has fixed our sights ‘dead on’  to help the elderly access ND’s through inclusion in Medicare.  Personally, I can think of no good reason why turning age 65 should mean a mandate to only see a conventional physician.  Can you?! 

Despite my commitment and that of other volunteers at WANP and AANP, our collective success depends on your participation.  To that end, I ask you to help your colleagues volunteering in leadership positions  by participating in the following actions:

1.     One, make sure your WANP and AANP memberships are in good standing, and encourage every colleague and vendor to do the same.  Personally, in my clinic our prerequisite for vendors is WANP and AANP membership.

2.     Two, regularly thank your colleagues who have served on the WANP and AANP Board.  These are the volunteers who are taking time out of their busy lives to serve and make a difference for the majority of us that cannot take that time.

3.     Three, help those that are taking the time to lead and contribute to the WANP and AANP.  Specifically, make contributions to WANP here, and to AANP here. Just think, if each of us contributed $100 per year to WANP, we would have an additional $85,000 to benefit our collective needs.  If everyone in the nation contributed $100 to AANP efforts, we could put nearly $450,000 toward getting states licensed and promoting the solution that is our medicine!  It all starts with you, and every contribution matters.

Won’t you join me toward furthering our success at the state and federal level?  As I ask myself every day – and challenge you to do the same  – “How has naturopathic medicine helped me?”  After answering, take the three steps listed above, and let’s further the positive changes for our medicine and our future together!

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