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Students Lobby Congress to Support Naturopathic Medicine

The following dispatch comes from naturopathic medicine student Adam Silberman:

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) and students from 37 states traveled to Capitol Hill in May for the annual D.C. Federal Legislative Initiative (DC FLI), a three-day event of political leadership workshops and lobbying to increase the reach of our profession. We came to seek support for a Naturopathic Medicine Awareness Week and to build support for future legislation to bring NDs into the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, expanding our reach into the Veterans Administration and other important patient populations.

Bastyr students and faculty at DC-FLIWe heard from several incredible speakers. Dr. Joseph Pizzorno, president emeritus of Bastyr University, documented the remarkable progress that naturopathic medicine has made since 1975, explaining why our society so desperately needs the wisdom of the naturopathic approach. Dr. Tracy Gaudet, director of the VA's Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, brought the audience to its feet with an inspirational vision of medical care that regards health as far more than disease management; that understands the myriad connections between body and mind, psyche and soma; and that ultimately treats people as unique individuals. Naturopathic medicine, she said, can play an essential role in that transformation.

Colorado’s recent licensing victory drew a standing ovation for Denise Clark, ND, president of the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors', who led the campaign. Dr. Clark explained the strategies that resulted in this breakthrough. Additionally, two panels of speakers at DCFLI addressed topics important to naturopathic students: Building a practice in an unlicensed state, contributing meaningfully to the activities of state associations. Jessica McNiece and Nick Bath, who work closely with Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) respectively, provided insight into the ways health care policy plays out on Capitol Hill. Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, told attendees about his organization’s successful approaches both on Capitol Hill and with the news media. The speakers commended the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) for developing resolutions in the Senate and House to create a naturopathic medicine week. The bills, Senate Resolution 135 and House Resolution 211, were introduced by Senator Mikulski and House Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton on May 9.

Tuesday, May 14, was our direct lobbying day. The 110 FLI participants advanced on House and Senate offices seeking cosponsors for our resolutions and laying groundwork for support of future legislation. We held meetings in nearly 150 congressional offices, led by both students and practicing NDs.

The trip concluded Tuesday afternoon with an AANP wellness event for Congress members and staff. We offered organic dark chocolate, wild Alaskan salmon, and booths with doctors discussing a range of topics, such as women's health and athletic performance. It was a great conclusion to an extremely productive day.

Participants gained insight into the political process, became invigorated by energetic speakers, came together as an advocacy force ... and just plain had fun.

Keep an eye out for details on the 2014 trip and plan to increase our collective voice by adding yours!

Posted by on Wed, 05/29/2013 - 3:10pm


This blog contains the most recent updates and developments for Bastyr University's San Diego campus, which opened in fall 2012.

The San Diego campus and clinic is located at 4106 Sorrento Valley Boulevard in the center of the city's life sciences cluster and approximately 14 miles north of downtown.

It lies within walking distance of the San Diego Coaster commuter train (which connects to more light-rail lines), and is within a short drive of the University of California-San Diego, Scripps Mercy Hospital and the VA San Diego Medical Center.