Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Ross on the Importance of Networking

Alumna Dr. Angela Ross sat down to chat about her path to Bastyr, her legislative work for the ND profession in WA State, and what advice she’d give to a new naturopathic medicine student.

What led you to the ND program at Bastyr?

"My entire life I wanted to be an FBI profiler, and all of my studies prior to Bastyr were leading towards that path. SinceI couldn’t apply to the FBI without three years of work experience,I took a job doing background investigations for the federal government for people needing security clearances. I progressed in my career there, but something was missing. In 2003, my cat got very sick and experienced premature kidney failure. The vet told me there was nothing that they could do for him. Knowing there had to be other options, I started working with a veterinary acupuncturist, who used acupuncture, herbs, and dietary changes. My cat thrived for two more years, shocking my conventionally trained vet! This began my transition towards naturopathic medicine. I knew there must be something different than “sorry we have no options!” It was my then-therapist and mentor who first said the words “naturopathic medicine.” She told me about Bastyr and encouraged me to take a tour of the Seattle campus. I was basically sold on my first visit to Bastyr’s campus. For the next five years, I worked full time and went to school part time to meet all of the prerequisites for the ND program and was able to start the program in 2009. This career path made much more sense than the FBI to my friends and family, who often felt comforted by me and thought of me as a healer."

How did your ND education guide your career trajectory?

"After graduating in 2013, I opened my own practice offering naturopathic primary care in my neighborhood of West Seattle, WA. I took good care of my patients and learned a lot – both about medicine and about running a business – over the next 7 years. The entire time that I was in practice, I also volunteered on the Board of Directors of the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians (WANP). When the Executive Director position was posted in 2020, I decided to apply. I felt like I could do more for the field of naturopathic medicine in this role than I could by just treating patients one-on-one in my clinic. It is an absolute honor to represent our profession on a larger scale, serving as the Executive Director of one of the largest and oldest naturopathic associations… but this profession does keep me on my toes!"

What were your special clinical interests?

"My practice focused on general/primary care, but counseling and trauma work has always been integral to who I am so this became a significant part of what I did with my patients. Arguably, the most valuable thing I provided for my patients was a space where they could feel safe being whoever they needed to be in that moment. Had I not transitioned in the role I’m in now, I would have transitioned my practice focus toward mental health, counseling, and trauma work."

What advice would you give to a new ND student? To a newly graduated ND?

"Get involved! Build your community! One of the best things I did was get involved in a Business Networking International (BNI) chapter in my neighborhood. I joined a group before graduation, which was an incredible decision because people were already talking about me and I had patients waiting for me before I even finished school! As an added bonus, this group had all the elements I needed to start a business: insurance, graphic designer, lawyer, etc.

Beyond networking to build your practice, get involved with naturopathic organizations working to protect and advance naturopathic medicine in your area (like the WANP!).This profession is still relatively small. It desperately needs ideas, innovation, engagement, and leadership. Getting involved is vital to the future of our profession."

How did you get involved with the Washington Association for Naturopathic Physicians (WANP)?

"Before even finishing at Bastyr, I started serving on the legislative affairs committee of the WANP. That soon led to serving on the board of directors. I love politics and was excited to contribute to the protection and advancement of our profession through involvement with our state professional association. I am a huge advocate of finding your passion and using that to get and stay involved in your community – both your broader community and your ND community. Serving on the Board or on a committee with the WANP can really benefit you, whether you are a current student or a licensed naturopathic physician. Our student rep always makes good connections and they often get offers for preceptorships, residencies, and even jobs due to the connections they make on the Board.

Participating adds value to YOU. It not only gives you a voice in key decisions being made by the profession, but is also connects you tocommunity. There are always ways to get involved to work toward change and make things better for our profession!"

What are you most passionate about working for the WANP?

"The protection and advancement of naturopathic practice in WA State.
I want to do my part to make sure NDs have jobs, that they are hire-able, and that they are able to practice to the full extent of their training. I also work to advance the recognition and respect for the naturopathic profession.

Expanding prescriptive authority in WA State.
We are primary care physicians, but we do not yet have access to some controlled substances that are commonly used in primary care medicine. Expanding prescriptive authority for NDs makes NDs more hire-able to integrative, community, and hospital-based clinics.

Increasing income potential.
NDs need to be able to support themselves financially in this field. One way we are working toward that is to focus part of our legislative efforts on securing pay parity – that is, equal pay for equal work – from private insurers."

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