This week I'll start a series on naturopathic medical
Here at NUHS we are fortunate to have Dr. Louise
Edwards as the cornerstone instructor for the philosophical
portion of our medical education. Dr. Edwards has developed a
strong curriculum that incorporates all of the ideas I will be
discussing over the next few weeks. With her permission, her words
will appear verbatim in this blog where the circumstances are most
prudent to do so. This week, I'll begin with the basics, the
Naturopathic Model and our primary goal as naturopathic
Naturopathy is treating suffering (pathos) according to the laws
of nature, using natural means.
We, as students and interns, are trained to use the most
natural, least invasive methods that are within our scope of
practice to help our patients return to a state of health. If
higher force interventions are necessary to help our patients heal,
then we will refer to a specialist for co-management, just as any
other primary care provider would do.
The Naturopathic Model
Through recognizing and working within the Naturopathic Model,
we are able to determine the root cause or "center of gravity" of a
patient's divergence from a state of health. With an understanding
of the root cause, we can then implement the naturopathic
therapeutic order, which I will discuss in coming weeks.
Re-Establish the Basis for Health
Finally, our primary goal as naturopathic doctors is to
"re-establish the basis for health."
We accomplish this through correcting the disturbing factors
impacting a patient's healthy state of being. The patient's
disturbing factors can also be described as their "Determinants of
Health." Next week, I'll discuss these determinants and how they
impact a patient's health, over the short and long term.
This past week was spent finishing and polishing my presentation
for Grand Rounds titled "Safely managing prehypertension and stage
1 hypertension with botanicals." This is a subject that is close to
my heart if you will since hypertension and strokes are a common
occurrence on my father's side of the family.
Hypertension has been called the "silent killer" as a patient
may not notice any symptoms until a significant medical event such
as a stroke or heart attack occurs. A skilled, thorough doctor
performing a routine general physical exam can sometimes uncover
masked symptoms, which a patient may not even be cognizant about. A
well-performed physical exam can help prevent illness or even
prevent an early death.
At NUHS, we are trained on basic physical exam skills beginning
in our second of 10 trimesters. We are taught to fully examine the
patient through observation, listening, touch, and measurement. As
we progress through the curriculum, we build upon our basic
skillset and learn to interpret what we discover. This
interpretation is honed under the guidance of our clinicians in the
Whole Health Center and satellite offices.
A quick rundown of some of our exam procedures includes:
This seems like a lot to do in one visit, especially if the
patient is in a hurry. We have the physical exam presented so
often, that by the time we are in clinic, we can perform this exam
in 30 minutes or less! This gives plenty of time for the remainder
of the patient visit and conversation. The general physical exam is
intended as a screening tool to determine if more focused
examinations are required for the patient. The physical exam
skillset we learn at NUHS helps us to target key systems with
quick, accurate examinations. When in practice as primary care
doctors, we will rely on this skillset each day with our future
patients. These skills will help us save lives.
This week, I'll take a look at another of the skills that
Naturopathic Interns need to master prior to graduation:
Hydrotherapy treatments that we perform with the patients in our
clinic as well as training patients for hydrotherapy they can do at
Some of the reasons that people would visit our clinic for
...just to name a few.
As we sit with each patient, gather the symptom picture,
understand all facets of the patient's case, and work toward the
center of gravity (or root cause) of the patient's complaint, we
work with our clinicians to establish the best treatment strategy
for our patients. Sometimes, this treatment plan includes a form of
After determining if hydrotherapy is appropriate and beneficial
for our patient, we refer the patient to our hydrotherapy shift,
which consists of our 7th trimester ND students. This is one of the
best aspects of our program here at NUHS. Our students are not only
being exposed to the clinic environment, but they are working in
clinic under the direct supervision of a clinician as an observer
at the halfway point in their education here, getting practical
experience outside the classroom. That aside, we refer the patient
with treatment plan to the hydro shift where "in office"
hydrotherapy treatments such as these are performed.
Dr. Kristina Conner - ND Faculty
Finally, the high quality of hydrotherapy care here at NUHS is
the direct result of the skill and knowledge shared by Dr. Kristina
Conner, who teaches our hydrotherapy classes in the tradition of
Father Kneipp and Dr. Henry Lindlahr, both pioneers of naturopathic
medicine. Dr. Conner has perhaps the most thorough labs that I have
experienced here at NUHS. We are immediately thrust into
treatment in a lab setting, learning the skills that are necessary
for accurate diagnosis and application of hydrotherapy treatments.
As a result, when we start performing hydrotherapy treatments in
the clinic, we are prepared for our patients. Hydrotherapy, a
powerful treatment option, is one of the more solid skillsets I
will take with me from NUHS.
I will cover more of our naturopathic intern skillsets in the
coming weeks. Until then, I'll be by Janse pond.
This week I'm profiling two naturopathic interns, Heather
Bautista and Echaukyei (Chucky) Ndumbi. Today, as the two of them
were sitting discussing their future practices and the lives they
would improve and save, I decided to set up an impromptu
Echaukyei (Chucky) Ndumbi and Heather Bautista
Heather Bautista is a native of the Chicago area. After working
in the pharmaceutical industry for a number of years, Heather saw
how disease was being "treated" and not healed, across the
spectrum. She decided to pursue a career that helped others heal
through learning proper lifestyle choices and habits. She chose a
profession that gets to the root cause of a problem and finds a
way, where possible, to remedy that problem to return the person to
a basis for health.
When Heather was considering medical school, her experience with
the pharmaceutical industry was a strong consideration in her
decision to pursue naturopathic medicine as opposed to allopathic.
She has a strong desire to help people heal rather than take a
course of medications for an indefinite period, many times simply
masking a deficiency or illness. When asked what gives her
motivation for becoming a naturopathic doctor, Heather mentioned
the complete sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes
with helping another human being truly heal.
Chucky is a native of Cameroon. After his family immigrated to
the United States in his early teens, he decided to continue the tradition of
becoming a healer, as his family has been in Cameroon for
generations. Chucky remembered how healthy his friends and family
were as they consumed vegetables, fruits and meats from their farms
and lived a healthy, active lifestyle. Chucky came to his decision
to pursue naturopathic medicine as it espoused a lifestyle that is
crucial to the basis for health as well as being eclectic in
preventing, as well as treating, and curing disease, when
prevention is not enough.
Chucky chose NUHS based upon the location of our campus to his
home in Maryland. Chucky knew he wanted to pursue naturopathic
medicine and he said he truthfully could not have prepared himself
for the rigors of the basic sciences portion of the curriculum here
at NUHS. Essentially, when he visited campus, he fell in love with
NUHS. Chucky feels that NUHS is preparing him to become an eclectic
naturopathic doctor who will use the proper modality to help his
patients heal to the greatest extent possible.
Each of the students who roam the halls of the naturopathic
clinic know that when strictly looking at the mathematics of the
cost of naturopathic medical school vs. allopathic medical school,
the costs are very similar. At the same time, the residencies are
not as plentiful, the backing of huge pharmaceutical and medical
supply companies is non-existent, and the starting salary of a
newly matriculated and licensed naturopathic doctor is a fraction
of a new allopathic doctor's. While these are the hard facts as the
profession stands today, we are growing as a group.
The success stories are mounting as NDs set up practices
throughout the country. We are licensed in 17 states and U.S.
territories at the time of this entry's publication. As our numbers
are currently around 6,000-7,000 NDs in the USA and Canada, the
word is spreading that our medicine works to get to the root cause
of illness. Somewhere I've read that about 25,000 practitioners is
the critical number to truly have an educated populace who knows of
our profession and how we approach medical care. If this is the
case, we are doing a pretty good job until now getting out the word
about Naturopathic Medicine, in 17 of the 50 states so far.
As Heather and Chucky expressed today, most naturopathic medical
students are not here for a huge paycheck. While we all acknowledge
that we need to make enough to repay our student loans, pay our
bills, live a good life, and save for retirement, our true purpose
here is to save lives.
Dr. Kelly Baltazar's positive impact on the Naturopathic Clinic
here at NUHS was immense. That was evident from the blog entry last
week, as well as comments from all of our interns currently in
clinic, including those who have graduated.
The outpouring of support and best wishes on her new journey was
so great over the past two weeks that I am sharing comments from
Dr. Baltazar on her journey as part of the founding team for the
Naturopathic Clinic here at NUHS and her transition to Cancer
Treatment Centers of America.
Dr. Baltazar and I were able to sit down together and talk about
her experiences here at NUHS as well as her plans for the future.
These are quotes from the conversation we had, in Dr. Baltazar's
Dr. Coe and her ubiquitous camera with Dr. Baltazar at her
What was it like to start up the Naturopathic Clinic at
"A lot of excitement, a challenge, a sense of a 'huge task in
front of us' to not only get it started but to develop a quality
What were the greatest challenges?
"The basic tasks of creating forms, handouts, patient
scheduling, and how to fit it within the existing NUHS clinic. How
will we create the structure of the clinic? The most challenging
part of the process has been managing all the behind the scenes
work to ensure that both the day-to-day and the big picture remain
Can you compare the first cohort with today's processes,
workflow and patient interactions and the path to accreditation in
such a short timeframe?
"Throughout the years, much refining of the process, with a lot
of strategic decisions needing to be made and refining the details
as we went. When the news came in October (2012) that we had gained
accreditation, a sense of true accomplishment."
How did you feel at that moment with regard to your role
here at the NUHS Naturopathic Clinic?
"After that moment [accreditation], I felt like my task was
complete and then time to think about a new endeavor for my
professional and personal growth. I have set and maintained high
expectations and clinical standards and the culture is in place and
that is one thing that I am very thankful for."
"I will be pursuing other professional interests and avenues
that will provide professional growth for me. Moving back to
patient care in a direct role rather than a teaching/mentor role as
a naturopathic oncology provider at Cancer Treatment Centers of
America. Time for personal life for a little bit. I will be getting
married and hope to continue to run in marathons and
half-marathons, cycling with my fiancé and gardening!"
What would you like for your legacy to be?
"Accreditation and helping with the process as well as building
a clinical program to meet the standards of
What was rewarding to you in your role as Chief
"Those 'aha' moments when you can see a student truly capture a
'concept' was rewarding! However, the most rewarding aspect of my
job has been seeing graduates become successful naturopathic
Thank you for doing the "grunt" work of forming, building and
improving our Naturopathic Clinic to the point of accreditation.
Thank you for answering the same questions from multitudes of
interns day-in and day-out. Thank you for keeping a smile on your
face and calm in the flurry of Student Clinic. Thank you for being
a helping hand, a guide, mentor and leader.
We will miss you, Dr. Baltazar.
• Combined Classes
• Observing in Clinic
• Botanical Medicine
• Minor Surgery
• Intern Skills
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