Against the backdrop of the International Day of Natural Medicine, the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM) and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) have announced the joint publication of a white paper designed to raise awareness of the principles of naturopathic medicine and reaffirm the profession’s commitment to a collaborative model of clinical care. The paper, “Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists, The Future is Whole Person Health Care,” provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant contributions to preventive, whole-person care while citing effective models of integrative practice that have called on the expertise of naturopathic physicians in both primary and specialty care environments.
The 44-page paper was issued at a time when the nation’s health care workforce is facing a significant undersupply of physicians to meet the growing needs of a system encumbered by pandemic-related requirements. The authors’ intention is to demonstrate how licensed naturopathic physicians, who have graduated from accredited naturopathic medical schools, are uniquely equipped to address this workforce dilemma, respond to health care disparities, curb increasing costs, manage chronic conditions, stimulate a passion for prevention and health promotion strategies, and solve some of the challenges associated with declining patient satisfaction in health care today.
“This white paper is a timely tool for informing the medical community about naturopathic medicine and how it is strengthening systems of care with evidence-based approaches for addressing chronic disease,” said Michelle Simon, PhD, ND, president and chief executive officer of INM and one of the paper’s 11 section contributors. “I have worked alongside medical doctors and other health care providers throughout my 19 years in clinical practice; our patients have come to rely on this multi-disciplinary approach, and this paper reveals a clear roadmap for how collaboration among naturopathic doctors and other health care providers can be maximized in clinical, hospital and academic settings,” she concluded.
The paper also features case studies that illustrate naturopathic approaches to conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and long-haul COVID-19, as well as a research section that summarizes successful clinical outcomes in patients with cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses and diseases.
“Policymakers are scrambling to find ways to expand the health care workforce, improve patient outcomes, and lower costs,” said Laura Farr, executive director of AANP and one of the paper’s contributors. “This white paper provides the framework for how naturopathic medicine has the research behind it for cost effectiveness and patient outcomes, and a foundation of preventive patient-centered philosophy now known to be critical in achieving a more effective health care system,” she continued. “We call on all policymakers to take immediate action to remove barriers in the health care system currently preventing the rapid deployment of naturopathic physicians into all health care environments.”
Joining Dr. Simon and Farr as section contributors were Amy Rothenberg, ND, DHANP; Arvin Jenab, ND; Coquina Deger, MBA; JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE; Julie Tran, ND, FAAEM, MBA; Melanie Henriksen, ND, LAc, CNM; Moira Fitzpatrick, ND; Pamela Snider, ND; Len Wisneski, MD, FACP; Susan Haeger and Kimberly Lord Stewart.