liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Medically Trained Naturopathic Docs Need a Distinct Title

I have been thinking this for some time. It started when I realized that "naturopath" means "nature disease" and that is a crappy name for the profession that I would like to espouse. So what are we going to call ourselves? We being the people who attend CNME accredited schools, belong to the AANP, are getting extensive medical training. Behind the cut, Ken Winston Cain's articulate arguments as to why we need to embrace two classes of naturopathic doctors, the "traditional" naturopaths and the medically trained ones. Any attempt to claim the title "naturopath" just for ourselves results in a backlash from a great number of people who have been using that title longer than us and don't have in depth medical training. So by trying to take away the title of a less-trained group, we are taking on the cloud of quackery that surrounds their practices, and invoking their outright and justifiable rebellion. So we must stop it. Cain suggests adding words such as "integrative" or "medical" to our title. Integrative Medical Doctor sounds better to me, just drop the word "naturopath" entirely. What do you think? Time is of the essence. We need to ensure that all future licensure bills have recognition of the existing natural medicine practitioners without trying to steal their name or pretend that they don't exist. We need a name.

Text nabbed from:

Stop the naturopathy wars. CNME’s medically trained naturopaths need a DISTINCT title
This is an open call to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the related Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, and their legislative lobbyists:

Please declare peace.

It’s time to negotiate an end to all the disparaging and contentious infighting among the various factions of naturopaths in America.

The solution is simple — even if a bit tough to swallow. The much smaller, but better financed and better trained group — which has much more at stake and deserves to be licensed — I’m talking about the AANP/CNME faction — should immediately adopt and trademark a new and distinct title that better describes the broad and scientific nature of their practice and that completely distinguishes them from typical naturopathic doctors.

Typical naturopathic doctors counsel about “homeostasis” (balance and its role in the disease and healing process), herbal and homeopathic and folk remedies, alternative-health diets, referred to as cleanses or fasts, and lifestyle changes. The AANP/CNME faction does all that — and more, much more — and is trained in and qualified to practice scientific medicine and diagnose and treat diseases, just like a typical family doctor.

Don’t be afraid

The medically trained faction should not be afraid to adopt a new, distinct and more descriptive “brand” as it marches forward with its decade-and-a-half-long charge to get its doctors licensed to practice as family doctors in every state.

They have much more to offer the public than typical naturopathic doctors.

In fact, because they are trained in basic scientific medicine as well as some aspects of Oriental medicine (including acupuncture), and in an osteopathic/chiropractic-like form of physical “adjustment,” and, like all naturopaths, in homeopathy and herbalism and nutrition, they have even more to offer the public than does the typical family physician. Because the medically trained naturopaths practice integrative medicine — which is gaining wide public recognition and favor.

If only they would adopt a title that reflects that — instead of claiming exclusive right to the titles “naturopath,” “naturopathy,” and “naturopathic doctor” — they could more quickly win an immense amount of public and legislative respect.

CNME-associated naturopaths shouldn’t wait another minute. THEIR ASSIGNMENT: Come up with a “green”-appealing, “white-coat” title that immediately elevates them above the typical “naturopathic doctor” in the public’s mind. And use the term “naturopathic” in it to build on whatever goodwill they have fostered so far in their public information campaigns. And STOP the “ill-will” tactics that ultimately create a “damaged goods” impression of naturopathy in the public mind and that invite intense and hostile opposition to their licensing agenda.

In their battle for exclusive licensing acts, they have fostered confusion and mistrust and fierce opposition by denigrating the qualifications and training of the majority of naturopaths — who are not trained in basic scientific medicine and are not qualified to practice medicine or practice as family physicians and, importantly, who do not seek that right.

So far, the AANP/CNME efforts have gotten some form of new licensing enacted in 10 states. Ten states in 15 years is not bad. (Actually, naturopaths are licensed in 15 states. Naturopathic licensing acts remained on the books from the early 20th century in five states — Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington — at the outset of the AANP/CNME campaign.)

Unfortunately, in only a few of the states where they have managed to get new licensing laws enacted are they given the status of family physicians and truly allowed to practice integrative medicine to the full extent of their training. And that is, in part, because they have not distinguished themselves in the public mind as scientifically qualified integrative medical doctors.

And that’s why they need to adopt and embrace a new and distinct title.

The general public (in the non-licensed states) has only a vague and passing knowledge of what a “naturopathic doctor” is, and tends to lump them in with psychic healers, health-food store herbalists, colon therapists, energy healers, UFO buffs, and so on.

You know and do MORE than most ‘naturopathic doctors’

Could the AANP/CNME doctors become known as Integrative Naturopathic Doctors? Could they be Naturopathic Integrative Doctors? Could they be Naturopathic Integrative Medical Doctors? Could they be Integrative Naturopathic Physicians? Could they be Doctors of Integrative Naturopathic Medicine?

If they adopt as exclusive titles, Naturopathic Physician and Naturopathic Medical Doctor, as they have in some states, can they develop a powerful, highly differentiated brand? Is that distinct enough from “naturopathic doctor” for them to easily communicate or “sell” how different and more qualified they are?

I think not. While NP and NMD are a step in the right direction, they aren’t different enough from “naturopathic doctor” to really carry the powerful marketing message that they could automatically convey and that the AANP/CNME physicians need to convey.

Idaho is a model

Idaho basically got it right last year.

Idaho adopted a complex act that sets up a two-tier system and gives the medically trained naturopaths a distinct title (although maybe not distinct enough) and allows them to practice to the full extent of their training as family physicians. Or, at least, has the potential to do that.

(I’m not sure how the AANP docs will work out hospital privileges — that may be their next frontier.)

The Idaho law reserves the title “naturopathic doctor” for trained, traditional naturopaths, the non-medical bunch, who essentially offer homeopathy and herbalism and nutritional, wellness and lifestyle counseling.

You are outnumbered by differently trained and lesser-trained naturopaths

The problem is that in the United States and world-wide the “naturopathic doctors” outnumber the medically trained naturopaths — and always have. This becomes a turf and livelihood problem when the highly trained, medically qualified naturopaths seek laws to exclude anyone but their own from practicing naturopathy or using the terminology of naturopathy.

When they do this, they ignore the numbers and they ignore the fact that some great schools in the United States, Australia, New Zealand (and throughout Great Britain), in India and elsewhere teach a different (more ‘folky’) form of naturopathy than the scientific, medical form that the AANP/CNME has evolved. They ignore that the form most-frequently taught and practiced is much closer to that which was promulgated by the discipline’s founder, Benedict Lust — who very vocally insisted that naturopathy was not the practice of medicine, but an alternative and a synthesis of timeless natural healing and self-healing techniques and approaches available to all.

They ignore that naturopathy’s founder taught naturopathy — as a philosophy of living — to the general public and to doctoral students through correspondence lessons, as well as in “seminars” and public lectures, as well as in residence schools. They ignore that the essential healing philosophy is simple enough to be taught in a weekend seminar or lengthy magazine article. (No one should ever be declared a “doctor” after a single seminar or course, of course.) They ignore that it was widely taught as an alternative healing philosophy in massage schools, osteopathic schools and chiropractic schools before World War II when the advent of antibiotics ushered in the era of “scientific medicine.” They ignore that there have always been fractious factions within naturopathy and varying levels of practice and training.

Two classes of naturopath

They simply decided in the late ’80s to declare theirs as the one and only way, the only true and safe and qualified practice of naturopathy and to try to codify that in state laws.

Unfortunate approach.

Because it has led to nasty public fights and legislative campaigns that have not served to build public confidence in the wonderful (and simple) lifestyle philosophy that is at the heart of naturopathy.

Because it hasn’t helped educate the public in a constructive manner that there are two classes of naturopaths:

1. Essentially alternative-health lifestyle counselors with varying levels of training in a smattering of “folk medicine” disciplines from herbalism and homeopathy through Bach Flower Remedies.

2. Medically trained family physicians who are also deeply schooled in the holistic approach and in certain specific alternative modalities and who integrate the three.

The public, which increasingly asserts and defends its freedom to seek and explore a wide variety of alternative health options, does not expect the “folk medicine” class of naturopaths to wear white coats or be licensed to practice medicine or have hospital privileges.

The public would be much better served and much more responsive to the idea of licensing — if they understood they are not being asked to license (or outlaw) the folk-medicine counselors, but instead to license a clearly, distinctly titled and qualified hybrid Integrative-Medical Naturopathic Doctor. Andrew Weil has done an incredible job of selling the soundness of the integrative-scientific approach. The public embraces and clamors for it.

The two classes of naturopath can and should co-exist. There will always be a market for both. Right-to-practice Health-Freedom acts are completely adequate for the first class. Health-Freedom Acts protect the public by requiring full disclosure of training and philosophy and non-licensed status.

Licensing — under a distinct title (and from a marketing-communication standpoint, getting the terms “integrative” and “medicine” or “medical” into that title would incredibly enhance its “selling power” and the amount of respect it would command) — is essential for the medically trained faction.

Let’s declare peace. Let’s constructively educate the public about the two classes of naturopaths, about the high qualifications and broad offerings of those who practice naturopathic integrative medicine, and about the basic, simple, helpful philosophy of life balance that is called “naturopathy.”

And quit trashing the majority of naturopaths, dismissing them as fakes and as unqualified and as “mail-order doctors” or “diploma-mill doctors” — the latter of which indeed has been true in a very small number of cases and which a Health-Freedom Act would immediately resolve by statutorily requiring full, accurate, verifiable written disclosure of a non-licensed practitioner’s training.

Let’s work hand in hand, state by state, to enact both right-to-practice Health-Freedom Acts and to enact licensure for the medically trained naturopathic doctors — but giving the latter a highly distinct and descriptive title, so that the public CAN’T be confused between the two and can only gain increasing respect for the integrative medical bunch.

This may be anti-climatic and even redundant. But here is a related excerpt from my personal disclaimer and disclosure statement:

Ken Winston Caine believes that naturopathic physicians, trained in the practice of basic medicine through schools approved by the Council on Naturopathic Education, should be licensed in every state to practice integrative medicine at a level on par with licensed family physicians (and that the world and the state of health care in America will be better off when that happens).

He does not support the CNME and American Association of Naturopathic Physicians position that only CNME/AANP-associated physicians are qualified to practice naturopathy or use the terminology of naturopathy in the United States and Canada. He notes that naturopathy, as introduced by Benedict Lust and as most commonly taught world-wide, encompasses many natural and alternative healing modalities that have been in the public domain since the dawn of man. These should remain in the public domain.

He recognizes that there are many schools of varying quality world-wide teaching various systems and variations of naturopathy, and that most of the schools teaching naturopathy are not CNME approved, do not teach the CNME curriculum and do not meet CNME standards.

And he notes that there are many qualified and well-regarded doctors of naturopathy world-wide, many of whom practice forms of naturopathy that differ substantially from those proscribed by the CNME, and who are not associated with the CNME.

He believes that naturopathy as most widely taught is:
1) an inspiring and relatively simple philosophy of health and,
2) is a relatively safe and benign practice and,
3) is not at all the practice of medicine, but,
4) is an alternative form of health-care and health counseling, and that,
5) it can be and is effectively offered and counseled for the public’s benefit by practitioners who are not trained and licensed in the practice of medicine.

Therefore, he urges CNME-associated physicians, who indeed are well trained in the basic practice of medicine, to adopt and trademark a highly distinct title; one that clearly distinguishes them and their training and their form of naturopathic medical practice from that of the majority of naturopathic doctors and naturopathic practitioners world-wide.

This has been accomplished in the state of Idaho and as is well-modeled in that state’s naturopathic practice act. To do the same nationally would greatly benefit both the CNME-medically trained naturopathic physicians and the public, and would immediately end all the counterproductive, confusing, contentious and sometimes misleading squabbling about naturopathy, what is naturopathy and who is “really” a qualified naturopath.

Additional resources: Naturopathic licensing laws as of 2005.
Tags: healthcare, law, licensing, medicine, naturopathy, politics, words

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