The Importance of Naturopathic Licensure in 2011
When I graduated naturopathic medical school I returned to Port Jefferson and began seeing clients under my nutrition certification. Since that time I have had the chance to work with thousands of people.
I am happy for those that I have been able to help. At the same time I recognize that I could have done so much more. I could only offer a small portion of the service I was trained to provide. I was not able to give diagnostic testing to those that needed it. These were often people that chose not to do the recommended testing if we could not offer it.
I have sent clients to my medical doctor friends, but for some people that one extra step is too much. Maybe not for you, but for a sick person whose brain is not working right it is often just one step too much. These people miss receiving the care they need.
When legislators, medical doctors and other naturopathic doctors ask why we need licensure it is these people that come to mind. The 16 year old girl that comes to my Manhattan office that will never get a test for her anemia because her parents don’t speak English, don’t have insurance or can’t or won’t access other care for various reasons.
Naturopathic doctors are only asking to practice in the way that they have been trained through their four years of naturopathic medical school. We don’t do surgery, chemotherapy and other specialty procedures the same way that a general practice doctor doesn’t do these things.
What we do is offer an alternative perspective to patients with chronic illness. Our licensure movement has tremendous support. It is interesting that the few legislators that are resisting us now ask why we need both naturopathic doctors and medical doctors in the state. Yet these same legislators have no confusion as to why it is beneficial to have both democratic and republican legislators.
People need and want a choice in their medical care, and yet we don’t want to leave people to vulnerable to harm. This is why so many states license naturopathic doctors. People can get a different perspective from a trained medical professional. This approach has been a tremendous success in licensed states. Naturopathic doctors have the lowest malpractice rates of any primary care doctor for this reason.
Sometimes legislators express concern about naturopathic doctor practice outside the area of their training. The best track record of the highly conservative naturopathic approach is in the states that provide licensed naturopathic doctors as an option. Naturopathic doctors have the same duty has any professional to refer appropriately. I think it is safe for me to say that I refer more than any professional I know. I refer for medicine, acupuncture and chiropractic among others. My medical colleagues know this to be the case. There are many people that I see that have fallen out of conventional care for various reasons that are brought back into medicine by meeting with me and being referred back into medicine.
Sometimes I even hear conversations between lobbyist and legislators about the “medical pie.” By this they mean who the patients get to go to. Not who the patient wants to go to. I have even met with a legislator who talked about the high cost of keeping people alive too long. This is brutal misunderstanding of the difference between healthy older people and those with chronic disease among other things.
You can make a difference this year. Last year we failed by only one vote. Your calls to legislators are the key to pushing naturopathic licensure this year. Call your Assembly Member and State Senator and ask them to support S1803 and A1937. If you want your naturopathic doctor to be able to offer you full services and for insurance to cover than this is the way to make it happen.