Message from the President
National College of Natural Medicine
David J. Schleich
One day early this winter I noticed a visitor from my office window. She was studying a sign on one of our outside building walls which reads, “NCNM, since 1956.” Later she commented, “Didn’t realize you had been around for so long.” Being around a long time, though, is no assurance of continuing presence in the mad hatter landscape of healthcare in America these days. As part of our goal of keeping NCNM glued to the mission of building and sustaining the natural medicine professions in North America, we have been very busy developing an urban campus in downtown Portland. It has been important and fun to announce to all those who pass by physically and virtually, not just how long we have been around, but also that we’re staying. Our purpose is to make a difference in the healthcare landscape of the United States and beyond.
In the past half-decade, NCNM’s presence in the Portland community has become more pronounced, more permanent. It has been the goal of the amazing NCNM team in recent years to anchor our mission of deep and broad support for professional formation in a multi-program, multi-building, multi-block campus with the best students, curriculum, teachers, support staff, facilities and spaces we can. For example, our new clinic, with its naturopathic and classical Chinese medicine treatment rooms, fabulous labs and medicinary, and views of Mount Hood has now been joined by our crisp, new Helfgott Research and Community Education Center. There is also the Min Zidel Healing Garden, now enriched by a busy greenhouse, a new pavilion, 4 amazing and unique art installations, a labyrinth and an abundance of botanicals used in our educational programs, each plant a fundamental statement of NCNM’s commitment to the health of the planet and its people. There is, too, the new Betty Radelet Hall, named after NCNM’s first female graduate and now the oldest living naturopathic doctor in America. The newly renovated Mitchell Hall, named after Bill Mitchell, another beloved NCNM graduate, is up and running.
We have recently added 5 new programs to our mix of natural medicine curriculum, with naturopathic medicine and Classical Chinese medicine at the core of what we do. The regional accreditor has said yes to new Master’s degrees in Acupuncture (MAc), Integrative Medicine Research (MSiMR), and Nutrition (MScN).
Our facilities continue to grow and improve, including a restored botanical medicine lab and classroom, a fantastic teaching and research kitchen (called Charlee’s Kitchen), a new basic sciences lab, and a totally wired-to-the-world community education classroom. There is also these days a new heavily used computer commons for our students, where EHR/EMR training occurs and the rapidly transforming on-line curriculum resources of our programs are often accessed.
NCNM’s faculty are hard at work on a 3-year curriculum re-engineering venture these days, as we figure out how best to prepare grads for a complex working environment. As well, we have expanded our community clinic activity such that there we are now closing in on 20 sites students can choose from to enhance their clinical and didactic knowledge. NCNM students can also mix and match program options, blending naturopathic medicine with Chinese medicine, research and nutrition. Last summer’s field trip of a dozen NCNM students and staff to east Africa is an example of how our curriculum objectives include experiential learning outcomes along with heavy duty academic and clinical content.
NCNM’s continuing education department has been growing and growing. Monthly symposia, seminars, workshops, clinical training, credential enhancement, and community education are part of this dynamic division’s outreach. NCNM has also generated several new institutes to complement our core medical training. The Women In Balance Institute has online and on-site educational offerings related to women’s health. The Food As Medicine Institute is the home of NCNM’s highly successful “Ending Childhood Obesity” (ECO) program, which has provided dozens of training programs for families in the greater Portland area and beyond. The Traditional Roots Institute has brought numerous botanical medicine and herbal courses to the profession, and recently sponsored 2 Smithsonian scholars for a week-long visit to the campus and to other higher education institutions in Portland.
NCNM Press has been relaunched. There are over a dozen new books for the profession in the works. The extraordinary Hevert Collection of 12 volumes will reintroduce to the naturopathic profession all of the best literature from the first 3 decades of the 20th century, selected carefully from NCNM’s complete collection of the old Lust journals, on topics ranging from dietetics to vaccinations. A new NCNM Press book sharing information and learning tools from the ECO program is soon to appear, as will a new book about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), from our new SIBO Center in the teaching clinic.
Our teachers, administrators, and support staff at NCNM have made all these things happen in a very short time. They believe, as do I, that this mission is powerful and important. The full spectrum of modalities along a continuum which welcomes the traditional and the contemporary is alive and well here. Stay tuned.
David J. Schleich, PhD is president and CEO of NCNM, former president of Truestar Health, and former CEO and president of CCNM, where he served from 1996 to 2003. Previous posts have included appointments as vice president academic of Niagara College, and administrative and teaching positions at St. Lawrence College, Swinburne University (Australia) and the University of Alberta. His academic credentials have been earned from the University of Western Ontario (BA), the University of Alberta (MA), Queen’s University (BEd), and the University of Toronto (PhD).