Association Spotlight: Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association
BARON GLASSGOW, IOM, CAE
The mission of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AzNMA) is to promote naturopathic medicine and create opportunities for naturopathic physicians to thrive. We support our mission by providing education for physicians; providing referral and public relations services for members; and promoting a legislative agenda that defends, supports, and expands the ability of naturopathic doctors to practice in Arizona.
Goals, Committees, & Challenges
Looking ahead at the next 3 years, AzNMA’s primary goals are to pursue legislative issues that present the naturopathic profession in a positive light while also offering equal opportunities for our doctors regarding employment, reimbursement, and scope of practice.
My job as Executive Director is to make sure that the AzNMA is more fiscally sound, better operated, more respected, and stronger on the day I leave than on the day I started. I am fortunate that the AzNMA Board and the leaders of the other associations that we manage trust my judgment and allow me to expand our horizons in new and creative ways. Like-minded partners, such as our governmental relations and public relations firms, have helped us enjoy success in ways not considered a few short years ago. The limiting factors are time – especially working with associations that scan 6 time zones – and money. With additional financial resources, for example, we could utilize a public relations firm year-round rather than seasonally, as we do now.
All of AzNMA’s projects go through our committees or task forces. We welcome and encourage AzNMA members to be involved in some way. Our main committees include the following; each of these is an ongoing effort:
- Education: This committee plans our webinars, seminars, and conferences.
- Legislative: This committee works with our lobbyists on legislative and regulatory issues.
- Marketing and Membership: This committee works on public relations and projects related to engaging and expanding our membership.
- Scientific Affairs: This committee works to publish scientific research conducted by naturopathic doctors.
The main challenge we are currently facing is the paucity of volunteer engagement. Everyone in our association leads a very busy life, making it challenging to be involved in our activities on an ongoing basis. Volunteers are the lifeblood of AzNMA, and more are needed. AzNMA’s committees and task forces are open to additional members, but without asking for undue time commitments.
Due to our track record of achievement, AzNMA has a broad membership, as well as strong participation in our conferences and other continuing education events. Our efforts support all NDs, not just members, so we encourage all naturopathic doctors in Arizona to join forces with AzNMA to advance the profession through engagement.
Arizona NDs enjoy the broadest scope of practice in the country. We want the public to see naturopathic medicine as not only as mainstream as allopathic medicine, but more progressive. Eliminating distinctions between an ND and an MD/DO will help expand naturopathic medicine across the country and globally.
Starting in the 4th quarter of last year, AzNMA engaged the services of a public relations firm for the first time. At the end of that contract in April, we assessed what could have been done better. We decided at the beginning of July to work with a new public relations firm. Our new challenge is to keep up with interview opportunities. To that end, we are inviting our members to join the pool of naturopathic doctors available to be interviewed on specific topics.
Through their media outreach efforts, we are able to track both viewership and readership from local TV and business publications. This allows AzNMA to gauge its increased visibility to mainstream society. For example, on a Wednesday, the PR firm alerted us to a story opportunity for a weekend show on a top-rated TV station. By the next day, a volunteer stepped forward to do the interview, which took place 3 days later on Sunday morning. That 4-minute interview resulted in viewership of 68 865, with a local publicity value of nearly $11 500.
Inroads have also been made with local government. Three years ago, AzNMA engaged the services of Gretchen Jacobs as our governmental affairs consultant. Gretchen has been recognized numerous times as one of the most effective lobbyists in Arizona. With her colleague Scot Butler, another fantastic lobbyist and attorney, AzNMA has accomplished more in the past 3 years to advance the naturopathic profession in Arizona than we accomplished in the prior decade.
In the past month, we have secured 3 local TV segments, and AzNMA is writing an article that will be published by one of the top business publications in our state. This allows our organization to quickly spread awareness and education about both AzNMA and the importance of naturopathic medicine.
AzNMA works with AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid agency that pays for physical and behavioral health care services to 1.9 million Arizonans. Working with AzNMA, AHCCCS has opened its childhood wellness program to NDs. As we work through this complicated system and the various health plans, our goal is to allow naturopathic doctors to provide services to the entire AHCCCS population. This creates a pathway to coverage through traditional medical insurance plans.
AZNMA has been able to advocate for our members and get policies changed for the better. Examples include the following: Simon Med and Dignity Health recently reversed their stance of refusing orders for imaging from NDs; American Airlines changed their policy and now accept documentation from NDs; CVS resolved the issue of accepting orders from NDs; and AIA now accepts sports physicals from NDs. Without the backing of AZNMA, it would have been very difficult for a solitary doctor to resolve issues like these.
Over 2 years ago, the AzNMA leadership made a strategic decision to offer management services to other naturopathic organizations. Today, AzNMA provides association management services to 4 other small naturopathic associations. We also provide affordable conference management services to several other naturopathic organizations. By helping other organizations grow and achieve their objectives, more opportunities are created for naturopathic doctors across the country. AzNMA has provided leadership in atypical ways. Last year, when one of the associations we manage needed funds to get them through a cash-flow challenge at a critical time, AzNMA loaned them the needed funds. AzNMA is unique in providing these management services. This cost-effective model can be replicated by other associations.