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Standard of Practice for Oregon NDs

 In Editorial / Opinion

Wayne Centrone, ND

What is the standard of practice for naturopathic medicine? I should imagine that if you asked 10 NDs you would get 10 different responses. Perhaps we should reframe the question by asking, What is not standard for naturopathic medicine? We are not charlatans who believe in panaceas of healing. We are not naysayers of science and the critical thinking of scientific inquiry. We are not nature healers. We are physicians – trained in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Naturopathic physicians are trained in the totality of medicine and healthcare. Our goal is not only disease eradication, but physiological enhancement. We are skillful scientists and artful healers.

That which makes an ND different from an MD is not the modalities being used – rather it is in the approach to the patient. Naturopathic physicians believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself. We believe that the form of the body cannot be separated from the function of the body. We believe that our primary role as medical doctors is to remove the obstacles to healing – and this is done in a number of different ways with varying degrees of application. Our charge is that of any healthcare professional – to first do no harm.

Where are we going? Historically, we have been very insular in our approach to the growth and development of the profession. We have now arrived at a place where our growth is dependent upon building greater relationships with other physician members of the healthcare continuum. We must embrace the many facets of our profession – from the healing power of nature, to the enormity of pharmacology – and pull together as the best trained primary care physicians in the nation to advocate for greater practice rights and privileges and expanded access to educational opportunities.

The future of this profession lies in the bridging of the old with the new. It lies in bringing more and more young minds to naturopathic medical schools. It lies in gaining greater access to graduate medical education and enhanced practice opportunities. The future of this profession is surely in playing to the strengths of naturopathy and building on those strengths.

The way that I practice naturopathic medicine is very different than a majority of my professional colleagues. I work for a Community Health Center that focuses its services to marginalized and underserved patients. My training, three years of residency and one year of fellowship, has taught me that disease occurs on a continuum and that the medical approach I pursue to healing is directly dependent upon where I reach a person in that disease continuum. A majority of the medications I prescribe are pharmaceuticals. My patient encounters rarely last longer than 20 minutes. I am visited weekly by drug representatives sampling medications that I can use with my low income patients. Am I still a “naturopath”? My answer is a resounding, Yes. Why? Because who I am is a physician first and foremost; and what I am most successful at doing is helping people to regain control of their lives.


Centrone_peru Jan 06

Wayne Centrone is a physician and public health professional who has dedicated his career to working with homeless and underserved populations.  After finishing his family practice residency, Wayne completed a two-year fellowship in “Homeless and Underserved Medicine” at Outside In Medical Clinic.  He is currently the medical director and program manager of Medical Outreach at Outside In.  In addition, Wayne works extensively in international medical outreach – spending three months a year in Latin America.  Wayne is married to Lee and enjoys spending time with his wife and their standard poodle, Oso.

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