Association Spotlight: Georgia Association of Naturopathic Physicians
What is the Georgia Association of Naturopathic Physicians (GANP) mission statement?
Our mission is to promote the philosophy, art, science, and practice of naturopathic medicine, to support and strengthen the standards of naturopathic practice, and to promote ethical conduct in the practice of naturopathy in the state of Georgia.
What obstacles is the GANP contending with as you work to meet your goals?
One of our most significant obstacles seems to be our small number of naturopathic doctors. We have learned from naturopathic students over the years that practicing in an unlicensed state is daunting and a justifiable deterrent. We are confident that when naturopathic physicians become licensed in our state, we will be able to grow our number of practicing doctors. With the primary care doctor-to-patient ratio gap continuing to widen, the opportunity for naturopathic doctors to support our Georgia communities is immense. Georgia had a licensing board in the 1950s. However, the law establishing that board was allowed to sunset due to the small number of physicians at that time. The sunset of previous legislation could provide a historical advantage in supporting our cause, giving us hope that Georgia can once again offer licensure for naturopathic doctors.
What sort of inroads has the GANP made politically within your local government?
Before the pandemic, we employed a part-time lobbyist. She was passionate about naturopathic medicine, having benefited from the care of a naturopathic doctor. Her previous career in pharmaceutical sales created a unique vantage point while promoting her passion for naturopathic medicine. She also had many connections within the political arena in Atlanta. Our lobbyist paved the way for an in-person meeting with a state representative with a nursing background. The representative was very receptive, if largely unaware of what we do as naturopathic doctors and how rigorous our training is. This representative provided ideas for further meetings and encouraged us to prioritize connecting with our local branch of the American Medical Association to advance our goals for licensing naturopathic medicine in Georgia. She also invited us to a closed-door session within the state capitol to view the political process in action. We met with the legislative director for the secretary of state and the lieutenant governor. Unfortunately, and understandably, the pandemic brought a long pause for any political activity. We are beginning to pick up where we left off, with great hope of continuing our cause.
Do you have any particular stories that highlight the accomplishments of the GANP?
Our longest-practicing naturopathic doctor and champion for the GANP, Dr Winston Cardwell, has a thriving integrative practice and continues to add practitioners to his staff. Dr Anya Warren continues to provide wonderful care as a tenured physician with CTCA in the city of Newnan. Dr Anna Bausum is the first naturopathic doctor to work at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University. She is educating Emory on the value of naturopathic doctors and our place in the medical continuum. Dr Rachel Marynowski continues to grow her practice specializing in women’s health alongside her work with the Atlanta Birth Center – a clinic that includes a full spectrum of integrative medicine offerings within the same facility. Dr Marynowski also has a website devoted to holistic women’s health: www.kaleblossom.com. Dr Lahnor Powell is a medical education specialist with an integrative lab. The GANP recently participated in the Atlantic Naturopathic Medical Conference, with our own Dr Cheryl Burdette as a brilliant speaker. Most of our other Georgia naturopathic doctors are in private practice and show dedication to serving patients in their individual communities throughout Georgia. Our group is very diverse. We may be small in number, but we are making inroads in various communities and settings throughout our great state of Georgia.
What goals does the GANP have for the next three years?
Our top priority continues to be the education of our medical colleagues, particularly those in conventional medicine, about who we are and how we can step in to help serve our communities alongside rather than compete with medical doctors.
In addition, we are revamping the GANP website (www.ganp.org) to establish a resource for our association members and patients. We continue to dedicate time to spreading the word to residents of the great Peach State that naturopathic doctors are a viable, well-trained resource for comprehensive health care. We offer affordable, compassionate care and can serve in areas where access to health care is limited.
We hope to raise funds to advance our lobbying efforts and continue networking to arrange in-person meetings with Georgia representatives. Realistically, it may not be possible to achieve licensure within the next three years. However, it’s a powerful driving force for us to continue organizing as a group and telling everyone we know about naturopathic medicine.