The U.S. has roughly the same number of licensed Naturopathic physicians as it does comedians. I was surprised to learn this, since I know so many NDs (comes with the territory) but no comedians. I would guess that your average stand-up comedian would say the opposite.
The most current statistic on numbers in our profession comes from an article written several years ago, which was seeking to quantify and describe the typical professional duties of an ND. In the U.S. there are about 1300 in the field, in Canada, there are only 500. I don't know what comparison I can draw for a profession of only 500, maybe rodeo clowns?
In other words, the field is relatively small. And with hundreds of students graduating this spring from the seven accredited schools in U.S. and Canada, I expect the field to grow exponentially in the coming decades. Already, there have been leaps and bounds in the last few years that I've kept tabs on our profession- one after another, states have been initiating licensure or expanding the scope of Naturopathic physicians.
What does the future hold for new and established NDs? And what for their current and future patients? And how about for the role of Naturopathy in integrative medicine, or just medicine as a whole? Some of the current developments are increasing residency positions and increasing integration of Naturopathy into federal and state health insurance programs. This can be seen in the recent changes to add NDs to provider lists in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Oregon Health Plan's newly formed Coordinated Care Organization.
We have a lot to offer all of the above groups, and this will continue all the more so in the years and decades to come.
Yesterday morning the Oregon state Senate passed SB 1580, keeping the non-discriminatory language intact. That's good news for those Oregonians currently or soon to be on OHP, Oregon's state insurance.
Thank you to those who wrote our lawmakers, requesting this language to remain in the bill. Our words of support and encouragement made quite an impact as they received 500 responses in the last five days.
Next up, the bill goes to the Oregon House of Representatives for a vote in just a few days. Stay tuned as this story develops. Coordinated Care Organizations will soon be coming to Oregon, and Naturopathic Physicans will now be in the ranks of providing physicans.
Have you heard that Oregon is changing its state-wide health insurance rules and coverage? Oregon Health Plan (OHP) will soon be insuring far more people than it currently is. What is now a difficult, lottery-based system to become a member of is morphing into a system of coverage for far more of our uninsured and medically under-served.
With many thousands of insured soon to be covered and looking for care, Oregon's lawmakers are scrambling to write new legislation to outline future insurance structure. One thing's for certain: in a country already deficient in the number of primary care doctors we have, adding so many more to the patient pool will make for an even more burdened system. Good thing is, there's a few solutions.
One of those solutions comes in the form of non-discriminatory wording of legislation. This allow for all those qualified and trained to step in to help fill the gaps in providing quality primary care to all those who need it. This includes my profession, Naturopathic medicine, which trains medical students to serve as primary care physicians (as NDs), who are not currently covered by OHP.
There's only one main group opposed to this legislation wording: HMOs. This stands out, since HMOs (in my understanding) are all about cost savings as a means for profit margin growth, and preventive care has been shown to be the most ideal way to provide care and keep costs low (analysis by RobertWood Johnson Foundation in 2009).
The time for submitting comments to legislators is closing tomorrow, so if you agree with the above, please consider taking a minute of your time and contacting your representatives (if you live in Oregon) at this site.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to keeping you abreast of the future developments in our state's healthcare reform.