July 2012: Getting Started, Moving Forward

By Jud Richland, AANP Chief Executive Officer

Greetings! I am both humbled and excited to be writing my first column as AANP’s new CEO.
It has not taken long to learn that AANP members make up a vibrant and passionate community.  From its beginnings 25 years ago with a volunteer executive director and an office in a church basement, AANP has grown into a mature and influential association.
As an incoming CEO, it’s wonderful to see that your past success has only fueled the desire for even more growth and more success. The Board and staff are focused laser-like on AANP’s most critical goals, namely, ensuring that all patients have access to a naturopathic physician and that every naturopathic physician has the best possible opportunity to be successful.
The strategies for achieving these goals are inextricably interconnected. As the staff leader now entrusted with achieving these goals, I want to report that the association has already crafted a thoughtful and impactful blueprint for action.
Re-energized public education and branding strategies are front and center. Already on the drawing board are plans for developing a modernized and powerful brand for naturopathic physicians, for differentiating naturopathic physicians from your competitors, and for reaffirming your standing as the nation’s natural medicine experts and leaders. Plans include aggressive social media efforts to spread our message. They also include a new consumer-focused web site that will educate about natural medicine and encourage consumers to find and contact an ND.
Our stepped up advocacy efforts will support our public education efforts and vice versa. With the Supreme Court having affirmed the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, our advocacy efforts at both the federal and state levels become all the more critical. In two years, millions of Americans will be added to the insurance rolls. Thus, gaining state licensure in every state is a must in order to maximize opportunities for you to provide the services you are trained to deliver and to give patients access to your services.  The Board and staff are moving quickly to expand our tools and resources and put them in the hands of every state licensure advocate who needs them.
At the same time, we have begun laying the groundwork to implement the law’s provision guaranteeing insured Americans access to licensed health care providers. We know there will be powerful interests taking aim at this provision, but we’ll be ready to meet them head-on.
Underlying both our public education and our advocacy efforts is the continuing need to build a deep science base and to disseminate scientific information in an understandable way. AANP’s Board – not to mention many of our partner organizations – is actively exploring ways to accelerate this work.
With Board committees now in place on public education, government affairs, and scientific affairs, our governance processes are aligned with our most important goals. Of critical importance is that our re-energized House of Delegates is enthusiastically working to ensure that you have a voice in shaping AANP’s future.
You have chosen to commit to a profession that is truly transformational. To honor your commitment, your professional association must also commit to being transformational. Thus, for AANP the greatest danger is not that our goals are too lofty and we miss them, but that they are too low and we reach them.
I am thrilled to join a community with as much energy and passion as yours. I ask that you allow AANP to harness your energy to empower your association and your profession to bring about transformational change in our country. I am so looking forward to this journey, and I cannot wait to meet each and every one of you.