Defining Excellence
Carrie Louise Daenell, ND
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
by: Carrie Louise Daenell, ND


We have worked diligently, over the years – decade after decade, for inches of recognition for our medicine.  Why?  Because we know that we bring real healing when treatments and disease-management fall short.  The world needs our medicine.

Suddenly the world seems to have reached a tipping point of awareness and demand for our medicine.  Exciting!  It is what we have worked for, against all odds, and in the
face of dedicated detractors and nay-sayers.  Finally… it is our time.
... the world seems to have reached a tipping point of awareness and demand for our medicine...

Or is it?
Look around.  Many of those would-be detractors and nay-sayers have grown quite weary of the third-party insurance-based pay system where they find themselves in this modern era of healthcare provision.  They are looking to repurpose their credentials into cash-based practices and need a way to be novel enough to justify working with patients outside of insurance reimbursement.  Natural medicine.  They take a few courses, offered by supplement companies looking to expand their customer base – learn how to use a few key nutritional supplements and “bam” they are suddenly “the best of both worlds”. 

Or are they?
I believe that the vast majority of doctors of any stripe, pursued their education with the intent of helping people… and that most “best of both worlds” providers truly are excited about making a more natural difference in their practices and that they undoubtedly do more good than they did prior to expanding their medical horizons in an effort to begin to learn how to use some key nutritional supplements  - however, best of both worlds… might more aptly be described as really good at conventional medicine and enthusiastic beginner in the use of nutritional supplements.

Who cares?
Exactly – who cares to accurately define what is going on there?  The enthusiastic beginners aren’t in a position to do so.  How can they be expected to “know what they don’t know”, so to speak?  The public doesn’t know how to make the distinction.  Actually… we are in a unique position to define excellence in natural medicine because we are excellence in natural medicine. 

Why do we care to define our excellence? 
Let’s set aside our pride and personal investment in excellence.  Let’s think more holistically, more globally and for the greater good of the future of natural medicine and the people on this planet that need and deserve access to the depth and breadth of our medicine.  Let’s even think about from where these entry-level new-found natural medicine enthusiasts go to draw their information, and from where the nutraceutical industry pulls formulation wisdom.  Our profession must thrive, so that everyone drawing from our medicine can thrive.

Naturopathic medicine is a rich brand of natural medicine with a breadth and a depth, orders of magnitude beyond entry-level learning from nutritional supplement manufacturers.  As such, those entry level enthusiasts, those nutritional supplement manufacturers and the world of patients (losing ground with their health at an accelerating rate) need our profession to thrive.

And why wouldn’t we - in times such as these, with increased interest and demand and even our historical detractors and nay-sayers joining ranks with enthusiasm for natural medicine?

Because we have yet to define ourselves to the public.  They don’t really know who we are.  They don’t really know what makes us unique and valuable.  Undefined we are invisible.  Invisible we risk accidental co-opted extinction. 

It is our job to define ourselves to the world.  Now is the time to do it.  Failure to step up at this particular point in history could have far-reaching implications for the quality and provision of natural medicine as it takes its place within the fabric of healthcare world-wide.

I believe that there is a place for everyone, because all of the practitioners providing natural care have something valuable to bring.  I also believe that we, the Naturopathic Doctors with our rich, deep and wide context of health and healing, are the natural leaders in this space and it is our responsibility to take on that leadership – with confidence, with clarity and with inclusion.  We owe it to the world, to make certain that we are here, long term, to care for the most compromised patients, teach the most enthusiastic beginners, drive meaningful formulations within the nutritional supplement industry and to maintain the integrity of natural medicine through the principles that make our medicine the unique and valuable gift that it is to this planet.

In order to be here for the people on this planet, in a sustainable way, we must begin with defining our excellence to the public so that people truly understand that we are so much more.  We must then get that definition out there were people live – so that soon, Naturopathic Medicine is a household concept and by becoming so… is secured as a meaningful part of healthcare for generations to come.

Let’s pull together and define our excellence for everyone’s greater good.
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