For Naturopathic Medicine specialist Dr. Lisa Anne Arnold, this week's enactment of a law to offer licensure to naturopathic doctors (NDs) in Massachusetts was a true milestone. Dr. Arnold, who practices in Orleans and Sandwich, said it was the culmination of "a 24 year effort by many grateful patients, supportive medical allies and ND's in the state."
Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that offers licensure to naturopathic doctors (NDs) in Massachusetts. This licensure ensures the safe practice of naturopathic medicine in the Bay State.
A grassroots effort led by thousands of grateful patients helped get this legislation over the finish line. Massachusetts' residents will now be able to safely access ND care locally instead of crossing state lines to seek such care. All New England states, save Rhode Island, have licensed NDs for over 20 years. This law affords people of Massachusetts an option to include well-educated and trained NDs on their health care team for the ND expertise in both preventive care and natural integrative medicine.
Naturopathic doctors are rigorously trained in post graduate, four-year, in-residence, regionally and nationally accredited naturopathic medical schools. Graduates pass psychometrically sound examinations prior to eligibility for licensure and require industry standard continuing education coursework.
There has been a paradigm shift in attitudes and acceptance of natural and integrative medicine, which is ongoing. Scientific rigor applied to the evaluation of empirically based nutritional, botanical, and other naturopathic treatments continues. Numerous naturopathic institutions are recipients of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and other grants to advance medical research. Naturopathic doctors have been awarded competitive NIH fellowships.
Benefits of Licensure
Amy Rothenberg ND, president of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors (MSND) reports, "I, along with my colleagues in Massachusetts and across the country, look forward to the opportunity to join the ranks of health care providers in the Commonwealth. I applaud Governor Baker and the legislative process that studied and vetted this profession for over 24 years and came to understand the unique role that licensed NDs can play in the state."
Paul Herscu ND, MPH and MSND Legislative Chair furthers, "Naturopathic doctors are poised to bring evidence based knowledge and expertise to the Massachusetts clinical, public health, teaching and research settings."
"This is the second state to gain licensure within the last two months. Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania signed a bill into law in November, bringing to 22 the number of states and jurisdictions that recognize naturopathic medicine," states Anne McClenon, ND of Plymouth.
"Because Massachusetts is surrounded by licensed states, we had become a haven for those without appropriate education and training to use the term naturopathic doctor," comments Lisa Arnold, ND, of Cape Cod. This law protects public health by enabling Massachusetts' citizens to understand credentials of those practitioners seen.
"We have a long history in licensed states of providing safe and effective care. In the weeks leading up to Governor Baker's signing this bill, high level state politicians, Secretaries of Health and Human Services, and members of Departments of Public Health from licensed states weighed in with their positive experiences with naturopathic medicine in their respective states," adds Allison Willette, ND from Hadley. In addition, insurance company executives, leaders from the business world, medical researchers along with scores of medical doctors and other allied health professionals contacted Governor Baker urging the signing of this bill.
In licensed states, NDs work collaboratively with allied health providers, whether from private practice, in integrative clinics or health care centers, and in clinics that care for the underserved. Massachusetts patients will now be able to safely access the skills and expertise of NDs in the Baystate.
A short, exclusive virtual Interview with Dr. Lisa Anne Arnold
Cape Cod Today spoke at length with Dr. Lisa Anne Arnold to seek a better understanding of what licensure brings to the table for ND's and their patients. Below are a few of the Q&A items we obtained from Dr. Arnold:
CapeCodToday: How does this benefit patients?
Dr. Arnold: Licensure ensures high quality naturopathic care in Massachusetts by protecting the consumer from unqualified practitioners who claim to be naturopathic doctors. Licensure will improve access to complementary medicine because more qualified specialists in natural medicine will be encouraged to practice in Massachusetts.
CapeCodToday: How will existing practitioners such as yourself gain licensure? How will new practitioners achieve licensure?bDr
Dr. Arnold: A board will be set up and will determine the rules and regulations and other specifics such as this.
CapeCodToday: Will this change the type of already-rigorous training that ND’s receive?
Dr. Arnold: No, the current 4 year post graduate training which is recognized by the US Dept of Education that ND's currently receive is not changed by this licensure.
CapeCodToday: Were any of local legislative delegation helpful in advancing this bill?
Dr. Arnold: Yes, I have worked very closely with many past and present local legislators along this process of many years to get to where we are today.
CapeCodToday: How many ND’s practice on Cape Cod?
Dr. Arnold: I believe there are 4, including myself.
CapeCodToday: Does medical insurance cover ND treatment now?
Dr. Arnold: Not currently.
CapeCodToday: With state licensure will that affect insurance coverage?
Dr. Arnold: Insurance coverage is not part of this current law.
For More Information on ND Practice
The Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors (MSND) is a non-profit, professional membership association representing Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Founded in 1980, the mission of the MSND is to support our members and improve the health of the public through the advancement of Naturopathic Medicine. We strive to promote the success of Naturopathic Doctors and the naturopathic profession in Massachusetts through education, public awareness, advocacy, and community. For further information please contact http://msnd.org/contact-us/