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What is Naturopathic Primary Care?
Naturopathic Primary Care is Community-Based Medicine
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has developed a commonly accepted definition of primary care: “Primary care is the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by clinicians who are accountable for addressing a large majority of personal health care needs, developing a sustained partnership with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.” (IOM, 1996)
Who better understands these concepts than naturopathic physicians? Naturopathic physicians for years have worked cooperatively with other physicians, have been extensively trained in community-based practices, and have focused on the integration of education and the rational use of effective therapeutics. (ACCAHC, 2013)
Naturopathic Primary Care Physicians (NPCPs) are committed to being accessible and accountable to their patients and the medical community as a whole. They are able to offer their patients up-to-date information on available and appropriate screening for the prevention of disease. They are also well-equipped to screen for, diagnose and treat chronic conditions and diseases. Both preventative care and treatment of chronic diseases require the diligent use of appropriate diagnostic measures. This includes the timely use of detailed physical exams, which may lead to triage or treatment, depending on presentation and degree of pathology. NPCPs are competent in the administration of vaccinations and up-to-date on Public Health policies, both local and national. They are above all focused on patient education, providing patients with the opportunity to understand causality, measures for treatment, and informed consent. NPCPs have the ability to triage a patient’s care with consulting medical providers, and collaborate successfully with these providers through the exchange of continuity of care records.
Naturopathic medicine is ideally suited to address healthcare needs because it is soundly and safely based upon both the objective observation of the nature of health and disease, while encouraging the body’s inherent self-healing process. The Naturopathic Principles which guide this observation, and in turn guide treatment, are continually reexamined in the light of scientific advances.(Standards Paper, 2011)
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THE NATUROPATHIC ACADEMY OF PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS (the “Academy”) shall be operated as a nonprofit professional society exclusively for the purpose of identifying, selecting and advancing naturopathic physicians and students committed to specializing in naturopathic primary care medicine by:
- Promoting the vision and mission of the Academy;
- Promoting the common interest of the Academy’s membership;
- Promoting certification for standards of naturopathic primary care for Academy physicians and members;
- Conducting educational programs that maintain competence in naturopathic primary care medicine;
- Acquiring, establishing, developing and disseminating relevant information and resources;
- Cooperating with local, state, regional, national and international organizations having common interests;
- Advancing the body of knowledge pertaining to the practice of naturopathic primary care medicine;
- Advocating for naturopathic primary care medicine.
The Academy recognizes Naturopathic Primary Care Medicine as an established process, such that when a patient is initially evaluated, that patient will have, a relevant history, physical exam and an objective assessment. This results in direct management, consultation with another provider(s), co- management or referral as indicated by the nature of the presentation. In no way does this affect how the naturopathic physician treats (therapies, modalities, systems of medicine), except that intervention begins with the lowest level of appropriate force. This assures that the distinguishing features of naturopathic medicine, defined by the principles: the healing power of nature, identify and treat the cause,, first do no harm , doctor as teacher, treat the whole person, prevention and wellness, are preserved and applied. Given this understanding, the Academy seeks to establish and maintain an affiliation of like-minded primary care naturopathic physicians, so organized and controlled by qualified members, that this fact shall be apparent to other physicians, legislators, regulators, insurers and to the public at large.
Our future as primary care naturopathic physicians is dependent upon the ability to not only preserve our history and tradition, but moreover to recognize and impact changes in the health care delivery system of the 21st century and beyond. Our vision is to make certain that, the concept and implementation of Naturopathic Primary Care Medicine is inherent in the fiber of all aspects of naturopathic medical training and practice. The implementation of this vision beginning with the first days of training of a naturopathic medical student in an accredited naturopathic medical school will ensure our ability to deliver safe, effective and cost effective healthcare.
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