Naturopathic Doctors as Primary Care Physicians, an Interview with Dr. Logan Rost

In this interview with naturopathic resident Logan Rost, ND, MPH, CHES and INM’s editor-at-large Griffin McMath, ND, you will learn the role of naturopathic medicine in primary care settings. Dr. Rost is a bright and shining example in Washington state for naturopathic doctors as primary care physicians.

Finding the right primary care doctor makes such a difference to one’s overall health. Naturopathic doctors are ideally trained to address the wide breadth of health needs for adults and children, however, access to naturopathic medicine can be difficult to obtain for rural communities who need it most.

The Institute for Natural Medicine’s editor-at-large, Griffin McMath, ND interviews Dr. Logan Rost, a second-year resident naturopathic doctor and public-health professional at Family Health Centers community health center in Okanogan County, WA. In this interview, both doctors talk about the importance of naturopathic medicine in primary care in rural settings and the role of INM’s Primary Task Force in expanding care to communities. The following is an edited and excerpted version of the audio interview. 

An interview with Dr. Logan Rost about naturopathic doctors as primary care physicians

Drs. A. Logan Rost (left) and Griffin McMath (right)
Drs. A. Logan Rost (left) and Griffin McMath (right)

Dr. Griffin McMath: Tell us a little about yourself and your work in family medicine in Washington.  

Dr. Logan Rost: I am currently working as a naturopathic resident at family health centers Community Health Center in Okanogan County, Washington. I say the county because I am rotating through multiple different clinics and the towns in the area. So, I don’t have a single practice location. Okanagan county is in North Central Washington for those not familiar with Washington State. I am originally from Tennessee, but naturopathic medical school brought me out to the northwest. 

Dr. GM: Residencies are pretty competitive. Can you tell us a little bit more about your path to naturopathic medicine? 

Dr. LR: Absolutely. So, I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor and that has always been typically in primary care. I’ve wanted to do primary care since I was young. And when it came time at the end of undergrad to start, and I was considering taking the MCAT and applying to medical school, something in my gut told me to just take a moment and consider my options. And at that point, I only knew about medical school for a medical doctor (MD) and a doctor of osteopathy (DO). 

Those were the only two considerations. Instead of immediately going to medical school after undergrad, I decided to take time and get my Master’s in medical anthropology, which was something that I was also passionate about and felt like it would really be able to impact how I was able to care for patients. I moved to Denver, Colorado for that degree. And while I was in that program, a good friend said, it sounds like you want to do naturopathic medicine. I was like, ‘I don’t know what that is. Can you tell me more?’ She shared her experience with naturopathic medicine and then told me to look at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, which is the naturopathic school that I ended up going to. As soon as I started researching Bastyr and naturopathic medicine, I realized immediately that was what I wanted to do. Through that journey, I found myself studying naturopathic medicine. 

Dr. GM: Oh, that’s great. Also, I love that you studied medical anthropology, my undergrad degree was in anthropology. And that was my gateway to naturopathic medicine, too – so cool. I remember you being pretty involved in naturopathic medical school and volunteering in different areas. 

Dr. LR: Yeah, I tried to be involved with things specifically with trying to bring more awareness to underserved and marginalized populations. I was really involved with Trans Health Awareness Week that developed into Trans Health Awareness Month at school. And then also trying to, especially in my later years, after starting the master’s in public health program, trying to be pretty involved in the creation of a community health track. And, that was in coordination with the INM Primary Care Task Force as well. I wanted naturopathic students who wanted experience in community health to be able to choose their track or have a second track for them to be able to prepare themselves as best they could to go into those environments.

Dr. GM: You get to the end of naturopathic medical school, you finish your Masters in Public Health (MPH), and you specifically have this interest in providing primary care, especially within these specific communities. What was it like to pick the path for your next step in your career after graduating? Wait, before you answer that, I need you to explain for those who don’t know what the IMM primary care Task Force is about and why it is so important in providing support to the primary care medical community… 

Dr. LR: It’s a group of naturopathic doctors and professionals who are working to get more NDs into community health and rural primary care settings. There has been a lot of networking, behind-the-scenes work to create documents, and standard operating procedures (SOPs). But most of all, the task force informs others that we (NDs) exist and letting them know, this is how you hire us and onboard us and this is what we can bring to your clinic setting.

I always knew that I wanted to do a residency. It was really important that I have a rigorous learning environment by being challenged in seeing lots of patients. But also, I wanted an ongoing mentorship from someone to help me with a particularly challenging case and take any clinical pearls from their years of experience being in the field and working in primary care. And so, I think part of that is because being part of a team, a clinical team of people working towards our patient’s best interest, is really important to me. It is pretty critical and integral to how I want to practice primary care. And so, a residency was sort of a natural way for me to be able to do that, okay. And it’s this is a great moment to kind of fill in the gaps of knowledge that may be raising some questions in the background.

Dr. GM: So we can help people understand, you work in a Federally Qualified Health Center, an FQHC. What does that mean in terms of how people access care in their community? 

Dr. LR: A Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC, is a community health center or community clinic that has met certain federal standards that have been set out so that they can receive federal funding in order to provide care for populations or communities that don’t have good access to health care… There are multiple clinics that Family Health Centers owns and operates across the county. I’m really at what we call the south clinics, and they’re in the southern border of the county in the towns of Brewster and Bridgeport. There are two clinics in Brewster and one clinic in Bridgeport. Right now, I’m pretty much joined at the hip with Dr. Sarah Acosta Smith, who is one of the naturopathic primary care doctors who’s been working for Family Health Centers for about five years now and who has been integral in both the IMM primary care Task Force and as well as the creation of this residency at family health centers. 

Currently, there are three of us who are naturopathic doctors who are employed by Family Health Centers, and we rotate through different clinics in order to be able to give naturopathic primary care services to as many people and as many communities in the county as possible. In terms of residency, it’s all part of the learning process, it definitely took a little bit of getting used to being onboarded to multiple clinics at the same time versus just one. But this way, I get to work with so many different care teams, which has been a great experience. I get to see a lot of different patients. Depending on where I am in the county, I see different demographics of patients, and I see different things that the communities are struggling with… My public health brain is also very excited to be able to see trends in the county, depending on what community I’m working with, and see what’s coming into the clinic. I use that knowledge to try to make community change on a larger level.

Dr. GM: On that note, with your “public health brain” what is it like being in a Community Health Care during the pandemic?

Dr. LR: It’s been such an interesting experiment being both a newly graduated primary care doctor and a public health student, I’m in the midst of a pandemic. But I feel like it really has appealed to my public health brain, in many ways. And I will say that, like my public health degree, a focus on social justice and community health education and being able to work in a community health center with people who are very invested in caring for their community and doing as much as they can during this pandemic, has been really wonderful. It definitely has allowed me to get a lot of practice with community health, education, and public health sort of right out the door, which I’ve been very grateful for. 

Dr. GM: Lastly, let’s shift a little bit to what it’s like for a patient to work with a naturopathic medical resident in a clinic like yours? 

Dr. LR: One thing that can be different being in an outpatient clinic setting is that I, as a naturopathic resident, can see patients without an attending physician present and so it can be very much like a normal primary care visit. … It’s a pretty straightforward primary care visit because I’m a primary care provider, that’s typically what I’m doing. But there are also instances where people are coming to me or the other naturopathic primary care providers here for more sort of specialized naturopathic services. And so, it really depends on what the patient’s coming in for and how we’re seeing them. 

Dr. GM: Any last things that you like to tell the public about what it’s like to be a naturopathic medical resident or any other last thoughts? 

Dr. LR: Yeah, I’m just really excited. I’m at a place in my budding career where I’m very excited to be a naturopathic doctor that also has a degree in public health and a background in medical anthropology. I feel like those things have been the perfect trifecta to get me to where I can truly serve populations that don’t have good access to quality medical care. And I feel very excited to be able to bring naturopathic medicine to those communities and be working in a more rural area. 

This article is provided by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following  initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

Relationships are the epicenter of Dr. McMath’s work with INM as she supports our content Editorial Board and nurtures connections across the naturopathic space. Dr. McMath became involved in the advancement of the profession as a naturopathic medical student as a member of the board of directors for the California Naturopathic Doctors Association, intern for the Integrative Health Policy Consortium, research associate for Bastyr University’s Health Policy and Leadership Committee, and first ND student to be a delegate to the World Health Assembly in Geneva. Early in her career Dr. McMath helped lead the development of Integrative Wellness at the Maryland Proton Treatment Center and was elected to the board of directors of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians where she serves on the Public Relations Committee.

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Deb Hubers

Debra Hubers is a serial entrepreneur and has started seven businesses; ranging from an advanced genomics to an employer health care purchasing cooperative. Deb has over 35 years of experience in healthcare finance, education, technology, and pharmacogenomics.

Ms. Hubers has dedicated her career to measuring and improving healthcare outcomes. Her expertise is leveraging technology to deliver personalized, preventative medicine. Ms. Hubers co-founded La Vita Compounding Pharmacy in 2007. Collaborating with her business partner, physicians and strategic partners, Deb has grown La Vita to be one of the most respected and sought-after personalized medicine providers on the west coast. She is also Co-Founder of EpigeneticsRx, a leading provider of precise, personalized, prevention which positively impacts genetic expression.

Alex Keller, ND

Dr. Alex Keller, ND, AFMCP is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences and Psychology. Although originally intending to attend conventional medical school, following a three-month volunteer internship at a rural Kenyan hospital where he observed how doctors used local food to treat patients, he shifted his career goals and pursued a degree in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

After one year of practicing with the esteemed Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, RH in a community acupuncture setting, in 2015 he and his wife Dr. Jenn Keller, ND moved to rural Ottawa, Canada where they started an organic farm and retreat center. In the same year, Alex and his athletic therapist sister Jess Keller combined their practices to form Keller Active Health, an integrative physical therapy clinic.

Ever curious and passionate about the education of evidence-based natural medicine, in 2017, Dr. Keller joined a fledgling Ottawa-based health tech startup named Fullscript. He serves as its Medical Director and oversees the development of medical education content for practitioners across North America.

Prior to medicine, Alex worked in the renewable energy sector, where he developed a deep passion for sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. This connection between medicine and agriculture now drives Alex to focus much of his energy on bringing awareness to the quality and sourcing standards in the supplement and organic agriculture supply chains.

Today, he splits his professional time practicing as a clinician, working for Fullscript, and expanding the farming operation while chasing his kids with Jenn and occasionally running ultra-marathon trail races. He is also currently completing an Executive MBA through the Quantic School of Business & Technology with a focus on supply chain innovation.

Pamela Snider, ND

Pamela Snider, ND, is Executive and Senior Editor for the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project, producing a first of its kind international textbook of Naturopathic medicine through a series of international retreats and symposia. A nationally recognized integrative health and policy leader, she is active in both national and regional integrative health initiatives. Dr. Snider serves on the Board of Directors, was founding Executive Director and co-founder of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Health (ACIH/ACCAHCa consortium of the councils of schools, accrediting agencies and certifying bodies of the licensed, traditional and emerging integrative health professions, and is currently Vice Chair and co-founder of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC).  Dr. Snider served as a founding Board Member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine from 2014-2016. Her public policy work includes completing a two year appointment to the DHHS Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC); serving as a Steering Committee Member for  the HRSA funded American College of Preventive Medicine NCCIM Integrative Medicine in Preventive Medicine Residency program, co-directing in USPHS Region X the Building Bridges Between Provider Communities Group, an exploration of interdisciplinary collaboration and common ground between public health and CAM; serving for 22 years on Washington State’s Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program Advisory Committee (HPLRSP); providing technical assistance to and developing key language for the enabling legislation for NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH/NCCAM); and staffing Joseph Pizzorno ND during his appointment as Commissioner on the White House Commission on CAM Policy.

From 1994-2003, Dr. Snider served as Associate Dean for Public and Professional Affairs and Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, dividing her work between academic and public affairs activities, including chairing the Naturopathic Medicine Program Curriculum Review Committee.  Dr. Snider has been teaching, publishing and lecturing widely on Naturopathic philosophy, theory integrative health, public policy, and other topics for over 30 years. Currently, an Associate Professor at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland, OR, Dr. Snider also continues at Bastyr University in her 22nd year as a faculty member teaching naturopathic medicine history, clinical theory, and global context. Among her Naturopathic medicine professional roles she serves on the Institute for Natural Medicine’s Leadership Council.  In 1989, she co-led the naturopathic profession with Dr. Jared Zeff, in developing a unifying definition of naturopathic medicine and its principles of practice adopted unanimously by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) House of Delegates. She was a co-investigator in the 2004 NIH NCCAM research study, the North American Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda and CAM Advisor in NIHCCAM’s Financing Integrative Health Care (University of Washington).  Her areas of experience include healthcare education; naturopathic and interdisciplinary clinical theory, curriculum development; clinical practice; government and legislative affairs, public policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community organizing.  Dr. Snider has received the Ontario Naturopathic Physician of the Year Award, the Physician of the Year Award from the AANP, the President’s Outstanding Vision Award and Distinguished Alumnus Award at Bastyr University, AANP’s President’s Award, an honorary Doctorate of Naturopathic Philosophy from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), the William A Mitchell Vis Award from the AANP and The Gathering – NMSA’s Beacon Award. She received her ND degree in 1982 from Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences and is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Washington. She lives with her husband and children at their homestead in North Bend Washington, in the beautiful mountain to sea landscape and home of The Revival – Restore the Vis, an annual student-led community gathering.

Susan Haeger

Susan Haeger is Founder/Principal of Transformative Health Solutions Inc. She has applied her twenty plus years in executive leadership to help shape and drive adoption of progressive health policy for whole person healthcare. She was a section contributor to the 2021 INM/AANP published professional white paper, Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists: The Future is Whole Person Health Care that provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventive, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice.

Bruce Barlean

Bruce Barlean is an owner and founder of Barlean’s, a global dietary supplement manufacturer located in the Pacific Northwest in Ferndale, WA. Bruce has been actively involved in the Natural Products industry since 1989 and is passionate about making a difference in the world and positively impacting the lives of others.

Bruce believes that people can make a difference in the world through ordinary purchases. He is committed to improving the quality of life for every person on the planet by making the best products and by using the profits to support outreach programs. Bruce summarizes it simply, “We make good stuff to do good stuff”.

In the late 1980’s Bruce became passionate about how health could be dramatically improved with Flax Oil Supplementation. Bruce along with his entrepreneurial parents saw the potential to improve the lives of many people and in 1989 they began selling Flax Oil under the Barlean’s name. From 1989 – 2000 the business grew an average of 40% year over year. While most companies saw a decline in business in the 2001 recession, Barlean’s continued to grow and soon became America’s #1 selling flaxseed oil and continues to be to the present. The brand has since expanded to include additional oils, green food concentrates and other premium supplements. Bruce continues to drive innovation and over the years his products and company have won countless awards including: Eight consecutive Vity Awards for #1 EFA, Six consecutive Vity Awards for #1 Greens Food Supplement, Natural Choice Award for Best Specialty Supplement, Best Product of the Year, Best New Product, Gold Medal Taster’s Choice Award, Gold Medal American Masters of Taste Award, #1 Health Food Store Brand for Consumer Satisfaction by Consumer Lab, and Manufacturer of the Year.

In 2013 as the company was on the eve of celebrating the 25th year in business Bruce and his parents decided to take their desire to help people to a new level that they call Pathway to a Better Life – which is now seen in the Barlean’s logo. Bruce and his parents had always been generous in their giving and support of charities, but as part of the Pathway to a Better Life they decided to increased partnership with charitable organizations such as: Vitamin Angels, Compassion International, KidsTown International, Autism Hope Alliance, Engedi Refuge, Project 92, and others. And because so many people are unable to meet basic nutritional needs, Bruce created a comprehensive Omega-3 and multivitamin formula that he distributes free-of-charge to local food banks. In addition, Bruce decided the company would supply food banks with organic coconut oil to provide people with a health alternative to standard cooking oils.

Always generous with his time Bruce has served as a youth leader for his local church for several years and continues to mentor youth. He has been on several not for profit boards including; Whatcom County Pregnancy Center (2003-2006), Natural Products Association (dates?), and the Institute for Natural Medicine Leadership Council (presently).

The Barlean family have been avid supporters of Bastyr University since the 1990’s and in 2013 were given Bastyr’s most prestigious honor, the Mission Award, which recognizes their leadership over time in improving the health and well-being of the human community.

Bruce currently resides in Ferndale, WA with his wife Lisa and their two dogs: Heinz & Shadow. When he’s not helping others he can be found fishing (catch & release).

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Michelle Simon, PHD, ND

President & CEO

As president and CEO of INM, Dr. Simon brings her passion for working with organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of healthcare. This desire stems from her years of practice as a licensed naturopathic physician. In addition to holding a Naturopathic Doctorate from Bastyr University she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has served on boards for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), and several advisory boards. Dr. Simon served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee, as Ambassador to the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and was recognized as 2018 AANP Physician of the Year. Dr. Simon shares with her husband a passion for adventure travel, preferably by boat or motorcycle. She also enjoys teaching a women’s off-road motorcycling class.