NUNM Naturopathic Students Tapped for Oregon Scholarship Program

Providing Primary Care in Underserved Counties in Exchange for Tuition

Jan. 23, 2019

PORTLAND, Oregon —The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has awarded National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) a biennial grant of $250,000 to provide educational scholarships for a select group of naturopathic medical students through the Scholars for a Healthy Oregon Naturopathic Physicians Opportunities (SHONPO) program. Upon graduation, the student recipients agree to provide healthcare services as primary care practitioners to Medicaid patients in medically underserved areas of Oregon. The SHONPO program provides each naturopathic student up to $35,000 per year through graduation.

The scholarship funds were made available by the Oregon legislature and OHA in 2017 as a healthcare incentive program to address lack of access to health care in underserved communities. While a small number of states offer financial incentives to naturopathic doctors (NDs), Oregon is the first to offer scholarships to retain its most promising future naturopathic doctors to address the medical practitioner shortage.

Tafflyn Williams-Thomas, MBA, NUNM’s director of Career Services, who is overseeing the launch of the SHONPO scholarships, said four NUNM students have been identified as the inaugural award recipients. “We were looking for students with the vision, skills, experience and commitment necessary to address the needs of medically underserved Oregonians for this landmark program. We are delighted to announce that naturopathic medical students Kelsey Barnett, Andrea Bustamante, Maya Rios, and LaKota Scott all submitted exceptional applications that far exceeded that criteria.”

A Perfect Confluence of Needs and Goals

The NUNM scholarship awardees may choose to practice in any of the areas designated by OHA as an underserved area at the time of graduation. Those areas are defined as falling below the median threshold of unmet needs. A majority of NUNM’s naturopathic students are often motivated to practice medicine due to healthcare inequity and lack of access to healthcare for underserved populations, but for NUNM student LaKota Scott, the SHONPO scholarship addresses a more personal and deeply held goal. Raised in Tuba City, Arizona, located on the northwest side of the Diné (Navajo) Nation north of Flagstaff, Scott grew up volunteering in the hospital there and has long aspired to practice medicine within indigenous communities.

Noting that the scholarship grant will alleviate the burden of paying her last two years of tuition and fees, Scott believes the scholarship also has a number of other important advantages, including preceptorship opportunities through the OHA’s Office of Rural Health. After completing her residency program, Scott is planning to meet her OHA scholarship obligation on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation.

Scott said that her volunteer service in her hometown hospital reinforced her desire to be a medical practitioner. She remembers that she was asked to be an interpreter for many of the Diné-speaking patients who entered the hospital. “I realized that they needed someone who understood not only their language, but their cultural values and belief systems—that was missing in the care they received from non-native medical providers. Naturopathic medicine resonated with the way I grew up and the way I understood healing culturally.”

Scott is looking forward to her future career in Oregon. “I’m very thankful for the opportunity to expose Oregon’s tribal communities to naturopathic medicine,” she said. The SHONPO scholarship has already altered her future plans, Scott said, noting that originally she planned to return directly to Arizona. “I’ve shifted my career plans to stay in the Pacific Northwest after graduation and am now focusing on studying to practice family medicine.”

Oregon’s History of Support for Naturopathic Medicine

Williams-Thomas notes that Oregon has been a leader in naturopathic medicine since 1927, when it first awarded licensure to NDs in the state. Said Williams-Thomas, “The State of Oregon has a long history of being on the leading edge of healthcare innovation. This is particularly true of its recognition of the naturopathic medical profession and its confidence in the quality of NUNM medical education, clinical training and care. From expanding our pharmaceutical formularies in 2009, to large grants from the Oregon Health Authority to treat patients, to recognizing our clinics as top-tiered Patient-Centered Primary Care Homes, NUNM has been fortunate to build a strong alliance with our partners at OHA. We’re particularly grateful for the SHONPO scholarships that directly benefit our students.”

NUNM has graduated more than 2,500 NDs since 1956. NUNM’s accredited naturopathic program is an intensive four-year medical degree. The first two years are focused on biomedicine courses: anatomy, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, pathology and physiology. Students begin clinical observations and preceptorships in their first year. They also take more than 300 hours in nutrition alongside a comprehensive study of the microbiome. The objective is to incorporate nutrition as a fundamental part of every clinical diagnosis. In addition the program also includes botanical medicine, pharmaceutical medicine, midwifery, minor surgery, mind-body medicine and physical medicine, among other modalities.

Naturopathic medicine provides safe, cost-effective and preventive health solutions for minor, chronic and acute conditions. The goal of a naturopathic doctor (ND) is to identify and treat the root cause of a patient’s health complaint by combining natural therapies with modern science to help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.

Learn more about SHONPO, and about NUNM’s naturopathic medicine program.

*This article was original published on NUNM.

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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.

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Pamela Snider, ND

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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.

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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.

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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.