We, the naturopathic medical student members of the Naturopathic Alliance, applaud the “Statement of Facts and Values Pertinent to COVID-19,” written by the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) and adopted by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). We are inspired to see our educational institutions’ leaders taking this definitive stance which: supports public health safety measures vital to slowing the spread of disease; recognizes the consequences of rampant misinformation; and acknowledges devastating social inequities that have been characteristic of this pandemic. It remains important to support students, faculty, and patients in navigating the overwhelming flow of information in a rapidly evolving public health landscape. 

Accredited naturopathic medical schools are a pillar of this profession. They serve as both the gateway and incubator of our future leaders and, as such, must set the standard of excellence and integrity. The uncertainty and rapid influx of information regarding COVID-19 transmission and risk factors proved both a great challenge for public health communications and a fertile breeding ground for wellness “thought leaders” and conspiracy theorists. It is essential to public health that NDs not only distance ourselves from but also actively denounce those contributing to the spread of misinformation that is harmful to the most vulnerable communities. As students and future naturopathic doctors, we want to see the profession take responsibility for communicating accurate information that ensures public trust in public health measures essential to the containment of COVID-19. Naturopathic education gives us the unique perspective to empower patients to keep themselves healthy while addressing the determinants of health. 

While the AANMC statement is a laudable first step in supporting the dissemination of evidence-based public health information, there is always more work to be done. The global pandemic response is riddled with systemic racism. Indeed, structural disparities are not only seen in COVID-19 but in many of the chronic health conditions implicated as risk factors for serious complications of COVID-19. There will always be work naturopathic doctors and other healthcare workers need to do to address systemic barriers to health that many patients may experience. The Naturopathic oath includes a dedication to “Do No Harm” and in doing so, we must become proficient in advocating for these societal inequities to be addressed in order to actively support marginalized patients. 

We commend the AANMC and all member colleges and universities for their alignment with the broader medical community and standards of public health. We encourage those AANMC member institutions and other naturopathic organizations who have not yet adopted the “Statement of Facts and Values Pertinent to COVID-19” to do so in order to unite as a profession during and beyond this public health crisis.

Featured photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

BLOG POST AUTHORS

Adriana Berusch Gerardino
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences

Jacquelyn Burrell
Bastyr University California

Brian Carrell
Bastyr University Washington

Lorna Ciccone
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

Shemikah Colleton
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences