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Valley’s Naturopathic School Sees Spike in Enrollment, Interest

Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 17:10

naturopathic school teachers

Tiera Allen

A packed classroom sits quietly behind Dr. Paul Mittman, president of SCNM, and director of admissions Eva Bilotas.

While serious illnesses like pneumonia caused serious health concerns for our nation in the past, the cause of unhealthiness these days stems from horrible self-upkeep.

In search of a new cure or extensive aid for chronic diseases and severe health problems, such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease, more people are turning to naturopathic medicine. Using natural supplements, vitamins, minerals, drops, oils, acupuncture and exercise and nutrition support, naturopathic treatments provide organic health necessities to assist the body in returning to a healthy state.

"The health problems that we face today are very different than the problems we faced 100 years ago," said Dr. Paul Mittman, president of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Services. "Naturopathic medicine gives patients an opportunity to be knowledgeable. If you are a person that has chronic health conditions stemming from typical American diets, naturopathic doctors (NDs) may be part of the answer."

There is no fight or honest comparison as to whether naturopathic treatments prove better than conventional medicine from a medical doctor.

"I can tell you that it is a different world than it was in the mid ‘80s," Mittman said. "The biggest jump to naturopathic medicine was within the last decade."

Not only are more individuals seeking naturopathic treatments but many are looking to become naturopathic doctors as well. The SCNM experienced a 60 percent increase in student enrollment in the last five years.

"People are learning about natural medicine and there is more of a demand from the public who want more than just a five-minute appointment with the doc," said Eve Bilotas, director of admissions at the SCNM. "Arizona has one of the widest scopes of naturopathic practices. All of our students learn the basic sciences complemented by natural therapy techniques."

Mittman, who has been in the naturopathic profession for 30 years, has noticed a steady but swift increase in naturopathic interest and studies. The 19-year-old institution is one of five naturopathic colleges in America and receives over 8,000 enrollment inquiries a year. A quarter of this year’s 97-person incoming class is from Arizona while the remaining three-quarters come from 27 other states and Canada.

“As the public becomes more and more educated about health care and concerns, they are discovering that the best results come from a combination of conventional medicine with alternate holistic therapy,” he said.

Forty-seven-year-oldSouthwest Collegestudent Tracey Cook encourages the public to believe in holistic medicine and naturopathic treatments.

"What we can do for people is incredible, actually," Cook said. "I definitely think that people care about their health, and we are spending so much money on health care but no one is getting better."

Cook feels today's generation contributed a great deal to the discovery and pursuit of naturopathic medicine and practice.

“The younger generation has a lot to do with this," Cook said. "They wanted to make changes that actually work and that can change people's lives. We are putting the future back in our own hands."

This is no hip trend or fad. Cook said naturopathic medicine is here to stay.

“This is not something that is going to come and go, because it actually works," Cook said.

Naturopathic doctors actually do what is best for the patient, Mittman said. As a practioner, Mittman said it is important to know when to refer a patient or work with an MD for the sake of the patient's health.

For individuals interested in pursuing the study and practice of naturopathic medicine, Cook and Mittman recommend visiting with a certified naturopathic doctor to personally experience the techniques and treatments.

"It is a good idea to be treated by a naturopathic doctor before studying it," Cook said. "I can tell you it all works, but when you see it for yourself you won't need convincing."

Graduates from the SCNM go on to either start their own private naturopathic practices, teach naturopathic studies or join existing holistic treatment centers, Bilotas said.

"Most graduates go into some kind of practice," Mittman said. "We have a lot of NDs going into academic medicine, private practices [or] somewhere in the field of health promotion."

The Southwest College recently opened a clinic for Valley residents to meet with current naturopathic students who, under the supervision of certified naturopathic doctors, can impart their homeopathic knowledge and recommendations for a relatively inexpensive price.

Whether seeking medical advice or hoping to become a certified naturopathic doctor or practioner, the holistic health remedies and proper health awareness will only prove beneficial for you and your body.


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