This past Monday, I had the honor of being present for the signing of the bill that will license naturopathic doctors in the state of Maryland. It has been a long, hard road in pursuit of this goal, but the moment has finally arrived, and in March of 2016, God willing, I will be among the first few NDs to be licensed in the newest licensed state, and this has given me pause for thought.
As a naturopathic doctor actively involved in lobbying efforts on behalf of my profession, I've come to value the following motto, originally said by Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts: "Leave this world a little better than when you found it." More than any other motto, I think this captures the spirit of naturopathic doctors' legislative efforts. Be they attempting to gain licensure to better serve their patients, gain insurance reimbursement so they can provide services to a broader portion of the population, or work on public health efforts, the naturopathic doctors I know and have worked with are committed to leaving their campground cleaner than when they found it.
That the battle would be hard was to be expected. Any time a new profession seeks licensure, there is inevitable opposition, and of course it was the same in Maryland as anywhere else. Additionally, while many medical doctors in the state supported the licensure of naturopathic doctors, the organizations who claim to represent them are often staunchly conservative in their position. Such organizations count on the ignorance of consumers, doctors, and legislators to make their positions hold sway; those who have actually become educated through talking with or working with naturopathic doctors often give up their opposition. In the end, the NDs were simply telling the truth and looking to be better able to serve the people of Maryland, and legislators knew this. A bill was ultimately passed, and while it isn't perfect, it's a first step on the path.
It will be almost two years until the first licenses are issued to naturopathic doctors, and probably many more years until naturopathic doctors are able to bill insurance here in Maryland, major efforts are under way. There are plans to start a school of naturopathic medicine here in Maryland, and some of the more forward thinking medical institutions in the area are looking to bring naturopathic doctors into the fold. Additionally, the upcoming licensure means that there are likely to be many more NDs coming to the state soon, which means that a lot more Marylanders will start being a lot healthier. This campground is already starting to look a lot nicer.