Fresh, Sustainable, and Cage-Free: The 30th Anniversary AANP Conference

Committee Chair discusses why this conference is a must for all NDs

By Natural Medicine Journal

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The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) is hosting the largest gathering of licensed naturopathic physicians at its 30th Anniversary Conference August 5-8, 2015, in Oakland, CA. The AANP 2015 Conference program will feature day-long boot camps, expert panels, Naturopathic Education Doctoring (NED) talks, research, and Personal Insightful Tales of Healing (PITH).

We talked with AANP Conference Curriculum Committee Chair Tori Hudson, ND, about what makes the AANP Conference an essential experience for anyone involved in natural medicine.

The theme of this year's conference is unique: Fresh, Sustainable, and Cage-Free. What does that mean, and why was that theme chosen?

I was driving to work one morning and listening to NPR. They were talking about sustainability right while I was contemplating themes for the convention. A main objective of my taking on this role of chairing the curriculum committee this year was to bring a fresh and new format, vitality and vigor to the program. So the word “fresh” was particularly resonant—we’re focused on providing different kinds of presentations, including NED talks and the PITH, along with the all-day boot camps. But it was also important to the committee to think of the theme in terms of our medicine, our approach to healing. and the modern practice of naturopathic medicine. Along with our traditions and our folk medicine roots, we have plenty of fresh ideas and fresh approaches to patient care—and we have selected some speakers and content that illustrate this profoundly.

The next part of the theme is “sustainable.” I live in Portland, OR, where sustainability is a vital and conscious part of the lifestyle. I see sustainability as an integral part of naturopathic medicine based on our core principles and practices. Teaching our patients to take on more care and responsibility for themselves and make healthier choices aligns perfectly with sustainable medicine and sustainable health. In addition, our profession and individual practices strive to be economically sustainable. While our expert business panel and a couple of our "lunch and learns" are directly targeting this issue, featuring insightful speakers and experts, as well as cutting-edge content. This information is designed to help attendees create successful and sustainable clinical practices.

Lastly, this event’s theme is “cage free.” In accepting the position of chair of the continuing education (CE) content this year, part of my willingness was based on my need to think outside the cage. I felt that creative thinking, latitude, and willingness to experiment were fundamental to reaching the primary objective. My capable, talented, and productive colleagues on the committee—Gillian Hanson, ND; Bradley Bush, ND; and Amy Rothenberg, ND—and I encouraged each other to think creatively, to be “cage free” in ideas, imaginings, and processes. More deeply though, I think some of naturopaths’ greatest contributions to medicine, healthcare, and the individual care of a patient is our willingness to think broadly, freely, and unencumbered by rigid thinking. I am hoping that our opening and closing philosophy panel will emphasize this aspect of who we are—our “cage free” way of adapting and evolving as our naturopathic medicine evolves and integrates into the modern world of the healthcare system.

You mentioned that this year’s conference will offer new and innovative sessions, such as NED Talks and the PITH. Can you describe some of these new features and they will benefit attendees?

NED talks are inspired by TED talks. Our committee has selected speakers and subjects we hope will educate and inspire attendees—both in their clinical practices as well as their personal lives as physicians and human beings. The PITH is inspired by public radio personal stories that make you laugh, cry, feel, and evolve. It has not escaped us that many of our colleagues have acquired healthcare problems and faced significant health challenges. I wanted to hear those stories—both as a colleague and as someone who cares about the people in our community. But I also thought we could all benefit from their personal stories in such a way that would offer us insights and enhanced abilities to "connect" and empathize with our own patients in similar circumstances. I imagine that this story format will offer each of us something in our own future changing health and ill health journeys. In my wildest dreams, I’m hoping that the telling of their story will provide some personal healing and benefit to those who have accepted our invitation to share and be open in presenting to their colleagues.

The program has been approved for 30.25 CE hours, including 8.5 pharmacy. How does that compare to past conferences?

In planning the conference, we made great efforts to make sure we’re offering attendees a good value for their investment. One way we did that was by increasing the number of CE credits offered. Last year’s conference provided a total of 24.75 credits, including 5.5 of pharmacy. This year we are able to offer our attendees an additional 5.5 hours of CE with no additional expense. That’s a considerable cost savings!

What were the key goals in creating the program content?

Our main goal was to have a robust line-up of experienced and expert speakers, and I really think we have achieved that. We also wanted timely and poignant material (eg, brain-gut connection, fecal implants, new HPV testing as primary screen); new format of delivery to enhance learning and retention (eg, expert panels, NED talks, the PITH); deeper level of content (eg, boot camps); and flexibility, creativity, and freedom for the curriculum committee to deliver something new and vital.

Who should attend this conference and why?

I believe that every single practicing naturopathic physician or soon-to-practice naturopathic physician should come to this conference—no matter whether they have 30 years of experience or 1 year, no matter whether if they have met their CE requirements or not. I say this because I absolutely know there will be exuberant and profound moments of learning. There will be a plethora of clinical gems. There will be teachings and thoughts and perspectives that will enhance one’s clinical practice. And of course there will be fun, community, friends, and lots of free stuff!

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about the 2015 AANP Conference?

I truly and deeply thank my friends and colleagues, Gillian Hanson, ND, Bradley Bush, ND, and Amy Rothenberg ND for their stellar contributions to the committee and the program. I’m also grateful for the numerous other conversations, interactions, and input we’ve had with colleagues and vendors about the program.

For more information or to register for the conference, click here.

About the Author

Natural Medicine Journal is an electronic peer-reviewed journal and open access website dedicated to the field of integrative medicine.