CCNM has established itself as the leader in Canadian naturopathic education
BY CAYLA RAMEY
Medicine, by definition and by common usage, is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and sickness. Yet, our chronically ill modern world rarely sees this definition fulfilled. As our contemporary society has evolved, so has the need for more integrative health-care, outside the bounds of labels such as “alternative.”
CCNM, from its inception, has sought to make an impact on how practitioners and patients alike view and experience health-care.
ANOTHER DOOR OPENS
When the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College chose to discontinue the naturopathic component of its program, it was obvious that a new college should be formed to meet the demand of naturopathic doctor (ND) training. During a meeting of the Ontario Naturopathic Association (ONA), the decision was made to develop the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine (OCNM) in 1978. The OCNM opened a physical location in Kitchener in 1981, and adopted its current name of Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) just over a decade later.
While the founding of a new college might seem a simple task, there were many obstacles to overcome before it evolved into the incredible school we know today.
“The major challenge in creating a new naturopathic college in the 1970’s was finding the necessary resources,” says Bob Bernhardt, current president and CEO of CCNM. “To provide an adequate post-secondary learning experience, an institution requires a facility (either owned or rented), qualified faculty, teaching resources, administration, and cleaning/maintenance support, to name just a portion of what must be in place. The institution has to achieve this with relatively low enrolment as it slowly becomes known and its graduation credential becomes respected.”
However, CCNM proved to be an exemplary institute for those wishing to be in the industry, and those already in it—especially during a time when naturopathy itself wasn’t very popular.
“[CCNM] has grown from an idea supported by dedicated individuals suffering from inadequate resources, to a well-respected post-secondary medical institution. Now, we have more opportunities for partnerships for research and integrated patient care than we have the resources to pursue. This points to a future that will continue to be exciting for the institution and rewarding for the practice of medicine,” says Bernhardt.
CCNM has become recognized as a highly-respected force in the naturopathic world. Its dedication to the pursuit of excellence in naturopathic medicine has made it a top choice for those wishing to get into the field.
“Interestingly, the most common reason we hear for applicants choosing us is our strong focus on research. I think there is a recognition that to advance naturopathic medicine there is a need to expand the evidence base, and no other body is doing as much as CCNM,” states Bernhardt.
This goes hand-in-hand with the organization’s five key goals to ensure it stays at the top.
“CCNM’s Board has defined its key goals as demonstrating excellence in education, providing exemplary clinical experiences for our students and our patients, serving as a North American leader in research, and establishing recognition and appreciation for the value of naturopathic medicine,” Bernhardt says.
These goals keep their focus on a clear curriculum led by experts in the field; hands-on
training and experience; a culture of evidence-informed clinical practice; increased awareness of naturopathy; and fostering a positive chance in health.
What’s more, the school’s curriculum is constantly evolving—further proving it to be a trailblazer in the industry.
“We have become more selective about our continuing medical education and we endeavor to offer courses that reflect the strengths in our program. One of the things that the profession currently lacks is master level post-graduate training for NDs who want to continue to grow. We are currently developing two courses in oncology, which will be provided through online delivery, and that will serve as a model for advanced curriculum in other areas,” shares Bernhardt.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Even as a highly-esteemed college with an ability to provide state-of-the-art facilities, the college’s students and graduates are key to its success.
“All of CCNM’s students have a minimum of 16 years of education before they enter the ND program. As a result, they are competent and experienced learners,” Bernhardt states.
This being said, those who enter the program are also willing to learn and to incorporate themselves into the lifestyle of naturopathy. As a whole, students who enter the program have a commitment to helping individuals become healthy—a true commitment to the definition of medicine.
“Sometimes the most important thing the college can do is enable quality interactions between the students and the faculty, allowing them to jointly create valuable learning experiences. Of course, to do this you need strong curriculum, appropriate teaching/ learning methodology, and the facilities and equipment to support the learning,” relates Bernhardt. “In my 40 plus years in post-secondary education, I have never worked with a group of students who are so capable, environmentally conscious, socially responsible, and nice!”
However, CCNM is more than a college—it is a community. Alumni continue to have a relationship with the school after graduation, engaging in teaching, research, student recruitment, and class reunions.
Even throughout its commitment to higher learning, the CCNM remains heavily involved in its surrounding community—most prominently by providing free health-care through the community health centres and a clinic in Brampton Civic Hospital.
Throughout its evolution, CCNM has remained one of the leading post-secondary education facilities in the naturopathic industry. With its dedication to integrative medicine, its students, and its community, the College will continue to be a pacesetter in the naturopathic industry.