NCNM Dean Named President of Council on Naturopathic Medical Education

Accrediting Agency Sets Standards for Naturopathic Medicine Education

Marilynn Considine

PORTLAND, Ore. (Dec. 14, 2009)—Dr. Rita Bettenburg, dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), has been appointed president of the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The CNME is the programmatic accreditor for degree programs in naturopathic medicine and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Bettenburg continues in her duties at NCNM, and will not participate in CNME accreditation processes concerning NCNM during her tenure as president.

The CNME is the accrediting agency responsible for setting and overseeing programmatic standards for four-year residency degree programs leading to the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree, which prepare students for professional licensure to practice naturopathic medicine within the U.S. and Canada.

NCNM President, David J. Schleich, PhD, commended the appointment. “NCNM is honored that Dr. Bettenburg has been tapped for this prestigious and important post to safeguard the profession’s educational standards. Receiving accreditation from CNME—and maintaining the standards of accreditation in good standing—is the naturopathic profession’s highest stamp of quality assurance.”

Schleich noted, “As dean of our naturopathic program, Dr. Bettenburg has set high standards at NCNM for years—for both our faculty and students. Dr. Bettenburg’s vast programmatic knowledge will benefit all North American medical colleges seeking accreditation or seeking to maintain accreditation.”

Currently, 16 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and four Canadian provinces have licensing laws for naturopathic doctors. In these geographical areas, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from a four-year, residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination for licensing.

Bettenburg joined the NCNM faculty in 1986 as a teaching assistant. Through the years, she taught a number of courses, including pediatrics, lab diagnosis and clinical and physical diagnostics. After completing her residency in family practice at NCNM in 1990, she began a private practice in the Portland area and continued teaching at NCNM.  She was appointed director of Research at NCNM in 1991. Since then she has served the college in a variety of capacities, including stints as chief medical officer and community clinic director. She was appointed dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine in 2004.

Bettenburg is widely known and respected by her peers. In addition to numerous presentations through the years, she has been honored with some of the profession’s highest awards, including the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians’ Physician of the Year. In addition to her service on the board of the CNME, Bettenburg has served on the boards of the Oregon Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

Schleich applauded the CNME appointment adding, “Dr. Bettenburg is known for her hard work in creating an educational program that ensures that NCNM graduates will succeed in meeting the health care needs of their patients. I’m confident that she will bring those same professional standards to the CNME, helping the naturopathic profession continue to grow and flourish as it meets the needs of patients throughout the U.S. and Canada.”

ABOUT NCNM: Founded in 1956, NCNM is the oldest accredited naturopathic medical school in North America and a leader in natural medicine. NCNM offers four-year graduate medical degree programs in Naturopathic Medicine and Classical Chinese Medicine. The NCNM Clinic and its associated community-area clinics offer low-cost medical care throughout the Portland area, treating more than 40,000 patient visits annually. NCNM’s nonprofit Helfgott Research Institute conducts rigorous independent research to advance the science of natural medicine in order to improve clinical practice. Until July 2006, NCNM was known as the National College of Naturopathic Medicine.

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