Reflections from the President on the Two-Year Anniversary of COVID-19

On the somber two-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel called to reflect on the remarkable strength of our students, faculty, and staff.

Do you remember February of 2020? Perhaps you were digging into Winter quarter classwork or planning a break somewhere warm. Perhaps you were finishing a new piece of research, eager to present it at an upcoming conference. I recall I was getting on a plane to Disneyland with my family when the first cases were identified in the U.S.

Internationally, we had just celebrated the Year of the Metal Rat. In the Chinese zodiac tradition, the Rat invites one to self-reflect and reminds us of our interconnectedness. Maybe you were evaluating your career path back then, thinking of growing your family, your practice, or simply enjoying closeness with loved ones.

And then, the unthinkable. I remember how in a matter of days my patients became terrified to go to the doctor, anxious about what this virus meant for their unborn babies, and uncertain about how their own loved ones would fare.

You were asked to adapt, and quickly. In a matter of days and weeks, entire courses were shifted online. Clinical education was disrupted as students were pulled out of direct patient care. Over the course of two years, our educational institution, like most others has struggled to find the balance between legal obligations, individual autonomy, safety, education, and community. As a community you adapted your scientific methods, your ways of collaborating with one another and sharing your work with the world. You redesigned your personal lives, becoming full-time caregivers, homeschoolers, and Microsoft Teams experts. Thank you!

2021 came and went, and you dug deeper to manage courses, curriculum, and your own wellness. You launched innovative new programs, published landmark research, and moved medicine forward. You carried heavy personal burdens and still gave much of yourselves.

As you reflect and grieve, I hope you will also see your growth and celebrate your courage. You are here still, committed to your craft and our community. “Doctor as teacher” is not just a tenant of naturopathic medicine, but it has become a cornerstone of interactions both internally and externally as we all strive to learn and grow together.

No doubt, there will be more challenges ahead. But with the Year of the Water Tiger now upon us, I wish you more balance, continued resilience and flexibility and a renewed passion in your purpose.

With gratitude,

Melanie Henriksen, ND, LAc, CNM

NUNM President