From Practitioner to Entrepreneur: Alumna Amy Bader’s Journey with Naturopathic Medicine

Each quarter, the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) pauses the hustle and bustle of clinic life at the NUNM Health Center at Lair Hill to spotlight a clinician’s journey. This quarter, we’d like to introduce you to Amy Bader, BS, ND (‘00).

A Natural Passion & Twist of Fate

Before her life as an attending physician, assistant professor, private practitioner and entrepreneur, Dr. Amy Bader was an accountant.

“I went to UC Berkeley, studied business and had a successful career in San Francisco in accounting,” said Bader, who earned her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) from NUNM in 2000. “But in my free time, I read about nutrition, herbs and homeopathy. My mother had been diagnosed with leukemia, and I was trying to learn and be helpful, then it became a hobby.”

After a few years of accounting and self-educating in natural medicine, Bader went back to school to finish pre-med courses.

“I was actually in the process of applying to conventional medical school, thinking I would have to self-educate in the area of natural medicine,” she said. “Then, by complete happenstance, I had a twist of fate.”

Bader had gone to Costco to buy toilet paper (of all things) when she noticed a silver book with red lettering called “Alternative Medicine.” Of course, she bought the book given her interest in natural medicine. When she returned home, carrying the book on top of the bulky toilet paper, she accidentally hit the door frame, and the book fell open to a page on naturopathic medicine.

“I got on the floor and read it,” Bader said, “and then immediately called NUNM (what was then NCNM). I was already filling out applications to conventional medical schools, and I just scrapped that and applied to NUNM.”

From Residency to Private Practice and Teaching

After graduating from NUNM in 2000, Bader continued her naturopathic journey with a family practice residency at the NUNM Health Center.

“I was trained very holistically,” she said. “And working at NUNM has made me a better doctor. We’re constantly being trained on the fundamentals of primary care and honing our naturopathic skillset. We have colleagues around with whom we can collaborate. You can’t help but evolve as a physician.”

After her residency, the NUNM alumna opened and grew her private practice. Bader’s practice spans three states: California, Washington and Oregon. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she flew to California once a month to visit patients in person, before returning to the Portland-Vancouver area.

“I really enjoy my private practice, which is smaller and mostly virtual since the pandemic,” said Bader, who primarily works with patients with complex chronic diseases. She uses a comprehensive and holistic approach to find and address the root causes of her patient’s symptoms. In addition to having three primary care teaching shifts at NUNM’s Lair Hill health center, Bader is the course director and primary lecturer for Endocrinology at NUNM, the head of the Homeopathy thread and a lecturer for Rheumatology.

“I’m passionate about treating people as a whole person,” she said. “When it comes to health challenges, you have to treat the person as a whole to be truly successful, in my opinion.”

Bader said she teaches her ND students to look at a patient’s life trajectory and what has happened to them along the way. By looking at the full human experience, instead of just patient symptoms, Bader develops her students’ understanding of the root causes of a patient’s illness.

A Powerhouse Trio Turned Entrepreneurs

In 2018, Bader and her partners — Bassima Mroue, a former patient and strategy executive, and Elizabeth Zieg, a long-time friend and chef —launched SkinTē, a beverage company with a line of collagen sparkling tea. While Bader laughingly admitted SkinTē started as a vanity project to look younger throughout their middle-age years, the trio of women merged their collective skillsets to create a delicious beverage that infuses naturopathic herbs, collagen and other beauty-boosting ingredients.

“We’re now in about 8000 stores,” Bader said. “It’s been an incredible ride, and I’ve met some incredible people.”

Bader’s journey from accounting to naturopathic medicine, teaching and entrepreneurship is a testament to the infinite possibilities that await those who follow their hearts and embrace their calling in the world of natural medicine.

Interested in becoming a naturopathic doctor like Dr. Amy Bader? NUNM’s Naturopathic Medicine Doctoral Program includes over 4,100 hours of total instruction with 1,200 hours of hands-on clinical training. NUNM is also the first and only university to offer ND students the option of completing their first year entirely online. By offering the first year online, we’re giving prospective naturopathic medical students everywhere a more affordable and accessible option for their first year of medical school.

The NUNM Health Center at Lair Hill is a thriving center for health care. Our staff of attending physicians includes naturopathic, Chinese medicine, chiropractic and medical doctors, some with over 35 years of experience in health care. Open six days a week, you can see a team of providers and students on our teaching rotations.