NUNM names Dr. Dee Saunders as AVP of Clinical Education and Administration

Former Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Clinical Affairs passionate about improving clinical education and modernizing medical reporting. 

Headshot of Dee Saunders

Dr. Dee Saunders has been named Associate Vice President of Clinical Education and Administration at the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM).  

In the new role, she provides medical oversight for NUNM’s Health Centers and coordinates all training for clinical students and residents.  

As the former Dean of Graduate Medical Education and Clinical Affairs, Dr. Saunders oversaw clinical education, assessment and evaluation of clinical outcomes for the Naturopathic Doctorate Program, while also managing the on-campus residency program and nationwide affiliate sites. 

With this new appointment, which was announced in May by NUNM President Dr. Melanie Henriksen, Dr. Saunders will continue the work done in her previous role, absorbing new responsibilities that further align with her commitment to modernizing systems and improving the student experience. 

“Dr. Saunders’ acumen for clinical education is highly regarded,” said Dr. Henriksen. “In this position, she will have the opportunity to elevate both undergraduate and graduate medical education to new heights.” 

Over the past two years, Dr. Saunders has worked with leadership to implement processes that cater to the clinical experience, transforming the way student progress is tracked and reported.   

“My focus is on finding systems that improve student success—through their training, through their tracking—through all of the pieces,” she said. “That’s something I’m really passionate about.”  

Historically, much of the data collected around clinical requirements was lacking in its ability to provide real-time updates and reveal opportunities for student improvement.   

With the automated systems Dr. Saunders has put in place, evaluation faculty can see deficits for students struggling mid-way through term and make recommendations for improvement earlier on. 

Creating these structures within NUNM not only helps to make students’ lives easier, she said, but may also reshape the way they problem-solve and treat patients in their journey as doctors.  

Not everything learned in a clinical study should necessarily be didactic, said Dr. Saunders, adding that medicine is changing all the time and that research plays a crucial role in understanding the relationship between health patterns.   

“Half of what I knew two years ago is no longer as true as we thought it was,” she said. “We always have to keep checking in and looking things up. We’re like medical detectives, learners for life.”  

Dr. Saunders is an NUNM graduate of the Naturopathic Medicine program, earning her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and Master of Science in Integrative Medical Research ( now Master of Science in Clinical Research) degrees in 2015.  

She spent her residency in evidence-based integrative primary care, with graduate-level research focused on small intestine bacterial overgrowth and its relationship with intestinal permeability, food hypersensitivity, and autoimmunity. 

Continuing to teach neurology and mental health as an adjunct faculty member, Dr. Saunders is the course director for gastroenterology at the university. 

by Ashley Villarreal, Marketing Content Specialist