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by Jean Berns Jones
Naturopathic doctor returns to Dodgeville, goes full circle
Dr. Dawn Ley, Dodgeville born and raised, feels she has come full circle by bringing her skills as a licensed naturopathic doctor back home to this area. “I am absolutely thrilled to be back and serving the communities that helped raise and educate me and had a big part in making me the physician I am today,” she said. Dr.Ley, the daughter of Don and Pauline Ley, returned to the area after earning her doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the fully accredited naturopathic medical college, National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), in Portland, OR. Dr. Ley received extensive training in natural therapeutics from some of the leading physicians in the field during her three-year clinical rotations at NCNM. She recently opened a practice – Full Circle Natural Medicine -- in Madison. She has also been seeing people privately for home visits in the Dodgeville/Platteville area, when it is appropriate. “The name is representative of the work I do,” Dr. Ley explained. “Patients of naturopathic doctors often say that they have improved so was selected to do a youth apprenticeship in the healthcare field. She also took advantage of opportunities to study medical terminology at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, to do her CNA training as a junior through work release from school, and to take First Responder training. “I had known since I was a child that I would do something in the health profession, and during high school I kind of explored what that would be,” Dr. Ley said. “The youth apprenticeship program at Dodgeville High School and Upland Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center was absolutely essential in deciding what role to take on.” At Edgewood College in Madison, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology with Medical Sciences Concentration. While there, she started and led an Integrative Medicine Club. It involved students in trainings and education about caring for their health. She also worked as a health peer advocate with the nurse practitioner on campus. “We tried to make it so that integrative medicine wasn’t something that only people with a lot of money could access,” she said. “I’ve always continued to look at it that way.” case,” she explained. “There might be nothing more we can do in terms of drugs or surgery – sometimes that’s true and we have to be honest with ourselves about that.” “But with chronic illness or cases where people are transitioning out of this life – I felt there was definitely more we could offer,” she said. “I wanted to know more about those things.” After college, she interviewed with naturopathic medical schools. There are seven accredited locations in the U.S. She decided to go to the 56-year-old institution – the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. “Although it was difficult to leave Wisconsin, I knew that NCNM had a longstanding tradition in providing this type of education. Going to an accredited institution was important to me,” the doctor said. The first two years of study covered biomedical sciences. The courses were much like any MD program with anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. Then board exams, administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, were required to progress in the program. In the later years, it began transitioning into more clinical sciences, diagnostics Nutrition is a big focus of the program. Many of Dr. Ley’s patients come seeking weight loss and dietary counseling. “There is probably not a patient I see who is not using some element of nutritional or dietary modification,” she said. After graduating with her ND in 2011 and sitting for board exams, she was selected among her peers to complete post graduate training at a private practice in Portland. She then made the decision to come back to Wisconsin, even though the state does not currently offer a license in her field. “I decided that what I could do should not be withheld from people here. I wanted to increase accessibility to naturopathic medicine and make it an option for people in our communities,” Dr. Ley continued. “It was the people here that pulled me back. I missed my family for those five years, of course. But also, I can’t tell you how many people kept asking when I was going to return here and help them to know about these naturopathic services and make them available.” “I wanted to do that because there are so few providers in Wisconsin that sometimes people have to drive for hours to see a naturopathic doctor. Now I have patients who drive
The Dodgeville Chronicle - Thursday, January 10, 2013- Page 14
Dr. Dawn Ley has returned to Dodgeville as a licensed Naturopathic Physician (ND). and a family therapist. These providers would will not simply work under the same roof, but regularly collaborate with one another for the care of patients. “From an acute standpoint there are a lot of things we can do, and we also help people with chronic diseases, and largely work to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Prevention is a large focus of naturopathy,” said. Dr. Ley, who refers people to chiropractors, acupuncturists and MDs when necessary. She works collaboratively with people’s primary care doctors on a regular basis, as well as with their specialists. “Here in Wisconsin, I do not diagnose or treat, because there is currently not a defined scope of practice in our state,” she explained. “I continue to hold my professional license in Oregon, where I am licensed as a primary care physician, to diagnose, treat, and prescribe drugs when necessary in addition to natural substances. “Here I work with people’s primary care doctors to assure that they are getting appropriate laboratory tests, procedures and the types of examinations during your course of study? Do you maintain a professional license, and in what state? Which professional organizations do you belong to? What is your attitude toward mainstream medicine? “This is important because some people are trained in correspondence courses or seminars without supervised clinical training. They can go to programs that are not credentialed by the Department of Education and so they are not eligible to take board exams or hold a professional license in any state,” she explained. “This is a large concern in terms of patient safety.” “In Wisconsin, unlike the 16 other states which have a license, naturopathic doctors are not currently able to bill insurance. However, patients may be eligible to utilize their Flex Spending or Health Savings Accounts for this type of care, so it is best to check with your local naturopathic doctor and plan to be sure,” Dr. Ley continued. “Our association -- the Wisconsin Association of Naturopathic Physicians (WANP) -- is working really hard at the state level to legislate for a defined `scope of practice,’” Dr. Ley added. “This is necessary to ensure safety for all patients as well as to encourage insurance coverage and increase accessibility for Wisconsinites.” Due to past experience she has had doing legislative work in Washington, D.C., Dr. Ley was recently asked to step into the legislative liaison position for the WANP. She will be speaking with legislators because she is committed to advancing patient rights and public health initiatives via naturopathic medicine. Dr. Ley has been called a “pioneer” for championing this cause. “I didn’t know I was going to do anything related to politics,” she said. “But when you get started on something you are passionate about, you have to see it through.” Support from citizens in this legislative effort is welcome and necessary. For more information go to Dr. Ley’s website: www.fullcirclenaturalmed.com. Links to legislative updates and advocacy are at: www.wisconsin-nd.org, and www.naturopathic.org. Dr. Ley says she felt a duty to bring her skills back to Wisconsin, rather than taking the easier route of benefiting from the broad scope of practice she could enjoy in other states, such as Oregon or Washington. “Providing care here is at times challenging, but the rewards of working to provide a service that is largely unavailable to people, far outweigh the challenges. That’s why I’m coming back, to make sure it happens and that a safe, whole-person approach to health care, is an option here,” she said. NOTE: On January 28th, Dr. Ley will speak to the Barneveld/Ridgeway Over 55 Group, presenting an Introduction to Naturopathic Medicine. She will begin at 12:45 p.m., following a potluck luncheon at the Summit Apartments. The public is invited.
Dr. Ley poses at the entrance to Full Circle Natural Medicine, her clinic on Monroe Street in Madison. -Photo taken by Shauna Riniker of Dodgeville. much, it feels like they have `come full circle.’ It’s also representative of my own journey, having been raised here, gone away for training that was not available here, and having now brought this skill set and gift back home.” As a licensed naturopathic physician (ND), she is one of only a handful of doctors who focus on prevention and utilizing functional nutrition, botanical medicine, and other integrative modalities to assist in optimizing the health of patients. Her interest in this type of medicine started early in life. In 7th grade at St. Joseph’s School, she did a science fair project on Ten Alternative Healing Modalities. “I was always interested in going to the Dodgeville Public Library to the small, but yet present, section they had with books on botanical medicine, meditation, nutrition, and other topics of the sort,” she recalled. “I was just fascinated actually, from a very young age, with that area of the library.” “Growing up in the country we always had a large garden, so it was a big part of our life working in the garden and enjoying the fruits of that labor. I think part of my interest in this area of science was because it allowed me to remain connected with the natural world. That was intriguing.” At Dodgeville High School, she “I had learned a little about natural medicine and integrative options in healthcare before college, but it was at Edgewood that I really came alive in terms of wanting to know more,” she said. “I related all of the projects in my various class areas to integrative medicine, as much as possible. I combined that knowledge with my experience working at St. Mary’s Hospital to learn a great deal during that time.” During college, she worked for five years as a CNA at St. Mary’s Hospital. She worked for the Nursing Float Pool and spent the majority of her time in the Emergency Department and Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. “My favorite area to work in was the Emergency Department, because I feel we really do provide excellent acute emergency care,” Dr. Ley said. “In that setting, I started to see the elements that were a little bit different in terms of our chronic care and what we could provide. I felt that if I were going to go into medicine, I wanted to be able to get to the root of someone’s disease process – why it was happening -- and to work a great deal to prevent it from happening in the first place,” she continued. “Being in healthcare from such an early age and having patients and family members who were told, `There’s nothing more we can do,’ I felt like that was not always the and therapeutics. “Where things begin to differentiate in terms of the uniqueness of my program was in the therapeutic for hours to see me,” she added. After returning to Wisconsin last May, she weighed many different options about how best to go about
Dr. Ley works in a community clinic at Ometepe Island, Nicaragua, during a 2008 medical brigade mission with Nature Doctors International. approach,” Dr. Ley explained. “In addition to pharmacotherapy or the use of drugs, we learn how to utilize botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, clinical nutrition, and other integrative modalities.” offering care. She enjoyed reconnecting with her previous network of healthcare providers. Office space was found on Monroe Street in Madison, near Edgewood College, and she opened for business. “I saw it as an opportunity to be able to come back to a place of support, and a place where I had learned to dream big,” Dr. Ley said. “My parents taught me that if you want something, you go and you work hard at it every single day, and then it will happen. I definitely had to look to them for that encouragement during my training, because it was very rigorous,” she added. Dr. Ley was one of 30 in her class of over 120 who finished the ND program in four, rather than in five or more, years. Her goal is to develop Full Circle Natural Medicine into an integrative medical home model where people can come to access a variety of providers such as a naturopathic doctor, a medical doctor, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist treatments that are most indicated and beneficial to them while minimizing the potential for unwanted side effects.” Her family-focused practice serves those ranging in age from children to the elderly. They vary from people who take no medications to some who are on 10-12 drugs, and she co-manages these and collaborates with their primary care doctors. “I have a particular interest in women’s health,” Dr. Ley said, “and I am excited to work with agriculture, healthcare, and shift workers.” She has been asked to open a second location in the Iowa and Grant Counties area, and she is considering the possibility. Because Wisconsin is currently an unlicensed state for naturopathic medicine, Dr. Ley cautions, if you are considering visiting a naturopathic doctor or an “ND,” you should be sure to ask the following questions about his or her credentials: Where did you earn your medical degree? Did you sit for board
Botanical Medicine includes common herbs and foods that are typically available in home kitchens. Dr. Ley teaches patients how to prepare these botanicals medicines for improved health and wellness.
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