Dr. Rita Bettenburg Receives NCNM & OANP
2014 Living Legends Award
|National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) and the Oregon
Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OANP) honored Rita Bettenburg,
ND, with the organizations' highest honor, the 2014 Living Legend award.
The award was conferred at a banquet held Dec. 6 at the Portland
Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel. The award recognized Dr.
Bettenburg's outstanding leadership, commitment to excellence and
longstanding contributions toward the advancement of the naturopathic
profession in Oregon.
"What distinguished Dr. Bettenburg from other nominees is the extraordinary breadth of how she has served the profession,"
commented Laura Culberson Farr, executive director of the OANP, during
the presentation of the award. "From teaching, to advocacy, to
accreditation, at the state and the national level, Dr. Bettenburg has
been there for 25 years."
Bettenburg's dedication to deepen and expand the scope of practice of
naturopathic medicine ran parallel to her commitment to raising the
standards of medical education for naturopathic physicians.
After earning a Master of Science in Medical Technology in 1974 from the University of Minnesota, Bettenburg
launched what would become a nearly 40-year career in medical education
by combining her love of health care with a passion for knowledge.
After teaching immunology and clinical chemistry at a hospital in
Minneapolis, she enrolled at NCNM. Bettenburg graduated from the
naturopathic medicine program in 1989 and completed a residency in
In 1990, she began her private practice while also
rekindling her dedication to education as she accepted a teaching
position at NCNM. In 2004 Bettenburg was appointed dean of the School of
Naturopathic Medicine, where she was instrumental in establishing
NCNM's national reputation for academic and clinical excellence until
her retirement from NCNM in 2011.Her influence in advancing the naturopathic profession went well beyond NCNM and Portland.
With a zeal for legislative advocacy on behalf of the naturopathic
profession, Bettenburg was well suited to serve as president of the
board of directors for the Oregon Association of Naturopathic
Physicians, an organization she served in various capacities for almost
25 years. Nationally, she was a board member of the American Association
of Naturopathic Physicians, and served as Speaker of the House of
Delegates for the organization. Bettenburg served for 12 years on the
Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) in a number of
capacities, including president from 2009-2013. The CNME is recognized
by the U.S. Department of Education as the national accrediting agency
for the naturopathic medicine profession.
NCNM's president, David J. Schleich, PhD, expressed his gratitude to Bettenburg for her decades of service to the profession of naturopathic medicine and for her contributions to NCNM.
As dean of our naturopathic program, Dr. Bettenburg set high
standards at NCNM for years—for both our faculty and students. Her vast
programmatic knowledge while serving as president of CNME continues to
benefit all North American medical colleges seeking naturopathic
accreditation or seeking to maintain accreditation."
The Living Legends award dinner also celebrated the accomplishments of three other accomplished NCNM alumni who were inducted into the NCNM Hall of Fame. Noel Peterson, ND; Steven Sandberg-Lewis, ND, DHANP; and Ravinder Sahni, ND, DC, were inducted into the NCNM Hall of Fame.
established the Hall of Fame to honor members of the natural medicine
community who have a long record of service to the college and have
played a vital role in the advancement of the profession and in the
pursuit of professional excellence.
- Peterson has practiced naturopathic medicine for 36 years and is an
expert in regenerative medicine and prolotherapy. He had been professor
of clinical neurology at NCNM and served as the college's clinic
director, and as OANP president, AANP board member, a member of the
Oregon Board of Naturopathic Examiners, as well as a number of other
distinguished appointments, including service to the Institutional
Review Board of the International Cellular Medicine Society.
- Sandberg-Lewis, selected by his peers earlier this year as one of
Portland's "Top Docs" in the annual issue of the Portland Monthly
magazine, is a professor of gastroenterology, diagnostic imaging and
pathology at NCNM, where he has been teaching for nearly 20 years. The
author of a textbook for naturopathic physicians, Functional
Gastroenterology, Sandberg-Lewis spearheaded the launch in 2013 of the
SIBO Center for the diagnosis and treatment of small intestine bacterial
overgrowth at the NCNM Clinic.
- Sahni, who passed away in September 2014, was an esteemed
naturopathic and chiropractic doctor in Portland, where he helped
thousands of patients during the nearly 50 years that he practiced.
Prior to coming to the United States, Sahni was also a doctor of
homeopathy in his native country of India. In addition to his service as
chair of the NCNM Board of Directors for several years, Sahni had been
the director of NCNM Clinic and a professor at both NCNM and Western
States Chiropractic College during the span of his long career.