Member Spotlight - Bill Walter, ND
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Posted by: Cherish Simmons
OANP Member Spotlight with Dr. Bill Walter, leading the way as one of the first ND PCPs in a government clinic.
How are you currently using your ND? What is your primary focus area of practice?
I am currently working as an ND primary care provider at the Community Health Center of Lane County, and offering adult primary care from a naturopathic perspective. I have an additional emphasis on holistic pain management.
What is unique about your clinic or the way you practice?
I am one of the first NDs to be working as a PCP in a government-run clinic in the country. The position was created through my work with a CCO primary care group, including chairing their pain policy committee.
How is OANP valuable to you and/or your profession?
OANP has been invaluable in my own career growth because of their tireless efforts in working with the legislature and OHA so that NDs in Oregon are able to work at their highest potential.
Do you have a favorite patient experience?
I do! I saw a man who had been homeless for most of his life (about 40 years), struggling with alcohol, in and out of jail, and he had finally gotten housed. We were trying to create a medical care program for him (he had a lot of medical problems). He was taking heart medications that had a side effect that made him angry. He asked for a naturopathic approach that would help him, and though I developed an outline for him, he decided he wanted to be done with doctor visits and just be able to live his life. I got a beautiful letter thanking me, acknowledging an appreciation that I treated him with dignity and respect. A year later I received information that he had passed away, and I was asked to sign his death certificate. I have no doubt in my mind that he lived a very full year in between his last meeting with me, to being able to bike around Eugene and living a good life (heaven, compared to 40 years of being alcoholic on the street).
Why do you practice naturopathic medicine? (Or if you’re not practicing, why did you choose to pursue your ND?)
I watched my mother’s health fail, and her healthcare team struggling with the tools to help her. I wanted to learn how to be a different type of doctor. What keeps me in it is seeing that I can connect with patients every single day, I can provide them with different tools and information they are getting from other doctors. I’m helping to change health policy at the local, state, and national level and I’m able to offer different perspectives then they’ve been getting over the last century. I have a public duty to provide a different voice in the health policy landscape.
Who is/was the most influential person to you on your naturopathic journey?Through Dr. Matt Brignall, I learned that one can offer evidence-based, person-centered natural medicine, and that these are not mutually exclusive ideas. The second person I would name is Dr. Esteban Ryciak, and in my rotations with him, I really learned how to meet people of all backgrounds where they were at, and do what I could for them in the moment, without expecting them to be perfect, or expecting that we would achieve perfection after a single visit.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud of having shared the chronic pain committee with my local Medicaid organization, I am proud of my work with the Scientific Affairs Committee with AANP, I am proud of opening the door for other NDs to do the same kind of public clinic work that I do.
Do you have any words of wisdom for recent ND graduates?
Our impact will be greatest when the world can see what you do, and if that means speaking up, then do so. I got to my level of success because I was able to go to health policy meetings. I know I can only see a certain number of patients, but I can touch a lot more by meeting with health policy leaders. We are poised to be thought leaders if we can embrace our similarities. If you ever have a chance to be at a health policy meeting: SHOW UP.
What is your definition of “happiness”?
Being part of a community where your work is respected, and you have an opportunity to engage with like-minded people, having a great network of people outside your workspace. I strive to finish my day knowing that I did everything to the best of my ability and I harmed none to the best of my ability, and being able to go to sleep with no stress on my consciences. I love lying on my sofa with my miniature poodle-mix stretched out on my belly.
What would you sing at Karaoke night?
It depends on whether The Dickies are on the playlist!
Who is your favorite author?
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
This is what my face always looks like – it doesn’t mean I’m mad at you.