If her early childhood is any measure, Jane Guiltinan would be the least likely person to devote her life to medicine. As a young girl, she was afraid of going to the doctor, especially the shots that often followed her checkups.
But those visits piqued her curiosity about the human body and sparked her interest in finding out the secret to making sick people better.
Like a detective searching for clues, Guiltinan, 58, has spent her life investigating the art of healing. Her inquiries have made her a pioneer in the field of natural medicine and have guided her distinguished career as student, researcher, teacher, medical technician, physician and administrator.
Today, as dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, Dr. Guiltinan is the guiding force behind the Kenmore university’s largest degree program with an enrollment of 462 students. In addition to her full-time job as dean, Guiltinan reserves one day a week to serve as clinical supervisor at Bastyr’s Center for Natural Health in Wallingford and is a board member at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
“She is one of the pillars of building natural medicine in Seattle, Washington, and nationally,’’ says Robert May, executive director of the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, who has known Guiltinan for more than 20 years.
As a young girl growing up in Ohio in a close-knit, Irish Catholic family of six, Guiltinan quickly outgrew her initial fear of doctors.
“In grade school I knew I wanted to be a doctor,’’ says Guiltinan.
She planned early for a career in medicine, volunteering at her community
hospital as a candy striper and studying Latin in high school because
she heard it would give her an advantage in medical school.
By looking at all aspects of a person’s mind, body and spirit — including their nutrition, daily stress, exercise, life experiences — people can find out what is causing symptoms and realize their body’s healing potential.
She’s a strong believer that nature is the body’s best healer and uses nutrition, plant medicine and homeopathy to encourage patients to create their own wellness even when facing serious illness. “Our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal.’’
She follows the theories of Hippocrates, who taught that the first and foremost principle of medicine must be to respect nature’s healing forces. She often cites his famous quote: “Let your food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Guiltinan believes that a person’s most powerful healing agents are air, light, water, food, love, touch, laughter, spirit — and plenty of sleep.
She practices what she preaches by pacing herself at work and reserving her weekends for “rest, recovery and play.”
She lives in Leschi with her partner, Dr. Cindy Breed, who also is a naturopath, and stays active with daily gym workouts, swimming, kayaking and recreational basketball and softball leagues. This summer she will race in her ninth triathlon and embark on an African safari in Tanzania.
Her colleagues describe her as a thoughtful, detail-oriented person who is always encouraging and supportive of her students and patients.
“You could always rely on her to have thoughtful and considered perspectives on any issue,’’ says May of the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
May, who once coached Guiltinan’s softball team, first met her when he was a student of hers at Bastyr. He later became a fellow faculty member at the university. “She’s one of those people who is always personable and has a comfortable calmness about her.”
Guiltinan embraces her professional life with the same passion that she brings to her personal life.
A practicing naturopathic physician for 24 years, she was named dean of Bastyr’s school of Naturopathic Medicine in September 2009. Upon her appointment, Timothy Callahan, Ph.D., senior vice president and provost at Bastyr, said Guiltinan’s enthusiasm and expertise have played a role in shaping the naturopathic medicine profession for more than 15 years. “As the field continues to evolve, Bastyr is privileged to have Dr. Guiltinan’s vision to help us further the university’s work in educating future health care leaders.’’
Guiltinan didn’t initially set out to be a naturopath. She began her medical studies at Ohio State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology in 1974. She later moved to San Francisco where she worked as a medical technologist for eight years, but admits she “found it kind of boring.”
She had always planned to go to medical school, “but I never got around to applying,” she says, and in the meantime, she had advanced in the business end of the medical profession with managerial positions.
But in the early 1980s, she had an “aha!” moment at a women’s music festival near Yosemite National Park. She was volunteering at a first aid tent when she overheard a woman explaining to someone that she was a naturopathic medical student, learning to use diet, herbs and vitamins to help people. “I knew at that moment that that’s what I wanted to do.’’
She returned to San Francisco and researched naturopathic medicine, which in 1982 wasn’t a daunting task with only three colleges in the country devoted to the field. “When I was a student, most people didn’t even know what naturopathic medicine was.” She was accepted at Pacific College of Naturopathic Medicine in Marin County, Calif., but soon found out that the school had gone bankrupt.
So she flew to Seattle a month later after being accepted at Bastyr University. She admits she didn’t care for Seattle at first, finding the city too small, dark and dreary compared to vibrant San Francisco. “I thought it was kind of like a wet blanket,’’ she recalls. But after a few years in Seattle, she fell in love with the city and has been here ever since.
She graduated from Bastyr in 1986 and completed two years of residency training at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the University’s teaching clinic. Since then, she’s been forging her way through the natural medicine profession and climbing Bastyr’s leadership ranks.
During her second year in school, Guiltinan had an opportunity to teach a laboratory diagnosis class and later was asked to teach microbiology and offered a residency position at Bastyr.
Only four years into her job as a faculty member at Bastyr’s teaching clinic, she was appointed medical director. Six years later she became dean of clinical affairs — a post she held for 12 years.
In 1998, Guiltinan
became the first
naturopathic physician in the country
the board of trustees
at a public hospital
and is currently
serving her third
It was a controversial
opposition from several
at Harborview, which
owned by the county
the University of
“She is one of the strongest advocates for the mission of Harborview,’’ Whalen says. “She has brought a wonderful perspective to Harborview and is an asset to us.’’
Whalen says that Guiltinan, with whom she has worked for nearly two years, also has taken an active role in mentoring new board members.
Guiltinan has been at the forefront of ground-breaking projects such as the King County Natural Medicine Clinic, the country’s first publicly funded integrated health clinic, located in Kent. She was co-medical director for that clinic, which began in the late 1990s and continues to operate today.
She is past president of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians board of directors and was honored by the organization in 1995 with its Physician of the Year award.
Over the years she has been instrumental in forging important ties and research collaborations with the wider regional medical community, including the University of Washington and Group Health’s Center for Health Studies. She also was the medical director for the Healing AIDS Research Project, a clinical research trial studying naturopathic therapies for HIV/AIDS.
A specialist in women’s health issues, Guiltinan has presented her work to a committee of the British Parliament. In 2008, she received the highest award Bastyr University bestows: the Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr. Founders Award for distinguished service to the university and the naturopathic profession.
While Guiltinan respects both natural and conventional medicine, she says the key to a long, healthy life is not complicated and does not come in the form of a pill or in a big bottle.
“It’s understanding who you are as a person and listening to your body.”
NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE AT A GLANCE
Naturopathic medicine was first recognized in the United States about 100 years ago, but its roots date back to 460 B.C. with the birth of Hippocrates. The ancient Greek physician, known as the “father of medicine,” believed in the “healing power of nature.’’ His philosophies remain at the core of naturopathic medicine.
While naturopathic medicine is widely used today, there are still misconceptions. The following Q&A was compiled with information from the Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians, www.wanp.org; the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, www.naturopathic.org and Bastyr University, www.bastyr.edu.
WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE? Naturopathic medicine is a system of health care --— an art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness. It is not defined by the substances used but rather by the principles which underlie and determine its practice, including: utilizing the healing power of nature, finding the cause, doing no harm, treating the whole person, exercising prevention, and viewing the doctor as teacher.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC NATUROPATHIC PHILOSOPHIES? Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting-edge natural therapies to enhance the body's ability to ward off and combat disease. They believe that every illness has an underlying cause, often in aspects of the lifestyle, diet or habits of the individual. It is the naturopathic physician’s job to find and remove the underlying cause of a disease.
ARE NATUROPATHIC TREATMENTS SAFE? According to the WANP, naturopathic treatments have a long history of safe, clinical effectiveness with a significant amount of support from the scientific literature. NDs do not oppose the use of conventional medications or surgery. Rather, they use or recommend conventional medicine only when more natural, nontoxic therapies are not indicated.
ARE NATUROPATHS LICENSED MEDICAL DOCTORS? Naturopathic physicians are licensed health care providers who are required to graduate from an accredited four-year, postgraduate naturopathic medical school and to pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) to receive a license. They are trained to provide primary care and/or naturopathic specialty care. Since 1993, NDs in Washington State have been able to prescribe a number of drugs, including antibiotics. In 2007, NDs in Washington received extensive prescriptive rights, giving them authority to prescribe all legend drugs (medicines requiring a prescription) and a limited number of controlled substances. NDs perform physical exams and the full range of lab tests (including Pap smears), and are trained and licensed to give vaccinations. Like all primary care providers, NDs are trained to recognize when their patients need additional health care and refer to a full range of specialists as needed. Most health insurance plans in Washington State cover naturopathic care. A naturopathic physician’s techniques include both modern and traditional; methods incorporate the scientific and empiric; and therapies range from the most fundamental to conventional mainstream treatments.
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