Dr. Todd Rowe is President and founder of the American Medical College of Homeopathy. He believes that building a homeopathic profession is a vital step toward greater public recognition and acceptance. To accomplish this, he has been in the process over the last 15 years of following his vision to create a 4-year full-time homeopathic medical school.
He first developed the Desert Institute of Classical Homeopathy and the Desert Institute School of Classical Homeopathy. As the Desert Institute developed it became clear that this vision of Dr. Rowe’s was bigger than Phoenix and bigger than Arizona. So, to redefine that, the name was changed to the American Medical College of Homeopathy.
Debbie Noah: There is a lot of literature and material written about the school and you’ve written many articles, but there is not much about you. What brought you to homeopathy?
Todd Rowe: I was in medical school, and I wanted to be a Jungian psychoanalyst. That was my life path because I had fallen in love with that during college. I had read about Alchemy, and I even did a fourth-year project in the Chemistry department trying to synthesize the Philosophers’ Stone, to turn lead into gold. It didn’t quite work and it wasn’t until much later when I discovered homeopathy,that I realized that this is what homeopaths do.
Back in college, I was fascinated by psychology and that sort of thing. When I got to medical school, I found that psychiatry as I had perceived it, was quite a bit different than the psychiatry that I had read about in college.
I began a long search at that point. The search began by observing what I was experiencing in medical school and what was working and what wasn’t. I found that much of what I was doing was managing chronic illness and never really curing it. I also began to see the phenomena of suppression, perceiving that when you treat a single symptom without treating the whole person, that the symptom may resolve but they as a whole can get worse.
These two things made me begin to question conventional medicine. I started to look at other alternatives while continuing my conventional studies. The medical school I was in at the time offered nothing in alternative medicine and had nothing good to say about anything other than conventional medicine.
I ended up doing it on my own; I studied one path after another of alternative medicine and that included acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine. I looked at Osteopathy, and a few others and they were all wonderful forms of healing.
I was very interested in them, but they didn’t speak at the soul level for me, they didn’t touch my spirit. So, I kept searching until a friend of mine introduced me to homeopathy, and I read a book by Edward Whitmont called “Psyche and Substance“, and I just fell in love with it.
I worked with Dr. Joel Shepherd in Chicago, and I did a month clerkship with him back in 1982. I fell in love with this beautiful system of healing. I knew it was what I wanted to do and I couldn’t wait to get into it.
However, I also had to finish medical school, four years of residency and finally four years of Public Health Service which I had to finish. I couldn’t simply abandon conventional medicine and jump into homeopathy because I had all these commitments and responsibilities.
I continued all my training; I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s, but I continued to study Homeopathy at the same time. It was where my heart lay. In my spare time, rather than studying medicine, I was always studying homeopathy, whenever I could. I would do it late at night and early in the morning. By the first year of my residency, I began to start treating patients with homeopathy–that was in Vermont. I worked with Dr. John Roos who was a wonderful mentor for me–eventually forming a study group. I practiced out of his office on the evenings and weekends.
That gradually expanded over time. I began to study more and more. Finally, I opened up a part-time practice–half to one day a week ultimately. I continued this throughout my residency and through my four years of Public Health Service commitment in upper New York State.
My goal was always to attend a formal Homeopathic school because I had studied for so many years on my own. I never felt that my self-study or part-time practice was the same as attending a Homeopathic school. I needed to go deeper and I also needed to talk to other people about my experiences.
Finally, once I finished my Public Health Service commitment, I was free. I moved to Arizona and it was at that time that I started at the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy and did that for four years and graduated from there in 1993 or 1994 and since that time I have been in pretty much full-time practice. This was an incredible experience and changed my life.
Debbie Noah: What brought you to move to the desert, to Arizona?
Todd Rowe: My wife and I had come here after I graduated from my residency. I had to do four years of Public Health Service in an under-served area of the country. I had always been fascinated by Native Americans and I interviewed at 4 or 5 sites here in Arizona at that time. I had gotten accepted and we were strongly thinking about it.
However, at that time, we had two teenagers, who were both in high school. We thought long and hard about how it would be for two teenagers to move to a reservation and decided that it would be too difficult for them, too disruptive in their lives. We decided to abandon that, even though we had fallen in love with the desert and the culture.
So we set it aside, but I always wanted to consider moving out here. My sister also lived in Southern Arizona at that time. I used to come out and visit her frequently and just loved the area.
When I finally finished my Public Health Service commitment in upper New York State, my wife was finishing her graduate school program in psychology. She had to do an internship and there were no internship sites in the Vermont area. We had to move, regardless, for her to have that experience.
We looked at many places in the country, and at that time, Portland was our first choice and Phoenix was our second. We did not get our first choice, but we got our second. We have fallen in love with the desert, with Arizona.
I realized ultimately that I don’t think I would have been very happy in Portland just in terms of climate, and culture, and the environment; that really I am kind of a desert rat, and that’s what I feel most affinity to and where I feel most at home. When I finally got here and moved in, there was a feeling of profound peacefulness and a feeling of finally having come home, in a way that’s difficult to describe.
Debbie Noah: So then you opened a practice here. Do you want to give a little history from that point?
Todd Rowe: I had a private practice back in Vermont, and I pretty much transferred that practice here when I moved. Many of my patients continued by phone, and then I started seeing patients here.
Initially, when I opened my practice, I did it at my home. But that quickly became claustrophobic, and I started renting with a Naturopathic physician here in the valley. That worked out well for about two years, but ultimately, I outgrew the space. I had always wanted to practice together with my wife, and there wasn’t room.
We moved into a nearby location where I practiced 2 or 3 days a week, gradually moving it to full-time. That also worked out well but we began once again to outgrow the space.
I had also been teaching a homeopathic study group at that time and had done so for several years. I began to have a growing sense that the community was ready for more in the way of Homeopathy. There really were very few homeopathic practitioners here in Arizona at that time, and there were no formal educational programs, no center of the homeopathic community.
My wife and I invited many homeopaths or people interested in Homeopathy to our home, at that time, and we talked about what we as a community wanted to do as the next step. As an outgrowth of that meeting, there were two decisions that were made. The first was to form an institute which would be a place that practitioners could come and practice together and work together–a center for the homeopathic community.
The second decision was to move towards the formation of a homeopathic school. These were both big, ambitious projects, but everybody was behind them. We decided to move ahead with both of those projects.
We formed the institute initially; I think it opened its doors in 1996. We continued that for several years, building the community and then when we thought the time was right we finally opened the school in 1999. Both the school and the Institute have been doing wonderfully well ever since.
Debbie Noah: Was it always your intent to open a school, or where did that inspiration come from, and what was that switch about?
Todd Rowe: I do a lot of things in Homeopathy. I am a practitioner, a researcher, an administrator, and a writer, but by far and away my greatest passion is as a teacher. That is what I love the most in homeopathy. Before I even got into Homeopathy I used to do a lot of teaching in psychiatry. I would give public talks on various things. I have always loved to teach, working with the public, other practitioners, medical students, residents, etc. I have always been interested in finding ways of bringing teaching into my work.
Even when I first started practicing in Arizona, I started teaching at a study group right away. I took over from Eileen Nauman, who had been teaching before me for a couple of years, and it was a chance for me to really grow my own knowledge. That’s what teaching is for me. I have always believed that the best way to learn is to teach.
Ultimately, you learn so much by being a teacher and you grow so much. Teaching was a way for me to really embrace homeopathy, in a much deeper level than I could even with my practice.
The study group was wonderful but I am also the kind of person who always needs to grow. I always have something else that I want to do, what is the next step…
We decided that the Study Group was not enough. The Study Group students were also clamoring for more, something more serious, something that could really allow them to get to a level where they could start practicing. That led to the formation of the first class.
Debbie Noah: I remember that since I was in the first class! Okay, can you think of a few words that describe you?
Todd Rowe: I think one of the most important words about me is the word “journey”. I have always believed that one doesn’t become a homeopath in one day, but that it’s a journey that one embarks on. I think that is what led to my writing my book called “The Homeopathic Journey“. This idea of journey is one that’s really close to my heart. The homeopathic journey is a never-ending process of growth.
I came to appreciate that the journey is a miasmatic one, that one starts often times in homeopathy in a place of acute excitement and shock, but that the whole world is open at the beginning acute phase of the journey. Then students move into the psoric phase where they just keep struggling and focusing, trying and trying to move forward. Later they reach the sycotic phase where they begin to realize that the journey is more than they can do and begin to pretend that they are getting it. There is much doubt and self-examination in this phase. As it gets more and more challenging, the student finally moves into the syphilitic phase where it becomes too much, and they want to give up or destroy Homeopathy, their program or whatever.
This process repeats, not only as a student of homeopathy but also as a practitioner, as a teacher and even ultimately as an administrator in homeopathy. This is a process that is true of any journey. You can liken it perhaps to “The Hero’s Journey” that Joseph Campbell talks about, and from a Jungian perspective, although the miasmatic vision is even deeper in some ways than what Campbell writes about. The homeopathic journey is more than just the hero–it is about becoming a healer.
That’s one of the key words for me–“journey”. I think another key word is “transformation”. One of the reasons I love Homeopathy so much is that in searching through all of these different forms of healing, I found that they all have the capacity to transform people’s lives. Yet I never came across a form of healing that could as deeply transform someone’s life as the practice of homeopathic medicine. I have found that to be true not just for patients, but for students, teachers and even leaders. I have found that it is impossible to deeply engage in homeopathy and not be transformed in the innermost parts of one’s being.
These transformations occur at every phase of the journey, every step of the way as you move forward into growing into homeopathy.
Another idea that is important to me is the concept that Homeopathy is a “Great Subject”. Parker Palmer in his book “The Courage to Teach” writes about this. He writes about how there are certain subjects in life that have profound meaning to students who study them, which open a whole vista, a whole world of meaning and passion and excitement. When students gather around these great subjects in a classroom, then education truly becomes alive in a way that it doesn’t in a dry boring classroom.
I believe that homeopathic medicine is “Great Subject”. That is one of the wonderful things about Homeopathy. I often tell my students that Homeopathy is like baseball. Baseball has always been one of the sports that people have the most passion about; and one of the reasons is that in baseball you have an unbounded field. There are no limits. You can hit the ball out forever, and it may never stop. Whereas in football, you have a more limited and confined field. Homeopathy is unbounded, because Homeopathy is not just the study of certain medicines. It is the study of all of life. Part of that is the study of the entire natural world.
What I love so much about practicing and teaching Homeopathy is that the whole natural world becomes my pharmacy–not just a dry, dead medicine like Prozac or penicillin, but a medicine that actually is an alive, living medicine. This living medicine has meaning and value in the natural world and our culture. When you begin to use and prescribe these kinds of substances, your whole experience of healing and working with patients begins to transform and change.
Debbie Noah: You had the vision for the medical school per se. Has it changed along the way, and can you go from when you first thought it should be a medical school to where it is today? How have you had to alter that vision?
Todd Rowe: I think another word that describes me is vision. It’s been said that there are three kinds of people in life. There are visionaries, managers, and workers. Of the three my strongest is vision, and that’s my nature. I have a capacity to not only see a vision, but to share it with others.
I came to this vision maybe early on in the school. I think it was probably 2001 or so. I believe that a vision is not enough unless it can be shared and that it is one that is carried by other people as well. So we had a large meeting here in Phoenix with about 100 people. I think it was 2002, maybe 2003 when we gathered a lot of people together from the Homeopathic community, and we presented the vision to them at our Pioneers in Homeopathic Education Conference.
We asked the question, “Is this a vision that you share?” “Is this something that, we as a community, are ready for or want to move forward with?” The idea of a medical school is not a vision that begins with me. It’s a vision that has come up periodically in the Homeopathic community for at least the last 40 years. I have talked to people who have said that this was a vision that was discussed when George Vithoulkas came out and taught in California in the 60’s as being a possible next step for the homeopathic community at that time.
Also, Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman pursued this vision for a while. Both times I think the problem was that the community wasn’t ready to take this vision on. So even though I’ve had this vision perhaps for a little while, I was waiting until I thought the community might be ready. When I felt that something had shifted or sufficiently changed in the homeopathic community, we began to come out with the vision again in 2002 or 2003.
The Pioneers Conference was an opportunity to talk to many of the educational leaders in Homeopathy in the United States. We also talked to leaders in other alternative medicine communities, members of the homeopathic community and to people on the street, to get a sense of whether this was something that they would be behind or not.
The answer, consistently since then has been that of strong support, and I don’t think that’s waivered. There have been very few people that I have talked to that have not strongly supported this vision. The strongest support has been from the homeopathic community, but there has also been strong support from the alternative medicine community and even the allopathic community.
Yes, the initial vision has transformed and changed over time, and that’s not so much because of me. The community is really who holds the vision, and the community has seen the medical school differently over time.
As you also say, there have been roadblocks and obstacles and that is to be expected. It’s a huge ambitious project and in order to move forward with it, there will always be roadblocks and obstacles. The key is finding ways to work with them and around them and move forward despite them. We have worked to make each obstacle a stepping stone.
I think all of the largest roadblocks that we had anticipated at the beginning of the project we have indeed faced, and we have found ways to move forward and around them. There still are a few major obstacles we have to deal with, but we continue to make progress on all fronts, and I feel very confident that we will be ready to open the medical school on our current proposed start date, which is February 2011.
Debbie Noah: Considering that there are other schools in the country, is there a way that everybody can join together? It would be nice if everybody got behind it on a national basis, but in the community, others have a different vision; can we co-exist? If another school wanted to join with AMCH, could they could do that?
Todd Rowe: You have asked quite a few questions there–let me try to separate them out. The first question is about community support, and this was very important to us when we started with this project. I felt like we could not move forward with the project unless we had community support.
As part of that process, I met or talked to all the homeopathic leaders, all of the homeopathic organizations in the United States, and the feedback I got from all of them was positive. So from a leadership point of view, there was not any opposition to moving forward with the project. Now that does not mean there weren’t individuals who might be opposed, but from an organizational standpoint there was universal support.
Beyond that, though, this project impacts not just the homeopathic community. It also has a significant impact on the Alternative Medicine Community, and the Conventional Community. So I’ve also had meeting after meeting with leaders and members of the alternative medicine community and the conventional medical Community, both here in Arizona and nationally. I can also say that I have not heard any opposition to this project from either of those spheres; quite surprisingly, actually.
Mostly, when I talk to members of the Conventional Medical Community, they are not opposed to it. Certainly, there are some who feel that Homeopathy has no value, but they all appreciate that if there are going to be Homeopathic practitioners, they need to be well trained.
So the idea of improving the quality of training is one that they can get behind for the most part. I think the major issue that you are hinting at is the issue of competition and whether some schools may perceive that the homeopathic medical school would be competition for them.
I have done a lot of thinking about that. The final conclusion I arrived at was that the answer was no, and that the building of the homeopathic medical school may, in fact support the existence of other homeopathic schools. This thought process has led me to describe a staged model of homeopathic education.
There are six stages in this model of homeopathic education. The word “stage” or “level” is not quite accurate. These are not hierarchical levels, I want to be very clear about that. I don’t put any more value on one stage or level versus the other. I haven’t found quite the right word yet.
The first stage is what I call the “Appreciator” and these are individuals who don’t actually practice Homeopathy, but refer. Usually, they have been exposed to the word Homeopathy; they know what it is. They know its power, but they don’t actually practice it. There are many of these individuals who refer routinely to my practice.
The second stage is the “Casual Prescriber.” This is someone who has usually been to an introductory talk or read an article and gets excited about Homeopathy. They may start using it on their family or friends, or they may start using it in their practice on occasion. Their patients like it and it’s kind of fun, but they don’t take it terribly seriously.
The next stage is “Acute Care”, and courses that are geared towards acute care. This includes a 40-60 hour program where one can learn how to do acute care prescribing and treat friends and family. It can also begin to become a primary modality in a practitioner’s office for treating acute conditions, and then they fall back to conventional medicine if it doesn’t work.
Then the next stage of training and education is an “Integrated Practitioner”. An integrated practitioner is one who begins to learn more constitutional Homeopathy, studies more in depth. Homeopathy is still one of several things that they may do. This is the level, say, of a Naturopathic practitioner, where one studies for maybe 200-250 hours of training. You combine Homeopathy with other modalities and practices, or you do some homeopathy in your conventional medicine practice, and you do conventional medicine the rest of the time.
The next level is that of a “Homeopathic Practitioner”, and this is someone who really embraces the identity of homeopath and practices more full-time. They go to a program of at least 500-1000 hours, which is typically what is available in the United States. Currently in the United States, this is where most homeopathic schools are focused and where our current certificate program lies.
I also believe that there is another level beyond that. That is the level of the “Homeopathic Physician”. The difference between the homeopathic practitioner and homeopathic physician has to do mostly with the capacity to diagnose. A homeopathic practitioner is not trained in the capacity to diagnose, and in some ways that is both a curse and a blessing. One of the advantages of the capacity to diagnose and of understanding medical conditions is that it makes it easier to know what is common and what is not common for any given disease. That is always very important when you are analyzing a case or trying to determine what is strange, peculiar, or unique about the individual case. So individuals in a homeopathic medical school becoming homeopathic physicians, reach a deeper level of training that allows them to be able to do that.
Ultimately, I believe that there is room for all of these levels. And, that they don’t necessarily compete with each other, and that each person who comes to homeopathy ultimately has to decide the level in which they want to engage with homeopathic medicine.
It might be as an appreciator, it might be as an integrated practitioner, it may be as a homeopathic practitioner, or it may be as a homeopathic physician; they are all different levels, and I think there is room for all of these.
I also believe that each level can support the other levels. There are many things that a homeopathic medical school here in the United States can do which can help and support other homeopathic schools, just as many current schools support acute care and introductory programs.
So, for example, a homeopathic medical school allows the formation of a homeopathic research institute. A homeopathic research institute can really benefit homeopathy in many ways. We have not been able to form this type of institute in the United States until now, because we did not have a homeopathic medical school. A research institute can also provide education and teaching about research in homeopathy.
Also having a larger medical school can provide a lot of resources that may not be available to other smaller schools in the United States. Those could include faculty, clinical support, supervision, faculty training, as well as online resources, which we can make available. We can also provide a conduit for schools which have students who wish to take the next step after they graduate.
The homeopathic educational community has been one in which there has been a fair amount of divisiveness in the past. Each school was an independent entity, and for the most part didn’t work together. I believe that this has really changed in the last 12 or 15 years or so, largely thanks to the work of Richard Pitt. He has done a great deal of work in the formation of NANHE, which is the North American Network of Homeopathic Educators.
I would say at least half the schools in the country are now participating in NANHE, and they are beginning to work together in many ways. They are sharing resources and finding ways of helping each other. So I think the notion that schools and educators are very competitive in Homeopathy in the United States, although it may have been true in the past, is not as true as it used to be. I think there are beginning to be more and more ways that schools can benefit from each other’s work and working together.
I know that has certainly been true for our school. There have been many schools that have helped us along the way as we have grown, and hopefully we have helped other schools in their journey as well.
Debbie Noah: The public is conditioned to see a doctor or a homeopathic physician, not just a practitioner. There is a concern among practitioners, particularly here in Arizona, that the medical school will interfere with their livelihood. Will you comment on that?
Todd Rowe: The homeopathic community, here in Arizona, has had homeopathic doctors for 25 years, and I have had the chance to look at this question fairly carefully, actually. Yes, there are advantages to having a doctor label, but there have been many successful practitioners despite the presence of all those homeopathic doctors, here in Arizona, that have been very successful practicing as homeopathic practitioners essentially.
I believe that it’s somewhat similar to a PA or a Nurse Practitioner. The public may want to go to whom they perceive as being the best (physician), but they also oftentimes will go to nurse practitioners and PA’s because they are practical, and it’s often less expensive. They also realize that sometimes the quality of care is much better, more personable, more human, and more real from a nurse practitioner or from a PA or from someone who doesn’t carry that doctoral degree, than it is from the doctor themselves.
The notion that the public is always seeking a physician is one that is beginning to change in our culture and in our community and, yes, there are advantages to having a physician degree, but I don’t think it precludes success and practice in any of the other realms.
Debbie Noah: With the DCH (Doctor of Classical Homeopathy)degree or perhaps the Hahnemannian Principles Degree, if it is limited to homeopathic medicine, what does that mean exactly? Does that mean that these doctors can diagnose and prescribe regular drugs?
Todd Rowe: A graduate of the medical school will be able to diagnose, order lab tests or radiological tests or any conventional test just like any other physician. They will not be able to prescribe conventional drugs. They will have training and understanding of the side-effect profiles and the issues that come with conventional drugs, but they will not be able to write prescriptions.
The modality of their treatment will be homeopathy and homeopathic medicines. They also will have some training in other forms of alternative medicine. One of the departments in the medical school is the Department of Integrative Medicine, and students will be given survey knowledge of things like oriental medicine, herbal medicine, mind/body medicine and so on–not enough to actually make that a focus or modality of treatment, but enough knowledge to appreciate it. The goal is to help them to be able to work with other practitioners that they will encounter with their patients when they come across that.
Debbie Noah: So then you could determine which modality will be better for the situation and the patient?
Todd Rowe: Exactly.
Debbie Noah: In the past, for example, Naturopaths couldn’t write certain kinds of prescriptions and now they can. And PA’s of course write prescriptions.
It seems to me that going through a four-year full-time medical school that you should, if you needed to, be able to write a prescription for an antibiotic or for some certain types of drugs if needed, but you are not seeing that as happening.
Todd Rowe: The capacity for Naturopaths to prescribe conventional drugs to my knowledge is currently only in Arizona. It’s not in other states where there are Naturopaths and Naturopathic schools. So this is a fairly new idea from the Naturopathic perspective, and they have won it after a lot of hard work and a lot of lobbying. They did not start that way.
What we do as a community to form a new method of practice may be different from where it goes eventually. To be able to get the Doctor of Classical Homeopathy as an approved designation through the legislature–they are far more likely to grant that if prescribing conventional medicine is not part of that picture. We also would reach much more opposition from the conventional medical community if we pursued that at this time as well.
So at this time, we are working with what would be acceptable to the community and all parties to begin with. That doesn’t mean that years down the line that we will want to change that and grow because the profession will change and grow, and the needs of the professional will be different. That may include, or it may not, conventional drugs. That’s a big discussion that a lot of people have to provide input into before the community goes in that direction.
Debbie Noah: Within the medical school a graduate of the school would be able to diagnose and order tests and X-rays, etc. Would there be the capability at the school to provide those tests?
Todd Rowe: Yes.
Debbie Noah: Will they need to go to some other place if they need a conventional medicine, or will there be MD’s available there to help them?
Todd Rowe: Part of the vision for the medical school is not just building a college, but also building a medical center. The medical center will be more than just a clinic or a series of clinics. It will also provide comprehensive outpatient care and treatment including most possible tests.
There may be some tests that will be beyond the financial scope of the institution, probably an MRI scanner would not be affordable by the school. We will have to refer out for some tests, but most conventional tests the medical center will be able to do. Part of our longer-term vision also is that the medical center will eventually transform into a homeopathic hospital, but that’s quite a way down the line in my view.
I believe that the hospital world is one of the last bastions of defense for the conventional community, and perhaps the most difficult to break in to. However, I think that a homeopathic hospital would be really valuable to the homeopathic community. One of the deficiencies in education for homeopaths in the United States is that nearly all of their training clinically is outpatient based and even in the outpatient setting, students are mostly exposed to healthier patients.
One of the things that we will be doing in the medical school, on the short-term, is providing experiences for students to be able to go to other settings where they can see homeopathic treatment of more seriously ill patients.
It will be important to create reciprocity, for example, with other medical schools around the world, that offer the capacity to treat more seriously ill individuals. An example in point is that we are partnering with Jeremy Sherr in helping to create the Tanzania Aids Clinic, in Tanzania, Africa. I think in the long run that this will hopefully offer a wonderful opportunity for homeopathic students to see treatment of more serious illness.
Debbie Noah: Have you talked to Homeopaths Without Borders?
Todd Rowe: Yes, we are in dialog with Homeopaths Without Borders. It’s one of the organizations that I believe will become a very important partner to AMCH as it moves forward. There is not a lot at this point that we can do together until we get the medical school up and running. However, I think that we are getting closer and closer to that point where we will be working together on a number of projects.
Debbie Noah: Do you want to comment on the new amendment in Arizona, which is as follows:
32-2911 Persons and Acts Not Affected By Chapter 10. The practice of providing treatment of the spiritual vital force in accordance with Hahnemannian principles through the use of remedies that are diluted beyond the concentration of substances in drinking water and prepared in the manner described in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States.
Todd Rowe: One of the issues in the educational community that we have talked about in NANHE is how the community has been divided by a number of issues, and one of them is legalities of practice. We discussed this issue and we came up with a state mentor paper that we wrote jointly, which describes, again, five levels of practice and, again, the word level is not meant to be hierarchical. It’s meant to just —
Debbie Noah: Category?
Todd Rowe: Category, that’s a much better word perhaps, category. So Category 1: Freedom Legislation; Category 2: Registration of Homeopathic Medical Assistants; Category 3: Registration of Homeopathic Practitioners; Category 4: Licensure of Doctors of Classical Homeopathy, which is the proposed title of graduates of our medical school. Category 5: Medical Specialty Practitioners who have a separate license, who are practicing homeopathy like an MD, DO or ND.
The idea that we came to as part of NANHE was that there is room for all of these categories of practice, and that we should not attack each other or put down other models. There is room for each of these models to peacefully coexist. Not only that, but here in Arizona, I have always had this fantasy and belief that it would be possible to create all those levels at once and to give someone who wants to practice Homeopathy a lot of choices of how they would want to do homeopathy and let them choose and find the knowledge that fits them best in their practice. Currently in Arizona, we have 3 of the 5 categories.
We have a Homeopathic Licensing Board that licenses MD’s and DO’s who practice Homeopathy. There is also a licensing board for Naturopaths and homeopathy is included within the scope of their practice. We also have a licensing board that registers Homeopathic Medical Assistants here in Arizona and a Naturopathic Licensing Board that registers Naturopathic Medical Assistants. Finally, we just passed a new category of legislation here in Arizona, which is an exemption to the law that permits an individual to practice homeopathy as a Classical Homeopathic Practitioner in a non-regulated way.
Essentially, it’s a form of freedom legislation. The problem and the caveat has been that there are legal restrictions in the state about how they can designate their title. They are not allowed to call themselves a homeopathic practitioner or a homeopath. They have to use certain designations or titles such as Holistic Practitioner.
Our goal, as we move forward with the medical school, is to create two new categories of practice here in Arizona. The first would be registration or licensure for a homeopathic practitioner. The most likely prerequisite would be national certification. If they became nationally certified, they would be eligible to become registered as a homeopathic practitioner here in Arizona. They could call themselves a homeopath or a homeopathic practitioner.
The other goal is to create a category of licensure for graduates of the medical school that would be consistent with the degree of the Doctor of Classical Homeopathy and these licensees would then be regulated by the Arizona Homeopathic Licensing Board as well.
So these are all legislative agendas that we are working on, and we will be eventually introducing in the legislature and we will see where we go. We have gotten 3 of the 5 categories, so I am hopeful we can get all 5.
Debbie Noah: Yes, I see. In theory, this would be great! With all the new computer technology and webinars, etc., how do you see AMCH coping with these changes? Will someone be able to attend the medical school online? Is clinical experience really going to be okay online, do you think?
Todd Rowe: This is a topic that we have spent a lot of time focusing on. We believe that for the medical school to be successful we have to engage with modern technology and especially using technology as a compliment in the educational process.
On the other hand, we also believe that technology without heart has ultimately no meaning or value and so finding the balance of technology, the use of technology, and how best to implement technology is critical. We will be engaging quite a bit with modern technology in the medical school, and that will include a variety of methodologies including online training in clinical training.
I do not believe that all clinical training can be done effectively using online technology. But I do believe that there are some excellent models of online education that are being offered through programs like Homeopathic Symposium and Virtual Clinic that are a very important step in one’s clinical education.
Another very important thing that we will be able to do as part of the medical school is to broaden our faculty to being international. We will have the capability for teachers to teach students from their home sitting in Germany or New York City or wherever. So we can begin to bring in master homeopaths in a way that’s more affordable.
We also recognize that travel is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive for students around the world, especially in the current financial crisis. With that all being said, there are some components to a program that cannot be replaced with an online environment, especially small group work. Even chat rooms do not afford the level of contact intimacy that will be needed to create the humanistic components of our program.
We have a Department of Humanism actually, which will involve a lot of interpersonal work for our students, sort of a journey into becoming not just a homeopath but also a healer.
Campus-based programming is a critical step. We cannot do a program, a medical school online. I don’t see other medical schools, even conventional medical schools going in that direction–just creating online programs.
So online programming and technology will be an important part of what we do, but again we have to find the balance. Technology is a wonderful tool, but our ultimate goal is to nurture the spirits of our students.
Debbie Noah: Yes, that’s where all the kids are, where all the younger people are – doing the online schools.
Todd Rowe: That’s a good point and one we have thought much about. Another reason why we feel we are not going to be competitive with the current homeopathic schools in this country is that our demographic will be substantially different than theirs. We just completed the National Homeopathic Educational Survey, and what it showed is that the average age for a homeopathic student currently in the United States is 49-years-old, usually pursuing a second or third career. In addition, homeopathic students are 80% women.
We also believe that for us to succeed as a medical school, we are going to have to attract more men in the field. We are going to have to attract younger students to start a college, and so our target market will be a much younger and different demographic than that for many of the part-time schools.
Debbie Noah: Do you think there is a possibility, in the bigger vision, that internationally all homeopaths could get together and have a network in our lifetime?
Todd Rowe: Yes, but it’s going to take some work. We have, as part of the medical school, a Department of International Affairs, and we have liaisons in all of the continents around the world. We are in the process of establishing connections and liaisons to other similar programs in many other areas of the world.
A lot of that work is focused eventually on creating reciprocities to create the capacity for visiting teachers, and visiting students, going both ways, and to begin to build international bridges between schools. So, yes, I do believe that is the vision and that is realizable within the educational community. Not only has the United States homeopathic educational community been isolated but also the international homeopathic education community has been isolated.
I think a lot of the work of the ECCH in the last few months, in Europe is working towards establishing more common international standards for homeopathic education, and I applaud their efforts. I think that’s an important step for the homeopathic community and one that, hopefully, we will have a voice in as they move forward in that process.
So, definitely, it’s a realizable goal and it would be realizable in our lifetime, although it will take time, and it will be a journey.
Debbie Noah: Could you say a few words about the Research Department?
Todd Rowe: I mentioned one of the things that becomes possible when you move from a small part-time school to a medical school is homeopathic research. We have been working on homeopathic research now for quite some time, and our ultimate goal for the research department within the medical school is the formation of a research institute, a Homeopathic Research Institute. This would be a separate building, which is committed to promoting quality homeopathic research here in the United States.
We are very excited about this. That building will be housed on the campus and built at a later phase after the construction of the initial college and the medical center.
Some of the key steps to getting there have to do with our formation of a National Homeopathic Research Committee. This committee meets quarterly now to talk about research issues in homeopathy. We have an Annual Research Conference that meets to talk about the latest homeopathic research and give opportunities to create dialog between researchers in homeopathy.
We have established a Homeopathic Institutional Review Board, IRB, which as far as I know is the first of its kind in the country. This is open to not only internal submissions of research but also external submissions of research from the homeopathic community.
We also have expanded our research into 3 of the 5 areas that we consider homeopathic research to include. First, Provings–we do an annual proving here at AMCH. We have conducted nearly 15 homeopathic provings to-date. We will continue to do that and publish our proving work.
Secondly, we have done community research. We have done three national surveys all of which are free and online on our website. You can download them as PDFs. These are a National Survey on Homeopathic Practitioners, National Survey on Homeopathic Patients and Practice, and lastly a National Survey on Homeopathic Education. There are three parts to the educational survey, one on students, one on teachers, and one on school directors.
Then the third type of research that we have been involved in is Clinical Sciences Research, where we have helped to do studies looking at the efficacy of homeopathy in the treatment of various conditions. Much of this work is being done by Dr. Iris Belladonna
There are two areas of research on which we have not yet embarked. We believe that in order to be able to effectively conduct Basic Science Research, we will need some kind of lab. This would be part of our eventual research institute.
I am very interested in eventually doing educational research. I am not aware of anyone having really done this–to look at what are the best ways of teaching Homeopathy and learning Homeopathy and actually do some research along those lines.
Debbie Noah: I think you had said that one of your next projects was to work on the acute care clinic. Do you want to say anything about that?
Todd Rowe: In building towards a medical center we have recognized that our students need to be exposed not only to constitutional case taking, but also acute care. We have several constitutional care clinics but will need to add an acute care clinic as well. This may involve a free clinic which will be staffed by homeopathic practitioners locally, and will provide a lead-in to the constitutional clinic. Patients who have been successfully treated in the acute care clinic will be more likely to go on to get constitutional care. I am excited about that.
Debbie Noah: Yes – they have all these little 15-minute mini clinics at all the drug stores now.
Todd Rowe: Yes. A cost effective way to do Homeopathy, and that’s very important, because a lot of people are not willing to shell out what they perceive to be a lot of money for a constitutional visit. But if they are willing to shell out a small amount of money for an acute–and if they have a really good experience–then they would be far more likely to consider constitutional as the next step.
We also are gradually building up externship sites here in Arizona as part of the medical school. Externships are clinical training sites where the students go out into the community and work with practicing homeopathic practitioners doing Homeopathy. These sites are very valuable as a bridge between school training and actual practice. They provide an opportunity to see how it’s done in a real environment, not in the artificial environment of our medical center or our clinics but in the actual real world.
Debbie Noah: Since this article is about living history, can you comment on this?
Todd Rowe: Okay. Building a medical school is an ambitious project. It’s a big step for the community, and it’s one where we need a lot of help. It’s not my vision; it’s the community’s vision. It’s not my school; it’s the community’s school. I believe that the establishment of the medical school will be an important step for the homeopathic community, bringing us full circle to when homeopathy was so popular here in the United States at the turn of the century and to countries around the world where homeopathic is so popular because they have homeopathic medical schools.
Debbie Noah: So, for example, if any of the smaller part-time schools wanted to become part of AMCH or become a partner in some way, would that be possible?
Todd Rowe: Yes. There are many ways in which we would be delighted to work with other programs and schools as we move forward and share resources. I think that there are many possibilities to work together.
For example, one of the projects that we are working on right now is an acute care project. We have just opened up an acute care class in Calgary, Canada which has been very successful. We have held a similar class in Pittsburgh. We believe that it is possible to take some of the acute care portions of our curriculum into areas in the country where there are no homeopathic schools. We provide the curriculum and administration so that a teacher could take on a program in their community and start teaching homeopathy. When students graduate from these programs, we would then refer them to the closest nearby homeopathic part-time programs.
Debbie Noah: You might have a faculty member who probably would fly anywhere to do it and teach.
Todd Rowe: Exactly. Also in terms of help we are looking for three types of help. The first are volunteers. Right now we have about 60 volunteers that have been helping with this project on a regular basis.
We have 24 committees altogether and it is lot of work. We need more volunteers. Much of the work can be done by phone and does not involve a great deal of time. There are many specific projects that people can volunteer for like marketing or fund raising or editing or any of a wide variety of areas. So volunteers are a very important way of helping us move forward.
Secondly, we are still looking for administrators, and most importantly, faculty. As we continue to grow, we are going to need more faculty who are willing to teach and, yes, some of that can be done at a distance, but most importantly we need teachers here in Arizona who are local. We are continuing to cultivate and seek out good faculty, and that will be on a medical level as well as a homeopathic level.
Finally, it is money. We need to raise a lot of money to get the medical school going. Right now, we are doing fairly well. We have raised approximately $900,000.00 in donations and goods so far. Our initial goal was $1.2 million to get the medical school going. We need to raise another $300,000, at least, in the next two years. Beyond that, to build the campus and for all the various buildings, we will need an additional $9 million.
It seems like daunting figures when I talk to people about it, but every small contribution really helps. Even $25, $50, $100 makes a big difference.
Debbie Noah: Are you still doing the Build-a-Brick Foundation?
Todd Rowe: We have our Build-a-Brick Foundation where you can buy a brick that will be part of the medical school for $100. We have sponsorships for various corporations to become a sponsor of the medical school, and we give them a sponsorship benefit package in exchange.
Also, very importantly, even if you are not able to donate, if you are a practitioner you can help. If you have any patients in your practice who would be willing to donate and support the growth of homeopathic medicine, we have brochures that describe the donation process. You don’t even need to approach them yourself; we will be happy to do that for you. If you can just give us their contact information and they are agreeable, we are happy to give them our pitch and some information and that sort of thing. People can also donate online. So that’s my fundraising pitch.
Debbie Noah: What else would you like to mention about the school and living history?
Todd Rowe: One is that we have been here before, I think that’s important to mention and that there used to be almost 25 homeopathic medical schools here in this country. We have spent some time studying those old homeopathic medical schools and looking at what worked and what didn’t.
We have also spent time studying international full-time schools and looking at what’s worked in those schools and what has not. To some degree we have learned from them and have used components of what has been successful for them, but I would also say that our program is unique in itself as well. It’s not a carbon copy of anything. The growth of the curriculum, for example, and the structure of the school have been an organic process and have evolved over time with much input from the faculty and from the community. The school will be growing and constantly changing as we move forward.
Hopefully, we have learned from other schools but who we are, is ultimately our own. In terms of partnerships, I mentioned that we believe that it’s very important for a homeopathic medical school not to be isolated. One of the problems with the homeopathic educational community in the past, has been their relative isolation from the rest of the educational community.
Part of our process has been to begin to build bridges with other like-minded institutions that we can share resources with and work together with on a variety of projects.
For example, we have an articulation agreement with the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture (PIHMA) to create a combined degree program, as part of the medical school. Students will have the option of attending both the PIHMA school and the homeopathic school and getting a combined degree.
Another project we are working on is a research-focused degree and that is the possibility of getting a Masters in Public Health as well as a homeopathic degree in a combined program for an individual who wants to pursue research as their direction after they graduate.
We are very interested in partnering with other institutions and programs and there are quite a few that we are partnering with, as we continue to move forward with the project.
Debbie Noah: Are you working with anyone with a Masters of Public Health at this time?
Todd Rowe: Not yet. We are dialoging with some, but we haven’t identified the one that we want to work with yet.
Debbie Noah: Have you heard from SWIHA, yet?
Todd Rowe: Yes we are beginning to partner with the Southwest Institute of the Healing Arts here in Phoenix. We are teaching an acute care course there and are looking into a variety of other ways to partner that will mutually benefit both institutions.
Debbie Noah: On the web site, it says that the medical school is open to MDs, DOs, and NDs at this time, and then on the next page it says you can test for or have an advanced standing if you have training in homeopathy, etc. I’m a bit confused.
Todd Rowe: Yes. That’s because of the legal issues that we had to deal with. Hopefully, once we get through the legal issues in the next month, that will be changed on the website to go back to the way it used to be. We anticipate our admission requirements will be a Bachelors degree level of education along with prerequisite courses like any medical school in Physics, Biology, and Chemistry and maybe Psychology.
Debbie Noah: Can you comment on the importance of and do you think there are becoming too many groups like NCH, CHC, NASH, CHE, AIH, etc.? For many of us, these all seem isolated and for a particular purpose, but it seems to me sometimes that they are not all talking to each other.
Todd Rowe: When I was President of the National Center for Homeopathy, I created the Homeopathy Action Alliance, which is called the HAA. The HAA is not well-known, but it is an organization that consists of leaders of each of the various homeopathic organizations and it meets on a regular basis. It currently is chaired by Jean Hoagland who is doing a wonderful job. Its mission is to bring the various groups together in a common dialogue so that we can begin to work together rather than working separately.
I would say that there has been increasing progress in that direction. There are still issues that divide the homeopathic community, but I would say in the last 10 years there has been increasing progress towards working together for common goals and better dialogue between the various groups. So I am very encouraged by that.
Debbie Noah: Yes, if we can look at the bigger picture.
Todd Rowe: As we move forward, some of the organizations may die out, because they are no longer needed. New ones will form to replace them. There will always be a flux depending on what’s going on, and I think that’s generally healthy.
Debbie Noah: I just hate to see history – you know how it is…
Todd Rowe: Repeating itself.
Debbie Noah: It’s human nature to repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
Todd Rowe: It is.
Debbie Noah: So how do we prevent the dying out of homeopathy again?
Todd Rowe: My vision of history is a little different. What you are talking about is a Kentian model of history. Here history is a circle where we keep going through the same cycle over and over again, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I prefer to see history in a more Hegelian way. I see history as a spiral where you keep going through the same issue over and over again, but each time you go through it a little more deeply, and in the end you finally get to a place where the issue resolves. Hegel referred to this as the dialectic process.
Debbie Noah: Or you get a remedy!
Todd Rowe: Or you get a remedy. It’s very similar to homeopathic medicine preparation, where you continue to repeat the dilution process over and over, but each time the potency goes deeper.
When the homeopathic community finally gets the remedy it needs, it resolves the conflict and then moves on to the next issue. There are always new issues to work on in the community, but there is progress. I really believe that, and I have seen that with history. So I don’t believe in this idea that we are doomed to repeat over and over again. I see it more optimistically as an opportunity to repeat and to grow in new exciting ways.
Debbie Noah: That’s a refreshing thought. Please talk about your books.
Todd Rowe: Sure. Most of my books have been focused on homeopathic education. The first book I came out with was “Homeopathic Methodology,” which was really geared towards the basic level of, how do I use a repertory, how do I take the case, how do I analyze a case, what am I thinking about in taking a case, what am I looking for in analyzing a case, those kinds of things. It’s really designed for a beginner in homeopathy to approach those questions and it’s in a workbook format.
The second book that I wrote, which is little closer and dearer to my heart is, “The Homeopathic Journey”, and this describes my vision of what the process of becoming a homeopath is all about. I looked at what are the predictable stages and phases of that journey that one undergoes in becoming a homeopath and ultimately, as I said before, I believe it’s a never-ending journey. There is always another step to take.
We have conducted 13 or 14 provings here over the years. We do one a year and I have written all those up in the form of monographs. Many of these are also available in homeopathic software, and synopses are available on our website.
Last year I came out with the book “The Desert World: A Homeopathic Exploration” which is a compilation of all the desert provings we have done, but it’s actually much more. It’s an attempt, and to my knowledge, for the first time in book format, to describe a biome from a homeopathic perspective. The book first describes 60 or so desert homeopathic medicines. It then addresses the question of whether there are characteristics of patients who come to see you that indicate that they need a desert medicine. We began to study this and to do some research on this. There is a lot of interesting research that comes out in the book that hopefully substantiates the utility of this concept of ecosystem or biome in homeopathy. So that’s been a lot of fun.
Then the book that I am working on right now which has been 10 years in the very slow making, and it will probably be another 10 years before it comes out, is a book on homeopathic philosophy.
I have been interested in writing a book that brings together all of the laws in homeopathy, and not just in homeopathy but in healing as a whole. I believe that these laws are laws which, breaking them in your practice, is the cause of most practitioner’s problems. So understanding these laws and following these laws becomes critical in terms of success and practice ultimately.
So trying to identify what those laws are and narrow them down to a manageable number that you present in a way that will be understandable not just to homeopathic practitioners but as a bridge to the world as well, I think, is a strong interest of mine and that’s a project I am working on actually with my wife. I love working with her. Frankly so much of all of this and what I do is only through her support and guidance. So I am really excited, and it has been fun to try to work on co-authoring a book together.
The other project that I am interested in is the creation of a Homeopathic Museum. It’s called the American Museum of Homeopathy, and it will be housed on the campus.
We have done a couple of projects where we have presented homeopathic material in local museums, and they have been well received. What I am interested in is not so much a dry historical museum where there are a lot of artifacts. I think that has its place and has its value and certainly there will be some of that, but more of what I am interested in is using the natural world as a bridge to homeopathy and turning people on to homeopathy in a new way using the museum. I believe it’s possible to do that, just in the little work that we have done experimenting with that in local museums.
It’s kind of a little project on the horizon but it’s always been something that I have always wanted to do, and I think it would be fun and be a real benefit to the homeopathic community.
Debbie Noah: Yes, perhaps going downtown to the Science Center and setting up an exhibit.
Todd Rowe: Yes. And there are other little pieces of the campus, too, we haven’t talked about. We have talked about possibly making another monument. We have a monument in Washington for homeopathy, but we also thought that having a monument as part of the medical school would be really important as well. I have no idea what that would look like or what form that would take, but it’s certainly a thought, and eventually will be part of the permanent campus.
We have talked about a public center, a Public Information Center in addition to the Museum. This would include a Conference Center that would be open to the community, and organizations could use or conferences could be held there, or whatever, as a service to the community.
We have also talked about Homeopathic Gardens as being part of the campus where people can wander and touch the remedies and experience the remedies. The garden actually would probably be not just plants but probably minerals as well, and maybe even some animals possibly, or at least animal pictures to describe homeopathy. It is a way of touching and experiencing homeopathy on a different level.
Debbie Noah: aybe we can go down to the Mining and Mineral museum downtown and see if we can do an exhibit over a weekend.
Todd Rowe: Exactly, and then a last project to mention which touches on the campus has to do with creating a National Library for Alternative Medicine. The AMCH campus will have its own library. We want to create a comprehensive library as part of our project, which will have, hopefully, all of the books that have ever been written about homeopathy in the English language, as part of the collection. I think this is called a comprehensive collection.
We are also interested in partnering with other organizations here in Arizona to create a National Complementary Medicine Library. One wing will be homeopathic, and there would also be a wing for Native American Traditional Medicine, a wing for Acupuncture, etc.
I think that that will be very important in terms of bringing the community together in important ways and establishing Arizona, perhaps, as being the center for alternative medicine within the country. In some ways it already is, but we would like to be able to expand that over time.
Debbie Noah: Do you have any inspirational last thoughts?
Todd Rowe: People often say to me: “The task seems overwhelming. How can you do this?”
My response is that this is my mission, this is my life’s dream. To be able to work on and try to manifest your mission, your dream, is something very rare and very precious. I think that’s what keeps me going, what sustains me to keep moving around the obstacles, the roadblocks, since there are always going to be obstacles and roadblocks.
I also believe, in my heart, on a very deep and very profound level, that this is needed. It’s meant to happen; it’s supposed to happen, it will provide wonderful benefits in the years to come for Homeopathy.
One thing I haven’t mentioned, which I feel strongly about, is that we have a lot of wonderful schools here in the United States, but if you take away the Director of any of those schools, almost without exception the school goes away. I believe that we need more, we need to build a legacy for the future of homeopathy. This legacy is something that is not dependent on an individual or a group, but that belongs to us all. That to me is, I think, the most important thing of what I am working on and trying to build–to create something that will leave a long-term legacy for Homeopathy.
Debbie Noah: Thanks very much for talking with me, and I hope your mission continues to bring you joy and puts spring in your soul’s step.
The American Medical College of Homeopathy is located at 1951 W. Camelback Rd., Suite 300, Phoenix, AZ 85015, www.AMCofH.org.
The college has a Medicinary and a bookstore on site and has one of the largest stocks of remedies in the Southwest.
This article has been submitted to the American Homeopath for publication.
The interview with Todd Rowe, MD–is terrific.
What a vision and source of knowledge and inspiration.
Dear Doctor Rowe,
A wonderful interview. The description/analysis of 6 plus 1 stages of journey of a homeopath are quite true. The blessing and curse of being a physician is very right; allopathic teachings emphasize the diagnosis of a disease (which is quite misleading from homeopathic point of view) but it also helps in differentiating between common (useless) symptoms and uncommon(useful) ones. In my region, 99% of the allopathic doctors consider that the allopathic system is the only system of medicine and rest all is rubbish and unscientific. After practicing homeopathy for many years, it took me many years in getting rid of the misconception of diagnosis and then learning classical homeopathy.
As far as your mission is concerned, I believe that life without a mission is no life.
Wish you best of luck in all your endeavors!
Dr. Saif (Allopath & Homeopath)
Cordial thanks to all who are engaged with publication of this interview. Dr. Todd Rowe has a great mission for the enrichment of homeopathy & natural healing. He should get our total & unconditional cooperation for this great work. We wish him all the best for his dreams & efforts for homeopathy & natural healing.