Southwest College of Naturopathic medicine has trained world-class Naturopathic physicians who have pioneered and propelled the future of Naturopathic medicine. Our students share a passion for changing the world, changing how medicine is delivered, and transforming health care. Their paths are as diverse as their interests in the medicine. Many have paved the way for others in the field of Naturopathic medicine, especially in integrative medicine within cardiology, oncology, dermatology and gerontology.
Graduates from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine:
- Share a deep respect for patients and their care.
- Share the unique experience of being educated and trained in Arizona, the state with the widest scope of practice for NDs in the US.
- Learn from nationally and internationally recognized faculty (NDs, MDs, PhDs, DOs, DCs).
- Are ready to assume leadership roles in Naturopathic medicine.
This reputation is your legacy as an alumnus of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine.
Jennifer Nevels, NMD
There were many things that led me down my path to become a naturopathic doctor. Everything clicked for me when I was a psychology student at the University of Arizona. I was in my last semester, taking an advanced health psychology class, where I was introduced to many alternative health options to wellness. While I was in school, I also worked as a dialysis technician at one of the renal centers in town where I saw, and spent a lot of time, with very ill patients. I had determined that I wanted to go into the medical field but didn’t feel like the traditional route was for me. I learned about naturopathic medicine from a book my mother had sent me.
I knew immediately that I had to become a naturopathic doctor. Everything about the philosophy of naturopathic medicine spoke to me. Particularly, identifying the underlying cause to illness and treating each person as an individual using natural means as much as possible including nutrition, lifestyle, herbs, vitamins, and acupuncture. I started researching naturopathic medical schools online and I knew right away that SCNM was for me.
After graduation, I did my residency at the SCNM Medical Center and taught gynecology at the school. While I enjoy teaching, I loved working with patients. I eventually left my full-time faculty position to focus on my private practice. Six years ago, my classmate, Dr. Jason Porter, and I opened East Valley Naturopathic Doctors, where we have four naturopathic physicians focusing on different specialties including women’s and men’s health, pediatrics, mental and sleep disorders, oncology, pain management and aesthetic therapies. Our physicians have done post-graduate training in environmental medicine so we consider the impact of the environment on one’s heath when we evaluate patients’ underlying issues.
By the time a patient has come to me, they have been on many different medications, seen numerous doctors and are still feeling poorly and helpless. I am ready to fight for my patients to get answers to their underlying issues so we can get them on the road to recovery. There is no question that the path that I am on was meant for me. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else as a career. I feel blessed everyday to be able to do what makes me feel happy, which is helping others get back their life. The beauty of having my own practice is that I can also walk the walk, meaning it gives me flexibility and balance in my own personal life so that I can take care of myself and give energy to my family and to my patients.
Sam Walker, RN, BSN, MBA, NMD, PhD
Cathy Walker, RN, BSN, MBA, NMD
Drs. Sam and Cathy Walker’s health care journey started in the emergency room as registered nurses. After witnessing the number of emergency room patients suffering from chronic disease, the Walkers began to believe that prevention should play a role in medicine. This new understanding led Dr. Sam Walker to study nutrition and earn his doctorate in nutritional counseling. Seeing the benefits of diet and lifestyle changes in their patients, the Walkers saw naturopathic medicine as a way to expand on their current work in health care.
With the mission “to serve the people in the central Phoenix area by improving their lives, health and well-being through affordable health care,” Dr. Sam and Dr. Cathy Walker opened Centro de Salud Familiar (family health center) in July 2003.
“With our background in emergency health care, we envisioned opening an integrative practice and combining allopathic and naturopathic approaches to offer affordable health care to the uninsured working poor population in Phoenix. With our education and experience, we treat chronically ill patients and offer acute care,” said Dr. Sam and Cathy Walker.
In the clinic’s early days, the Walkers saw between four and six patients a day. Within two to three years, the clinic was thriving and on one occasion, Dr. Sam Walker saw 90 patients in one day. Nearly nine years later, the clinic sees 15,000 patient visits annually.
The Walkers recently bought a building and moved Centro de Salud Familiar to a new site. The expanded clinic is more than 1,000 square feet larger than the original and features an IV room, surgical suite, and larger OB and waiting rooms.
The Walkers’ philosophy is to take a patient from wherever they are on the health continuum and help them move to a healthier state. They attribute their success to treating their patients as part of their extended family with the respect and dignity that only a personal approach to the practice of medicine can allow.
Sam Walker, RN, BSN, MBA, NMD, PhD, and Cathy Walker, RN, BSN, MBA, NMD, graduated from SCNM in 1997 and 200, respectively. Centro de Salud Familiar is located at 2121 W. Indian School Road in Phoenix, Arizona, 85015. To learn more, call 602.241.9105.
Keith Chambers, ND
My path to becoming a doctor was a winding one. I studied pre-med in college, worked nights and weekends as an EMT, and worked with doctors in preparation to be an MD. But, when I saw the inner workings of insurance and the limited time spent with patients, I changed my mind and my direction. Instead, I went to business school after I graduated and earned an MBA.
I ventured into the business world where I built and sold several successful businesses. Several years later, I was living and working in Seattle when a friend recommended I see an ND. One visit with an ND and my eyes were opened to a different kind of medicine and a different kind of doctor I could be. My desire to be a doctor returned.
It took me a few more years to make my dream a reality. My work took me to Washington, DC, where I lived a mile from the Pentagon. After September 11th, I sold my house and moved to Arizona. I learned of SCNM which was the proverbial light bulb shedding light on my soon-to-be second career as a doctor.
After graduating from SCNM and taking my board exams, I preceptered with a wonderful doctor, Dr. Eli Ber. One week after getting my license, I went on to open my clinic in North Scottsdale, the Chambers Clinic. My clinic is very eclectic and we have a licensed acupuncturist, who is also a reiki master, as well as a colon hydrotherapist and an aesthetician on staff. We see patients for a variety of conditions from auto-immune disease and weight loss to joint pain and gastrointestinal problems.
For me, the greatest thing about being an ND is helping people. Many of my patients have bounced around from doctor to doctor before they come to my office. It is so rewarding to see patients get better and know you helped make their lives better. I believe in providing a safe place where people can come and heal… and, I love being a part of the naturopathic community!
Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO
SCNM Class 1997
In a recent interview with Dr. Dan Rubin he discusses his greatest challenge after graduation, how he chose his professional career in oncology, where he sees the profession going in the future and advice for those considering becoming naturopathic doctors.
Bradley J. Smith, was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, attended local grade school and high school before moving back to Indiana on a football scholarship. While at Anderson University in Anderson, IN., he majored in psychology and religious studies, with minors in Sociology and Physics. Attended Seminary where he earned a Master of Divinity degree, and led to 15 years work as a Family Therapist with a focus on children and adolescents.
It was during his time that a colleague encouraged him to look at a medical career. Admittedly he did not know a lot about Naturopathic Medicine, but fully agreed with the philosophy and loved the various modalities.
He graduated with the first spring class from SCNM in February of 2000, and immediately began as a first year resident serving with Dr. Smolinski and Dr. Schwager. After a year and a half as a first year resident, he became chief resident for the remainder of my time at SNMC, a great deal of focus which was spent with a free mobile medical clinic called Mission of Mercy, serving the uninsured and underinsured. Additionally, the former Medical Director of Mission of Mercy, Wiliam Schneider, DO, invited me to spend nearly every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings for three and a half years in the Emergency Department at Thunderbird Samaritan Hospital.
He can definitely say that he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Schneider for teaching him to be a quality primary diagnostician.
About 5 years ago, Dr. Schneider stepped aside as Medical Director at Mission of Mercy, and Dr. Smith was fortunate to be offered that position which he still holds to this day. He also maintains a private office in Mesa, mostly providing low-cost care for the community at large.
He would not characterize his path as “lucky”, although he does believe he is blessed to be in a position to help so many people who otherwise would go without any medical care. He states, “For now, I believe this is where God wants me…Next week or next year…?”