Doctor's orders: Bardewyck scholar gets lesson in alternative medicine

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Ellen Clinger once held a dim view of homeopathy and alternative medicine, but that all changed after completing her capstone project in an innovative graduate certificate program from ASU’s College of Nursing & Health Innovation.

A registered nurse at Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, Ariz., Clinger completed her graduate certificate coursework in International Health for Health Professionals in August. She spent her final class – a summer capstone immersion program – working with homeopathic physicians in Phoenix and Guadalajara, Mexico, comparing the use of this system of medicine between the two regions.

Clinger, an ICU nurse, is the first graduate certificate student to receive Bardewyck Trust money for her comparative study of the use of homeopathy. The Bardewyck Trust, named after Loretta Bardewyck, the first dean of ASU’s then-named School of Nursing, was established for nurses to learn about homeopathy and its use in clinical practice.

Clinger says she came away with a healthier respect for alternative medicine as well as health care professionals in other countries.

“Looking back, I learned that I was fairly closed-minded before this experience but now my nursing practice has expanded and evolved,” Clinger said. “I’m more open to other ideas and methods of treatment. I don’t feel it (alternative medicine) is as taboo as it once was. It was nice to research the issue in depth and learn something of value to pass along to my patients.”

Clinger said she’s had past experiences with patients who have used homeopathic remedies, but wasn’t able to properly guide them when it came to remedies or how they interacted with other prescription medicine. Today she feels confident in her advice.

“In the future I plan on using what I’ve learned with my patients and will travel to other countries to impart my knowledge,” Clinger said.

Homeopathy isn’t new and is well-known around the world, according to Carol Baldwin, a Southwest Borderlands Scholar and director of ASU’s Center for World Health Promotion & Disease Prevention.

“Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine that began in the 18th century based on the idea that a similar substance that causes the disease can also treat it in minute dilutions. Historical writings suggest that Hippocrates possibly originated homeopathy by prescribing a root to treat an illness that caused similar symptoms,” Baldwin said. “The health care industry needs a better comprehension of this method because patients are not only using it, but demanding it.”

The 16-credit certificate program is designed to prepare health professionals to meet the health delivery challenges of the 21st century. Students receive a comprehensive educational experience in the provision and promotion of holistic, culturally responsive care in clinical practice and community-based settings within the context of health systems, disaster response, health equity, policy and infectious and chronic disease management. The certificate is offered through the Center for World Health Promotion & Disease Prevention in conjunction with the College of Nursing & Health Innovation.

Teri Pipe, dean of the College of Nursing & Health Innovation, said Clinger’s experience with the program is a near-perfect outcome.

“We aim to prepare our students to think critically and succeed in any situation,” Pipe said. “To be open to new ideas and experiences is exactly what we’re after here at ASU.”