In Service, with Love: How One ND is Changing the Face of Medicine in His Community
Chris Meletis always knew he wanted to help people. After graduating from Reed College in the late 1980s, he went on to continue three years of conventional medical school, determined to provide care to marginalized communities, before realizing that he was almost on the perfect path–but not quite.
After a conversation with a naturopathic doctor opened his eyes to the previously-unknown-to-him world of naturopathic medicine, there was no going back. He toured a few naturopathic college campuses, applied for admission, and immediately enrolled at National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, OR, with advanced standing.
“Advanced standing wasn’t exactly advanced standing,” he jokes. “I had completed three years of conventional medical school, but I didn’t have hydrotherapy, I didn’t have massage, I didn’t have the very, very important naturopathic philosophy…’transferring in’…but I was behind.”
From Student to Changemaker
Behind the curve or not, Dr. Meletis found his calling in naturopathic medicine, and by age 30, was named Dean of Naturopathic Medicine at his alma mater. In this leadership role, one priority stood firm: to change America’s health, one person at a time. And what better way to do good work for humankind than to teach others to do the work alongside you?
When it became clear that one of Portland’s prominent shelters and social service providers had lost the majority of its funding, Dr. Meletis stepped in with a plan to help both the nonprofit and the college.
“[That year,] we had 110 graduating 4th year students. As you might recall, most naturopathic schools have trouble getting enough patient visits and hands-on, so how were we going to graduate these students with the minimum requirements of patient contact and hours? Lo and behold, Outside In lost their funding from United Way. So, I called up [the Executive Director at the time,] and I said, ‘Can we come down and help you? I have students, and I have doctors, and we need patients.’ It was really driven by heart, and…our college actually helped to get all of the other colleges to do community clinics [with this initiative].”
Armed with ingenuity and creativity, and fueled by a burning desire to serve, Dr. Meletis is a true changemaker in naturopathic medicine and healthcare reform. What a role model for all of us with a passion for social justice and natural medicine!
When asked about his final thoughts for students and doctors questioning their journeys along the road of medicine, here’s Dr. Meletis’ advice:
Thanks for your time this afternoon, Dr. Meletis, and for being a torchbearer to light our way! #inspired
Watch the full interview here:
Did You Know?
Dr. Chris Meletis uses his earnings from the sales of his Naturopathic CE continuing education courses to fund his public health outreach. Take one (or many!) of his courses to gain valuable clinical insight, connect with a naturopathic giant, and help spread naturopathic care even farther! Check out his entire continuing education course catalog here.