Joseph Pizzorno, ND

The challenges in founding Bastyr University


When Bastyr University started in 1978, founder Dr. Joseph Pizzorno felt that the environment surrounding naturopathic medicine could have hardly been any worse. Weathering through hostile reactions from the medical and legislative communities, and grappling with low attendance and anemic resources, Pizzorno, with a dedicated group of volunteers, steadily and resolutely built Bastyr into one of the leading naturopathic schools in the world.

The Interview

When we started Bastyr in 1978, there were no modern textbooks, no trained faculty, no pool of prepared students. Any media story you’d see about natural medicine was negative. The legislative legal environment was terrible. There were only six state-licensed naturopathic doctors in 1975, and we were a felony in two states. It was grim on all fronts. So when I started Bastyr, I coined the term “science-based natural medicineā€ and year by year we built the school through basically a lot of volunteer work and a lot of hard work with very low salaries. We had a vision and we had a mission and we were able to draw people who resonated with our mission, who realized that in order to solve the healthcare crisis, we had to bring in natural medicine. Bastyr started in 1978. By 1983, we had pre-accredited status. By 1989, we were the first accredited college of natural medicine anywhere in the world.

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