In my mind he was one of the greats. I liken him to Lust and Lindlahr.

From Piper Dobnar:

In my second year of school, there was a low-grade murmur resounding through the halls. Whispers about an underground network of naturopathic doctors speaking the philosophy I heard in the first term of my first year, that was never spoken again until my last class with Dr. Zeff, 4 years later.

This call was said to be all the things we wanted from school but were not getting from our classroom settings. I knew at that moment, I had to gain access. The first vital conversation I listened to was the first time I was introduced to Dr. Jim Sensenig, remotely. 

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My Deepest Condolences

It is with a heavy heart I write this note, but thought the family may find a bit of solace in it.

I have known Dr. Sensenig for the past 10+ years.  I got to know him when I practiced in Connecticut and see him at various conferences in the US.

I always enjoyed our conversations and learning from his vast sagacious nature.  A man always speaking his mind.  I truly appreciated his candor, which always did in a professional and respectful manner.

About two weeks before his passing, I spoke at a conference in New Hampshire.  He came up to me and said it was one of the best lectures he had ever heard.  He had so many kind words to say to me.  I can’t express how much that meant to me.  A man of his experience and stature to disseminate those thoughts will always stay with me.

Much love to all his family, friends and patients.

Todd A. Born, ND, CNS

 

Introduction to Vitalism

Thank you to Dr. Sensenig for sharing your infinite knowledge about vitalism and how naturopathic medicine should be practiced.  I started listening to Dr. Sensenig’s wisdom through the Vital Conversation in my 1st year of medical school, and this shaped how I would learn naturopathic medicine and eventually practice. I cannot thank Dr. Sensenig enough for imparting his insight to us younger doctors, teaching us how to look at patients, how to lay the foundations for healing, and helping creating the Naturopathic Medical Institute and the amazing community of vitalists.  May his legacy live on through naturopathic medicine <3

— Dr. Mariah Mosley

Thinking of you!!!

Still processing & grieving! I was in shock when I first heard of Dr. Sensenig’s sudden passing. He was my doctor for several years. I last saw him on November 7th. He truly listened to me and my concerns. I learned so much from Dr. Sensenig. He helped me understand my digestive issues & the mind-body connection. Rest In Peace!!!

“You saved my life, and you ruined my life!” :)

In 2014, I experienced a sudden illness which rendered a week-long hospital admission. Deemed a medical mystery, I was eventually sent home on conventional medications with no diagnosis or definitive care plan for restoring my health. I was merely informed by a ‘specialist’ that I would likely “declare” a debilitating illness down the road. This was obviously unsettling, and as a holistic-minded Family Nurse Practitioner I knew I needed to seek out other options. Dr. Jim Sensenig was recommended to me by a friend who had heard him lecture at The Graduate Institute. I felt encouraged by the opportunity to work with a naturopath, but I had no idea that THE vital force of naturopathy was a 10-minute drive from my home. And I had no idea how this healer was going to enter my life and completely change it from the top-down, inside-out, in order of importance and in reverse order of occurrence (Hering’s Laws of Cure– one of the first of many lessons Dr. S taught me).

I was broken in so many more ways and pieces than I had realized when I entered his office in Hamden, Connecticut for the first time. And at that time, I did not realize how intertwined each facet was in the bigger picture of health and dis-ease. But in less than one month, I not only had a viable explanation for my illness, but a tangible and realistic plan to achieve and preserve wellness in all its facets. Over the five blessed years that I spent seeing him in his office, Dr. S helped me to heal every ailment I ever presented to him, gave me tools to soften every moment of grief and loss I experienced (of which there were many), and taught me how to strengthen every ounce of my well-being while coming off all my medications, one by one. I saw him at least once a month, sometimes more frequently. I saw him more than I saw some of my best friends.

As a testament to our work together, in 2017 (three years after the onset of my prior illness) I successfully hiked 19,341 feet to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Thanks to Dr. S, I had the highest pulse oximeter readings of anyone in my group throughout the nine days on the mountain. He found this particularly interesting– he said that it was the first time that he had been given tangible data as to the positive results of the naturopathic regimen he recommended for altitude. If it weren’t for him, I do not believe that I would ever have been physically capable of hiking that mountain in the first place.

Sitting on the opposite side of his desk quickly became something to look forward to, even if I was there because I was not feeling my best. It was in that seat that I learned what a ‘healing crisis’ is and why I should embrace it; it was there that the power to heal myself was returned back to me; it was there that I began to recognize the pitfalls and misguided theories of “my world of medicine”, as he cynically referred to it; it was there that I learned that naming the disease was not the point at all; it was there that I learned a multitude of “fundamental” concepts far beyond my wildest expectations. And it was in that seat where I felt a shift in my soul. Very few people had ever sparked my brain the way he did. The scholarly depth of our conversations was extraordinary due to his immeasurable intelligence. And our visits were capped off with a smile and a hug, which I appreciated and came to expect.

His impact on me was realized in one defining moment, about six months after we started working together: I went for a post-hospitalization follow-up appointment with my conventional ‘specialist’ who declared, “Well, we don’t know what you had, but we cured you.” I was appalled that 1.) Any ‘healer’ would be content with not understanding WHY illness occurred, and 2.) Any ‘healer’ would believe that it was a short course of chemicals that actually “cured” me. I recalled Dr. S quoting Voltaire: “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” In an instant, I realized that my illness had been a gift—it was how I found Dr. S, it was how I took my power back, and it was how my entire mindset changed in alignment with my soul.

Dr. S told me at the beginning of our journey together that I should be prepared for my conventional medicine philosophy to be turned on its head. He was not kidding! I used to jokingly tell him, “You saved my life, and you ruined my life!” because as time went by I found it to be more and more difficult to practice conventional medicine; it felt as though I was working against my moral grain. It had become painfully clear that I needed to seek out other avenues in which to practice medicine, the way I now realize I was meant to all along. I investigated enrolling in a naturopathic medicine program but unfortunately this was not logistically feasible (which annoyed Dr. S to no end, as he had tried lobbying for accelerated bridge programs for conventional practitioners). With his guidance and after years of painstaking research, I found the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine Fellowship program. He felt confident in this program’s curriculum because of the professionals who are associated with it, many of which he knew personally. I started the program this past April. Dr. S and I would spend a large portion of my appointment time discussing what I was learning, which would always expand to a philosophical and often political conversation that spanned a variety of topics. I was supposed to do my clinical preceptorship with Dr. S after New Year’s. We were both very excited about it; I am shattered to have lost the opportunity to work with him in that capacity.

Together, we worked on what he taught me as being the three basic legs of naturopathic healing: Building up the blood, optimizing getting the garbage out, and conserving the vital force. He gave me the power, knowledge and support to achieve the first two legs. The latter leg was achieved in the last quarter of this year when I finally decided to change jobs to one with less moral conflict and less stress while I continue my studies. He was very pleased with this, as he saw it as my having “one foot out of the conventional door”.

As tears fall while I write this, I am completely devastated by the passing of my personal ND, professional mentor and unexpected friend. Not only did Dr. S literally save my life from debilitation, but he saved me in so many other ways that I could not have foreseen when I met him five years ago. As an APRN, and as a human being, he opened to me a new and better world of health, wellness, and medicine. He gave me my power back. And he led me to the path that I was meant to travel. I have absolutely no earthly idea how I will continue this journey without my guru—right now it feels like a lonely voyage—but I will do so with him at the forefront of my mind and in my heart. I will be forever thankful for this genius who became my mentor, and I will do my very best to carry on impeccable care for patients in his honor. I will miss our philosophical chats, ‘Jim-isms’, mutual respect, genuine laughs, warm smiles and bear hugs.

One of his favorite poets, Rumi, wrote: “This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First, to let go of life. In the end, to take a step without feet.”

Dr. Sensenig, I am so grateful for you. Much love to you and THANK YOU with all my heart. Fly well.

–Cheryl Cuozzo, MSN, NP-C, APRN, North Haven, CT

NUNM President’s Message to Alumni

Christine Gerard, ND, President NUNM sent the following letter to NUNM alumni:

Dear Alumni:
I learned recently that Dr. Jim Sensenig (NUNM ‘78) died in his sleep Saturday night. Jim was an Elder of the naturopathic profession, studying with Drs. Bastyr, Turska, Broadwell, and Boucher. Jim served NUNM as a member of the Faculty from 1978 – 1980, Dean of Education from 1981 – 1982, and VP of Educational Services from 1982 – 1984. Jim was on the faculty of nearly every naturopathic program at some point in his career, teaching philosophy and the foundations of naturopathic medicine.
Jim was a founding member and first president of the AANP and he was the founding Dean of the College of Naturopathic Medicine at the University of Bridgeport. Jim served on the Foundations Project editorial board, established the Naturopathic Gathering, and was a spokesman for the naturopathic profession speaking at numerous conferences and testifying at many legislative licensure hearings.
Among his many awards, Jim was honored by the Profession in 1988, being named AANP’s Physician of the Year.
Jim opened his practice, Natural Health Associates, in Hamden, CT in 1986 where he practiced for many years. I met Jim at the AANP conference in the early 1990’s. After residency at Griffin Hospital, I opened a private practice in Seymour, CT. It was there, in CT, that our friendship grew. We would get together and have dinner in New Haven talking deeply about the medicine, the philosophy, and life in general. During these dinner conversations we would become so engrossed that we wouldn’t realize, until we heard a polite clearing of the throat by waitstaff, that we had closed the restaurant. Sheepish, yet undaunted, we found another place that was still open and again, we closed that one too. These conversations grounded me in many ways. Jim was a master physician and philosopher. We tested ideas and theories in these conversations that made me a better physician and teacher.
As NUNM’s newest Board member, Dr. Carrie Louise Daenell relates: “Jim is the voice in my head, driving the heart of my career in volunteer service to our profession. This is true for so many of us. He has embodied not only the science and energy of Naturopathic Medicine, but also the education, credentialing, and politics for advancing access to the medicine. His leadership brought us to this moment. His passing reminds me that, now is the time, and we are the ones to carry this medicine forward.”
We will hold a memorial for Jim in the coming days. Details will be forthcoming.
Jim, may your memory be eternal!

 

Christine L. Girard, ND MPH
President/CEO

To a Gentle yet Strong Higher Soul

I met Jim within the first week of my first year at SCNM. We were such  new school we often had week long classes from professors from other schools and fields that we lacked through our own. Jim was the first one and “no surprise” he taught Naturopathic Philosophy. That first year was all about the sciences which made total sense but having come from the conventional medical world (CNM, APRN) I was desperate to delve into why I had come to this profession. Jim not only spoke eloquently about the philosophy but also about the heart and soul of our medicine. He helped us to “see” why we should be in this field. He literally never used notes that I can remember and never ran out of meaningful things to say and discuss. I remember being so nervous about going to school after being in my field for 20 some years and wondering if I could do it at my age. He was so encouraging and after class one day told me about how important it was to have “seasoned” professionals come into this profession and how often those of us who left the conventional world because it could not hold our passion and heart. He won mine for this magnificent profession then and there. Living in NH I’d see him from time at East Coast conferences. I was never a personal friend or classmate of his but he made you feel that way with his hugs and smiles.

Dr Christine Kuhlman SCNM 1997

A Compassionate Great

In my second year of school, there was a low-grade murmur resounding through the halls. Whispers about an underground network of naturopathic doctors speaking the philosophy I heard in the first term of my first year, yet was never spoken of in detail until my last class with Dr. Zeff (4 years later).

This call was said to be all the things we wanted from school but were not getting from our classroom settings. I knew at that moment, I had to gain access. The first vital conversation I listened to was the first time I was introduced to Dr. Jim Sensenig, remotely. From that call onward, I was able to afford the trip to VG2 which was awe-inspiring as I wrapped up my last year of schooling. I didn’t have the courage at that time to introduce myself to Jim. In my mind he was one of the greats. I likened him to Lust and Lindlahr.

VG4 this past October was a different story. I had 1 year of doctoring under my belt, and I was so excited to gain information for patients under my care. At the end of the conference, a small group of us went down to the sports bar in the hotel we were conferencing in. It was our last night together and after an intensive day of energetic expansion with the biodynamic cranial course, a deeper connection with that small group was inevitable.

While eating dinner and playing some fierce games of shuffle board and foosball – Jim pulled me aside and asked me about my life. He wanted to know what brought me to Naturopathic medicine. We began talking and I had shared with him some of the challenges I’d faced while in school, one being the passing of my father after Thanksgiving my first  year of school. He listened intently, had so many questions, and so many words of widsom to impress upon me. We decided after that conversation that I would fly to CT in the Spring and come spend a week with him in his clinic. I was beyond excited for the opportunity to spend a week with him. I missed that opportunity. But I will never forget the conversation we had, nor the impact his words, his wisdom, his drive, his motivation, his passion has had on me. I was ready to leave the naturopathic program at the beginning of my second year. I was struggling with various aspects of the profession, but those whispers and murmurs in the hall saved me. I was able to listen to the VC during my drive to the campus and listened in as frequently and often as possible. His voice was the voice that encouraged me to continue pushing forward because – this profession is amazing! And the ability we have to treat and cure patients is unmatched.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving this year (2019), Jim sent me a message. Our conversation was brief, but looking back, I’m so grateful I was able to express to him my gratitude for him being here. He will never be forgotten. And his influence will continue to fuel students in their darkest days and drive them to continue pushing forward, because – his passion and understand had that kind of guiding influence. His work is not done, it has merely been passed to the shoulders of the tribe he has built. And I’m beyond grateful to be part of his tribe.