What is Naturopathic Medicine?
The demand for safe, effective, affordable, and more “natural” healthcare has increased immensely in the past 30 years. Recent studies indicate that 4 of 10 Americans use some form of alternate or complementary care, yearly. Naturopathic doctors, known as ND’s, are the only primary care physicians board certified in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, and pharmaceutical medication. With the education, knowledge, and expertise to treat a variety of conditions utilizing either natural modalities or conventional prescription medications. ND’s are the first genuine practitioners of integrative medicine and are best suited to meed this demand. I look forward to serving a vital role in the healthcare system of the 21st century.
Education of a Naturopathic Physician
Naturopathic medical colleges are four year, graduate level medical schools. Candidates must complete appropriate undergraduate premedical coursework in order to be considered. The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree (N.D.) is awarded after classroom, clinical, and practical study. Similar to a traditional medical doctor, naturopathic physicians are trained in a wide range of medical sciences. In addition, a naturopathic physician is required to complete 4 years of training in naturopathic philosophy, clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, counseling, physical medicine, and other natural therapies.
The accrediting agency for naturopathic medical schools and programs in North America is the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, CNME. There are presently four colleges accredited by the CNME in the United States: Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA; Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Tempe, AZ; National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, OR; and University of Bridgeport College of Natural Medicine in Bridgeport, CT. In Canada, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Ontario and the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in BC are also accredited.
Licensing of a Naturopathic Physician
Licensing of naturopathic physicians is currently regulated at a state level. Rigorous, professional board exams (NPLEX) must be passed after completion of the basic science curriculum and following clinical training in order to receive a license in a particular state. A licensed N.D. belongs to a state regulatory body that oversees the standards of practice, complaints, and discipline. They must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirement annually. Currently, 14 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S territories of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico offer licensing for naturopathic physicians including Idaho. There are many other states in the process of passing licensure legislation. In states where naturopathic doctors are not yet licensed, they still have a broad range of capabilities. There are certain limitations on the prescription of drugs and in other scope of practice areas.
A naturopathic physician is distinct from a traditional “naturopath” in training and scope. Although many naturopaths are gifted healers, they do not have the same education and training as a licensed naturopathic physician. Please ask for credentials if you are seeking a naturopathic physician who has been trained by an accredited institution and holds a valid license to practice medicine.