Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care physicians (PCP) at four year medical schools and receive training in basic sciences, physical exams, diagnosis, and treatment. While this includes the standard medical core curriculum of subjects like microbiology, histology, pathology, and pharmacology, Naturopaths are also trained and focus in other areas of treatment. These include modalities that revolve around maintaining wellness, preventing disease, and living a healthy lifestyle. The goal is to keep people feeling better and reduce the need for tools that may carry risk such as surgery and medication. Many individuals also find that holistic modalities, such as nutrition & lifestyle modification, alter the course of disease processes that previously were unresponsive to treatment. Below is an outline that compares the education in hours of different medical institutions:
Schools receive specialized accreditation by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). In the case of schools within the United States, schools also hold an institutional accreditation from regional agencies recognized by the US Department of Education. Currently, only 8 accredited schools train students in Naturopathic Medicine:
- Bastyr University
- Bastry University – California Campus
- National College of Natural Medicine
- National University of Health Sciences
- Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
- University of Bridgeport – College of Naturopathic Medicine
- Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
- Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic Doctors who graduate from the above schools are eligible to take their clinical board exams, the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX), which is administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). They also must take individual state licensing exams in order to obtain a license.
Naturopaths are licensed and regulated in 17 states, The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. In these locations this means your Naturopathic Doctor can conduct physical exams, make diagnoses, prescribe medication, order labs, and perform minor surgery. In many cases, your care is also covered by medical insurance. Each state differs slightly in terms of the scope of practice, so it is important to understand what Naturopathic Doctors are licensed to do in your state. In most states, for example, their pharmacological formulary is limited to specific medications and compounds, and is not as vast as what other doctors might have access to. All states, however, require continuing medical education, which is consistent with that in other medical professions. New York is currently navigating the slow moving political waters of regulation and licensure for Naturopaths, with new bills proposed and discussed each year.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands