How to become a Naturopathic Doctor?
A four-year, professional-level program at a federally accredited naturopathic medical school is required before becoming a licensed naturopathic doctor. After graduation, you must take and pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX).
But the process is quite complicated in becoming a Naturopathic Doctor. This article will discuss the complete roadmap and career pathway to pursue to become a Naturopathic doctor.
What does a Naturopathic Doctor do?
Naturopathic Physicians, also known as Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine (NDs), are primary care physicians who diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses similar to MDs.
They are highly trained diagnosticians who focus on the least invasive and toxic therapies to address the underlying causes of illness and support the body’s natural ability to prevent and combat disease.
NDs use modern medical science and natural therapies to treat chronic health issues like diabetes, obesity, asthma, and heart disease.
Naturopathic doctors practice personalized medicine, taking into account each patient’s genetics, environmental exposures, and lifestyle. While naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care physicians, they also team up with MDs, DOs, DCs, and other medical specialists as part of an integrative medical team to manage patient cases. NDs can do the following:
How Long Does it Take to Become a Naturopathic Doctor?
A post-secondary education of at least seven years is required. Most NDs earn a four-year bachelor’s degree in the arts or sciences before enrolling in a four-year naturopathic medical college. After that, students must pass comprehensive licensing exams to practice.
Prerequisites of Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor
A typical entering student must have completed three years of pre-medical training and earned a bachelor’s degree before being accepted into an accredited naturopathic medical school. In addition, students should have completed English, humanities, math, physics, and psychology courses, focusing on chemistry and biology.
Prospective students must also demonstrate appropriate observational and communication skills, motor function, intellectual-conceptual abilities, integrative and quantitative abilities, as well as behavioral and social maturity, in addition to prerequisite course work.
Basic Fundamentals of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic doctors follow the six fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine, similar to the Hippocratic Oath. These are the following:
- First and foremost, not harm: use the most natural, least invasive, and most minor toxic treatments possible.
- Nature’s Healing Power: Have faith in the body’s inherent ability to heal itself.
- Determine and Treat the Root Causes: Look for the root of the problem, not just the symptoms.
- Doctor as Educator: Instruct patients on achieving and maintaining good health.
- Treat the person as a whole: Consider the body in all of its physical and spiritual dimensions.
- Focus on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention as a priority.
Career Outlook and General Expertise required to become a Naturopathic Doctor
Doctorates in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, or naturopathic, chiropractic, or osteopathic fields and state licenses are required for naturopathic physicians. They are skilled in observation, listening, problem-solving, and the ability to diagnose and treat patients using medical and therapeutic equipment.
The average median salary for all other health diagnosing and treating practitioners, including naturopathic physicians, was $75,640 in 2019, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Study Pathway of Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor
The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education requires students to complete a four-year, graduate-level program. The first two years of a naturopathic medical professional degree are similar to the first two years of traditional medical school. Biomedical sciences are covered in the first year, and diagnostic sciences are covered in the second.
During the first two years, naturopathic students also study a comprehensive approach to body systems and naturopathic modalities. The last two years have just been spent learning naturopathic diagnostic and treatment techniques in a medical environment.
Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX)
Individuals with an NMD or ND must pass the NPLEX before taking the state licensure exam after graduation. Certification requires completion of an approved naturopathic physician degree program as well as passing the NPLEX exam.
There is a one-year certification period available. To recertify, the NMD/ND must complete 20 hours of approved continuing education each year.
License Requirements for Naturopathic Doctors
The requirements for NMD/ND licensure vary by state. However, applicants must have graduated from an accredited school, submitted fingerprints and passed a criminal background check, be free of mental health or substance abuse issues, and pass the NPLEX exam or a state-sponsored naturopathic medicine exam.
In states where naturopathic doctors are not licensed, NDs/NMDs typically hold another professional health care degree and corresponding state-recognized license, which they use to provide naturopathic services to clients.
Now, this is optional and depends on you. Some naturopathic doctors choose to complete a residency program after graduation. Although naturopathic residencies are not required in most states, they provide valuable experience and help to improve skills.
Many new graduates practice with or shadow an experienced ND for a year or two instead of completing a residency to gain more extensive hands-on experience in naturopathic medicine. Such opportunities give naturopathic doctors the competitive edge they need to land jobs in the field.
Increasing Demand for Naturopathic Doctors
The number of residency opportunities available to new NDs is increasing. Many are completing 1-2 year PCP or specialty residencies each year. In addition, students from naturopathic medical schools that are members of the American Association of Accredited Naturopathic Colleges are eligible to apply for residencies. The INM Residency Consortium, hosted by the Institute for Natural Medicine, is proud to contribute to this expansion (IRC). This accredited program offers naturopathic medical school graduates two years of valuable clinical residency time, practice management, and other skills enhancement.
This article discussed the complete pathway of becoming a naturopathic doctor and the further tests and certifications required for becoming a naturopathic doctor.
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