Multiple people ask me and wonder about Naturopathic Medicine, what it is and how you become a Naturopathic Doctor, so I decided to write about the process and explain some facts for those looking to understand the profession a little more.
Naturopathic Medicine education: In order to become a Naturopathic Doctor, you have to earn a Bachelor’s degree and complete prerequisites to enter the program. Basically, you have to complete “pre-medicine” courses and depending on the school you apply to, you might need some additional courses to be able to start their program. Naturopathic Medicine is a 4-5 year doctoral program and is currently offered in 8 accredited schools: Bastyr University (Washington State and California campuses), Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (Canada), Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Canada), National University of Natural Medicine (Oregon), National University of Health Sciences (Illinois), Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences (Arizona) and University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine (Connecticut). Also, Universidad del Turabo School of Health Sciences in Puerto Rico has a candidacy or pre-accreditation status and is in the process to receive accreditation by 2020.
ND meaning and licensing: In order to be an ND or Naturopathic Doctor, an individual has to complete Naturopathic School from one of the accredited programs above along with all of the requirements, clinical hours, internships, preceptorships and/or residencies. In addition to that, to become a licensed Naturopathic Doctor you must take and pass 2 board exams; part 1 after the first 2 years of school are completed and the second part after the whole program with clinic hours and requirements are completed. Also, if the ND is going to practice in a licensed state, a jurisprudence exam has to be taken in order to obtain a license to practice in that state. Not every state hold licensure for Naturopathic Doctors and the scope of practice varies from state to state. Currently licensed states Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and U.S. Territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands). Many other states are working of getting licensure approval; however, an ND can practice as a consultant in an unlicensed state as long as guidelines and regulations are followed.
What do we do? We use a combination of different natural modalities to restore health in an individual. NDs work on fixing the source/root of the problem in order to achieve correction and not just symptom relief. The treatments vary from person to person because it is an individualized medicine and what will be effective in someone might not be the right approach for someone else. We treat the whole person instead of separate parts and that’s one of the things that makes this medicine so unique. Depending on the scope of practice of the state, NDs can incorporate different modalities into their practice.*
Please Note: It is important to verify and confirm the credentials of the practitioners, especially if the state is unlicensed because many go for certifications or seminars and call themselves “naturopaths” without actually being physicians and your experience and results will be different.
Dr. Yarilis Vazquez, ND
Naturopathic Doctor- SOPHIA Natural Health
*The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Sophia Natural Health Center does not guarantee certain results.