Okay, so you may have heard of a Naturopathic Doctor, but what is it they really do? Did they even go to Medical School? Read below to find out how Licensed Naturopathic Doctors are trained.
Currently, there are 7 accredited (consisting of 8 campuses) with four-year, in-residence, hands-on Naturopathic Medical Schools throughout the US and Canada comprised of a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training. Admission to these schools is dependent upon fulfilling the pre-requisites listed below.
Pre-requisites for Naturopathic Medical School Include:
three years of pre-med training
obtained a Bachelor of Science degree
completed courses in English and the humanities as well as Math, Physics, Psychology with a strong emphasis on Chemistry and Biology
demonstrate appropriate observational and communication skills
demonstrate motor function, intellectual-conceptual abilities, integrative and quantitative abilities
demonstrate behavioral and social maturity
What does training to become a Naturopathic Medical Doctor look like?
During the first two years of Naturopathic Medical School, areas of study are akin to traditional medical school in that students learn biochemistry, human physiology, histology, anatomy, microbiology, immunology, human pathology, neuroscience, pharmacology and more. In addition to the standard medical school curriculum, Naturopathic Medical students are also trained for 4 years in areas of clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, botanical medicine, lifestyle counseling, nutritional IV therapy and physical medicine. The final two years of Naturopathic Medical School, naturopathic medical students have rotations under the supervision of licensed professionals. They also study disease prevention and clinical techniques. You can see in the image below that in some cases, Naturopathic Schooling requires more course load time than MD schooling during the first 2 years.
So what are the differences between an MD, DO and Naturopathic Doctor Training Program?
Even though the general educational structure for Naturopathic Doctors is comparable to that of conventional medical doctors (MD's) and osteopathic doctors (DO's) one major difference is residencies. Currently, MD residency is required and regulated by conventional medical schools and is funded by the government.
Naturopathic medical residency programs are not as common, although some are available, but they are not yet required by most states (besides Utah) or funded by the government. In lieu of a residency, many Naturopathic Doctors choose to practice or preceptor with a seasoned doctor before setting up their own practice.
Another difference lies in the fact that not every state is licensed for Naturopathic Doctors. Currently 20 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands offer licensure or certification for naturopathic doctors. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians maintains a list of states and territories that license or certify naturopathic doctors.
As far as Examination Requirements:
Just like MD's having to complete the USMLE exam for medical licensure, the exam required to qualify for naturopathic doctor licensure is administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) is a taken in two parts. Typically part 1 is taken after the 2nd year of school and Part 2 is taken upon graduation. Only students and graduates from accredited or candidate naturopathic programs are eligible to sit for the NPLEX. In order to become a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor, one must pass the NPLEX part 1 & 2.
Yes, Naturopathic Doctors Are Real Doctors!
So there you have it, Licensed Naturopathic Doctors are real doctors, can even be considered Primary Care Physicians and have a rigorous training program similar to MD's or DO's. The main differences lies in the treatment modalities used, residency requirements and depending upon what state they're in, what they can prescribe.
This article is not intended to provide a health diagnosis, treat a medical condition, or provide medical advice. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes. Please consult your doctor or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and well-being or on any opinions expressed within this blog.