The Education and Licensing
of a Naturopathic Doctor
medical colleges are four-year, graduate-level medical schools with
admissions requirements comparable to those of other medical schools.
The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree, ND, is awarded after classroom,
clinical and practical study. NDs are trained in a wide range of medical
sciences including: anatomy, cardiology, neurology, physiology, biochemistry,
radiology, pathology, obstetrics, minor surgery, microbiology, gynecology,
pharmacology, pediatrics, immunology, dermatology, lab diagnostics,
clinical and physical diagnosis.
Throughout the four years, there is training in naturopathic therapeutics
including therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural
childbirth, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy,
and other 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.
Licensing and Regulation
Currently, twelve states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico have licensing
laws for naturopathic doctors. In these states, naturopathic doctors
are required to graduate from one of the four-year, residential naturopathic
medical schools and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination
(NPLEX) in order to receive a license. Licensed naturopathic physicians
must also fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements
annually. In addition, they have a specific scope of practice defined
by their state’s law. The states with current licensing laws
for naturopathic physicians are Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut,
Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
A Word of
Clarification on the ND Qualification and Credentials
Unfortunately there is some confusion between licensable naturopathic
physicians, with a four-year, graduate-level education, and traditional
naturopaths, who have only correspondence or online training. Both
use the same initials, ND, as professional identification. Traditional
naturopaths, however, are health consultants, not healthcare practitioners.
If you wish to receive healthcare from a practitioner who is trained
and licensed to diagnose and treat disease, you are looking for a naturopathic
physician, such as Dr. Rogers or Dr. Capsey. In a state with licensing
laws, it is important to ask if the ND is licensed as a naturopathic
physician. In other states, you could ask if your practitioner took
the NPLEX board exam or attended one of the four-year accredited naturopathic
colleges named above.
Please note that many traditional naturopaths are truly gifted healers.
It is important, however, to understand that a traditional naturopath
is limited in training and scope of practice. We merely feel that those
seeking health care should be able to make an informed distinction
between those professionals with similar names and the same identifying
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