What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) combine traditional natural healing with the rigors of modern science. Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic doctors help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health. It is the naturopathic doctors role to identify and remove barriers to good health by helping to create a healing internal and external environment.
NDs are able to diagnose and treat medical conditions and provide both individual and family health care. NDs are trained to perform minor surgeries, such as removing cysts or suturing superficial wounds, however, in some states this is outside of their scope of practice. NDs are trained in pharmacology and prescribe pharmaceutical drugs when indicated*, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents whenever appropriate.
Naturopathic doctor’s (NDs) work in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers. NDs practice throughout the United States and Canada. Qualified naturopathic doctors undergo rigorous training before they become licensed health-care practitioners. Visit AANP’s Professional Education page at www.naturopathic.org to learn about naturopathic education.Prescribing rights for ND’s currently vary according to the state legislation in which the ND is licensed in and practices.
Professional Education for NDs
A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) attends a four-year, graduate-level naturopathic medical school, which includes 2 years of clinical internship and takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care, general practice doctor. Some naturopathic doctors may also receive additional clinical training by completing a post-graduate residency program, but it is currently not a requirement to practice in most states.
Naturopathic doctors are uniquely trained as integrative medical providers and therefore well suited to function as integrative primary care providers. ND’s are educated in all of the same basic and clinical sciences as a medical doctor (MD), but are additionally trained how to safely and effectively integrate a variety of natural treatment modalities. In addition to being trained to manage a patient using pharmaceutical medications, the naturopathic doctor also receives extensive training in clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, vitamin/mineral/nutrient therapy, IV therapy, physical medicine, and minor surgery.
*Adapted from American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP): www.naturopathic.org