WHAT IS A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR?
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Naturopathic Doctors, trained in North America, complete a 4-year, full-time, doctoral-level, scientific medical program at an accredited school. They have a rigorous, multifaceted integrative medical education that is comparable and complementary to that of MDs and DOs.
If your practitioner DID NOT attend one of these accredited schools, they may still be helpful to you. However, they did not attend medical school for their degree. Many other healthcare practitioners, like homeopaths, nutritionists, herbalists, and those called by the broad-term 'naturopath,' have attended undergraduate programs and/or certificate programs for their credential.
THE NATUROPATHIC MEDICAL EDUCATION
Prior to enrollment, the usual pre-medical undergraduate courses in physiology, biology, chemistry, physiology are required for entry
The beginning of the program is similar to those of doctor of medicine (MD) and doctor of osteopathy (DO) programs, with comparable training hours in the basic medical sciences: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology and immunology, pathology and differential diagnosis.
Later in the program, considerable time is spent on various courses in nutrition and micronutrients and significant portions of the total academic hours are directed at modalities often equated with ‘alternative’ medicine: botanical medicine (including extensive training in herb-drug-nutrient interactions), acupuncture, physical medicine (massage and spinal manipulation techniques), hydrotherapy, counseling, and homeopathy.
Significant time is dedicated to academic training in pharmacology; several jurisdictions license NDs to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.
Additional hours are spent training in minor surgery and other aspects of medical technology such as therapeutic ultrasound, both of which are in the scope of practice in a number of states/jurisdictions.
Passing standardized professional board exams is required before licensure to practice in a state or jurisdiction as a general practice physician. Each jurisdiction licensing NDs has structured laws governing the scope of practice, including time spent in continuing education yearly.