Is becoming a naturopathic physician right for me?

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What do naturopathic physicians do?
Career Satisfaction
Are naturopathic physicians happy with their careers?
What are naturopathic physicians like?

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How to become a Naturopathic Physician

There are two main ways to become a naturopathic physician. First is by becoming a medical doctor and then taking up the naturopathy specialty. In Canada and the U.S., this begins with pre-med university studies which is usually a four-year bachelor of science degree. Next is a three- or four-year medical doctor degree, followed by post-graduate specialty training. Up to four years of hospital residency is also required. Getting accepted into most MD programs is a very competitive process, and students must meet certain criteria, including high grade averages.

The second way is to become an accredited doctor of naturopathic medicine, or ND. In many states in the U.S. and in most of Canada, this is a specialized degree granted by an accredited medical school. Although there are some variances in admittance criteria, most programs require a bachelor's degree in pre-med sciences, with competitive average marks in biochemistry, physiology, organic and general chemistry, biology, psychology, and the humanities. The ND programs are generally four years long, and many naturopathic doctors take additional post-graduate training in specific treatments, such as chelation therapy or acupuncture.

In the U.K. a two-year post-graduate naturopathic diploma can be earned by a healthcare professional such as a medical doctor or nurse, and registration is required for accreditation. Many eastern countries, for example, India, also offer specific university training in naturopathic medicine.

Among personal criteria and other skills that are required:

  • understanding of physical anatomy
  • ability to develop a healthy rapport with patients and earn their trust
  • good communication and listening skills
  • emotional stability and maturity
  • good observation skills
  • open mindedness and acceptance of alternative viewpoints and approaches