Is becoming a naturopathic physician right for me?
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How to become a Naturopathic Physician
Becoming a licensed naturopathic physician requires a significant investment of time and resources, but for those passionate about alternative and holistic medicine, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Here are the steps to take:
- Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: The first step to becoming a naturopathic physician is to obtain a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as biology, chemistry, or pre-med studies. This degree program will provide students with the necessary foundational knowledge in science and healthcare to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine.
- Attend an Accredited Naturopathic Medical School: After completing a bachelor's degree, individuals must attend an accredited naturopathic medical school. There are several accredited naturopathic medical schools in the United States, each offering a four-year Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree program (see below). In this program, students will learn about the principles and practices of naturopathic medicine, including nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, physical medicine, and more. They will also gain practical experience through clinical rotations, providing them with the skills and knowledge necessary to become a licensed naturopathic physician.
- Pass Licensing Exams: After graduating from an accredited naturopathic medical school, individuals must pass a series of licensing exams to become a licensed naturopathic physician. The first exam is the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX), which is a two-part exam that tests knowledge in basic science and clinical science. The second exam is a state-specific exam that tests knowledge of the laws and regulations governing naturopathic medicine in the state in which they wish to practice.
- Obtain State Licensure: Once an individual has passed the licensing exams, they can apply for state licensure to become a licensed naturopathic physician. The requirements for licensure vary by state, but generally include completing an application, paying a fee, and providing proof of education, training, and passing scores on the licensing exams.
- Continue Education and Professional Development: To maintain their license, naturopathic physicians must complete continuing education courses and professional development activities. This ensures that they stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in naturopathic medicine and maintain their skills and knowledge throughout their career.
In the United States, there are several accredited naturopathic medical schools that offer Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND or NMD) programs. These programs are recognized by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), which is the accrediting body for naturopathic medical education in the US and Canada. Here are the accredited naturopathic medical schools in the US:
- Bastyr University - School of Naturopathic Medicine (Seattle, Washington and San Diego, California)
- National University of Natural Medicine (Portland, Oregon)
- Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences (Phoenix, Arizona)
- University of Bridgeport - College of Naturopathic Medicine (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
- Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada) - accredited by CNME for the US program.
- National University of Health Sciences - College of Professional Studies (Lombard, Illinois) - This institution offers a program in naturopathic medicine accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.
- Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) - Although located in Canada, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education and offers a program that meets the educational requirements for naturopathic licensure in certain states in the United States.