Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession that combines the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science. Naturopathic physicians are trained as primary care providers who diagnose, treat and manage patients with acute and chronic conditions, while addressing disease and dysfunction at the level of body, mind and spirit.
NDs concentrate on whole-patient wellness through health promotion and disease prevention, finding the underlying cause of the patient’s condition. They provide individualized, evidence-informed therapies that balance the least harmful and most effective approaches to help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.
Naturopathic physicians care for patients of all ages and genders. NDs tailor treatment protocols for each patient, placing a strong emphasis on prevention, patient education and self-care.
Naturopathic medicine is based upon six fundamental principles:
- First, do no harm: Utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.
- The healing power of nature: Trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself.
- Identify and treat the causes: Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.
- Physician as teacher: Educate patients in the steps to achieving and maintaining health.
- Treat the whole person: View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.
- Prevention: Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.
Naturopathic physicians collaborate with all other branches of the healthcare team, referring patients to other health care practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate.
You may find this field intriguing, but how can you be sure that naturopathic medicine is the right career for you? These are some commonalities that naturopathic medical students share.
Some naturopathic physicians establish and operate their own private practices, while others choose to work in integrative medical clinics. NDs have become research scientists, natural pharmacists, public health administrators, consultants to industry or insurance companies or advisors to other health care professionals and entrepreneurs. Click here to learn more about career paths in naturopathic medicine. *
Job satisfaction is high among naturopathic physicians. More than 90% of practicing naturopathic physicians enjoy professional and career satisfaction.
Salary Range and Outlook
The prospects for making a prosperous living in this field are excellent. Naturopathic medicine continues to gain acceptance and recognition throughout the United States and Canada. The income range for naturopathic physicians may vary based on geography, years in practice, practice focus and number of patients seen per week.
NDs working full-time make on average between $80,000 and $150,000 (USD). *
A resurgence of interest in naturopathic healing in North America in the 1970s resulted in the rapid growth and maturation of the naturopathic profession to the point it is today. The accredited naturopathic medical programs are spread across North America. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is the accrediting body for these programs.
Graduates of CNME-accredited naturopathic medical institutions are eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX). Only graduates from naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education are eligible to sit for the professional board exams in states that require them. Graduates from accredited schools are eligible to practice in any US state or Canadian province in which they meet the licensing requirements.
Licensed naturopathic physicians attend four-year, doctoral-level programs. The first two years are predominantly the same biomedical sciences as allopathic and osteopathic physicians. The following two years hone clinical and diagnostic skills and prepare graduates to be competent naturopathic physicians. In evaluating candidates for naturopathic medical programs, admissions counselors look for students who want to be challenged academically, yet feel comfortable relying on their own intuition and creativity. They look for high-level critical thinkers who are excited by the challenge of formulating individualized treatment plans. Applicants must demonstrate that they possess the internal qualities essential to becoming naturopathic physicians, including concern for others, integrity, curiosity, motivation and a strong belief in the efficacy of natural medicine.
All of the AANMC member ND programs require a base of undergraduate prerequisite science courses that include biology as well as general and organic chemistry. Physics, biochemistry, math and psychology courses may also be specified. When a school(s) receives your application, they will review all of your academic information to ensure you are prepared for naturopathic medical school. MCAT scores are not required, but may be reviewed by admissions committees. It is recommended to check with each school you are considering in order to ensure that all prerequisite requirements are met.
In addition to the required coursework, additional courses to strengthen your background and to better prepare you for a naturopathic course of study include: anatomy, biochemistry, business coursework, botany, developmental psychology and physiology.
Click here to receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!
- Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges
- American Association of Naturopathic Physicians
- Council on Naturopathic Medical Education
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges reviewed this career profile.