A licensed natural doctor, otherwise known as an accredited naturopathic doctor, is a primary-care provider trained in many of the same conventional medical sciences as a regular doctor, but also in holistic therapeutic approaches to wellness and disease prevention. Candidates must go through a rigorous education and accreditation process to become licensed.
1. Research the field of study you are interested in, and find a school that provides for your needs. Various degree programs are available, including: bachelor’s degrees in science and natural health or holistic nutrition; master’s degrees in natural health, holistic nutrition or holistic wellness; and/or doctorates in philosophy and holistic nutrition, traditional naturopathy, natural health and naturopathic medicine among others. Candidates can also acquire natural health certifications in areas such as iridology, consulting herbalist, family herbalist natural wellness, or holistic companion animal care. Resources for different schools are listed below. In 16 states, the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education must certify all colleges.
2. A licensed ND will need a background education in health sciences and humanities, and will spend four years being trained in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, counseling and the philosophy behind the practice of natural health. Examples of classes students are required to take include: advanced nutrition, biology, cancer prevention, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, naturopathy and its history, iridology, disease and its prevention.
3. Board exams to become a licensed naturopathic physician are rigorous. For example, in 16 states, aspiring naturopathic doctors must pass the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners’ comprehensive board exams. This exam—the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam—requires that students take the Basic Science Examinations (covering anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics, immunology, microbiology and pathology) to show they have the knowledge base to attend an approved naturopathic medical college and begin the clinical phase of their training. Upon graduation, candidates take the Core Clinical Science Examination to become licensed. The American Association of Drugless Practitioners and the American Naturopathic Medical Accreditation Board also accredit many natural health degrees. Candidates must also become licensed in the states in which they practice, and they must fulfill various annual continuing education requirements.