A naturopathic doctor treats patients with natural remedies.
Instead of prescribing pharmaceutical drugs or conducting invasive surgeries, naturopathic doctors believe the body is capable of healing itself. Naturopathic doctors or, NDs, believe in using changes in diet, lifestyle and exercise as the best way to prevent illness and disease. Many schools in North America are accredited and provide students a way to earn the title of an ND. However, earning this degree is not as easy as just studying the effects of fruits and vegetables on the body.
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges lists seven accredited North American schools from which to choose, each with specific admissions requirements. However, all require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, for example, emphasizes coursework in biology, chemistry and psychology, with a minimum 3.0 GPA. This institution also requires letters of recommendation.
Types of Coursework and Schooling
Like those at a standard medical school, students seeking a doctor of naturopathy complete four years of schooling with extensive study in science, nutrition and holistic healing. Also similar to medical school, tuition is costly, but federal aid is available.
The first two years of coursework focus on standard science classes like biology, anatomy, biochemistry and neuroscience. In the next two years, an emphasis on holistic health is provided with classes like homeopathy, naturopathic counseling and environmental medicine. Bastyr College, located in Washington, lists standard medical classes in the latter years like oncology, gynecology, sports medicine and cardiology. Thus, the coursework provides students with a well-rounded education in standard science, medical classes and natural health.
After the completion of coursework, two years of residency is required in addition to passing medical boards to gain licensure.
A naturopathic doctor can open her own clinic and develop a large patient base, although not all insurance covers visits to a naturopathic doctor. NDs can also become respected authors and medical writers. Some may want to become entrepreneurs and use their knowledge of natural health to develop a product, food or skin care line.
Salary and Benefits
The AANMC states that the salaries of NDs vary. Students in residency earn just $20,000 to $30,000 a year, but upon graduation and running their own clinics they might make upwards of $200,0000. The AANMC reports an average salary of $80,000 to $90,000 with 71 percent of physicians satisfied with their incomes, and 98 percent report overall career satisfaction.
Only pursue this degree if you enjoy science classes. If spending four years in school and spending thousands of dollars is unappealing, consider pursuing an associate degree or a certificate in naturopathy.