What Education Do You Need To Become A Naturopathic Doctor

NDs treat with herbal and botanic remedies, not pharmaceutical drugs.

Naturopathic doctors seek to treat the cause of illnesses, not just symptoms, through the use of herbs, nutritional approaches and botanic remedies. However, treating patients and offering health advice as a registered and licensed naturopathic doctor is not possible without years of schooling, gaining experience in residency and passing boards. Naturopathic doctors earn an estimated $80,000 to $90,000 annually and 98 percent are satisfied with their career choice, according to the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges.

Undergrad Schooling

Before going to a naturopathic medical school, students must first obtain a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. Department of Education-accredited school. Though students can major in a variety of disciplines unrelated to science, most naturopathic medical schools have a list of science-based coursework that must be completed before gaining admittance to their schools. The Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, for instance, requires candidates to take 12 credit hours in biology, a class of organic chemistry and physics, and eight credit hours of chemistry. Therefore, pursue a science-related major in undergrad to avoid taking additional coursework upon graduation. For the best chance of gaining admissions to a naturopathic school, students should maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0, particularly in science-based classes, and submit a strong essay.

Naturopathic School

Naturopathic doctors take four years of schooling, ideally through one of the seven schools accredited by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. The curriculum includes coursework in traditional sciences such as anatomy and biomedical sciences. The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine also list subjects exclusive to natural and holistic medicine which include homeopathy, Oriental medicine and botanic medicine. Other classes have similarities to medical school classes such as geriatrics, cardiology, pediatrics and gynecology.

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Additional Experience and Certification

Education also derives in the form of a two-year residency that must have the approval of the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Completing this residency is necessary to sit for boards and gain licensing from the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners. Gaining licensure requires passing the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX). The NPLEX consists of two sections: the biomedical science examination and the core clinical science examination.

Considerations

Part of being a naturopathic doctor requires staying abreast of trends in the fields of nutrition, herbalism and supplements. Naturopathic doctors accomplish this objective through subscribing to literature, including health journals, magazines and attending conferences. Thus, education does not cease when the doctor obtains licensing and certification; instead, it is an ongoing process. Furthermore, patients teach naturopathic doctors as well to maintain openness and a willingness to create customized treatment plans.