Most people have absolutely no idea what naturopathic doctors are or the training they have. They will probably confuse a ND with a nutritionist, homeopath, health coach, chiropractor, or many other holistic professionals. There are only 5,000 practicing licensed naturopathic doctors in the U.S versus 893,851 practicing MD's so it makes sense that most people have never heard of them.
What is the difference between an ND and an MD?
Well, there isn't a big difference in the classes but there is quite difference is how we view the patient and the disease. ND's like MD's are both required to have an undergraduate degree in premedical studies while maintaining an excellent GPA. They both take hundreds of credit hours in all the core sciences (anatomy, cadaver lab, biochemistry, physiology, pathology, neurology, pharmacology...) and both have to take 2 rigorous board licensing exams. Upon graduation a naturopathic doctor will have completed over 310 doctorate level credit hours and over 1500 clinical hours seeing a minimum of 350 patients and 144 preceptorship hours (with our choice of an MD, ND, DC, or DO). Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care physicians from the first day of medical school which is much different than M.D's which choose a speciality upon completion of school.
The residencies offered for naturopathic doctors are highly competitive and are focused on primary care medicine with specialties in family medicine, pediatrics, physical medicine, and oncology which take place either in a hospital or clinic setting. The clinical training after successful completion of the academic program is ongoing and residencies for naturopathic doctors is expanding rapidly.
Myth: Naturopathic Doctors don't believe in evidence-based medicine and are against MD's.
A trained naturopathic doctor from an accredited university is taught to use an evidence-based model and undergoes rigorous training in research methodology and application. ND's like any other physician realize that they can't possibly specialize in everything and will refer to other practitioners when needed. In states where naturopathic medicine is licensed (currently 17 states) ND's work with MD's to optimize the patient's treatment and care. It couldn't be further from the truth that there is some sort of tension between the two parties! Let's abolish this myth once and for all.
Naturopathic doctors follow these principles in their clinical practice and how they view the patient.
These are the principles of Naturopathic Medicine
˜˜ The Healing Power of Nature Vis Medicatrix Naturae
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the body that is ordered and intelligent. Naturopathic Physicians act to identify and remove obstacles to recovery as well as to facilitate and augment this healing ability.
˜˜ First Do No Harm Primum Non Nocere
Naturopathic medicine follows three principles to avoid harming the patient: (1) Utilize methods and medical substances that minimize the risk of harmful side effects (2) Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms (3) Acknowledge and respect the individual’s healing process, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat illness.
˜˜ Find the Cause Tolle Causum
Underlying causes of illness must be identified and removed before complete recovery can occur. The Naturopathic Physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to eliminate or merely suppress symptoms.
˜˜ Treat the Whole Person Tolle Totem
Naturopathic Physicians treat each individual by taking into account physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
˜˜ Doctor as Teacher Docere
The original meaning of the word “doctor” is teacher. One of the main objectives of naturopathic medicine is to educate the patient and emphasize self –responsibility for health. Naturopathic physicians also acknowledge the therapeutic value of the doctor - patient relationship.
Naturopathic Physicians emphasize disease prevention, assessment of risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease and making appropriate interventions to prevent illness. Naturopathic medicine strives to create a healthy world in which humanity may thrive.
Wellness follows the establishment and maintenance of optimum health and balance.Wellness is a state of being healthy, characterized by positive emotion, thought and action. Wellness is inherent in everyone, no matter what dis-ease(s) an individual might experience. If wellness is truly recognized and nurtured within that individual, he/she will more quickly heal, as compared to their healing with direct treatment of the dis-ease alone. (This principle was adopted by Bastyr University and added to the original six principles.)
When looking for a naturopathic doctor please make sure that they meet the following:
1. They must have attended one of these 7 doctorate level accredited medical universities:
National College of Natural Medicine
National University of Health Sciences
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
University of Bridgeport
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
2. Make sure that they are a board licensed naturopathic physician. This means they have passed both the basic science boards and the clinical training board exams.
3. Finally, make sure you connect with your doctor since they are going to be working closely with you on your personal journey to health.
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