Doctor of Natural Health: Degree Overview

Doctoral degree programs in naturopathic medicine are typically based on the holistic philosophy that every part of a system is tied to the rest and that any action on any part of that system affects the whole. Get information on these programs, including prerequisites, courses and licensing to make an informed decision about your education.

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Essential Information

A doctor of natural health spends four years enrolled in a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program studying a combination of traditional Western medical science and naturopathic medicine. Students may undertake clinical practice at on- or off-campus sites where they can practice what they've learned about nutrition, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, botanical medicine and counseling patients while working under supervision. Applicants need a bachelor's degree; it can be in any subject, but studies in the sciences or pre-medicine might be helpful.

After completing the doctoral programs, practitioners of natural medicine complete a residency program, working with patients in increasing levels of responsibility. Licensing requirements in this field vary by state, with some requiring passing a national exam and renewing the certification periodically.

Education Prerequisites

Like many doctor preparation programs, schools offering a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Students may come from any educational background, but should be strong believers in the effectiveness of natural medicine. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges suggests that pursuing a bachelor's degree with a science major or pre-medical track may be helpful (www.aanmc.org).

Course Topics

Programs prepare students to integrate natural healing techniques with established medical science. The curriculum balances naturopathic classes with a traditional science core of biology, physiology and anatomy, as well as pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology, dermatology, pathology and diagnosis, oncology and minor surgery techniques. Students also learn about the philosophy and principles behind various natural modes of illness and disease prevention and natural healing. Naturopathic courses may cover:

  • Acupuncture
  • Clinical naturopathic diagnosis
  • Herbalism
  • History of naturopathic medicine
  • Homeopathic diagnosis and treatment
  • Issues of consulting practice
  • Natural approaches to childbirth
  • Therapeutic nutritional approaches

Popular Career Options

Many naturopathic doctors choose to teach how a healthy lifestyle can create more energy and positive feelings. As holistic health practitioners working in varied environments, naturopathic doctors use nutrition, herbs and mind/body therapies to serve patients directly or indirectly in careers like:

  • Naturopathic primary care physician
  • Natural medicine research scientist
  • Corporate wellness consultant
  • Public health administrator

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps naturopathic physicians with health diagnosing and treatment practitioners, all other, and this group is projected to see 20% growth in employment from 2012-2022. The average annual wages of these workers were $85,740 in May 2012.

Residency and Licensing Requirements

After completing a degree program, aspiring naturopathic doctors may complete a residency program. As the residency progresses, students take on a more active role in providing patient care, under the supervision of a professional doctor of natural health.

Naturopathic doctors do not have licensing requirements in all states. For states requiring licenses, the Nauturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) is designed to fulfill that requirement. Some states may also require continuing education in order to maintain licensing.

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Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants to master's programs must have already earned a bachelor's degree. Applicants to doctoral programs must have already earned a master's degree.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Informatics and Illustration
      • Medical Residency Programs
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Dental
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Mental Health Services
      • Nursing Professions
      • Public Health and Safety
      • Veterinary Medicine and Clinical Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Ethics and Bioethics
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Public Health and Safety
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Professions
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical and Health Preparatory Sciences
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Medical and Health Professions
      • Medical Administrative Services
      • Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Professions
      • Medical Residency Programs
      • Nursing Professions
      • Optometric and Ophthalmic Services
      • Public Health and Safety

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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