Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine: Degree Overview
Naturopathic medicine is founded on the holistic philosophy that each part of a system, such as the human body, is connected to the whole. Those who earn a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree may work as holistic primary health care providers. Additionally, graduates might become health educators, natural products specialists or naturopathic advocates.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is an alternative way of treating patients that is less invasive than traditional Western medicine. Naturopathy is designed to treat the whole person by considering the functioning of all parts of the body, and this practice attempts to emulate the natural healing process. Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine programs instruct students in the same medical and science principles as those taught in regular medical school, but they also emphasize practices like herbal therapy, nutrition, exercise, acupuncture, massage and preventative health care methods. A naturopathic doctor (ND) is the highest trained practitioner in naturopathic medicine, able to perform care and suggest remedies to clients.
Naturopathic medicine is practiced in many countries around the world. Regulatory guidelines for naturopathic medicine are in effect in parts of the United States. While enrolled in a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program, students learn to use physiological, psychological and therapeutic methods to cure patients. Programs typically last four years.
Programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. While no specific majors are required, pre-medical or science degree-holders may have an advantage. At the least, completed coursework in biology, chemistry, physics and psychology is typically required, and a strong foundation in other science principles, like botany and biochemistry, is highly suggested.
Students learn about each system of the body, in addition to diseases and clinical procedures. Aspiring NDs must have a large skill set of alternative treatment techniques, and a doctoral program in naturopathic medicine program typically covers the following subjects:
- Biomedical pathology
- Botanical medicine
- Exercise rehabilitation
- Gross human anatomy
- Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy
- Fundamentals of traditional Chinese medicine
- Natural childbirth and midwifery
- Naturopathy history and theory
- Therapeutic nutrition
Popular Career Options
With a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree, graduates are eligible to enter various natural medicine careers. Possible positions include:
- Naturopathic primary care physician
- Research scientist for natural medicines
- Wellness educator
- Spokesperson for naturopathic medicines
- Consultant for natural treatments
Licensing and Continuing Education Information
Naturopathic medicine is not regulated in all states. In states that require licensing, the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) fulfills initial requirements, although continuing education may be required. Many naturopathic doctors belong to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org) professional organization.
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