Naturopathic physicians have attended accredited, four-year, in-residence, naturopathic medical schools. While in school they studied anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, and medical standards of care in addition to botanicals, nutraceuticals and how they integrate. Licensed naturopathic physicians, are regulated at the state level to practice naturopathic medicine. Their medical education incorporates the latest advances in science and natural approaches to disease prevention and management. Students complete a minimum of 4,100 hours of class and clinical training, including over 1,200 hands-on, supervised, clinical hours. Some providers like myself also do a residency. Residency is an additional 1 to 2 years after graduation.
Yes, Naturopathic doctors can order diagnostic tests such as blood tests, X-rays, MRIs, and, in states like Washington (where I practice), prescribe prescription drugs and hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone) and perform minor surgery. Like with conventional medical doctors (MDs), many naturopathic doctors choose to focus their practices in specialty areas. I choose to focus on chronic illness, especially in neurological illness and Toxic Mold related illnesses.
Yes, I am licensed in the state of Washington!
Licensed naturopathic doctor must pass rigorous professional board exams to be licensed or regulated in a state that regulates the practice of naturopathic medicine. State mandated regulatory bodies oversee standards of practice, investigate patient and consumer complaints, and oversee discipline in licensed states. Licensed naturopathic doctors have malpractice insurance and are lifelong learners with required yearly continuing education. These requirements like with licensed medical physicians are to ensure patients’ rights to safe and competent naturopathic care.
The Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) is a two-part examination. The exam required to qualify for naturopathic doctor licensure is overseen by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). Only students and graduates from accredited or candidate naturopathic programs are eligible to sit for the NPLEX. These exam requirements are to ensure a basic level of competence and naturopathic physicians are pushing for licensure in all 50 states and US territories which would ensure better patient access to naturopathic medicine and insurance coverage.
No, some states have laws regulating the terms naturopathic doctors can use and the use of the term “naturopath” or “naturopathic physician” by anyone other than a licensed naturopathic doctor is prohibited. Not all states regulate naturopathic doctors and not all states that license naturopathic physician protect the term “naturopath”.
Unlicensed naturopaths have varying levels of education and experience, include entirely online or via correspondence. These forms of education are not accredited by any agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and does not qualify students to take the NPLEX examination or apply for licensure in any regulated jurisdiction in North America.
Yes, naturopathic physician (naturopathic doctors) have spent 4 years attending in-residence, naturopathic medical school, then passed two-part licensure exam (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations) and then licensed by their state’s licensing board. Many naturopathic physicians chose to practice functional or foundational medical due to their extensive understanding of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and how they interact to restore a patient’s health.
Functional Medicine is a popular term in medicine currently. It is not regulated in the same way that Naturopathic Physician is. May providers will attend a series of weekend seminars and pass an exam offered by non-state regulated, self-governing organizations. This does not mean the information they provide is not valuable only that it can be obtained by MD, ND, nutritionist, and other non-licensed provider in a short period of time by a governing board not associated by any governmental body.