Are you interested in becoming a naturopathic doctor? Do you want to know how long it takes to complete the necessary education and training? Well, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will reveal everything you need to know about becoming a naturopathic doctor.
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct form of healthcare that focuses on treating the whole person rather than just the disease. It employs natural therapies such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, and nutrition to prevent and address illness.
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) work to find the root cause of a patient’s condition and create individualized treatment plans to help them regain their health. NDs also seek to educate their patients about living a healthy lifestyle and making better choices for their well-being.
How long does it take to become a Naturopathic Doctor?
Before we dive into the specifics of how long it takes to become an ND, it’s important to understand the requirements and educational standards set forth by the profession.
In order to become a naturopathic doctor, you must graduate from an accredited naturopathic medical program. Currently, there are seven accredited programs in North America:
- Bastyr University
- Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine
- Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine
- National University of Health Sciences
- National University of Natural Medicine
- Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
- University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine
In addition to completing an accredited program, aspiring NDs must also pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) in order to become licensed and practice naturopathic medicine legally.
The first step towards becoming an ND is to complete an undergraduate degree in a related field. While there are no specific undergraduate degree requirements for naturopathic medical programs, some of the most commonly accepted majors include:
- Alternative medicine
Most naturopathic medical schools require applicants to have a minimum of three years of undergraduate coursework, although some schools may require a full four-year degree.
Naturopathic Medical Program
After completing an undergraduate degree, prospective NDs must enroll in and complete an accredited naturopathic medical program. These programs typically take four years to complete and consist of both classroom and clinical training.
During the first two years of the program, students learn foundational science subjects such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. In the third and fourth years, students gain practical experience through clinical rotations in various settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, and private practices.
The curriculum of naturopathic medical programs is comprehensive and covers a wide range of topics such as:
- Botanical medicine
- Physical medicine
- Mind-body therapies
- Diagnostic medicine
Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX)
After completing an accredited naturopathic medical program, graduates must pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) in order to become licensed and practice naturopathic medicine legally. The NPLEX consists of two parts:
- Part I: Biomedical Science Examination (BSE)
- Part II: Clinical Science Examination (CSE)
Part I of the NPLEX consists of multiple-choice questions that cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pathology. Part II of the NPLEX consists of multiple-choice and clinical case questions that test knowledge of diagnostic procedures, treatment modalities, and medical management.
How long does it take to become a licensed ND?
The amount of time it takes to become a licensed ND depends on various factors such as when you decide to pursue the profession, the length of your undergraduate degree, and your completion of the NPLEX exams.
On average, however, it takes about seven to eight years to become a licensed ND. This includes:
- Three to four years of undergraduate study
- Four years of naturopathic medical school
- Passing the NPLEX exams
Can you become a naturopathic doctor online?
Some students may be interested in completing a naturopathic medical program online. While there are online programs available for other healthcare professions such as nursing, it’s important to note that currently, there are no fully online naturopathic medical programs.
Naturopathic medical programs require hands-on clinical training and experience, which cannot be adequately provided through online coursework. Therefore, it’s important to choose an accredited and reputable on-campus program to receive the education and training necessary to become a licensed ND.
Now that you know what it takes to become a naturopathic doctor, it’s time to take the next step towards your career goals. The journey may be long, but the rewards of helping patients achieve optimal health and well-being are worth it.
Q: How long does it take to become a naturopathic doctor?
A: It takes about seven to eight years to become a licensed ND, including three to four years of undergraduate study, four years of naturopathic medical school, and passing the NPLEX exams.
Q: What are the most common undergraduate degree requirements for naturopathic medical programs?
A: While there are no specific undergraduate degree requirements for naturopathic medical programs, some of the most commonly accepted majors include biology, pre-medicine, chemistry, and alternative medicine.
Q: Are there online naturopathic medical programs?
A: No, currently there are no fully online naturopathic medical programs as they require hands-on clinical training and experience.
Naturopathic Education and Accreditation. (n.d.). Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. https://aanmc.org/naturopathic-medicine/naturopathic-education-and-accreditation/
Requirements for Licensure. (n.d.). American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. https://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=65
Accredited Programs in Naturopathic Medicine. (n.d.). Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. https://aanmc.org/schools-programs/schools-of-naturopathic-medicine/