Sounds confusing, right? Well unfortunately due to the lack of regulation for Naturopathic Doctors (ND) in NY State; ANYONE can call themselves a Naturopathic Doctor (scary, right?)
So, let’s first talk about a licensed Naturopathic Doctor’s Education (that’s me :-))
After receiving my bachelor’s degree in science (pre-med), I then attended a four-year, in-residence doctoral program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The CNME recognized by the US Dept of Education and is the only accrediting council in North America that qualify graduates for licensure.
The only Naturopathic Medical Schools in the US accredited by the CNME are as follows:
National University of Natural Medicine-Oregon
National University of Health Sciences-Illinois
Southwest College of Natural Medicine-Arizona
University of Bridgeport, College of Natural Medicine-Connecticut
While at Natural University of Natural Medicine in Portland OR, my education included all the same basic sciences as an MD, but also studies in clinical nutrition, pharmacology, homeopathy, botanical medicine, radiology, physical medicine, and lifestyle counseling.
After graduation to become licensed, I had to pass a two-part national board exam (National Physicians Licensing Exam) which consisted of biomedical sciences and clinical medicine portions. My current license is in Oregon due to NY lack of regulations. I chose not to do a post-doctoral residence because there weren’t many to chose from back in 2005. Today, there are many more opportunities and many licensed ND students do go to complete post-doctoral residencies all across North America.
The Education of a non-Licensed Naturopathic Doctor
Certificates/Degrees are obtained online.
Education is NOT accredited by the US Dept. of Education.
Programs lengths are only a few months or up to a year.
They are not taught the same medical sciences as MD’s.
Their faculty are not required to have medical degrees.
In addition, non-licensed Naturopathic Doctors are not required (or even allowed) to take national board exams to obtain licensure. For that reason these ND’s choose to practice in unregulated states like NY where they can call themselves doctors (crazy I know!) and can place letters ND behind their name without even having a true accredited education.
Practicing in NY State with an education like mine can be a struggle due to its limitations. Especially when other colleagues in the medical field are considering us as quacks! This is likely due to the non regulation of this medicine in NY State. Be aware of other practitioners in NY that call themselves Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine, make sure you see their credentials before committing to their service.
It’s only a matter of time that NY will become regulated. More and more people are seeking out alternative medicine for complementary support to their health care concerns. It’s very important to have licensed professionals in the field of natural medicine become part of the American medical model. Without regulation, there is a great risk that patients will do harm by taking supplements that interact with their medication or aggravate their current medical condition. Remember, just because it’s a “natural” substance doesn’t mean that it can’t do harm. Don’t be fooled.