What is a naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathic doctors are primary care practitioners in North America. They are trained in the basic and medical sciences and able to diagnosis and treat patients using natural therapeutics.
According to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors, it is mixture of the art and science of treating and preventing diseases using natural therapies, including clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and botanical medicine.
Education and training
Currently, four Canadian provinces have formal licensing and educational requirements: British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Regulation is pending in Alberta and Nova Scotia and expected to be finalized in 2009. The remaining provinces are also pursing regulation.
In these provinces, naturopathic doctors must pass boards as set by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners and after having fulfilled their academic and clinical training at a school approved by the council on Naturopathic Medical Education.
The remaining accredited schools are in the United States, including The National College of Natural Medicine (Portland, OR); Bastyr University (Seattle, WA); the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine (Bridgeport, CT); and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (Tempe, AZ).
The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster, BC has been given candidacy for accreditation by the CNME.
According to the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine website, applicants will be considered for the Naturopathic Medicine (ND) program if they have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
Students applying to the ND program will require six credits of general biology, three credits of biochemistry, six credits of general chemistry with a laboratory component, three credits of organic chemistry with a laboratory component, and six credits of introductory psychology and humanities electives (i.e., anthropology, women’s studies, literature, sociology, etc.) respectively.
The average cumulative GPA of accepted students has been 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.
Where do naturopathic doctors work?
Many NDs set up private practices of their own or join clinics with other health care practitioners. Alternatively, some NDs work in research, are employed by public or private organizations, or work in areas of policy or for the government.
As with other health professions, practitioners of naturopathy establish rapport with their patients and their success depends on individual ability and experience.
Salaries and demographic information
The median salary of naturopathic doctors tends to fall in the range of family physicians, and those having a busy practice can make between $80,000 and $90,000 per year. In Alberta, incomes for naturopathic doctors may vary considerably but, in general, are comparable to those of other family doctors.
For more information regarding naturopathic medicine, please visit The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors website.