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Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

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Description of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct profession of primary health care whose practitioners, while they conventionally diagnose and treat disease, are focused on treating the whole person and promoting optimal health. The philosophical approach of Naturopathic Medicine includes these key principles:
  • Utilization of therapies that first do no harm.
  • Prevention of disease through healthy lifestyle and control of risk factors.
  • Recognition and encouragement of the body's inherent healing abilities.
  • Treatment of the whole person - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
  • Identification and treatment of the causes of disease rather than elimination of symptoms.
  • Patient education and cultivation of an attitude of personal responsibility for one's health.

Naturopathic practice blends centuries-old knowledge of natural, nontoxic therapies with current advances in the understanding of health and human systems. The scope of practice includes all aspects of family care, from natural childbirth to geriatrics.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines the naturopathic physician as one who "diagnoses, treats, and cares for patients, using a system of practice that bases its treatment of all physiological functions and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing the body, utilizes physiological, psychological and mechanical methods, such as air, water, heat, earth, phytotherapy (treatment by use of plants), electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor or orificial surgery, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and all natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural processed foods, herbs, and natural remedies. Excludes major surgery, therapeutic use of x-ray and radium, and use of drugs, except those assimilable substances containing elements or compounds which are compounds of body tissues and are physiologically compatible to body processes for maintenance of life."

The term "naturopathy" was first used in the late nineteenth century to describe the growing coalition of physicians and healers who believed that treating the person and promoting health were more important than simply alleviating the symptoms of disease. While the profession is not much more than a hundred years old, the practice of Naturopathic Medicine has been alive as long as people have used food, plants, water, thought, air, and light to heal themselves. Hippocrates said, "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food," and "Do no harm." Naturopathic physicians very much subscribe to these principles.

Modern educational standards for naturopathic physicians involve a four, five or six year curriculum with over 4,000 hours of instruction. Basic medical science and clinical diagnostic skills are taught during the first two years. Students also undergo extensive, supervised clinical training in outpatient naturopathic clinics. Graduates of an approved program are eligible to take the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX). The results of this exam are used by all of the states which license individuals topractice Naturopathic Medicine. There are a few approved residency positions available for those who desire postgraduate training.

Most naturopathic doctors provide care through office-based, private practice. Many receive additional training in such fields as midwifery, acupuncture, and psychotherapy to broaden the services they can offer their clients. An increasing trend is the establishment of associate practices and interdisciplinary clinics, bringing together the services of a diverse group of practitioners. Education and research are burgeoning career opportunities for modern naturopathic physicians.

Naturopathic methods are well supported by scientific research drawn from peer reviewed journals from many disciplines, including Naturopathic Medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, Oriental medicine, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and others. Naturopathic medical schools and physicians are using information technology and clinical outcomes assessment techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols. Clinical research on natural therapies will become an important area of endeavor for naturopathic physicians during the next decade.

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Legal Status of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic physicians are licensed as primary health care providers in Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. In the District of Columbia, naturopathic physicians must register in order to practice. Legal provisions allow the practice of Naturopathic Medicine in several other states. Naturopathic physicians are also recognized in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

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Pre-Clinical Curriculum: 2 years

Biomedical Sciences & Clinical Sciences: 120.5 credits
Courses include Human Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Histology, Living Anatomy, Embryology, Neuroscience, Human Pathology, Microbiology, Immunology, Infectious Diseases, Clinic Entry, Genetic Counseling, Research Methods & Design, Physical/Clinical Diagnosis, Clinical Lab Diagnosis, Signs & Symptoms, Pharmacology, Clinical Applications.

Introduction to Naturopathic Therapeutic Modalities: 43 credits
Courses include Fundamental Principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathic Philosophy, Hydrotherapy, Physiotherapy, Massage, Botanical Medicine, Physician Heal Thyself, Fundamentals of Ayurvedic Medicine, Naturopathic Counseling, Basic Foods/Diet Assessment, Homeopathy, Therapeutic Diets, Pharmacognosy, Naturopathic Manipulation.

Clinical Naturopathic Medicine Curriculum: 2 years

Advanced Clinical Courses: 97.5 credits
Courses include Addictions & Disorders, Botanical Medicine, Normal Pregnancy & Birth, Gynecology, Public Health, Environmental Health, Medical Procedures, Naturopathic Manipulation, Naturopathic Philosophy, Psychological Assessment, Pediatrics, Cardiology, Naturopathic Case Analysis & Management, Therapeutic Nutrition, Naturopathic Counseling, Family Medicine, Minor Surgery, Practice Management, Botanical Medicine Dispensary Lab, Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Dermatology, Gastroenterology, Sports Medicine/Therapeutic Exercise, Advanced Naturopathic Therapeutics, EENT, Endocrinology, Rheumatology, Radiographic Interpretation, Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Ecology, Jurisprudence, Pulmonary System, Neurology, Urology, Oncology.

Electives (spread throughout the program): 15 credits

Clinical Experience: 51 credits (1,122 hours)
Includes Preceptorships, Clinic Assistant Shifts, Patient Care Clinic Shifts, Physical Medicine Clinic Shifts.

Total Program Requirements: 327 credits

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Naturopathic Medicine Prerequisites

In selecting applicants for admission, the Bastyr University Naturopathic Medicine Program emphasizes those qualities of motivation, intellect, and character essential to becoming a physician. Applicants are considered on the basis of academic performance, maturity and demonstrated humanitarian qualities. Awareness of health care delivery systems and of natural medicine in particular is desirable. The following course work is the minimum required to prepare for the study of Naturopathic Medicine.

(Note: One academic year is equivalent to two semesters or three quarters. Applicants may apply before completing all of these courses, but course work must be completed prior to matriculation.)

  1. Overall preparation: Completion of a minimum of three years of course work (135 quarter/90 semester credits) at an accredited college or university is required for matriculation. While an undergraduate degree is not required, over 90% of entering students in recent years have previously earned bachelor's degrees. If a baccalaureate has not been earned, at least 45 quarter/30 semester credits must be upper division (i.e. junior or senior level at a four-year institution). No specific major is advised. In addition to strong preparation in the sciences, a broad background in the humanities and liberal arts is encouraged.

  2. Quantitative skills: Two college level courses, algebra or pre-calculus and preparation in basic statistics and probability, including descriptive and inferential statistics, are required. Applicants are encouraged to acquire a basic understanding of personal computing and information technologies.

  3. Chemistry: Four courses (with lab) must include general chemistry (with lab) and organic chemistry (with lab). An introductory course in biochemistry is advisable.

  4. Biology: One academic year of general biology must include work in cellular biology, genetics, taxonomy and botany. Appropriate laboratory work must be included. Individual courses in the biological sciences may count if the above mentioned competencies have been met. Courses in anatomy and physiology are recommended.

  5. Physics: One college-level survey course in physics is required. If the course taken is part of a sequence, the entire sequence must be taken. Lab is not required.

  6. Psychology: Two courses are required, including an introductory psychology course and (effective for students entering Fall 1999) one course covering human development through the life span. Prior to Fall 1999 the developmental psychology course is recommended.

  7. English and Humanities: Two courses in the Humanities and two courses in English are required. Courses in biomedical ethics, philosophy of science, public speaking and English composition are recommended.

Required science courses must have been taken within seven years of matriculation in the university. No credit is given for completion of prerequisites unless the grade earned in the course is a C (2.0) or above. Overall GPA must be 2.5 or better.

Scores on standardized tests are not required. However, students who are requesting a waiver of the seven year requirement should take the GRE Test, including the Chemistry and Biology subject tests. Advanced placement and CLEP credits may be considered to meet any of the requirements, except for biology and organic chemistry.

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Transfer Students

Bastyr University accepts transfer students from accredited naturopathic, medical, osteopathic, and chiropractic schools on a space-available basis. Transfer students are considered for admission in accordance with the following general guidelines:
  • Applicants must meet the same entrance requirements as candidates for the first-year class.
  • Applicants who wish to transfer credits from prior course work must demonstrate satisfactory completion of courses that are equivalent in content and quality to courses given at the university.
  • Applicants must provide an official transcript from the college or program from which the transfer is being requested, demonstrating that they are leaving in good academic standing.

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Advanced Standing Status Based on Prior Medical Education

Students entering the Naturopathic Medicine program who have graduated from an accredited professional school or program (including MD, DC, DO and others) and who are legally qualified to practice that discipline may apply for advanced standing status. Advanced standing status is determined on an individual basis, depending on the type of school, program and degree. Equivalency of course content is a primary factor for transfer of credit. Students enrolled in the Naturopathic Medicine program must complete 327 credits. Those students accepted with advanced standing status must fulfill the same number of credit requirements, some of which may be transfer credits.

There is a $75 charge for the evaluation of advanced standing status in addition to the $60 application fee. This includes a thorough transcript evaluation. Further documentation demonstrating equivalency of course work may also be required. Participation in an intensive is required for students entering with advanced standing status. For more information on advanced standing status admission policies and procedures, contact the Admissions Office.

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