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Today's Naturopathic Medicine


 

Today, more people than ever are seeking naturopathic medical care, and naturopathic medical schools are growing at rapid rates to accommodate the increased demand for naturopathic education. All naturopathic medical college programs in the United States are four-year, full-time, post-graduate academic, residential programs.  Students attend classes in person on campus and perform laboratories in person. The United States Department of Education recognizes the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) as the only programmatic accrediting agency for the naturopathic medical colleges. The CNME requires four years of graduate level study in medical sciences and naturopathic therapeutics to obtain a degree as a naturopathic doctor.

 

Presently, there are three naturopathic medical programs in the United States fully accredited by the CNME:

 

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Scottsdale, Arizona  (Dr. Kimberly Nguyen is a graduate of SCNM)      www.scnm.edu

Bastyr University, Seattle, Washington   www.bastyr.edu

National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon  www.ncnm.edu

 

One college is currently considered a candidate for accreditation by the CNME:

University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, Connecticut

The CNME also accredits one program in Canada:

Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Toronto, Ontario


 

A nationally standardized Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX) has been established which is used in nearly all of the states that currently regulate NDs. Successful passage of this test is a basic requirement for licensing.  Currently, fourteen states license NDs: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. In addition, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and four Canadian provinces also license naturopathic doctors. In all of these jurisdictions, NDs practice as independent general practitioners with state oversight. Licensed NDs are required to complete annual continuing education, practice responsibly and meet all of the individual state requirements in order to maintain their license. A licensed ND has unique expertise in natural medicine while also possessing the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform physical exams and order laboratory testing. In many of the states that license naturopathic doctors, health care consumers may specifically choose NDs as their primary health care providers.

 

  The national organization representing naturopathic doctors, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org) is the driving force for the profession. The AANP is instrumental in the development of the profession's educational and practice standards, and in expanding awareness of the vital role naturopathic medicine has to play in the future of the health care system in the United States.

 

  During the 1990's four states passed new regulations defining the scope and practice of naturopathic medicine. Enrollment in naturopathic medical programs more than doubled, two new naturopathic medical programs were started, the first publicly funded natural health care clinic was initiated, a naturopathic institution was designated as a National Institute of Health (NIH) office of Alternative Medicine research center, and two naturopathic doctors were appointed by the Federal Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to the NIH's Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council (AMPAC).

 

  As we enter the twenty-first century, the naturopathic profession finds itself well positioned for a new era in health care. With more and more research supporting the therapies used by naturopathic doctors, and the public demand for greater choice and increased access to more natural approaches to their health care, naturopathic medicine is poised to make the transition from “alternative” medicine to truly “mainstream” medicine.

 

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