4 W’s On Naturopathic Doctors

by Julie Tran

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Naturopathy.

Highlights

  • Naturopathic medicine is a rapidly expanding field.
  • Narutopathic doctors treat people for the whole spectrum of diseases.
  • You don't need a degree to practice naturopathy. It's a lifestyle choice anyone can make.
Who, What, Where, Why? Naturopathic practices have been around since 15,000 BC, but many people in the modern American society still view naturopathy as “alternative medicine.” Because naturopathy is just emerging on the mainstream radar, only certain states offer state licenses to Naturopathic Doctors.

Don’t be discouraged! This is your chance to take a front seat in a quickly growing field. Here’s an FAQ list for those considering a career in naturopathic medicine.

1. Where Can Naturopathic Doctors Practice?

Naturopathic doctors can practice anywhere, but they are only eligible to be licensed in 16 states (plus Washington, D.C.), 4 Canadian provinces, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Highlights

  • Naturopathic medicine is a rapidly expanding field.
  • Narutopathic doctors treat people for the whole spectrum of diseases.
  • You don't need a degree to practice naturopathy. It's a lifestyle choice anyone can make.
Who, What, Where, Why? Naturopathic practices have been around since 15,000 BC, but many people in the modern American society still view naturopathy as “alternative medicine.” Because naturopathy is just emerging on the mainstream radar, only certain states offer state licenses to Naturopathic Doctors.

Don’t be discouraged! This is your chance to take a front seat in a quickly growing field. Here’s an FAQ list for those considering a career in naturopathic medicine.

1. Where Can Naturopathic Doctors Practice?

Naturopathic doctors can practice anywhere, but they are only eligible to be licensed in 16 states (plus Washington, D.C.), 4 Canadian provinces, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

These include: Alaska, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Manitoba, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ontario, Oregon, Saskatchewan, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C.

According the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the licensing laws are different in each state. Each will license different practices.

For example, in Connecticut, naturopathic doctors are not allowed to perform any minor surgery or prescribe any drugs. They can prescribe supplements, vitamins, and herbs.

In Arizona, however, the scope of practice is much wider. Technically, if naturopathic doctors passed the licensing exam for minor surgery, they’re allowed to perform it.

In California, naturopathic doctors are allowed to prescribe Vitamin B12 shots. We’re always lobbying for new licensing laws.

2. What Do Naturopathic Doctors Treat?

Naturopathic doctors see the whole spectrum of patients. We treat patients with cancer, diabetes, common colds, pain.

Unfortunately, naturopathic medicine is usually at the bottom of the totem pole. Many people view naturopathy as a last resort. They’ve already gone to their primary care physician, they’ve seen every specialist, and they’ve tried every drug for that condition.

When patients come in, I start giving them small lifestyle changes. There’s a moment of realization when a patient says, “Oh, I should’ve done this before.”

3. Why Did You Choose Naturopathy?

When a patient comes in, I take it as a chance to really help this person in a way they haven’t yet tried. I don’t ever feel like I’m a last resort. You need to have this kind of can-do attitude as an N.D.

If a patient sees good results, they’ll continue under my care until I can help them get to the place they want to be. We work toward goals such as: “I want to able to play with my grandson for 2 hours without getting tired.” I love developing close relationships with my patients and seeing step-by-step improvements in their lives.

4. Who Can Practice Naturopathy?

You don’t have to be a naturopathic doctor to practice naturopathy. Naturopathy is an eclectic healthcare system based on 6 principles. As long as you follow those 6 principles when treating patients, you can call yourself a Naturopath.

Some elitists say that you can’t be a Naturopath unless you have a degree from an accredited school. I don’t believe that. How can you define “practicing naturopathy”? Even if you have an N.D., many states won’t license you.

You don’t need a license to practice naturopathy. I have colleagues who received the same degree and training as I did. Because they live in New York and Pennsylvania, however, they don’t have licenses. They can still practice naturopathy—they just aren’t recognized by the state.
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