Finding A Naturopathic Physician Program

by Julie Tran

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

Highlights

  • Home-study programs are convenient but don't provide the same quality as on-campus education.
  • Bastyr, National College Of Natural Medicine, Southwest College Of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, and University Of Bridgeport are the 4 currently accredited US naturopathic medicine schools.
  • Most naturopathic medicine students rely on some form of financial aid to pay for their tuition.

Home-Study Programs

If you’re trying to juggle a job and schooling, home-study programs might be right for you. You can take courses online, and the schedule is more flexible than the external degree schools. You can get an ND through home study programs, but the CNME and the AANP will not license home-study naturopathic doctors.

More info here: www.cnme.org/faq.html

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Highlights

  • Home-study programs are convenient but don't provide the same quality as on-campus education.
  • Bastyr, National College Of Natural Medicine, Southwest College Of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, and University Of Bridgeport are the 4 currently accredited US naturopathic medicine schools.
  • Most naturopathic medicine students rely on some form of financial aid to pay for their tuition.

Home-Study Programs

If you’re trying to juggle a job and schooling, home-study programs might be right for you. You can take courses online, and the schedule is more flexible than the external degree schools. You can get an ND through home study programs, but the CNME and the AANP will not license home-study naturopathic doctors.

More info here: www.cnme.org/faq.html

Home study programs also require less credits. Although this makes it easier to get a naturopathic education, you really have to think about how the shorter hours and lack of instructor interaction will affect your patients.

I discourage people from home-study programs because there’s no one to check your work or warn you if you’re doing something wrong. Remember that one of the principles of naturopathic medicine is “Do no harm.” If you’re not absolutely certain about what you’re doing, you could end up doing more harm than good for your patients.

Accredited Programs

There are only 4 US schools and 2 Canadian schools accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). These offer 4-year programs for a Naturopathic Doctorate (ND) degree.

More info here: www.cnme.org/programs.html

US Schools (See Appendix A For Contact Information)
  1. Bastyr University Naturopathic Medicine Program, Kenmore, WA
  2. National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR
  3. Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, Tempe, AZ
  4. University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine, Bridgeport, CT
The University of Bridgeport is the only school listed that is a full university, and it offers not only the Naturopathic Doctorate program, but also the Master of Science in Acupuncture from the Acupuncture Institute, Master of Science in Human Nutrition from the Nutrition Institute, and they just recently added a Physicians Assistant (PA) program in integrative medicine from the Physicians Assistant Institute. The others focus solely on naturopathic medicine, but they offer more specialties like Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and Dietetics.

Bastyr offers a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program, Bachelor of Science Didactic Program in Dietetics, Master of Science Didactic Program in Dietetics, Master of Science in Acupuncture (MSA), Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM), and Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM). The acupuncture programs, however, are not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and are accredited only by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences offers an Naturopathic Medical degree program (ND). SCNM and Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture also have joined to offer a dual degree program for ND and M.A. in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine.

National College of Natural Medicine offers an ND program, M.S. in Oriental Medicine, and a new 3-year Master of Acupuncture.

4 Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing A School

1. How far from home are you willing to go?

Location is one of the key things you need to keep in mind. When I chose the University of Bridgeport, I knew that it was my time to get away from familiar places and experience the East Coast. I chose UB because I wanted to see a different part of the country while I was still young and didn’t yet have a family.

2. Can you see yourself living in that state?

After 4 years of graduate school, many students stay to practice in the same area. In the naturopathic medicine program, you have clinical experience with patients. You’ve built rapport with those patients, and they may want to continue seeing you when you start your own practice.

Because you build up a network of patients, alumni connections, and professional contacts, starting over in a different state is really difficult. Think of the ND program as an MD program. Doctors who go into residency always must plan on living in the area for a while.

Do you like the location enough to live there?

3. Does the state license naturopathic doctors?

This is a follow-up question to the previous one. If you’re counting on living in the state for a while after graduation, you have to think about how your practice will be affected by the licensing laws.

Are you willing to practice in a state that won’t license you? Would you prefer a state where naturopathic medicine is widely practiced, or would you prefer to be a trailblazer?

4. What are the schools’ specialties?

Although core programs are pretty similar, each school will have their own specialties. I chose UB because they had a chiropractic school that was closely linked with the naturopathic medicine program. The two schools had overlapping classes, and we learned many of the same things as the chiropractors.

Bastyr is more research-oriented. They also have a school devoted to Chinese Medicine, which offers a separate Master’s track.

Research schools and talk with admissions officers and students. Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to be a student there.

Tuition And Financial Aid

Tuition, fees, and supplies generally total around $30,000 to $40,000 per year at residential naturopathic schools. Accredited naturopathic colleges qualify for the state and federal financial aid. Options include Stafford loans, work-study, and other programs.

Most students at naturopathic medical colleges receive some type of financial aid.

More info here: www.scnm.edu/scholarships-a-financial-aid.html
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