The Love Test: Are You Cut Out To Be A Naturopath?

by Julie Tran

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

Highlights

  • Naturopathic doctors must enjoy interacting with new people on a daily basis.
  • Creative thinking skills will enable you to figure out the best treatments in the full context of a person's background and situation.
  • Be ready to adapt to unfavorable government policies in your state.

1. Do You Like Working With People?

If you answered no, you can stop reading right now. If you answered yes, you’re on the right track.

My favorite part of naturopathic medicine? Patient interaction. I truly believe that humans are naturally social creatures. We need that interaction with other humans to thrive. I love seeing different people on a daily basis, talking with them, and learning their stories.

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Highlights

  • Naturopathic doctors must enjoy interacting with new people on a daily basis.
  • Creative thinking skills will enable you to figure out the best treatments in the full context of a person's background and situation.
  • Be ready to adapt to unfavorable government policies in your state.

1. Do You Like Working With People?

If you answered no, you can stop reading right now. If you answered yes, you’re on the right track.

My favorite part of naturopathic medicine? Patient interaction. I truly believe that humans are naturally social creatures. We need that interaction with other humans to thrive. I love seeing different people on a daily basis, talking with them, and learning their stories.

Naturopathic doctors have the wonderful opportunity of getting to know patients and helping them on the personal level. I wanted to go into naturopathic medicine because I saw it as a way to help people on a very intimate level. There’s nothing more personal to someone than health.

Guiding someone back to health is like watching the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. A new patient comes in dragging and tired. A few months later, I see a glowing face and a sunnier disposition. I love being able to say, “I’m glad you feel so much better.”

You have to be humble and remind yourself you didn’t cause that transformation. You just helped them. It was the patient’s innate power—healing within.

2. Do You Have A Pioneering Spirit?

There are only 16 states that recognize naturopathic doctors as actual physicians. If you don’t live in one of those states, you need to be ready to pave your own path as an unlicensed naturopathic doctor.

You may need to take the initiative and be the president of your state association. You need to be ready to lobby your state to get licensure.

In New York, Dr. Doni Wilson has been pushing for state licensure. I have colleagues in Texas who have been practicing even though Texas won’t license them. If you’re like these naturopath pioneers, you need to be ready to speak up.

Do you truly believe in naturopathic medicine? There will always be people questioning your credentials. Are you comfortable standing alone?

3. What Are Your Strengths?

The three most important qualities of a naturopathic doctor are a desire to help people, an open mind and compassion.You need to pass the love test. Being a naturopathic doctor doesn’t guarantee money or even your peers’ respect. You need to be doing this because you love helping people, and you want to see them heal naturally and maintain healthy lifestyles.

Naturopathic doctors need to be creative thinkers. There is no formula for treating a patient. You need to evaluate their health history, their relationships with friends and family, their stress levels, diet, and much more. Each person’s body requires a different treatment, and you need to be open to trying new modalities on a case-by-case basis.

The majority of a naturopathic doctor’s time is spent talking and listening to patients. It requires a great amount of emotional investment, and you need to be ready to give of yourself.

4. How Do You Deal With People And Policies That Work Against You?

Are you good at obstacle courses? You’ll have to jump through hoops, hop on one foot, and bend over backwards to stay in practice.

Because so many states don’t license NDs, a lot of insurance companies don’t cover naturopathic doctors. Are you OK with running a cash practice?

Keep in mind that many people won’t be able to afford your services. Will you prioritize patients by whether or not they can pay? Be prepared to take criticism from people who get upset about not having insurance coverage for your services. You have to accept that some people won’t want to see you and may say that they don’t believe in your type of medicine.

Self-Evaluation

Did you pass the test? If naturopathic medicine still sounds right for you, read on for tips on how to find out more about naturopathy.
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