What's It Like To Be A Naturopath Student?

by Julie Tran

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

Highlights

  • Be prepared to spend the vast majority of your waking hours studying.
  • The first 2 years of classes focus on basic sciences; the last 2 emphasize clinical training.
  • The relationships you build with classmates will extend your alumni network and open up more opportunities to you.
What do class schedules look like? Can you choose electives? Here’s the inside scoop on the life of a naturopath student.

Class Hours

Prepare for intense studying! At the University of Bridgeport (UB), classes started at 8 am and went until 6 or 7 pm. We had only an hour for lunch.

Even after 9 or 10 hours of class, you still have to go home and study for the next day of class. Sometimes, there are classes on the weekends as well.

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Highlights

  • Be prepared to spend the vast majority of your waking hours studying.
  • The first 2 years of classes focus on basic sciences; the last 2 emphasize clinical training.
  • The relationships you build with classmates will extend your alumni network and open up more opportunities to you.
What do class schedules look like? Can you choose electives? Here’s the inside scoop on the life of a naturopath student.

Class Hours

Prepare for intense studying! At the University of Bridgeport (UB), classes started at 8 am and went until 6 or 7 pm. We had only an hour for lunch.

Even after 9 or 10 hours of class, you still have to go home and study for the next day of class. Sometimes, there are classes on the weekends as well.

You’re taking classes and studying with your ND class almost 24-7. Get comfortable - this will be your family for the next 4 years. You’ll see your classmates more than your own family.

Core Classes

The Naturopathic Doctor Program is very similar to an MD program. NDs, however, are responsible for allopathic medicine as well as naturopathic medicine.

The first 2 years are focused on basic sciences. The last 2 years include more clinical training and less class time.The program also covers subjects that people don’t expect NDs to know. For example, we take radiology to learn to read X-Rays. We don’t have to be experts, but we need to be able to look at X-rays and MRIs and be able to read those if a patient brings them to us.

During the 1st year at UB, you take Anatomy, Histology, Embryology, Biochemistry, Physiology, History of Naturopathic Medicine, Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine, Mind-Body Medicine, Statistics, Botanical Pharmacy Lab, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Hydrotherapy, Counseling Skills, and Phytopharmacognosy.

The 2nd year classes are: Pathology, Clinical Diagnosis, Physical Examination Lab, Public Health, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Botanical Medicine, Nutrition, Oriental Medicine, Physiological Therapeutics, Homeopathy, Orthopedics, and Psychological Assessment.

3rd year classes include: Clinic Education, Diagnostics, Gynecology, Gastroenterology, Counseling, and your thesis.

4th year classes include: Pharmacology, Diagnostic Imaging, Clinical Forums, Pediatrics, Cardiology, and Emergency Procedures.

The course load and core classes are similar to those at SCNM, NCNM, and Bastyr.

Class Size

My UB class had about 30 students. We lost 2 or 3 people, but most of the students stuck through the 4 intense years.

Class size varies among the schools, however. Bastyr University starts with a class of 110. There are currently 401 students in the Naturopathic Medicine Track.

More info here: www.bastyr.edu/about/default.asp?view=demographics-statistics

Electives

At UB, the schedule didn’t allow too many electives. Because there were so many classes we all were required to take, there was no room for optional classes. Even minor surgery was required (even though NDs are only licensed to do minor surgery in certain states).

There were certain skills like IV Therapy that we could choose to take.

Clinical Training

In the last 2 years, you start working in the clinic, where you see patients under the supervision of doctors.

At UB, we had satellite clinics that provided free health care to patients. I learned the most while working at these under-stocked clinics. Nutraceutical companies donated supplements and herbs, and we had to improvise when prescribing them to patients.

We learned to think outside the box and make do with the materials we had. I built my naturopath toolbox by thinking unconventionally instead of relying on an antibiotic.

Alumni Network

Your class is your family. You also receive support from professors, administrators, and supervisors. The network at UB helped me develop my career. If you take online courses, you don’t build these close connections.

When I finished my joint degree in Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture in 2007, one of my friends was doing an externship with Dr. D’Adamo, the famous naturopath and author of Eat Right 4 Your Type. After her externship, she was offered a position. Later, when D’Adamo was looking to hire, she called me to ask if I was interested in a position there.

Keep in touch with your classmates! They will be your closest friends, mentors, and professional contacts through your career.
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