What does it take to be a Naturopathic Physician?
There are two main ways to become a Naturopathic Physician. First is by becoming a Medical Doctor and then taking up the naturopathy specialty. In Canada and the U.S. this begins with pre-med university studies, usually a four-year Bachelor degree. Next is a three- or four-year Medical Doctor degree, followed by post-graduate specialty training. Up to four years of hospital residency is also required. Getting accepted into most MD programs is a very competitive process, and students must meet certain criteria, including high grade averages.
The second way is to become an accredited Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, or ND. In many states in the U.S. and in most of Canada this is a specialized degree granted by an accredited medical school. Although there are some variances in admittance criteria, most programs require a bachelor degree with pre-med sciences, with competitive average marks in biochemistry, physiology, organic and general chemistry, biology, psychology, and the humanities. The ND programs are generally four years long, and many naturopathic doctors take additional post-graduate training in specific treatments, such as chelation therapy or acupuncture. In the U.K. a two-year post-graduate Naturopathic Diploma can be earned by a healthcare professional such as a medical doctor or nurse, and registration is required for accreditation. Many eastern countries, for example, India, also offer specific university training in naturopathic medicine.
However, in most jurisdictions, including much of the U.S., Australia, and in several Canadian provinces, the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine is not a protected term and can be used by almost anyone, regardless of educational level. Regulations regarding whether the term "doctor" can be used also vary.
In locations where the ND designation is regulated, Naturopathic Physicians must pass standardized licensing exams and register, and complete at least two years of clinical practice.
Among personal criteria and other skills that are required:
understanding of physical anatomy
ability to develop a healthy rapport with patients and earn their trust
good communication and listening skills
emotional stability and maturity
good observation skills
open mind and acceptance of alternative viewpoints and approaches
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