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Doctor of Natural Health: Degree Overview

Doctoral degree programs in naturopathic medicine are typically based on the holistic philosophy that every part of a system is tied to the rest and that any action on any part of that system affects the whole. Prospective naturopathic doctors spend four years in a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program studying a combination of traditional Western medical science and naturopathic medicine.

Essential Information

Students might undertake supervised clinical practice at on- or off-campus sites where they can practice what they've learned about nutrition, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture, botanical medicine, and counseling patients. After completing a doctoral program, aspiring practitioners of natural medicine complete a residency program, working with patients in increasing levels of responsibility. Licensing requirements in this field vary by state.

  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree, preferably in science or pre-medical fields
  • Program Length: Four years
  • Other Requirements: Supervised clinical practice; Residency program

Doctorate in Natural Health

Programs prepare students to integrate natural healing techniques with established medical science. The curriculum balances naturopathic classes with a traditional science core of biology, physiology and anatomy, as well as pharmacology, obstetrics and gynecology, dermatology, pathology and diagnosis, oncology, and minor surgery techniques. Students also learn about the philosophy and principles behind various natural modes of illness and disease prevention and natural healing. Naturopathic courses may cover:

  • Acupuncture
  • Clinical naturopathic diagnosis
  • Herbalism
  • Homeopathic diagnosis and treatment
  • Issues of consulting practice
  • Natural approaches to childbirth

Popular Career Options

Many naturopathic doctors choose to teach how a healthy lifestyle can create more energy and positive feelings. As holistic health practitioners working in varied environments, naturopathic doctors use nutrition, herbs, and mind/body therapies to serve patients directly or indirectly in careers like:

  • Naturopathic primary care physician
  • Natural medicine research scientist
  • Corporate wellness consultant
  • Public health administrator

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps naturopathic physicians with health diagnosing and treatment practitioners, all other, and this group is projected to see 20% growth in employment from 2012-2022. The average annual wages of these workers were $85,050 in May 2014.

Residency and Licensing Requirements

After completing a degree program, aspiring naturopathic doctors may complete a residency program. As the residency progresses, students take on a more active role in providing patient care, under the supervision of a professional doctor of natural health.

Naturopathic doctors do not have licensing requirements in all states. For states requiring licenses, the Nauturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) is designed to fulfill that requirement. Some states may also require continuing education in order to maintain licensing.

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