ND students learn to treat patients using holistic remedies and mind-body care concepts and to coordinate naturopathic care with conventional Western medicine. Prior to graduation from one of these four-year programs, students must participate in clinical rotations and submit a thesis. Graduates of ND programs can become licensed, practicing NDs in states where naturopathy is recognized. In other states, they can choose another holistic health field, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, or naturopathic consulting.
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, and they may need to have completed certain prerequisite coursework in naturopathy. Some schools give admissions preference to applicants with professional experience in natural medicine or healthcare.
Normally, the curriculum in an ND program begins with general education and prerequisite courses for the first two years and focuses on clinical study during the last two. The clinical portion of the program is spent working with practitioners in healthcare environments; students participate in clinical rotations in which they perform patient care. Some ND programs have a thesis requirement. Coursework often includes:
- Plant medicine
- Oriental medicine
Popular Career Options
The main goal for graduates of an ND program is to work as naturopathic doctors, but in some states, this is not a licensed, legal profession. Students who plan on practicing in states where naturopathic doctors are recognized may work in a variety of settings, such as private offices, hospitals, and medical clinics. Students planning to work in states where naturopathic doctors aren't recognized may choose alternative job titles that can include:
- Natural medicine researcher
- Naturopathic consultant
- Natural medicine author
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups naturopathic physicians as 'health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other.' These workers earned a median annual wage of $74,710 in May 2015. Jobs in this field were projected to increase by 12% from 2014-2024.
Continuing Education Information
According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, as of January 2012, 16 states license naturopathic doctors in the U.S. (www.naturopathic.org). In the 16 states, licensing requirements include graduation from a 4-year naturopathic medical school program and passing a board examination.
Although it is not possible to earn a PhD in naturopathy, a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) program provides sufficient training in alternative medicine for students who want to practice in the field or pursue a related career.