Homeopathic Practitioner Career Info
|Degree Levels||Bachelor's degree; graduate degree|
|Degree Fields||Naturopathy; traditional medicine; science related studies|
|Training||Three years pre-medical training prior to or concurrent with graduate program|
|Licensure and Certification||Varies by state; CHC, NASH, HANP or CCHC certifications valuable|
|Key Skills||Empathetic and personable; excellent documentation, record keeping, listening, critical thinking, problem-solving, and reading skills|
|Salary||$73,412 (2016 median salary for naturopathic doctors and physicians)|
Sources: The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians; The Council for Homeopathic Certification; Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; PayScale.com
Working within a system of natural or holistic medicine, homeopaths or naturopathic doctors (NDs) acknowledge the body's natural healing abilities, respect the patient's role within the healing process and take extensive emotional, physical and psychological histories. NDs treat a variety of issues using homeopathic medicines and are also concerned with preventative medicine and wellness. Naturopaths may treat allergies, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, fibromyalgia, insomnia, menstrual issues and weight control. The medicines they prescribe, which are manufactured by homeopathic pharmaceutical companies, are referred to as remedies and contain a mild form of bacteria that triggers an immune response.
In addition to working as primary care physicians, NDs may also work as consultants, natural pharmacists, research scientists and wellness educators. Some may choose to work within a multi-disciplinary practice that includes other health care providers, such as acupuncturists and licensed massage therapists. Depending on the work setting, these professionals might work long hours, including evenings and weekends.
Homeopathic practitioners can have different educational, licensure and certification options. However, they should all have some key skills, including problem-solving skills, the ability to be empathetic and personable, strong listening skills, strong critical-thinking skills and the ability to document and keep accurate records. According to Payscale.com in 2016, naturopathic doctors and physicians earned a median annual salary of $73,412.
Choose a Training Path
Although homeopathic practitioners may have undergraduate degrees in science, their medical degrees tend to be in natural medicine rather than traditional western medicine. Some practitioners may be traditionally licensed medical doctors with varying levels of homeopathic training. Others may choose to complete a doctorate in naturopathic medicine.
While students interested in becoming homeopathic practitioners aren't required to have a four-year degree in science, the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) states applicants to their member schools do need a strong science background. Prerequisite coursework includes biology, biochemistry, general and organic chemistry, math and psychology. In addition to required coursework, the AANMC suggests applicants take anatomy, biochemistry, botany, developmental psychology and physiology.
According to the AANMC, there are currently seven accredited schools in the United States and Canada that offer doctorates in naturopathic medicine. They are located in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Oregon and Washington, as well as British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. These programs tend to consist of four years of study as well as practicum and other opportunities to gain clinical practice.
The AANMC indicates that training is intended to prepare NDs to become primary care providers. This includes coursework in the following areas: botanical remedies, emergency and physical medicine, laboratory diagnosis and diagnostic imaging, physical and clinical diagnosis, homeopathy, minor surgery, nutrition, pharmacology and psychology. In some programs, it may also include acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
The AANMC also recommends applicants focus on developing communication and observational skills. Other demonstrable skills include behavioral and social maturity, intellectual and conceptual thinking and integrative and quantitative abilities.
Complete a Residency
While a residency may not be required, according to the AANMC, it is an effective means to obtain direct clinical experience. These 1- to 2-year opportunities are typically offered during a program's third or fourth year. However, some students may wait until they have graduated.
According to the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC), in order to take the certification exam, applicants need to fulfill five prerequisites. These include having United States or Canadian residency, a background in classical homeopathy, a minimum of 500 hours of homeopathic training, a minimum of 73 hours of medical coursework and a minimum of 250 hours of clinical observation and analysis. As part of their clinical education, applicants also need to complete ten or more supervised cases.
Working under a CHC-certified or accepted homeopath assists with professional growth. Sometimes, additional supervised casework can be substituted for observational and analysis requirements. As with the ten-case requirement, these cases need to consist of an intake plus two additional appointments. If a classical homeopath has five or more years of professional experience, the CHC states he or she won't need to take the written portion of the exam. Additional requirements include 500 hours of education, 500 new chronic cases with 1,000 follow-up appointments, an essay that discusses their practice and philosophy and two professional references. If the practitioner has a North American medical license, then he or she won't be required to complete the additional 500 hours of education.
Obtain a License
The CHC states they are not a licensing board, and that individual states and provinces grant licenses to practice. The AANMC indicates that in states or jurisdictions where licensing is required, a homeopathic primary care or general practice physician needs to graduate from a federally accredited naturopathic medical school that includes coursework in both medical science and naturopathic theory. They also need to pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX).
Students need not wait until graduation to get a head start and may take the first part of the exam upon completing their second year of study. However, to take part two, students must be graduates of a school approved by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and must have already passed the exam's first part.
The North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners recommends obtaining the current NPLEX blueprint and study guide to prepare for the three-part exam. This guide also includes information on the elective portion of the exam in minor surgery and acupuncture, which some jurisdictions may require.
Complete Continuing Education Requirements
The CHC states their certified practitioners must complete at least 20 continuing education units on an annual basis. These may include a maximum of five units of non-homeopathic medicine. The CHC lists a variety of options for continuing education units. Many offer the added benefit of professional exposure, such as attending or presenting at conferences, teaching and mentoring students, publishing articles and books, taking post-graduate homeopathic or medical training and engaging in further research.
Homeopathic practitioners, or naturopathic doctors, generally need a medical or science background before they can enter graduate-level training in homeopathy, complete a residency, earn certification and get licensure.