Ph.D. programs in natural medicine are not commonly available, but doctoral degree programs in naturopathy are available as Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.) or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.M.D.) programs. These programs are structured similar to M.D. programs, balancing formal coursework with extensive clinical training and experience and they involve a one-year residency. Students in these programs are trained to provide healthcare that focuses on whole-body healing through a variety of approaches. Most programs take four to six years to complete.
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably with an undergraduate major in a scientific field or pre-medical studies. Students are also required to have completed undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, math, and, in some cases, psychology.
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Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Degree
These programs involve both theoretical and practical training in natural medicine. The first two years consist of basic science courses and an introduction to naturopathic theory; the final two years include clinical coursework such as observerships. Specialized coursework in alternative healing includes classes in botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, and therapeutic manipulation. Basic science courses include the following:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Infectious diseases
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Naturopathic physician careers may vary dramatically, depending on a practitioner's location and area of interest. According to the AANMC, full-time N.D.s earned an average of $90,000 per year, as of 2015 (www.aanmc.org). The average for part-time workers was $47,000 in the United States.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for health diagnosing and treating practitioners was expected to increase 17% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations; however, the BLS did not specifically address naturopaths (www.bls.gov). Naturopathic physicians are generally limited in their area of practice to the states that license such professionals.
Continuing Education Information
In 2010, there were six naturopathic medicine programs in the United States that were accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education, and 14 states licensed naturopathic doctors. These states generally require an average of 30 continuing education hours each year for license maintenance. Online courses and practical training options are available for these purposes. Each state has its own approval process in order to determine eligibility for continuing education courses.
Even though Ph.D. programs in natural medicine are unavailable, you can still earn a doctoral degree in the field. Depending on your state, you may be able to work full- or part-time as a naturopathic doctor.