Naturopathic physicians are required to have a degree from a 4-year naturopathic medical school program. Since there are currently no legitimate online programs available resulting in a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.), interested students must enroll in a traditional classroom program.
Naturopathic medicine training programs are designed to produce primary care physicians who focus on using natural methods, as well as those that are minimally toxic or invasive. These programs cover all elements of individual and family care, from prenatal to geriatric; prevention and self-care techniques are also included.
The first year of a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program includes introductory courses in the history and philosophy of naturopathic medicine as well as natural therapeutics. Other courses include the following:
- Anatomy and physiology
Clinical and lab diagnosis methods, pathology of diseases and research methods are covered during the second year. Also pursued in this year are studies in naturopathic modalities such as the following:
- Botanical medicine
- Oriental medicine
The third year is generally an expansion of study in naturopathic and organ systems modalities with case management. Clinical training also begins.
The fourth year of the doctorate program is primarily practical clinical training, with further classroom training in naturopathic content and methods. Although post-graduate residencies are not required, many graduates are choosing to enter an additional 1-2 year residency program.
After completing an approved training program, aspiring naturopathic physicians must pass the rigorous Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX). This is offered through the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners.
There are no distance learning options available to students who would like to get a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine. Students will instead work through four years of a doctorate program and then an additional 1-2 years of a residency program before becoming a licensed physician.