An ND, or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine is a person trained in the art and science of natural medicine in a 4- or 5-year medical program at an institution accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. The programs include the same Basic Science courses taught in conventional medical schools, include a rigorous clinical program as well as well as courses in homeopathy, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, nature cure, orthopedics, physical medicine, counseling, clinical physical diagnosis and many others.
While we are trained to be primary care physicians, not all naturopathic doctors practice as primary care doctors. Each state that licenses naturopathic doctors lays out the scope of practice for that state. In the states that offer a wide scope of practice, naturopathic doctors are allowed to prescribe pharmaceuticals, should they desire to do so. In other states, naturopathic doctors are an adjunct to the patient's primary care doctor.
Regardless of where we practice, we take the entire person into account when diagnosing and treating a patient-the physical, spiritual, emotional and mental aspects that all interact in bringing about health or disease. Naturopathic doctors look for the cause of the disease and address it to restore the patient's health and prevent recurrence. We teach the patients how to live healthfully to prevent problems from occurring in the future. This requires taking a thorough family health history to identify possibly genetic or social susceptibilities to various conditions, and then coming up with a plan to minimize the patient's likelihood of acquiring that condition.
Currently, 17 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico license naturopathic doctors. New states are adopting licensing for naturopathic doctors each year.
What it is to be a Naturopathic Doctor... and what it is not?
Click here to read Michael Stanclift's thoughts on being an N.D., published in the Huffington Post.