Definition of naturopathic medicine
Naturopathic medicine focuses on discovering and addressing the underlying root causes of imbalance or illness and then resolving those conditions by stimulating the body’s inherent ability to heal itself via a wide variety of natural modalities. Learn more about the world of naturopathic medicine.
Events and resources
To learn more about naturopathic medicine, and hear presentations from successful naturopathic doctors attend one of ourWebinars. You can also visit a school to attend an open house or a campus tour.
To keep up with the latest on naturopathic medical education news, sign up for our updates and our seasonal Naturopathic Medical School E-Newsletters. Sign up here.
Careers in Naturopathic Medicine
The majority of naturopathic physicians are very satisfied with their income and lifestyles.
Typical ND Lifestyle Choices
• 69% treat underserved populations.
• 66% green their practices, mainly through recycling, green cleaning products, organic/local food, public transportation and energy-efficient lighting.
• 45% offer a sliding fee scale to their patients.
• 43% volunteered for at least one to three weeks over the past three years.
• 14% provide services to the underserved, volunteering outside of the U.S.
Many NDs support environmental causes, such as:
• 16% – Sierra Club
• 12% – Environmental Working Group
• 5% – Natural Resources Defense Council
• 4% – World Wildlife Fund
• 3% – Organic Consumers Association
Naturopathic Doctors – “Diagnose, treat, and help prevent diseases using a system of practice that is based on the natural healing capacity of individuals. May use physiological, psychological or mechanical methods. May also use natural medicines, prescription or legend drugs, foods, herbs, or other natural remedies.” Learn more.
- Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009
Primary care physicians in both private practice and integrative clinics, research scientists, authors and faculty members. Learn more.
There exists a very wide income range among practicing NDs. (It’s important to note that many NDs are not salaried, but rather are self-employed.) On average, industry data shows that an established ND who runs or partners in a large, busy practice makes an average estimated net income of $80,000 to $90,000 per year – and may make upwards of $200,000.
A beginning ND just starting up his or her practice, working part-time or building a staff, generally earns less than these averages for the first years of practice. Early residency positions reflect incomes around $30,000 per year.
Realize that the dollar figure can and does vary greatly depending on several factors, including region and location, type of clientele served, fee schedules, business objectives and marketing plans, and willingness to work with insurance carriers.
The information above has been compiled from these sources: 2015 Graduate Compensation Survey, AANMC, (Summer 2015); member survey conducted by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) and several AANMC-member colleges; and ExploreHealthCareers.org.
The Typical ND Student
Naturopathic medical students are committed to making this world a better place than they found it. An ideal candidate for a career in natural medicine is the compassionate student exhibiting a clear aptitude to become a medical doctor as well as the desire to treat future patients as partners in health. Learn some surefire signs used to identify the typical ND student.
Naturopathic medical student statistics
• Gender ratio: 77% female, 23% male
• Mean age: 31 years (trending younger, with increasingly more students coming directly from undergraduate programs)
• Most prevalent bachelor’s degrees represented among incoming students: BA/BS Biology (30%)
ND students enrich the student body with a wide variety of backgrounds in biochemistry, botany, public health, teaching, massage therapy, nursing and conventional medicine – with several MDs and DCs going on to earn ND degrees. Learn more.
Accredited ND Schools
The six accredited naturopathic medical schools at seven college campuses
• Bastyr University (BU) - Kenmore, WA and San Diego, CA
• Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (BINM) - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
• Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
• National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) – Portland, Ore.
• National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) - Chicago, Ill.
• Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences (SCNM) – Phoenix, Ariz.
The importance of accreditation
In preparing students to become primary care naturopathic physicians, you’ll want to guide them to institutions where they will be sure to receive a top-notch, four-year, professional-level education. When the students you work with choose an AANMC member school, they will benefit from having three key organizations all working together to ensure the quality of their education. These organizations are:
1. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) issues college accreditation.
2. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) issues programmatic accreditation.
3. The North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) grants doctor licensure.
During the first two years of study, the curriculum focuses on biomedical and clinical sciences and diagnostics. Then for at least the final two years of their medical program, students intern in clinical settings under the close supervision of licensed professionals, learning various therapeutic modalities. Learn more.
Although most states/provinces that license NDs do not require completion of a residency, there are a number of approved, naturopathic residency opportunities available at this time. Learn more.
Applicant pool and enrollment growth
Over a seven-year period (2002-2009), the ND school applicant pool posted an 81 percent increase while the first-year student population increased by 122 percent! Learn more.
NDs, not unlike MDs, are expected to fulfill many requirements, such as extensive undergraduate and graduate programs, board exams, clinical and/or residency experience and ongoing continuing education. Visit our Comparing ND & MD Curricula page for more information on the similarities and differences between the education of NDs and MDs.
Preparing for ND School
Admission to an ND school requires a bachelor’s degree – with a science major preferred – and a demonstrated record of academic success. The average grade point average of students admitted to most ND schools falls between 3.1 and 3.3, depending on the school. Successful applicants are expected to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher for priority admission. Learn more.
Standard materials required by the ND schools typically entail the following:
• Completed application form
• Application fee (varies by school)
• Official academic transcripts
• In-person interview(s)
• References: academic, professional, health care provider
• Personal vision statement
• Identification: birth certificate/passport
For complete information on application processes and deadlines, feel free to request information directly from the individual institutions via this Web form.
Financial aid resources include:
• Jobs both on- and off-campus
• Private banks (Wells Fargo, US Bank, etc.)
• Private scholarships
• University scholarships
• Work-study programs
Naturopathic Doctor Licensure
To practice as a licensed naturopathic physician, individuals must pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) and fulfill state- or province-mandated continuing education requirements annually. NDs must also adhere to a specific scope of practice as defined by the law in their state or province. There are presently 16 licensed U.S. states, two U.S. territories and five Canadian provinces. Check your state or province, and learn more here.