In the past decade or so, healthcare has changed immensely. From legislation to technological advances, it’s definitely a “brave new world” in healthcare. It should come as no surprise that students are flocking to these careers and the schools that provide training in these areas. Healthcare is moving in a different direction when it comes to how a patient’s treatment is approached. Health services are now being delivered by a team of professionals instead of just one lead provider. Part of that team approach includes naturopathic doctors who can help treat a variety of issues. That’s why naturopathic medicine is a great option for those who want to have a direct impact on the health of others.
ND Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, eleven of the top twenty fastest growing occupations are in health-related fields. Traditional healthcare is not the only field that is growing rapidly. Naturopathic medicine will add 24,000 potential new jobs this year and the growth rate is expected to continue at an almost steady 10% per year. In fact, naturopathic medicine is now rated as having an “excellent” career outlook. Health Careers websites report that “the projection for making a prosperous living in this field are excellent for the foreseeable future. Naturopathic medicine continues to gain acceptance and recognition throughout the United States and Canada.”
This trend in healthcare is largely due to the fact that Americans as a whole are beginning to turn a corner on their health and realize they need to make significant changes to their lifestyle. For instance, the CDC has recently reported that roughly 30 million Americans have diabetes, but another 84 million are “pre-diabetic”. As a result of this news, many people are looking to eat healthier and live more naturally, including seeking naturopathic options in healthcare.
As a sign that naturopathic medicine is growing, take the recent results of a survey of healthcare providers that showed “28 prominent health systems, hospitals, and cancer treatment centers now have one or more licensed naturopathic doctors on staff at their facilities”. Many states are now offering pathways for students of naturopathy to become fully licensed naturopathic doctors. For students who are interested in becoming a naturopathic doctor, the path is rigorous, and worthwhile. It includes a doctoral-level program accredited by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education which comprises four-years of post-graduate work.
Is a Career in Naturopathic Medicine Right for You?
Naturopathic medical schools across North America are looking for new applicants to their programs. But is a career in naturopathic medicine a good fit for you? To be certain a career in this field is right for you, take a look at the guiding principles of a naturopathic doctor:
• First, do no harm: Utilize the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies.
• The healing power of nature: Trust in the body’s inherent wisdom to heal itself.
• Identify and treat the causes: Look beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.
• Physician as teacher: Educate patients in the steps to achieving and maintaining health.
• Treat the whole person: View the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and spiritual dimensions.
• Prevention: Focus on overall health, wellness and disease prevention.
In order to be a successful naturopathic doctor, students must have a strong interest and affinity in science. Besides knowing and understanding evidence-based science, students should be able to think in a complex manner about multiple causes for health problems. A sense of community and commitment to volunteerism is also important, as many naturopathic doctors provide a valuable link to natural medicine for the underserved. Having good communication skills as a naturopathic physician is vitally important. Becoming an educator to those in the community about how to care for themselves is a significant aspect of the naturopathic career.
What Specialty Fields are Available for Students?
Just as with traditional medicine, naturopathic doctors may want to specialize in certain fields. Future naturopathic doctors could choose to narrow their focus of practice to include one of the following:
• Cancer Treatment—This growing health concern has shown promise of treatment using naturopathic techniques as presented by the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP).
• Environmental Medicine—If you are interested in focusing on the environmental causes of health care problems, then this specialty, promoted by the Naturopathic Association of Environmental Medicine (NAEM), is worth consideration.
• Gastroenterology—With the obesity problem becoming larger every year, this field focuses on digestion and intestinal issues. The Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (GastroANP) is devoted to this discipline.
• Generative Medicine—The use of gene expression and its connection with the patient’s environment is behind this particular specialty that is fostered by the Institute of Naturopathic Generative Medicine (INGM).
• Homeopathic Medicine—Small doses of a substance can be used to help the body bolster its own healing abilities is a promising specialty promoted by the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP).
• Hormone Therapy—The Endocrinology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (EndoANP) is helping train doctors to treat different diseases and ailments by treating the endocrine system which regulates hormones.
• Mental Health—The Psychiatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PsychANP) is the leader of advancing naturopathic psychiatry practice and education.
• Midwifery—Holistic natural childbirth is changing the way that women view the entire birthing experience. As such, the American Association of Naturopathic Midwives (AANM) is promoting this exciting new field that also helps treat infertility among couples.
• Parenteral Therapy—This field (also known as intravenous therapy) is headed by the Academy for Parenteral Therapies (APT) which seeks to treat a variety of healthcare problems with the IV administration of vitamins and minerals.
• Pediatrics—If you are looking to help guide children down the path to a lifetime of good health, then pediatrics is the field for you. The Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PedANP) Is dedicated to this specialty.
As with traditional medicine, there are numerous specialties for NDs. The more patients learn about their own health and the causes of their problems, the more they will continue to seek out naturopathic treatments that blend mind, body, and spirit, in healing the whole person. That is why naturopathic medicine is an exciting, vibrant field for those looking to make a difference.