Deciding to become a naturopathic doctor is a big decision. One important question that many people ask is “How long does it take to become an ND?” Knowing the answer will help you decide if going to naturopathic medical school is the right choice for you.
How long does it take to become an ND?
All naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) and recognized by the US Department of Education, require four years of post-graduate in person education at their respective school. The first two years of naturopathic medical school mirror conventional medical school with biomedical courses like anatomy, biochemistry, histology, pharmacology, and pathology. In addition, naturopathic topics are covered including counseling, botanical medicine, physical medicine, nutrition, and homeopathy. Each of these topics is comprehensively covered, spanning multiple courses and terms. The combination of naturopathic and conventional learning provides the most comprehensive holistic medical education available in the world.
Some programs include patient contact in the first two years; in the other programs patient contact starts in year three. Students begin on model patients and then transition to seeing patients in traditional clinical settings supervised by licensed medical providers. Their responsibilities start with observation and progress to assisting with vitals or charting during the visit. By graduation, students are leading the entire visit, with minimal input from the supervising ND. Successful completion of the academic and clinical curriculum culminates in ND students demonstrating the ability to meet or exceed the clinical competencies for a graduating naturopathic student.
Graduation from a CNME accredited school and successful completion of NPLEX board exams will allow you to be eligible to be licensed as a naturopathic doctor.
Some students choose to continue with their education with a post-doctoral residency. Residencies are optional in all states and provinces with the exception of Utah.
Be skeptical of any program that tells you that an ND education can take less than four years or be done entirely online. In some cases, like where a student already has a medical degree, course credit and advanced standing may be given for prior doctoral-level experience but is at the discretion of the school granting the credit.
Graduation from a program that is entirely online or is not accredited by the CNME will not allow you to become eligible to be licensed in any regulated jurisdiction.