Naturopathic Medicine: A Career with Options

What Do Naturopathic Doctors Do?

The number of jobs and occupations that naturopathic doctors do is as diverse as their training.

You will find licensed naturopathic doctors practicing medicine in settings ranging from solo practitioner offices to multi-practitioner integrative clinics and hospitals. Naturopathic doctors practice across North America – from rural North Dakota to bustling New York City, the Northwest Territories of Canada to metropolitan Vancouver and Toronto. ND practices serve all types of people – from concierge medicine, to clinics that focus on underserved and at risk populations. They participate in the global health community and have active international outreach programs. NDs also branch out from medical practice to write, teach, conduct research and lead their own businesses.  There are also many opportunities in the nutrition and nutraceutical industries.

NDs’ passions take many paths – as diverse as the individual naturopathic doctors that make up the profession. One constant you will hear from NDs is that they are passionate about serving to guide people on a journey of lifelong wellness. Most NDs practice as generalists, seeing a wide variety of conditions and complaints. An increasing number of graduates are choosing to specialize in areas like oncology, pediatrics and women’s health. Some naturopathic doctors may also focus on a type of treatment like nutrition, herbal medicine or physical medicine, and build their practice around that focus. Click here to learn more about practice focus.

Reference: “AANMC Alumni Survey,” AANMC, (Summer 2015).

Being an ND can take many forms and change as you mature professionally. From patient care, to writing, consulting and speaking, there are many things that NDs do.  The common thread is the desire to get to the root cause of illness rather than to suppress symptoms, create wellness, and have a successful career while helping others.

Are Naturopathic Doctors Really Doctors?

Yes they are! Their training covers conventional medical science and adds natural therapies beyond what a conventional doctor would be trained in. NDs are experts in natural medicine who listen to their patients, spend time to uncover the root cause of an illness, and work as a partner towards creating health. NDs are trained to serve as primary care physicians, and in some states they are covered by insurance including Medicaid.

What is an NDs Scope of Practice?

As with other medical providers, NDs will take a history, order or refer for lab testing and perform physical examination. They create a personalized treatment plan that may include nutritional recommendations, herbal medicine, physical medicine, counseling, and other evidence-based natural therapies. In some cases an ND may write a prescription for a pharmaceutical drug. Naturopathic doctors are trained in pharmaceutical therapy and can write prescriptions.* Naturopathic doctors refer to other providers when the level of care needed is outside of their scope or training.

Naturopathic doctors are proud of all the tools in our toolbox, because it means that we can tailor care to a patient’s unique needs, at that moment in time, and that we never run out of ideas or options to address their complaints.

Read success stories about how other naturopathic doctors use their degree here.

*Prescriptive authority varies based on the jurisdictional scope of practice.


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