Continuing into the 21st century, it seems that we are finally turning the corner on decades of unhealthy living. High-calorie diets full of fatty, processed foods are giving way to organic, and lower-processed food trends. Years of less than optimal dietary decisions have left us with a healthcare crisis that sees over one-third of Americans dealing with obesity and related issues such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, and stroke, which is costing us billions a year in health care costs and lost work profits.1 If you recognize this crisis and want to be part of the solution, naturopathic medicine may be your calling.
If you are new to naturopathic medicine and want to learn more about becoming a naturopathic doctor (ND), there are a few terms you need to become familiar with.
The Therapeutic Order
The therapeutic order is the naturopathic philosophy usually visualized as a pyramid. The framework is intended to work in the best interest of the patient, going through stages from least to most invasive treatments, and reinforcing the natural healing process to suppression of symptoms. Click here to learn more about the therapeutic order.
The Six Principles
Another aspect prospective students should be familiar with are the six guiding principles of naturopathic medicine. If you have any doubts about whether naturopathic medicine is the right path for you, consider how your personal beliefs align with these principles:
1. First, do no harm. A naturopathic doctor uses the most natural therapies at his or her disposal and avoids more invasive and topic treatments when not medically indicated.
2. The healing power of nature. A naturopathic doctor works as a partner with the patient to restore the body’s inherent wisdom to heal.
3. Identify and treat the causes. A naturopathic doctor looks beyond the symptoms to the underlying cause.
4. Doctor as teacher. A naturopathic doctor educates patients to achieve and maintain health on their own.
5. Treat the whole person. A naturopathic doctor views the body as an integrated whole in all its physical and psychospiritual dimensions.
6. Prevention. A naturopathic doctor focuses on overall health, wellness, and disease prevention.
Many prospective students are familiar with opportunities that follow traditional medical education but are ultimately unaware of how that translates into naturopathic medicine. In reality, there are many similarities including:
*Specialties – Just as a medical doctor may specialize in areas such as dermatology or pediatrics, naturopathic doctors may also choose a focus. There are 10 specialty associations affiliated with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and this list is growing. Here are the current professional affiliates:
Academy for Parenteral Therapies (APT)
*Use of the term specialist may vary based on regulatory jurisdiction.
Methodology – Most medical appointments, both traditional and naturopathic, begin with an examination, assessment, and diagnosis. What separates naturopathic medicine is that this is usually a much deeper experience, often lasting for upwards of one hour. This allows the ND to get a fuller picture of the patient’s health history and lifestyle, helping with larger scale treatments. This doctor- patient relationship is a driving force in why many choose naturopathic medicine over or in addition to conventional care.
Patient – The biggest area of similarity is with the lasting impact on patients’ lives. Here are some success stories which many NDs point to as the reason why they pursued naturopathic medicine.
Students are looking at the current movement in healthcare as a chance to get in on the ground floor of a major change in an entrenched system. By putting a new spin on older, traditional forms of medicine, students and doctors have a chance to revolutionize the system in the 21st century. Click here to find out more about becoming a naturopathic doctor. Click here to find an ND near you in the US and Canada.