Well educated health professionals of today are increasingly looking for ways to broaden their knowledge and skill set in order to be able to provide best results for their patients. Adding new treatment possibilities through a host of supplementary modalities helps contribute to a more (w)holistic approach to healing without having to refer patients out of the office. Now, more than ever, health professionals are exploring new opportunities to train as licensed naturopathic doctors (ND) as a means of offering more treatment options and therefore better patient care. Naturally, health professionals may expect to receive transfer credit for previous education and experience as they consider educational options to increase their skill set and marketability. In order to answer this need, virtually all AANMC member colleges schools offer “advanced standing status” to health care professionals who have completed doctoral level training. This allows qualified individuals to increase his or her effectiveness by being better able to respond to the changing landscape of health care and the needs of future patients.
While all naturopathic medical schools provide programs for students with advanced standing, actual practice varies. Here are some general guidelines to familiarize yourself with for transfer credits:
• Schools have the option to extend advanced standing status to MD’s (Medical Doctors), DO’s (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), and DC’s (Doctor of Chiropractic).
• Advanced standing is granted at the discretion of each of the AANMC schools and may take into consideration the number of years since graduating, passage of the USMLE (or similar licensing exam) as well as length of time in practice.
• Prospective students must apply for advanced standing to the college or university in which they are interested. As part of this process, a transfer credit evaluation fee may be assessed, given the significant time required to complete a thorough transfer evaluation. Once completed, a tentative timeline for degree completion can be proposed and transfer or waiver of required coursework/credits will be awarded.
• To expedite the process, students should submit course catalogs or course syllabi from their previous institutions along with the relevant transcripts (TIP: By initially providing an unofficial transcript, prospective students may be able to accelerate this process). All courses accepted for advanced standing must be academically equivalent to those offered at the naturopathic medical school. Students should have earned at least a “C” grade (or a 2.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale) for a course to be transferred/waived. Some schools may require a grade higher than “C.”
• In addition, some of the AANMC schools may require advanced standing students to complete a competency exam in certain courses to demonstrate they are proficient in specific subjects.
• Many of the AANMC schools will limit the length of time allowed to have elapsed between the completion of a previous degree program and the transfer of credit. The allowable gap may differ from school to school as will the special provisions that may be required to mitigate the gap.
• Certain additional requirements may also be made for some specialty programs such as acupuncture. Again, these will vary from school to school.
If the idea of expanding your credentials as a health professional sounds appealing to you, why don’t you take the first step and contact the Admissions Office of the school of your choice. They will answer any questions you may have and provide you with an admission contact to work with as you explore your options and progress through the application process. Don’t forget to obtain all important answers in writing to ensure clarity throughout the process. Being diligent and paying attention to detail will help you move through the application and matriculation processes as smoothly and efficiently as possible.