Licensure for naturopathic doctors provides many benefits:
- Allows for better patient healthcare.
- Creates public safety in relation to alternative therapies.
- Reduces healthcare costs via prevention.
- Ultimately has a positive effect on the entire medical community.
In order to be licensed as a primary care, general practice physician by a state or jurisdiction which requires licensing, one must:
- Graduate from a four-year, professional-level program at a federally accredited naturopathic medical school.
- Study a curriculum which includes current medical science and traditional naturopathic theory.
- Take and pass national board exams: Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX). This rigorous exam covers basic sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic subjects and clinical sciences.
Licensed states and provinces
Candidates for full licensure must also satisfy all licensing requirements for the individual state or province in which they hope to practice. Most of the states and provinces that license naturopathic physicians also have health care systems which allow patients to use naturopathic doctors as their primary care physician.
Currently, 19 states, five Canadian provinces, the District of Columbia, and the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands all have laws regulating naturopathic doctors (NDs). In these states and provinces, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from a four-year, residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license or registration.
Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state- or province-mandated continuing education requirements annually, and have a specific scope of practice defined by the law in their state or province.
States currently offering licensure and registration to naturopathic physicians include:
- District of Columbia
- Massachusetts *license effective September 2017
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- Pennsylvania *registration effective January 1, 2018
- U.S. Territories: Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands
Provinces currently offering regulation and registration to naturopathic physicians include:
- British Columbia
Scope of practice regulations vary among licensed/regulated states and provinces, as do the parameters and restrictions for practitioners located in as yet unlicensed venues. Legal provisions still allow naturopathic doctors to consult with patients, making recommendations and suggestions based on prior diagnosis, in several of the yet unlicensed states and provinces.