Changing Your Career to Naturopathic Medicine

Join the AANMC and Drs. Jill Jennings and Ginger Sweetan for a special webinar focused on making a career change to follow your dreams and become a naturopathic physician. It’s never too late to pursue your passion! Drs. Jennings and Sweetan will share their prior backgrounds in the military, real estate, and nursing, and speak about juggling family, school and career responsibilities.

Here’s what you can expect to hear during the webinar:
– How they successfully changed careers to pursue naturopathic medicine
– The difference an ND education has made in their lives
– How previous professional experience can contribute to success as an ND
– Tricks to balancing work and life responsibilities
– Advice for prospective ND students
– What a typical day looks like as an ND

*Webinar does not qualify for CE

Register Now!

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To view the archive of past webinar recordings, please click here.

About the Presenters

Jill Jennings, ND is a wife, mother of four, and the founder of Crossroads Natural Healthcare – a Christ-centered naturopathic medicine and health education ministry. She has worked in healthcare for over two decades. After battling her own chronic illness for 10 years she discovered naturopathic medicine and true health. It was her amazing journey of personal healing that inspired her to go back to school to become a naturopathic doctor. Her passion is teaching others about the foundational healing powers found in nutrition and the principals of naturopathic medicine. Dr. Jennings is a graduate of the National University of Health Sciences.



Ginger Sweetan, ND graduated from Bastyr University – California in 2019, and is completing a residency in integrative urgent care at Healthtopia Clinic. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology with an emphasis is biopsychology/psychoneuropharmacology from California State University San Marcos. Dr. Sweetan is a business owner, licensed vocational nurse, U.S. Navy veteran, Girl Scout leader, community volunteer, wife, and mother. She loves living near the ocean, writing poetry, teaching, doing genealogy, and creating novel models for organization. She has a passion for urgent care, biofeedback, and aesthetics with a strong interest in bioenergetics, epigenetics, and anti-aging. Dr. Sweetan fervently believes she is living her best life every day and is enamored with the idea of inspiring those around her to live in authenticity as a means to wellness and joy!

Register Now!

*The information you submit in this registration will be used to inform you of updates to this event and will enroll you in the AANMC newsletter. The AANMC values your privacy. Please see how we protect your data in our privacy policy .

Teaching Patients the Power of Prevention

The six principles of naturopathic medicine serve as guidelines and reminders for a naturopathic physician’s approach to medical practice and patient care. The word “doctor” is actually derived from the Latin word “Docere,” which means “to teach,” and one of the most powerful tenets used to form a therapeutic relationship is the principle of “Docere,” or doctor as teacher.

A key issue that often arises between patients and doctors is an assumption that the patient is a passive recipient of whatever treatment their healthcare provider prescribes. Many have had the experience of visiting the doctor, where they write a prescription or make a recommendation without including the patient in the conversation.  The expectation is to do as you are told, no questions asked.  In fact, patients have even been “fired” for noncompliance because they did not understand or agree with the treatment plan.

Conversely, this way of practicing can also take the onus for health and healing off of the client and onto the physician, and in some cases, doctors can be reprimanded if their patients do not improve (of course, we are not talking about medical errors or irresponsible patient management, which are separate issues).1 Thankfully, a newer mindset within the medical community is that when patients take responsibility for their own well-being, while partnering with their doctors through communication and education, they experience better health outcomes. It is encouraging that more providers are seeing the value in this approach, however licensed naturopathic physicians have always practiced this way. The “Doctor as Teacher” approach serves to educate patients about their health and treatment options, while empowering them to take control of their own healing journey.

Why is the ND appointment so long?

This is a question many patients have when they schedule their first naturopathic medicine consult.  It is not uncommon for the first visit to last 90 minutes to two hours, with follow-ups lasting for up to an hour. Consider that the average primary care visit in a conventional setting is only about 16 minutes, with approximately five of that as time spent by the patient speaking.2

NDs seek to fully understand their patients’ medical history, social support, current diet and lifestyle concerns, mental and emotional issues, and of course, dive deeply into the primary reason for the visit – that all requires time, which lengthens the visit.  In fully understanding where a patient is coming from and the direction they would like to go regarding their health, the ND can devise a treatment plan that is personalized and adaptive to patient needs.

Education is key

The naturopathic doctor has ample opportunity to teach the patient about their body, how it functions, and tools they can implement for lifelong health and wellness.  For example, if a patient comes in with a complaint of insomnia, rather than just prescribing a sleep remedy, an ND will explore the root cause of the issue, and if applicable, explain to the patient how sleep cycles work, including a routine that is conducive to sleeping. Some recommendations may include keeping a cool and dark bedroom, avoiding electronics before bed, and food, lifestyle modifications and supplements that support sound and complete rest. The more patients know and understand their health, the more compliant they are likely to be with their treatment plan. 3

With so much information on the internet, people are inundated and often overwhelmed by choices and may not understand the rationale behind the recommendations. The more a patient knows about health, the better equipped they are to make informed decisions about their day-to-day lives. Naturopathic doctors are specifically trained to help their clients through the maze of information about natural health care options and educate them about treatments that are appropriate (or not) and what will work best for them!

Click here to find an ND in the United States or Canada who will take the time to hear you out and customize a health plan as unique as you.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Naturopathic Approaches to Diabetes Management

November is National Diabetes Month

Learn how naturopathic approaches to diabetes treatment can relieve symptoms, help patients manage blood sugar levels better day to day and in some cases reverse disease progression.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million Americans are living with diabetes and 1.5 million are diagnosed with diabetes every year.

Health Canada reports diabetes as a complex health problem and a national challenge. Close to 2.4 million Canadians living with diagnosed diabetes, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

This month and every month, naturopathic doctors work with diabetic patients to help them lead healthier and happier lives and manage their diabetes naturally.

A holistic view of patient care is paramount to naturopathic medicine.

In designing a treatment plan for diabetic patients, naturopathic doctors focus on the whole patient by recommending behavioral changes such as diet and exercise. Care is often co-managed with conventional endocrinologists and diabetes specialists in order to optimize patient outcomes.

“One of the major reasons naturopathic doctors can be a great asset to diabetes care is because we take the time needed to actually connect with the patient, educate the patient, and help them to take greater control over their own health,” says Dr. Turshá Hamilton, a naturopathic clinician at the National University of Health Sciences Whole Health Center. “There are so many conflicting stories about what it takes to be healthy, which foods are healthy, and what supplements are to be taken, that many patients are confused about steps to take to be healthy.”


There is more to diabetes management than test results.

“Diabetes care is not just about regulating glycated hemoglobin levels (HbA1c). Without a doubt, glycated hemoglobin is an appropriate biomarker of diabetes care, but diabetes care is complex as there are various co-morbidities, and diabetes itself is a risk factor for various conditions,” says Dr. Ellen Wong, an associate professor and clinic supervisor at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. “To appropriately manage diabetes, the following should be discussed: dietary and exercise recommendations, appropriate use of pharmaceutical and/or natural health products, frequency of self-monitored blood glucose checks, appropriate frequency of laboratory evaluations, and physical examinations.”

Naturopathic care “can be seen as essential first-tier treatment for diabetes type 2 patients,” according to Dr. John Furlong of the University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine. “Our methods address the causes of most cases of this lifestyle-related condition and are effective at reducing the severity of the metabolic disturbances.” Dr. Furlong recognizes that patients must be willing to make the recommended diet and lifestyle changes in order to achieve results. However, “when physicians project a can-do approach and provide the materials to support these changes, success is attainable by most patients,” he says. “This approach is much less expensive both in the short term and in prevention of the typical long-term sequelae of diabetes.”

Dr. Brendan Smith at the Diabetes Center at Bastyr University adds, “The power lies mostly in the physician-patient relationship and pragmatic approaches that employ the ability of patients to take charge of their health.”

Naturopathic doctors each have unique approaches to managing diabetes.

Nutrition – Diet & Supplementation

“The area that I tend to focus on most is nutrition (both diet and supplementation). I do this for a couple different reasons. First, you have to feed a malnourished, underfed body. It’s been said that diabetes is a disease of starvation in a sea of plenty. There is lots of sugar present, but there is not a lot of it going to feed the cells. There is also usually a very low level of micronutrients in the diet, so the cells are not truly getting what they need. A major part of healing the body will be feeding it what it needs.”

Turshá Hamilton, ND

Attending Clinician, National University of Health Sciences Whole Health Center

Multi-Factorial Approach

“If one is looking for most effective means to lower blood sugar, the botanical preparations are quite effective most of the time. The greater good I think is accomplished with less medications of all sort and more lifestyle change by the patients as this address multiple risk factors (neurologic, cardiovascular) at the same time as lowering blood sugar values.”

John Furlong, ND

Assistant Professor, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine

Diet & Exercise

“The most effective naturopathic approach to diabetes management, is without a doubt, diet and exercise. The low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet or Mediterranean diet has strong research evidence for positive health outcomes in both diabetes and cardiovascular health. It is also able to reduce the need for diabetic medication and reduces rates of overall mortality. Any physical activity is good – a combination of aerobic and some resistance has been shown to be very effective for diabetes management. Evidence for natural health products and botanicals is varied with literature supporting cinnamon, gymnema, magnesium and berberine in specific cases.”

Ellen Wong, ND

Associate Professor and Clinic Supervisor, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

Education & Empowerment

“My favorite approach to diabetes lies in education and empowerment of the patient. Often patients don’t fully understand the nature of diabetes and the ways in which they have power over their blood glucose. It is a collaborative process and non-judgmental so that at the end of the day, no matter the outcome the patient is supported in the process. The most effective approach to diabetes is to make the process specific to the patient.”

Brendan Smith, ND

Naturopathic Doctor, Family Health Centers

Naturopathic doctors share patient success stories

Dr. Turshá Hamilton treated a middle-aged woman with a new diagnosis, who was eager to get control of her blood sugar to avoid the more serious outcomes of the disease.

Dr. Hamilton counseled the patient on her diet, testing her blood sugar, and incorporating physical activity. After diet and lifestyle modifications and a few supplements, the patient began to lose weight, her energy increased, and her blood sugar stayed within normal limits.

Dr. Brendan Smith worked with middle-aged male patient who was looking for adjunctive diabetes care. His condition had worsened since diagnosis, and he wanted an alternative to way to control his blood glucose.

Dr. Smith’s team educated the patient about how lifestyle behaviors impact his diabetes. The patient’s family was brought into the discussion, and achievable goals were set. Over six months, the patient was able to significantly reduce his insulin and blood pressure medications.

Naturopathic approaches to diabetes treatment can relieve symptoms, help patients manage blood sugar levels better day to day and in some cases reverse disease progression. Click here to find a naturopathic doctor near you in the United States or Canada.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

Healthy Halloween Treats

Trick or Treat! Prepare or beware – Halloween will soon be upon us, and with that – parties and sweets, galore! Here are some healthy alternatives to the traditional sugary snacks that will impress parents and children alike!


For an unpeeled banana, use a permanent marker to draw ghost eyes and mouth. For a peeled banana, cut in half and use mini chocolate or carob chips to create ghost eyes and mouth.

Spider Eggs

Wash organic green grapes and add them to small snack size plastic bag.

Mummy Juice

Trade out sugary drinks for healthier options. Mini waters may not be super exciting or environmentally friendly, but they do have practical uses. Juice boxes are another great alternative to sodas, but make sure to keep it natural with only 100% organic juice. For a little more fun, consider covering the juice boxes or water bottles with colored construction paper and create designs such as Frankenstein, ghosts or pumpkins.

Cheesy Ghosts

Simply apply three dots for ghost eyes and mouth with permanent marker to an organic wrapped cheese stick.

Fruity Pumpkins

Peel a clementine and add a small celery stalk piece or small pretzel stick to the middle to create a pumpkin.  For an unpeeled clementine, use a permanent marker to create a Jack-O-Lantern.

Spider Webs

Place mini pretzel rods in a circle on parchment paper and drizzle melted dark chocolate over the top.

Mummy Hands

Add air-popped popcorn to latex-free plastic gloves and tie the end.

Strawberry Ghosts

Stick a long kabob into the tip of the strawberry and push through the middle. Dip the strawberry in white chocolate and set on wax paper to set. Apply mini chocolate chips for ghost eyes and mouth once the chocolate has solidified a bit.

Brain Jello

Organic and preservative-free jello can be added to fun, Halloween themed molds.

Apple Monsters

Cut a wedge halfway across the middle of an apple and line with organic peanut or other nut/seed butter. Add sunflower seeds for teeth and a strawberry slice for a tongue. Feel free to employ the kids in making these as is age appropriate.

Honorable mention: consider passing out pencils, erasers or other small Halloween themed gifts instead of store-bought candy.

With these unique and healthy ideas, your house is sure to be a favorite this Halloween!

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!

The Root of Naturopathic Medicine

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)

American Association of Naturopathic Midwives (AANM)

Endocrinology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (EndoANP)

Gastroenterology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (GastroANP)

Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP)

Institute of Naturopathic Generative Medicine (INGM)

Naturopathic Association of Environmental Medicine (NAEM)

Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP)

Pediatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PedANP)

Psychiatric Association of Naturopathic Physicians (PsycANP)

*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.

Learn More About Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor

Receive information from the accredited schools of your choice located across North America!