If you are interested in seeking the services of a naturopathic physician should take some precautions. Here's what you need to know:
- Health Insurance More than 90 insurance companies cover naturopathic treatment in the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, many cover naturopathy for the treatment of specific conditions rather than for preventive care.
- Naturopathic Training Naturopaths take standard premedical courses at the undergraduate level, followed by four years of graduate level medical studies that include approximately 4,500 hours of academic and clinical training. For the first two years, they study basic medical sciences, including anatomy, biochemistry and physiology, just like traditional M.D.s. Years three and four stress clinical training in a wide range of naturopathic treatments.
Currently, there are three accredited naturopathic medical colleges in North America: Bastyr University in Seattle; Southwest College in Scottsdale, Arizona; and the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto is a candidate for accreditation.
A word of caution about naturopathy
Naturopathic medicine is not yet licensed in all 50 states. The 12 states that currently license N.D.s are: Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington. However, legal provisions allow naturopaths to practice in several other states, and efforts are underway to extend licensure to additional states.
If you live in a state that does not license N.D.s, check the credentials of the doctor you choose to see. Unlicensed states do not mandate that the education and credentials of those who call themselves N.D.s meet AANP standards. Beware of practitioners who claim to be licensed N.D.s, but are graduates of correspondence courses rather than accredited naturopathic medical schools. Membership in the AANP provides some quality assurance that those identifying themselves as N.D.s meet the educational criteria for licensure. However, it's best to check credentials for yourself.