Naturopathic physicians are licensed, board certified and insured practitioners of holistic medicine. In British Columbia, Naturopathic Doctors must be registered and in good standing with the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC. This organization ensures that Naturopathic physicians have been trained to the regulated standards as well as ensuring that their knowledge remains current through continuing education requirements. In BC, naturopathic physicians are general medical practitioners and have been licensed since 1937.
Naturopathic Physicians must complete an undergraduate degree followed by an intensive 4 year graduate program from one of the accredited naturopathic medical schools. The initial training at naturopathic medical school is very similar to allopathic (MD) medical school, with students learning anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and pharmacology. However the training a naturopathic student receives with respect to philosophy and treatment options differs remarkably. Philosophically, naturopathic doctors are trained to cooperate with the processes of the body, not merely suppress symptoms through drugs. The philosophy of naturopathic medicine is applied through learning naturopathic treatments such as nutrition, herbal medicine, lifestyle counseling and homeopathy. To become proficient with these treatment modalities, naturopathic students are also required to complete a clinical internship, which is done during the last year of their training. By graduation, naturopathic students will have completed over 4500 hours worth of study and practice. After completing naturopathic medical school, future doctors are required to pass rigorous board exams in order to be licensed by their jurisdiction.
Regulation & Responsible Health Care
The reason naturopathic physicians require so much training and regulation is because your health care is important. Understanding drug interactions, contraindications, scope of practice and most importantly safety, takes lots of training and diligence. The unfortunate reality is that when it comes to health care, it really is a buyer beware marketplace out there! To ensure the best quality care for you and your family, be sure to ask questions about the type of training and regulation each member of your health care team has received. To further confuse matters, different naturopathic doctors practice quite differently! Again asking questions can be quite helpful in assessing if any particular practitioner is the right fit for you.