Naturopathic Medical Education
To be eligible to enter naturopathic medical school, prospective students must have a bachelor’s degree and have completed pre-medical coursework similar to that required by most conventional medical schools.
Naturopathic education itself consists of a four year, post-graduate program at an accredited naturopathic medical school that is comparable to conventional medical school in both depth of study and total hours (about 5000). Naturopathic medical schools are accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).
The first two years are quite similar to conventional medical school and focus on the ‘basic medical sciences’ including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology and so on. The second two years are quite different from conventional medical school in that they focus on naturopathic philosophy, natural therapeutics and clinical training.
Therapies taught in most naturopathic colleges include clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical (herbal) medicine, physical medicine, hydrotherapy, mind-body medicine, lifestyle counseling and minor surgery. Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, from which we graduated, also requires extensive coursework in Chinese medicine theory and acupuncture.
Clinical training consists of a minimum of 1200 hours of supervised experience treating patients.
Below is an excerpt from a 2005 article in the Journal of Family Practice entitled “Naturopathic medicine: What can patients expect?” It compares basic science training in naturopathic, conventional and osteopathic medical schools: