How do I Choose the Best Naturopathic Medical School?

Jennifer Voight

The task of choosing a naturopathic medical school should be approached with caution and discretion, as the field of alternative medicine does not have the degree of quality control and oversight that conventional medicine employs. Still, there are some very well-respected naturopathic medical schools that have produced some effective naturopaths. When choosing a naturopathic medical school, it’s important to consider individual career goals as well as a school’s accreditation status, price, and degree programs offered.

Individual career goals are an important consideration when choosing a naturopathic medical school.
Individual career goals are an important consideration when choosing a naturopathic medical school.

Students should examine the education program carefully to make certain the program will provide adequate career preparation. Accredited naturopathic medical colleges in the U.S. typically offer a variety of programs, including bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and postgraduate degree programs. In the U.S. and Canada, naturopathic medical doctors hold a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree, also called an ND or NMD.

Most naturopathic medical schools operate as private institutions.
Most naturopathic medical schools operate as private institutions.

The accreditation status of a naturopathic medical school can be tricky to determine as there are some accrediting agencies that sound official, but are not backed by the education board of the country’s government. In the U.S., only the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. CNME has recognized five naturopathic colleges in the U.S. for their Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree programs. In the U.S., the college should also be recognized by the federally recognized accrediting board for that particular region.

Medical school students will typically learn multiple methods for checking a patient's pulse.
Medical school students will typically learn multiple methods for checking a patient's pulse.

If a college is not recommended by the proper accrediting body, it does not necessarily mean that the naturopathic program is not sound. A prospective student should inquire as to whether or not the college is a candidate for accreditation and if the college has plans to seek accreditation. Sometimes the approval process can take several years.

Students should be aware that not all countries recognize an ND degree.
Students should be aware that not all countries recognize an ND degree.

Several countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, do not regulate the naturopathic medical field. In these countries, prospective students will need to examine the degree programs more intensely to decide if the naturopathic medical school meets quality standards. A naturopathic medical school’s reputation among well-respected, currently practicing naturopaths can help determine the best colleges.

Most, if not all, naturopathic medical schools operate as private institutions. These tend to be more expensive than state universities in the U.S. Students should decide if the price of a degree program will eventually pay off over the course of the career.

Location can be an important factor in choosing a naturopathic medical school, especially if the student plans to practice in an area far from the naturopathic medical school. Students should be aware that not all U.S. states or countries recognize an ND degree. Additionally, naturopaths who were educated outside the U.S. typically will not be able to practice in states that recognize and license naturopaths, as many states are very particular about which naturopathic degrees they recognize and license.

In some jurisdictions, naturopathic physicians can diagnose a patient's condition and prescribe medication.
In some jurisdictions, naturopathic physicians can diagnose a patient's condition and prescribe medication.

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