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5 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Naturopathic Medicine Program

by Mar 8, 2017

Home » NUHS Blog » 5 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Naturopathic Medicine Program

Once you decide that you are interested in a career in Naturopathic Medicine, you’ll be faced with the task of choosing a program that will best prepare you to become a successful naturopathic physician. Not all naturopathic medicine programs are created equally. While most schools will give you training in naturopathic therapies, the caliber, depth, and rigor of the program can vary.

Below are five factors you should consider before choosing a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) program:

1. Dedicated to naturopathic philosophy

Unlike allopathic medicine practitioners (MDs, DOs) who are focused on diagnosing and treating disease based on a patient’s symptoms, naturopathic physicians look for the root cause of disease in order to restore proper function and return the body to optimal health. Many of the therapies support the body’s intrinsic self-repair mechanisms. This is the traditional naturopathic philosophy that grounds our naturopathic medicine program.

At National University, we want to do more than simply teach this philosophy to our students, we want it to continually inform their work as practitioners. That’s why we train students to focus on treating the individual rather than the disease. In other words, we do not want them to simply treat their patient’s symptoms through naturopathic modalities (i.e. homeopathic remedies, hydrotherapy, etc), but to instead look for underlying imbalances and determine what is necessary to support the natural healing process. National University teaches the six naturopathic medicine principles: First Do No Harm, Treat the Whole Person, Identify and Treat the Causes, The Healing Power of Nature, Doctor as Teacher, and Prevention. We also take the students further into Naturopathic Clinical Theory, which equips them with models for case analysis and treatment, and helps them to apply the principles in action. We feel strongly that this comprehensive approach prepares our graduates to be exceptional diagnosticians and physicians.

2. A rigorous, broad-scope curriculum

A rigorous curriculum that provides a strong foundation in basic sciences and clinical sciences is important. At NUHS, we offer an excellent basic sciences curriculum, where in addition to coursework, students learn anatomy and physiology through full-cadaver dissection in our gross anatomy laboratory. Beginning early in the curriculum, students learn important skills in diagnosing patient conditions, performing physical exams, and progressively prescribing and performing naturopathic treatments from top-notch faculty in clinical science classes. Students at NUHS also learn about business management through practice management coursework including business planning and marketing courses.

It is also essential for students to have a strong clinical internship which provides real-life experiences with patients.  That is why NUHS students complete a one-year clinical internship at the on-campus whole health center where they are exposed to a variety of patient conditions and work with clinicians to better understand diagnosis and treatment.

3. A focus on integrative medicine and collaborative learning

While NDs are trained to be primary care physicians, they can also work with MDs, DOs, DCs and other medical specialists, co-managing patient cases as part of an integrative medical team.

More and more hospitals and specialty clinics now include integrative medicine programs.  For example, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) includes an integrative medicine program where they offer naturopathic therapies to their patients in collaboration with traditional medicine.

NUHS offers a campus dedicated to integrative medicine. You’ll study and work side-by-side with students and faculty from the chiropractic medicine, oriental medicine, acupuncture and massage therapy programs. In addition, the NUHS whole health center also houses an MD practice giving students exposure to a wider variety of patients and conditions as well as experience working collaboratively with traditional (allopathic) physicians. Working as a student with other medical students and professionals provides invaluable experience and understanding. After graduation, you’ll be better able to establish strong referral networks with other physicians and gain respect in the medical community. Most of all, you’ll be able to provide better advice and care for your future patients.

At NUHS, ND students not only receive a truly integrated medical education, but they have the ability to get multiple degrees in different kinds of complementary and alternative medicine disciplines, allowing them to expand their skill set and increase their earning potential. As one of only two schools in the U.S. to offer programs in chiropractic medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, oriental medicine and massage therapy all on one campus, our students have a rare option to earn a second or third degree and save both time and money in the process.

4. Accreditation

Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a naturopathic medicine school. Why? There are unaccredited online and sub-standard educational programs out there that prey on unsuspecting students. An online or mail order program simply cannot offer the education and training you need to become a qualified licensed physician. A student must graduate from a school accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) in order to get licensure for practice. National University has both regional as well as programmatic (CNME) accreditation for its naturopathic medicine program.

5. Campus facilities dedicated to student success

It important to choose a school that invests in their students’ success and prepares its students to confidently enter the health care industry. National University provides a campus that helps students thrive. For example:

  • Top of the line gross anatomy lab where students learn human anatomy through full-cadaver dissection
  • On-campus Whole Health Center clinic provides students the opportunity to work side-by-side with other health care students and practitioners in this integrative setting
  • State-of-the-art Hydrotherapy suite where students treat patients using the therapeutic benefits of water
  • Large, well-stocked herbal dispensary, where students learn how to correctly choose and prepare botanical medicines, homeopathic remedies, physician-grade vitamins, whole food supplements, probiotics, and more.
  • Botanical garden where students themselves plant and care for a variety of herbs and plants in order to better understand their medicinal and therapeutic properties

We hope this post was helpful for those of you considering an education in naturopathic medicine. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions about our programs or the NUHS student experience.

Call the Office of Admissions at 1-800- 826-6285 or email us at [email protected].


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About the Author

Dr. Fraser Smith

Dr. Fraser Smith

Fraser Smith, ND, has taught Naturopathic Medicine at National University since he helped launch the program in 2006. Today, he serves as assistant dean of the doctor of naturopathic medicine program at NUHS.. He graduated from Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto and earned his Master of Arts in training and development from Roosevelt University. He is an author of the books, “Keep Your Brain Young,” “The pH Balance Health & Diet Guide for GERD, IBS and IBD,” and the textbook Introduction to Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Medicine. He is also an editorial board member of Natural Medicine Journal. Dr. Smith is registered to practice naturopathic medicine in Ontario, and licensed as a naturopathic physician in Vermont. Additionally, he is past president (2008 to 2013) of the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and in July 2021, received the prestigious VIS Award from the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).


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