On Friday, Wisconsin became the 26th jurisdiction in the United States to regulate naturopathic doctors. This marks continued momentum and interest for regulating naturopathic medicine, specifically in the Midwest.
In Wisconsin, Act 130 will create a naturopathic medicine examining board with rule-making authority for licensing naturopathic doctors. The board will be made up of four naturopathic doctors, a primary care physician who has experience in naturopathic medicine and two public members.
Licensing naturopathic doctors has several benefits in each state, including resident retention and increased job opportunities. In fact, hospital systems in Wisconsin such as Marshfield Medical Center have already expressed interest in hiring naturopathic doctors, said Shaon Hines ND, CNS, CPT, president of Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians (ILANP).
“There has been a lot of momentum for other types of health care,” she said. “The overall consensus is that this is what people are leaning toward.”
Licensure in Wisconsin is certain to raise even more awareness for the profession, particularly across the Midwest. With naturopathic medicine also regulated in Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois are poised to gain licensing too.
This year, ILANP is making efforts toward licensure by hiring a new 5-member lobbying team and introducing an updated bill that’s already gaining support. Similar to the bill that passed in Wisconsin, the new bill would create its own act and licensing board rather than try to amend the pre-existing Illinois Medical Practice Act of 1987, which has an already-established board.
Hines added that the lobby team recently had a positive meeting with Don Harmon (D), Illinois President of the Senate, who agrees naturopathic medicine should be an option in health care.
In recent years, Dr. Hines said more medical professionals have been discovering naturopathic medicine and are starting to really value the profession.
“In general, it’s all about constantly educating people,” she said. “My hope is that licensure creates more of an interest in not just future patients but people seeking naturopathic medicine as a career.”