What is a naturopathic doctor?
Naturopathy is a form of primary health care that is devoted to using natural remedies and materials to treat various diseases and disorders that a patient might have. The practices of a naturopathic doctor are based on the concept that your body has innate abilities to heal. They integrate the best of conventional medicine with homeopathic, botanical, and nutritional therapies. The initial naturopathic medicine movements can be traced back to Hippocrates but he did not use the term naturopathy. The term naturopathy was developed when it was incorporated into the works of Benedict Lust and John Steel in the early part of the 20th century. With the discovery of penicillin naturopathy lost some steam but in the mid-1950’s interest resurged. In the United States 64% of the naturopathic doctors are men. They are often referred to as master herbalist.
Job description of a naturopathic doctor
When you visit a naturopathic doctor they will treat the whole person. They will also educate their patients on healthful ways of living. A naturopathic doctor will also use a variety of therapies to help promote healing such as:
- Paying attention to their diet with the help of the naturopathic doctor recommending different nutritional paths to help promote healing.
- Relying more on herbal treatments instead of prescribing standard medications
- Hydrotherapy which is a medical treatment that uses water. An example would be doing exercises in a swimming pool
- Mental health counseling
- Homeopathy which is the belief that you have the ability to heal yourself.
- Traditional Chinese medicine which is a form of medicine that has been practiced for over 3000 years in Chine and other Asian nations.
These therapies are the first thing that the naturopathic doctor will usually consider are these therapies but many times they will be used in a complementary way along with traditional western medicine which is the term that is used to indicate the medical condition is treated with medications.
When seeing a naturopathic doctor they can diagnose and treat various medical conditions. They can also help their patients learn how to prevent medical conditions. Even though they emphasis natural treatment they can use some of the same tools that a medical doctor would use such as medical imaging and blood tests. They can do some minor surgery but even that minor surgery, natural childbirth, and intravenous therapy, need further studies by the naturopathic doctor before they can perform then on their patients.
Basically a naturopathic doctor will administer non-toxic and natural substances into the patient’s body in order to accelerate and enhance their heal rate along with the patient’s general body immunity. This can include acupuncture, herbal supplements, chiropractic adjustment, relaxation therapy, and more. If you choose this field of medicine you must be able to make quick decisions, be empathetic, and be patient. They will also need to be able to enjoy working with others and do not mind the hard work.
How to become a naturopathic doctor?
Before going to medical school they will have to have a bachelor’s, or undergraduate, degree which will take 4 years. There is no specific major that is required but if they have a science degree or pre-med degree it could give them an advantage when applying to medical school. If they do not have a degree in either one of these they should make sure that they have completed coursework in physics, biology, psychology, and chemistry because these are classes that are typically required. You should also have a strong foundation in other areas of science like biochemistry and botany.
Once you have your bachelor’s, or undergraduate, degree you have 4 years of medical school. One thing that is very important when choosing a medical school is to find one that has an accredited naturopathic program that is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. In the United States there are 5 colleges who offer programs in naturopathy which include:
- Bridgeport, Connecticut– National College of Naturopathic Medicine
- Scottsdale, Arizona– Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences
- Portland, Oregon–National College of Naturopathic Medicine
- Lombard, Illinois–National University of Health Sciences
- San Diego, California and Seattle of Washington–Bastyr University School of Naturopathic Medicine
When attending medical school they will be trained in the traditional medical subjects like anatomy, physiology, radiology, pharmacology, pediatrics, and more. Some of the alternative subjects they will take that a traditional medical doctor will not are acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional medicine, etc. The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) has to have classroom study, clinical experience, and pass practical exams.
During the first two years of medical school a naturopathic doctor will have classroom study and the last two years will be training that is hands-on. The training that a naturopathic doctor is receiving is supervised by doctors that are licensed. The District of Columbia, 5 providences of Canada, and 16 other states require that a naturopathic doctor be licensed and have attended an accredited 4 year naturopathic medical school along with being required to undergo specific training. They will also have to pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) exam, which is a postdoctoral board exam administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, Passing this exam fulfills the initial requirements to become licensed in the states that require licensing but continued education may also be required to keep their licenses current,
Although they trained in the traditional medical subjects naturopathic doctors do not undergo the same training as medical doctors. Naturopathic doctors do not have to complete residency training, and when being trained there may be less emphasis on clinical science. They may also be educated in areas such as vitalism and homeopathy which stand in opposition to conventional medical treatments. One such example is that a naturopathic doctor may decide to use mineral supplements, other natural materials, and vitamins instead of the traditional prescription medications. At the end of their training a naturopathic doctor will be board-certified and can practice as primary care providers, which is a physician who provides healthcare for a majority of a patient’s simple illnesses. There are some states in which a naturopathic doctor cannot practice as a doctor legally
Although they have been trained in a medical school, had their training evaluated by the medical licensing boards, and are referred to as a “naturopathic doctor” they are not medical doctors. There are many who feel that the professional organizations a naturopathic doctor belong to like the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, do not provide the necessary balances and checks on accrediting schools or licensing naturopathic doctors. There are other health professionals who may study naturopathic medicine by taking classes but they will normally retain their professional titles. They are just using naturopathic classes to help expand the types of treatment they can offer to their patients.
Work environment and schedule
A naturopathic doctor can work in community health centers, clinics, hospitals, public heath development and research, natural pharmacy, wellness education, or private practices. They may also work in a group practice or have a partnership with other doctors who work with alternative or complementary medicine. Although they are not medical doctors they still can have irregular long hours and may even have periods of being on-call. The exact schedule they would work would depend on where they worked. If they were working in research they may have long hours but would not be on-call.
When a patient sees a naturopathic doctor they will be treated as if they were seeing a medical doctor. If you are a new patient you will have to fill out paperwork on your medical history, insurance, if you are taking any medication, and what your medical concern is that brought you to the naturopathic doctor. Once back in the exam room they will do a physical exam, ask questions, and make notes on your chart. They will try to find out if your medical condition or illnesses is caused by inadequate rest and sleep, inadequate exercise, if there are any deficiencies in their diet, and more. Instead of prescribing medication the naturopathic doctor will attempt to stimulate your body to heal by administering a range of natural therapies and medicines.
One of their main goals when you visit them is to identify what is the underlying cause of your medical condition or illness. They will examine the patient’s physical, emotional, dietary, and genetic factors that could have contributed to their illness or medical condition. They will suggest modifications to your dietary habits and exercise regime. They may even suggest lifestyle changes. There are also times when the naturopathic doctors will work in collaboration with traditional doctors to find a course of healing for their patient.
Pros and cons of being a naturopathic doctor
Working as a naturopathic doctor will be a very rewarding and advantages job especially since you get the chance to make a change for the better in many lives. Making a distinction in other people’s lives is a strong pro especially if you like to help those in need.
This job is very motivating, and you’ll get plenty of scene changing, and in the end very productive. The title as a naturopathic doctor will surely bring more respect and credibility, and all that you were taught will be highly used. The higher education, which you’ll receive during the training programs, has its pros and cons.
The pros are related with the fact that you’ll know a lot, and you’ll already have the experience that combines the classroom with the practice. You’ll also know how to react and act in various situations that might appear on the working set.
The cons are linked with the many hours that you’ll have to spend studying. It will cost you more money, and you’ll probably end up getting some loans that you’ll have to pay until you’ll actually get a full earning.
To all this, you’ll have to add a stressful life and a time of commitment to this job. That’s why fitting a family in this busy schedule might be tougher than you’ve imagined but not impossible.
This career and the field in which you are going has a lot of increased opportunities, and a naturopathic doctor is becoming more and more known. With its popularity growing the chances of an increased earnings will go up, and the demanding as well since many people are starting to search for a natural cure.
Naturopathic Doctor Job growth
For these years, the prospects for naturopathic doctor job growth are presented with a rate of 8%. This rate is given by the nature of the profession itself that is starting to gain more and more recognition across the United States. You can find loads of job opportunities in states such as Maryland, California, and Florida.
The career options and opportunities are plenty, these professionals being able to find work in private practices or run their own business or partner with other alternative medicine partners, or even in the public sector – public health, wellness education, development and research and other.
The job satisfaction is high among these professionals, the majority of them enjoying fully professional and career rewarding. Patients are always in need for options that will improve their lives and will show them how to live healthily.
In some surveys, the growth percentage is even higher due to the understanding of this field and the remedies that it presents itself combining the nature with the levels of modern science. The future outlook of this job presents with plenty of opportunities and career options making the job outlook to be excellent. There will always be people in need for some treatment that will aid their body, mind, and spirit.
Naturopathic doctor salary
Before you decide on a career as a naturopathic doctor it is important that you know that their average yearly salary is much less than medical or specialist doctors. Also, a self-employed naturopathic doctor makes more on average each year than one who has a private practice. A self-employed naturopathic doctor could work in various settings, set their own salary, decide where and when they want to work, and work full or part time. On average their yearly salary ranges from $31,216-$86,742 which included a yearly bonus that ranges from $500-$1,965. There are some whose beginning yearly salary is on the level of someone who works in a factory. It could take many years before they can make a reasonable income.
Breaking down the average yearly salary in the United States per years of experience would be:
- Less than 1 year work experience the average yearly salary would be $23,583-$27.600
- Having 4 to 5 years work experience the average yearly salary would be $35,000-$90,000
- Having 5 to 9 years work experience the average yearly salary would be $41,602-$82,580
- Having 10-19 years of work experience the average yearly salary would be 62,500-$100,000
There are also the perks that can add to the average yearly Naturopathic doctor salary that can include vacation days, sick days, personal days, social security, retirement, 401K, health and life insurance, malpractice insurance, uniform allowance, etc. In most instants the geography location would have an impact on what a medical or specialist doctor would make on average each year but it has no effect on a naturopathic doctor’s salary. If they are in private practice, in partnership, or work in a group practice they would have to pay all or part of the overhead costs of running the practice which can include rent, utilities, salaries, etc.
Some of the best paying states or cities to set up practice as a naturopathic doctor include:
- Oregon–$35,00-$85,000 average yearly salary
- California–$27,600-$100,000 average yearly salary
- Chicago, Illinois–$23,583-$122,084 average yearly salary
- Phoenix, Arizona–$58,958-$98,264 average yearly salary
Over the next ten years the field of naturopathy can expect a job growth of approximately 35%.
Salary of a naturopathic doctor in 2015
In the US, a naturopathic doctor salary is estimated at an average that reaches $57,810 per year so is less compared with other specialist doctors. Those who work on their own (self-employed) actually earn more than those working in private practices. A self-employed naturopathic doctor in US has an earning that ranges between $58,959 and $101,738 per year.
For 2015, a person working as a naturopathic doctor will have a salary that will range according to a various number of factors. For instance, the salary for these professionals is influenced according to the facility in which they are working, the education that one received and the years of their work experience.
The future outcomes are based upon the number of demanding and the fact that this job is becoming more and more prevalent, and people are really showing interest. There are also the top paying states that will give a naturopathic doctor a good earning. For example, the salary in Chicago for a naturopathic doctor is estimated to range between $23,587 the starting level and will go up to $122,087 per year, also Phoenix, California, and Oregon.
You’ll have the rewarding that many times, people will come to you, look for aid, and you’ll be there to provide it as well as you know.
Naturopathic Doctor Salary in 2016
For the year 2016, in the US, the salaries of naturopathic doctors are influenced and affected based on several decisive factors. These are factors such as the amount or level of education gained from training programs, the company size and the industry in which these professionals have found work, geographical location, and the years of experience in the field.
The average naturopathic doctor salary in 2016 estimation in the United States for these professionals reaches at $85,060 per year. The starting point for the income of a naturopathic doctor is around $41,263 per year or even lower and can climb up to $138,145 per year. Half of these professionals that already have years of experience can expect an income established at $73,410 per year while those in the category of the top senior group take home around $103,697 per year.
Those that already have their own practice or partner with others specialist to run practices make an average net salary estimated between $80,100 and $90,100 and in time, they can make up to $200,010 per year or even higher. The early residency positions for naturopathic doctors offer an established income between $20,100 per year and $30,100 per year.
The incomes also increase and decrease according to each state and region. For instance, those working in Maryland can expect a yearly income estimated at around $122,195 per year while those who found work in California can expect an annual income estimated at around $80,910 per year.
Naturopathic doctors that are working in Oregon can expect at an income of around $61,965 per year while those working in Montana will take home around $46,715 per year. The major factors that affect the salaries to vary that much are based on the cost of living in that particular area and the living expenses.
Naturopathic doctor salary in Canada, Australia and UK
- In Canada they can make an average yearly salary of C$75,000 and a possible bonus of C$500-C$1,600.
- In Australia a naturopathic doctor can earn a yearly salary that averages AU$40,165-AU$66,687 that includes a bonus of approximately AU$3,649.
- In the United Kingdom if they are in their 20’s they can expect an average yearly salary of 10,125 pounds. If they are in their 30’s they can expect an average yearly salary of 13,230. If they are in their 40’s or 50’s they can earn an average yearly salary of 15,660.
Conclusion on naturopathic doctor salary
As you can see when becoming a naturopathic doctor they have to go for approximately the same about of years for schooling but they do not have to do a residency or fellowship. Unfortunately their salary is less than a medical or specialized doctor. The salary for a naturopathic doctor in the United States will very seldom be over $100,000 on average yearly with most of the salaries being in the $80,000 range. This salary range can be reached by a CPA, business executive, etc without having to go to school for at least 8 years. Most medical and specialists doctors start out on average a yearly salary of over $100,000 while a naturopathic doctor just starting out will have on average a yearly salary under $30,000.
- First Published Date: 30 June, 2014
- Last Updated Date: 17 August, 2016