Naturopathic Medicine Today
Today, more people than ever are seeking naturopathic medical care and naturopathic medical schools are growing at record rates to accommodate the increased demand for naturopathic education.
Currently, 17 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have regulating laws for naturopathic doctors. In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from an accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license.
There are four accredited four-year naturopathic medical programs and one pending accreditation in the United States. Canada has one accredited and one pending (Boucher Institute) medical programs. Naturopathic medicine has an independent accrediting agency, the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), which is the recognized authority for establishing and maintaining the educational standards for profession. A nationally standardized licensing exam (NPLEX) has been established and is used in nearly all of the states that currently regulate NDs.
Regulated naturopathic doctors must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually and have a specific scope of practice defined by their state's law. In these jurisdictions, NDs practice as independent general practitioners, with the ability to diagnose and treat medical conditions, perform physical exams, and order laboratory testing. In these states, many health care consumers specifically choose NDs as their primary health provider.