General Information: Physicians practicing naturopathic medicine use the professional title Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and the designation N.M.D. or N.D. A degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine is awarded after eight to nine years of accredited college education. A degree of Doctor of Naturopathy is synonymous with Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. Naturopathic medical schools located in the United States and Canada currently award the degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. Australian and British colleges award a degree of Doctor of Naturopathy.
Pre-Medical Education: Four Years Four years of traditional pre-medical education in an accredited college or university is required for admission and entrance into a medical school teaching naturopathic medicine. Pre-medical students are advised to apply for admission to a naturopathic medical school prior to the end of their third year of premedical studies. Admission and entrance requirements are established and determined by each individual school or college of naturopathic medicine in accordance with the guidelines established by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, the accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and the State of Arizona as the specialized accrediting agency for naturopathic medical education.
Medical Education: Four Years Medical school requirements for the degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine include residential academic studies of two years of medical education in the basic medical sciences and two years of medical education in clinical naturopathic medicine.
Medical Internship: One Year One year of medical training in naturopathic medicine under physician supervision is required. The basic medical education in naturopathic medicine is complete when clinical naturopathic medical sciences are merged into diagnosing and treating medical conditions. Naturopathic medical schools overlap part of the final academic year with the required training in order to integrate naturopathic medical students to the practice of naturopathic medicine.
License Requirements: The State of Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Board of Medical Examiners (NPBOMEX) regulates and licenses physicians practicing naturopathic medicine. A physician may not practice medicine as a doctor of naturopathic medicine without a license by the State of Arizona. The application requirements include:
1. Be a graduate of an accredited naturopathic medical school with a degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.
2. Completion of clinical training program or an internship in naturopathic medicine.
3. Successfully pass a rigorous four-day, in-depth examination for physicians conducted by the State of Arizona NPBOMEX.
Physicians licensed by the State of Arizona to practice naturopathic medicine are licensed as general practice physicians. Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine are not trained as surgeons, but are educated and trained in emergency medicine and minor surgery. Surgical cases are referred to allopathic (M.D.), osteopathic(D.O.), and podiatric (D.P.M.) surgeons.
Medical Specialties: A physician-N.M.D. may practice a medical specialty if the physician is licensed in the specialty by the State of Arizona NPBOMEX. The practice of a naturopathic medical specialty requires post-doctoral medical education and qualifications. Naturopathic medical specialties include: Allergy & Immunology; Clinical Pharmacology; Dermatology; Family Medicine; Internal Medicine; Obstetrics & Gynecology; Neurology & Psychiatry; Non-surgical Orthopedics; Pediatrics; Preventive Medicine; Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; and Radiology. Subspecialty categoriesare part of the above specialties.
Observance of Federal & State Laws: A physician-N.M.D. is required by Arizona law to observe and be subject to all federal and state laws relating to physicians, and to public health, as required for physicians of others’ schools of medicine.
Medical Practice by Physicians — N.M.D.: A physician-N.M.D. is authorized by law to practice a medical system of treating the human mind and body. Naturopathic medical practice is known for dedicated, compassionate, personalized health care with a commitment to building and maintaining wellness by healthy lifestyles which includes good nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, positive mental attitude, avoidance of unnecessary medication, avoidance of alcohol, artificial additives and tobacco; and by promoting annual naturopathic physical examinations to determine individual patient needs to maintain and prevent disease. The medical procedures employed are conservative means of medical treatment including administering, dispensing, or prescribing medicine, counseling; dietary and nutritional evaluations and treatment; dispensing or prescribing medical appliances and devices; medical physiotherapy and rehabilitation; and other medical treatment which does not involve major surgery.
Annual Continuing Medical Education: A physician is required to submit documentation of having completed continuing medical educational courses within each calendar year prior to the annual renewal of a physicians license issued by the State of Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Board of Examiners.
N.D. or M.D. — What’s the difference?: Both allopathic medical doctors (M.D.) working as general practitioners and naturopathic doctors (N.D.) are licensed doctors trained and skilled in conventional fields of diagnosis. Both refer for lab tests, X-rays, and other imaging studies and both refer to a specialist when necessary. The difference lies in the extensive training that the naturopathic physician receives in the use of natural medicines and procedures most of which are non-invasive and rarely cause side effects.
Insurance Coverage for Naturopathic Physicians: Most insurance companies are now providing for alternative health care treatments. Some have rider programs which allow for massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, and naturopathic, to name a few. Naturopathic medicine is a licensed profession in Arizona, which usually means that your insurance company should reimburse you by third party for your visit. However, some insurance companies have limited coverage and may refuse payment. Bottom line: Call them and ask.