My Journey to Studying at Naturopathic Medical School, Becoming a Licensed Naturopath & Guidance
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
Earlier this month a listener of the Herbal Hour Podcast wrote me a heartfelt request to share the story of how I became a Naturopathic Doctor and why I chose this path less traveled. This inspired me to write a general overview of how myself, a philosophy major in university and pre-med student who had a clear path into conventional medicine - decided to take a leap of faith into a profession tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. In it I travel back a decade in time, long before I knew that naturopathic medicine existed, and the winding journey that brought me to a profession that I am proud to be a part of. I answer the common question of "Are Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine, Real Doctors?" - and share how my destiny unveiled itself to me in intuitions, and give you an insiders look into what going to naturopathic medical school is like, and considerations you should reflect on before you take your own leap of faith.
The interested reader will find much mixed opinion online on naturopathy, from a wikipedia article that focuses on discrediting all of naturopathy to articles written by former naturopaths that focus only on the failures of certain naturopaths to take seriously the honor of physician status in Oregon, Arizona and Washington. The truth is a whole profession cannot ever be composed of perfect doctors, this is true for both medical doctors and naturopathic doctors - in light of this I want to share that I have nothing but respect for the work of most Medical Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors and the many alternative and conventional health professionals who believe in a holistic future for medicine. Many of the new age of medical professionals see the holistic perspective of medicine without necessarily calling it by that name. These are the doctors who strive for the betterment of those they serve, and treat their patients like people - not disease processes.
Why I have respect for all healthcare practitioners:
I know that honesty and a genuine effort to understand others is the missing ingredient in the integrative medical soup which can bring together all those healers who sense the potentials in natural medicine. We should all stand behind our professions, and learn from the mistakes of our colleagues - whether they be medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors or anyone who works in the art of healing. Often the tendency of various health professionals (my profession included), and human nature in general is to react defensively to what we feel are attacks on our identity - and leads us to miss the chance to learn, grow and better practice the art of medicine, or become wiser as a patient seeking help for their healing journey.
We must do our utmost to resist blaming individual doctors for what are products of the healthcare system, and resist blaming an entire health profession for the mistakes of the few. Medicine is not a profession like any other, this practice is not something that can tolerate the corruption of financial motives, willful blindness born of ignorance or tendencies of generalizing blame upon others. The medical work requires a depth of moral purity because doctors of all types inherently face existential questions of life, death, pain and suffering on a daily basis. I think it equally wrong that some alternative health practitioners openly villanize medical doctors as a group - and I urge that we be careful of blaming any individual practitioner without a deep dive into the specifics of their work. I think every health professional regardless of the letters that follow their name, can agree that something is fundamentally wrong with the modern medical system in the United States.
Before I became a Naturopathic Doctor I faced much doubt from what I read online, nearly reconsidered my path before it started when I read the falsehood that naturopaths studied "pseudoscience" and had fears that I would not be a "real doctor". I know now that any who say such things either have not met a good naturopathic doctor, are speaking of those who call themselves naturopaths without any education, or place blame on a whole profession for the failures of the few. This is the story of why I chose to study naturopathic medicine, and why I know that for myself it was the best decision I ever made. I explore the pitfalls of modern education, and how I made it through the pre-medical education. Towards the end I share 5 considerations that should be deeply reflected on before pursuing the specific path of naturopathic medicine - throughout I share the inner aspects of naturopathy, something I believe that prospective naturopathic students, patients and all manner of healthcare professionals will find useful - that is my hope in any case.
My Journey to Naturopathic Medicine by Dr. Bogdan Makartchuk, ND
In my undergraduate philosophy studies I fell in love with ancient philosophy & eastern religious traditions. I come from a family of doctors and teachers, and was born in Ukraine as were my parents and their parents before. This cultural background was steeped in the use of herbal teas, and the idea of the humanity of the healing profession. In my last two years of undergraduate education I began studying the classic pre-med courses, biology, chemistry and the whole gamut, thinking that I would pursue a DO or MD degree as my father, a general surgeon had. The only classes I liked were organic chemistry, a medical writing course, and a class I took in anatomy & physiology. In my pre-medical studies I felt a deep lifelessness in classes about life like biology, even though the natural world was of immense fascination to me.
I found that doing reading on my own in those areas was far more captivating and inspiring, in them I saw mystery and wonder - something that many of the science courses I took seemed to focus on dispelling and standardizing. From this arose fears that continuing my path in MD or DO school would be more of the same, I felt deeply conflicted. At this time I had begun practicing meditation, studying buddhism and experimenting with herbs and supplements. My first herbal extraction was with cannabis, and it amazed me - that such a powerful force could exist within the liquid essence of an herb, and even more that its effect was different than the typical method of usage. I explored psychedelics and my interests in the metaphysical seemed validated to me through my experiences. I began feeling that there was a deeper world right in front of us - that we somehow had become unable to see anymore.
Looking back on my decision to chose the path less travelled, the natural path it seems that many forces came together to push me outside of the conventional. It was all sparked by a family tragedy on the day after my first psilocybin experience when my mind still open from it. I was in my senior year of high school. Something remarkable happened in the days following, I think it is simplest to explain as a direct experience of the reality of death, the limited preciousness of life, the meaninglessness of most common societal preoccupations. I was captivated by fluctuations between deep sorrowful tears, and even deeper insights into who I really was, what human life was. After several days I began to see things in a new way, it was like I saw the world with fresh eyes again.
Still suffering from the ongoing family tragedy, where a car accident had left my brother in a coma, medical knowledge at that time suggested that death was likely, and best case scenarios that survival would leave him as a shell of a human. During that period of several months of going to school, and visiting the ICU of hospitals - I experienced a roller coaster of emotion. Yet I didn’t become bitter from this, in fact it made me more compassionate, more loving - through no effort of my own. I began to view people in a different way, focusing on sharing positivity and kindness to anyone who crossed my path. I became incredibly passionate about studying the mysteries of the world - it was if I was desperately digging to escape the collapse of a worldview that fundamentally held reality to be good, and evil an accident.
Life tragedies that changed my perspective and later led to peak experiences:
As I struggled with the shockwaves of this tragedy, I began to feel a deep compassion- it was not a conscious choice, and at that time was something I didn’t understand. It was not something I resisted either, as I felt it to be the balm which was mending my wounded soul. I experienced several mystical experiences during that time, usually associated with breathing meditations, without the use of any substance. The experiences were ones of peace, deep love and an expansive feeling of unity with the world around me, and all life within it. They never came intentionally, and were reminiscent of psychedelic experiences, except without the anxiety, and existential terror which pops it head up during a deep psychedelic “trip”. These experiences showed me without doubt that there was available to us at any time deep bliss, wonder at nature and a complete quieting of the voice within our mind which drains our attention to the marvels of life.
To anyone who has had such experiences, words cannot express them in any satisfying way - and many people keep them secret in fears of judgement. These were experiences of ecstasy as Mircea Eliade called them in his famous book on shamanism, however unlike the psychedelic experience or hallucinations in psychotic breaks - they came with no strings attached, no fear, no anxiety, or repercussions. Minutes after they ceased, they only remained as a faint memory and feeling of an “afterglow”, and during them not a single person could tell that I was acting any differently than usual.
Somehow, by some gift of nature or the divine, during the darkest night of my soul I felt and experienced deep light. Interestingly these "mystical" experiences, as they are often called, did not occur during my meditation practices but afterwards - often after I allowed this mindfulness to be effect my speech and actions. In several case, a particularly deep conversation would bring my mind into a space where a feeling of weightlessness and complete tranquility of mind slowly suffused my perception. Modern psychology and psychedelic terminology might call these experiences of “ego dissolution”, the phenomena when our normal everyday consciousness is replaced by a much richer one, which always carries with it the feeling of a heightened sense of reality or a return to a truer way of perception which has been forgotten,
Studying Philosophy in University:
These experiences inspired me to major in philosophy from day one of university, and during that time I read more than at any period of my life. I realized that my distaste for learning, and reading was a product of education, and was opposed to my natural curiosity. It was all in following my natural interests, reading became my primary hobby. A quiet activity I spoke little of other than sharing recommendations with close friends. My primary interest at that time while in University was the eastern philosophical traditions, namely those born of the deep experiences of meditation. I was unaware at this time that in centuries past, the study of philosophy was often undertaken before medicine - not only as a precursor for law or becoming a professor of philosophy.
This interest naturally flowed into a fascination with the often neglected part of our lives, our diet and the tools we use to calm our minds. I became deeply interested in maximizing my experience of well being, and the world of alternative health and supplementation. These areas of healing seemed to be connected to a love of nature and a compassion for humanity, they were warm and inspiring, and my biology classes cold and separate from a kinship with life. In my 3rd year studying philosophy the question of a “what I would do in my life” became quite troubling. Knowing that a major in philosophy had no career paths directly linked with it outside of teaching philosophy at a school, I was worried that my education - though incredibly fulfilling would leave me with no independent future. It didn’t help that searches for work as a philosophy professor had a dozen opening in the whole country, and it required a PH.D to even be considered.
These practical concerns were contrasted by the fact that I loved philosophy more than perhaps anything, I was enriched by the open discussions that were common in the smaller philosophy classes, was inspired by my professors on a constant basis. I can’t think of one professor in my classes that I wasn’t riveted by and inspired in my own thought. I was a bit of an oddball even in the philosophy program as I had a distaste for much of modern academic philosophy, particularly Kant and the other more famous western philosophers. However my classes on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle left me just as amazed and inspired as my personal interests in studies of Buddhism, Hinduism and mystical traditions. In short my almost impulsive decision to study philosophy, majoring within the first weeks of university was beginning to look like a dead end.
The Best & Worst of the Educational System:
Add to this pressures of my concerned parents that my education was as good as useless for surviving as an adult, and pushing me to pursue conventional medical schools to follow in their path. Out of all possibilities of professional work these seemed to be most aligned with me, but only in comparison with other options. It began to make sense to follow the path that my parents took, my father practicing as a surgeon or my mother who took the path of internal medicine in my land of birth - the land which now has become famous for the war horrors which occur on a daily basis as of my writing of this article - Ukraine. These were my thoughts at the time I began adding the pre-med courses required for medical school to my philosophy study. I want to emphasize that I was incredibly torn at the time, the practical implications of my idealistic life seemed grim. During this time I had never heard of naturopathic medicine, I knew of course that there were areas of medicine that were holistic, and that herbalism was a possibility - but they didn’t seem to have any clear path to them. In my mind it seemed that I would be best by just “biting the bullet”, going to conventional medical school and practicing in line with my passions on the other end of it.
It was a stressful time, the science classes I was compelled to take were very based on memorization of facts, and lectures were incredibly dreary - with many of the “professors” being primarily researchers who the university required to teach as part of their job. In fact, in the sciences the University I went to, Stony Brook, was primarily a research university when it came to the sciences. My philosophy classes could have less than 15 people in them, these biology courses being an auditorium full of hundreds of students. I thought at first that perhaps it was simply that it was difficult that I found many of my pre-med classes unharmonious with me. Later I realized that it was simply the way they were taught, the professors disinterest and what I would call the “fast food education” model behind them.
I made it through but I still had a bad taste in my mouth about science education in general. By the time I was in organic chemistry my attendance rate was probably about 10%, and every class I sat through focused on confusing research, and sponging what was fundamentally an art you had to learn through practice. Trying out my theories I focused my study time on visiting the student learning groups, which hosted by TA’s, were like crash courses in drawing organic chemistry reactions - something that probably looked to outsiders like squiggles on a piece of paper. It was a remarkable experience, after classes a dozen students would gather together to practice and study the reactions together. We often stayed there for hours into the night in the days preceding exams. That is when I began doing very well in organic chemistry, getting B’s and A’s - all while avoiding lectures like the plague. This taught me an important lesson I will never forget - if you feel something lacking in your education, take it upon yourself to find your own way through it. Play to your natural talents rather than trying to force the circle of your learning style into the square of standardized education methods.
I finally understood why I seemed disinterested in science, it was because the educational system behind it was fundamentally disinteresting - and I believe that whether implicit or explicit, were more a method of “weeding out” those who wouldn’t make the cut in competitive medical programs. I began taking this approach to many other of my pre-med courses, meditating outside during class and in my free time studying the material for exams in my own way. In and of themselves the topics covered by the textbooks were interesting, and I found that researching these ideas online and writing down key facts “stuck” more in my mind, was far more fun and still lead to me passing the exams. The hope flickered in my mind that regardless of how mechanized medical school would be, I had a secret weapon for making it through - I could pass any exam through self study if I knew what topics would be covered.
The Fork in my Road- Osteopathic or Naturopathic? I was rather pretty set on going to osteopathic school at this time, thinking that perhaps I would focus in on osteopathic manipulation - the only holistic option that seemed available. I don’t recall how I chanced upon naturopathic medicine in my internet researchers, but when I found it something lit up for me. I ordered a thick encyclopedia written by naturopathic doctors and began casually reading it. It was fascinating, they spoke of herbs and supplements but also incorporated research from physiology and other essentially scientific medical disciplines. I remember that every time the prospect of going to conventional medical school filled me with a subtle dread, I would reach for that naturopathic encyclopedia and begin feeling better again. I guess I figured that at least I could study the medicine that was interesting to me, regardless of my future in conventional medicine.
Over time this idea of naturopathy as an option slowly grew on me. I researched and found that this path seemed to be the best of both worlds, but it was much less well known, openly derided by those who felt a right to arrogance and most worrying of all about this path was that even at that time I recognized that traditional career opportunities like a salaried job were few and far between. I was already aware that much of common medical practice had lost the spirit of ancient traditions that came before, and was ever more a system that had an almost morbid preoccupation with disease, and very little to say about health or the suffering patient
At this time I was nearing the end of university, and had since narrowed my path to becoming an ND or becoming a DO. I had read several of Carl Jung's works with eyes wide open since I learned of his psychological theories at the end of high school and had an inkling for the kind of work I wanted to do. Whatever it was I knew that it would involve me sitting one on one and with a person, helping to ease their suffering and explore the richness of their story. . It seemed to me that ignorance was the cause of all evil, all misery, all bad mindsets - and that knowledge applied and turned into wisdom made life a great blessing most of the time. Even during times of experiencing suffering, my temporary negative mindset couldn't last long if I began exploring and contemplating again.
My choice was simple, there was a fork in the road - go to conventional medical school and be practically guaranteed a well paying job, or I could take a leap of faith and take a chance in studying naturopathic medicine, which aligned with my deepest values and insights into healing. I also knew that regardless of which path I took, working at a hospital didn't suit me well. In spite of the many technological marvels and necessity of hospitals for emergencies - I always had a strange sensation of discomfort in hospitals. I think the cold, artificially lighted, and sterile environment didn't align with my notions that beauty and art had a secret therapeutic effect that was not well understood. Everything that I read about natural remedies was suffused with a kind of exciting potential, none who wrote on the topic were disinterested, and their convictions about the therapeutic potentials of natural medicine were rooted in experience and common sense.
What I Feared Most about Pursuing Conventional Medicine:
As I oscillated between the two poles of my destiny - It became clear through my researches and conversations that far too many conventional medical students entered medical school with aspirations to help people, but by the end were so disillusioned and jaded- that they seemed to relinquish those pure motives to survive the ordeal. First to survive first year, then to survive their residency, and finally to survive within their first years of fellowship or private practice. I read later in Articles and research that conventional health practitioners, particularly medical doctors - have the highest suicide rates of all professions. This phenomena was also common to medical students, who have among the highest rates of depression.
There is much to say about the "wounded healer" myth playing out in nearly every type of medical professional or healer - but whereas I saw that those who walked in the path of naturopathic medicine seemed to have something to pull themselves through, a deep knowledge that they were in the right place, and even if they felt confused their was some faith that this path was moving them forward.
I feel looking back that in some sense I escaped from a potential life path that although would end up in me practicing medicine, it differed in who I might come out on the other side. Many of my colleagues who studied alongside me at National University of Medicine (Formerly NCNM) in Portland, Oregon - were people who had either already worked in the conventional medical field, or had their course set to go to MD school but decided to change their path when they learned about naturopathic medical school.
General Guidance for Anyone facing a Leap of Faith:
Journeying back again to myself in my last year of university when I was getting ready to apply to medical schools, when I had to to take a leap of faith. Would I go to conventional medical school and go against the grain in my practice, or go to naturopathic medical school and be with a group of people who were inspired by the same potentials in nature and the ancient healing traditions such as myself? To some degree my lack of nuanced knowledge on the differences between these paths made my decision easier. I am thankful looking back on my education, my private clinic, and all the amazing things I learned that I pursued naturopathic medicine and followed by stubborn ideals. This stubbornness forced me to take a more difficult path, moving from the East Coast to Oregon and being inspired to the most remarkable nook & cranny of modern medicine - naturopathy. Do I recommend doing the same?
I truly cannot say for any individuals case, you must follow your hearts call, and think on your ideas of what you will do on the other side of medical school. For me and my goals it was the riskiest decision I ever made in my life, but it was the right one. Looking back it seems almost like destiny that carried me forward, a rebelliousness to the norms that would give me the world at the price of my soul. Studying medicine at NUNM was incredibly fulfilling, I was thankful that I received an education in modern clinical medicine, alongside those areas which lit my soul on fire. Herbalism was one of such things, and the whole world of it opened up to me. Mental health was another, I saw so many patients who needed an alternative to pharmaceuticals in my 2 years of clinical training at NUNM's clinic & community health centers - that I knew from day one that this would be my focus.
My interests in working with endocrinology (hormones), chronic diseases and the wonders of herbalism were also inspired there. Focusing in mental health was something that I can look back to throughout my early university days and see the invisible thread that lead me to my career - though at the time I had no idea how or if it would ever come about. Would I have been just as fulfilled in my work and enamored by herbalism if I had gone to D.O. or M.D. school? It is impossible to know, though I can say that I likely would have had much greater inner turmoil from the difficulty of going against the grain. I don't know if I would have been able to look back with fondness on my medical education, if I would have found such support from my colleagues, if I would still smile every time I drove past my school - like I do today with NUNM.
It is remarkable to look back and see that the greatest blessings of my life's work were hidden behind a misty fog, that I suffered much internal conflict about the leaps of faith that I now see as destiny reaching for a future potential. I implore the reader, regardless of their field - to know a simple truth I have come to understand. If you follow your bliss, doors will open to you that you could never have imagined. You may not be as rich, have the same number of opportunities, or even avoid the difficulties of life - but if you follow your calling, your life will become like a story that on reflection will inspire you and those you love to ever greater paths. In the end we are all traveling back to ourselves, back to who we are at the deepest level.
Each revolution of our lives bringing us ever closer to our potential. That is - if we follow that seemingly far fetched inner spark which whispers to us through our greatest moments of doubt, and gives only one guarantee. Not necessarily great wealth, or job security, sometimes not even a clear path forward- but you will live deeply, grow in appreciation, and wealthy in fulfillment and a love for the work.
This is all to say: do not take lightly that which excites you, that fulfills your deepest inner potentials - and with courage take that leap of faith. And perhaps like me you will find that the danger you feared was the unseen hand of the future daring you to live true to yourself. The greatest tragedy is not pursuing what you love and failing, but rather pursuing a compromise that has the same risk of failure. So let your struggle be one towards something deep within yourself, compelling you to express it. You will know it by your deepest loves, ideals, interests and who you are as a person.
In my case either path that forked in the road for me was a leap of faith - only one drained me of spirit, and filled me with dread, and the other filled me with a wild hope, an excitement of potential that shined through my fears and doubt. There were even moments in naturopathic school that brought doubts about my choice, though predominantly this was not the case. Looking back those fears were just phantoms, masquerading as practicality - my self doubts that came as an easy way out of the uncertainty. My journey has truly just begun as a naturopathic doctor, I have only been out of school for 2 years - but I couldn't imagine any other line of work as I sit and write this.
The deep fulfillment I feel in my work, in helping patients, and in my decision to follow my spirit - is something I never expected. I hope that you, the reader, can also find such a thing in your own way, or carve it out from within your own field as a beacon of possibility for others. If you must continue in a line of work that drains your soul for financial reasons, I implore you to prepare yourself through study and make movements towards that goal in your free time while you have the strength to do so. For myself, the medical training and guidance I received aligned me with my passions, nurtured my interests, and made me proud to be call myself a Naturopathic Doctor, and a part of the health community which is being the change it wished to see in medicine, and in the world. I hope you find inspiration in this story, and regardless of your career path can derive something of usefulness from it.
I am here as a resource for students who are considering a career in healthcare but feel something is missing in modern medicine, please feel free to contact HolisticPsycheLLC@gmail.com if you have any questions about naturopathy, the different naturopathic medical schools or would like to learn more about my work.
5 Considerations Before Attending Naturopathic Medical School:
Naturopathic Medical School is a big undertaking, so I want to share some of particulars of the profession you should be aware of before leaping into our unique profession of Naturopathy.
1) Scope of practice for naturopathic doctors is different in some states :
You may not have the full scope of practice that an N.D. degree trains you for if you seek to practice in certain states, and some that don't license naturopaths at all. Click here to see which states are licensed and the differing laws surrounding them.
Know which states you are considering working in before pursuing a clinical degree in naturopathic medicine. The brighter side of this is that even since I entered naturopathic medical school, several states had bills pass licensing naturopathic doctors and the general trend has been increasing scope of practice in most states that already had licensure for naturopathic medicine.
Patients should know about the limitations that certain states have on naturopaths as well. With that said, 20+ states in the United States recognize naturopathic doctors as healthcare professionals, and most provinces within Canada recognize U.S. naturopathic degrees. In the unlicensed states, naturopaths still practice but do so more through a "wellness" coach type of service, or similar to how an herbalist does.
Naturopathy can be practiced in way that doesn't require the use of jargon related to "diagnosis, medical treatment, and prevention of diseases" - avoiding potential claims of practicing "medicine without a license" for those who chose to work as naturopaths in states that do not recognize the profession.
2) Naturopathic medical school is expensive and is a 4-6 year commitment:
It is less costly than traditional medical schools however still require taking on of federal loans for most. This is the case with most doctorate programs, and most notable in medicine. This should not be the primary limiting factor however, as income based repayment scale with your earning when you get out of school.
Programs in naturopathic medicine are four year programs with an option to extend to five years for busier students. Several of my classmates chose the path of learning Chinese medicine concurrently, making the education a minimum of 6 years. The good news about this is loan repayment cannot be required until 6 months after graduation. Being that the federal loan repayment has been paused on interest, it is 2 years after graduation and I haven't paid a dime yet.
With luck and hope perhaps the idea of "loan forgiveness" and other regulations that will ease that stress may come in the near future. This is often the greatest concern of potential medical students, but should not be the main factor in why you don't pursue any kind of medical education. If you already have significant federal student loans, you should investigate this aspect deeply.
3) Most naturopathic doctors start a private practice and become business owners:
Naturopathic medicine simply does not have the same abundance of available jobs at healthcare clinics as other medical professions currently. This is the case for all "alternative" health careers, and even more so the case for those without any health related degree. Those who thrive after graduation in the alternative health fields often have an entrepreneurial spirit and are willing to start a private practice. Keep in mind that I had no ideas that I had this spirit in me, until certain opportunities to express it came into my life towards the second half of medical school.
In general most people are seeking alternatives to the current system and will jump for joy once they hear about your work - trust me, naturopaths are in incredibly short supply and in high demand, but if you do not want to start a private practice at first, or at all - you may want to reflect especially on this face of naturopathic medicine.
4) In states where naturopaths can take insurance, they often get reimbursed less:
And still eat the same crap sandwich as other health practitioners as medical doctors when it comes to insurance. Most medical professionals can write you a lengthy essay about why they dislike the insurance medical model. There are current legal efforts to ensure naturopathic doctors receive the same reimbursement for the same procedures as medical doctors - and if you are a patient that abhors the fact that your doctor sees you for 10 minutes, you can blame the insurance model for that.
That is why many naturopathic doctors opt for cash based practices, because insurance limits their practice, encourages unnecessary procedures, exhausts doctors through its complex codes, and probably leads to more stress and burnout than any other aspect of healthcare. A strong argument can be made that the insurance model is the key ingredient in everything that is wrong with modern medicine, but that is just the opinion of myself and every healthcare professional I have ever spoken to.
With that said, insurance allows certain patients with limited finances to get the care they need and deserve. At my clinic I have solved this issue by implementing a sliding scale system that allows my patients with financial limitations to get naturopathic medical care at a price affordable to them, and avoid the nightmare that is medical insurance altogether.
5) Modern naturopathic schools have a significant focus in conventional medical sciences in addition to the natural medicine therapies which differentiate the profession:
Expect to learn about anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, organ systems, and practice physical examinations, blood draws and other sensitive medical procedures - we are trained in many of the same areas as medical doctors though we differ in that we also learn about natural remedies, botanicals, nutritional therapies, and many holistic treatments in courses and even more so in the 2 year clinical phase, preceptorships and shadowing naturopaths. You can ask for more information as an example here of the typical naturopathic medical curriculum.
Reflections on Gratitude & The Future of Naturopathic Medicine:
If after reading and contemplating on these considerations, you feel that pursuing a path in Naturopathic Medicine aligns with your life's work - then you will find yourself in good company. These unique challenges facing the naturopathic profession did not deter me from pursuing a degree in naturopathy, and many of them are not set in stone either. In fact, every member of our profession can have a large impact on the future of Naturopathic Medicine. I believe that taking that leap of faith and following my heart's path through uncertainty and doubt - has since transformed into feeling of being at home in this wonderful profession.
I regularly have discussions with naturopathic colleagues and graduates of NUNM on my podcast and am always surprised by the sense of community, camaraderie and supportive mentality of our community. I am proud to call myself a naturopathic doctor, and incredibly grateful for the opportunities that those inspired by nature's wisdom provided for me. Many of my closest friendships and professional relationships were born and nurtured at naturopathic medical school.
I also want to send the deepest thanks to all those who champion traditions of natural medicine. I feel quite lucky to have come into the profession at a time when naturopathy is the most widely known, licensed and accepted it has ever been. Perhaps my most important realization was this - that in spite of the many hurdles that I faced in my journey in becoming a naturopath, I came out the other side a deeply enriched person - and that is truly a gift of a medical education.