How Do I Become a Naturopathic Physician?

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  • Written By: Andrew Kirmayer
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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Naturopathic medicine is generally based on the body’s ability to heal itself and a focus on treating the underlying causes of symptoms. It is an alternative form of medicine; however, education and licensure are typically necessary to become a naturopathic physician. The requirements for being licensed can vary depending on local or regional guidelines in places where naturopathic medical practices are recognized.

To become a naturopathic physician, a solid educational background is typically required. One usually needs to study biology, anatomy, physiology, and chemistry in an undergraduate program. Botany is often a study requirement as well. Colleges that offer these study programs typically have a similar tuition to traditional medical schools. There are often financial aid programs and loans to consider, so you can take advantage of such opportunities if you qualify.

You can attend naturopathic medical school after college. Some of these schools, as well as their curriculum and coursework, are accredited by an association that is well-known in this field of medicine. It usually takes four years of study in a graduate program to become a naturopathic physician, while it is often allowed for someone to take longer to complete a program. You’ll probably take classes in anatomy, neuroscience, clinical diagnosis, as well as minor surgical procedures common in naturopathic offices.


The first couple of years of graduate school are usually focused on academic study, while students typically focus on clinical studies thereafter. Sometimes a residency is required, either while in school or after graduating. Once an approved curriculum is completed, you then need to pass a licensing exam to become a naturopathic physician. Such exams can cover subjects like biology, medical practices, and procedures such as acupuncture. Licensing requirements sometimes vary depending on location, so it is important to know what these are where you plan to be practicing.

Naturopathic doctors generally need to show they can recognize and diagnose serious health conditions. They must also cooperate with legal guidelines set forth by local and regional agencies. When you become a naturopathic physician, an alternative to licensing is to become certified, which typically involves completing an educational course. There aren’t usually any guidelines to determine the quality of such a program, so this is something you should consider when building your qualifications. Whether you set up your own practice or seek employment in naturopathic medicine, education, licensing, and other qualifications can put you at an advantage over others looking for similar work.



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