A naturopathic education focuses on the study of naturopathic medicine, a holistic approach to health. Naturopathic medicine is a form of complementary and alternative medicine that relies heavily on wellness and disease prevention. Rather than treating illnesses and ailments with the drugs a traditional medical doctor might prescribe, a naturopathic doctor typically structures a patient's treatment to include the functions of his or her own body in conjunction with natural remedies, and non-invasive procedures.
The first step in starting a naturopathic education is obtaining a Bachelor's Degree. Though many students may obtain a Pre-Medicine degree, majors in other areas at this level are also generally acceptable. As long as science prerequisites, such as chemistry, botany, biology and anatomy are fulfilled prior to attending medical school, most programs will work in conjunction with further educational requirements. In fact, naturopathic students are encouraged to obtain well-rounded educations prior to enrolling in medical school. Psychology is an undergraduate path that many nauturopathic students choose to take for this very reason.
Like a medical doctor, a naturopathic doctor typically attends a four-year standard medical school. During these studies, he or she may pursue subjects such as cardiology, immunology, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, gynecology, biochemistry, obstetrics, pediatrics, neurology, or pathology. He or she may even study surgery, though later most naturopathic doctors opt to not utilize surgical procedures. General health care, including diagnosis and treatment of a variety of conditions, is studied in full.
Following this traditional career path, students obtaining a naturopathic education typically study naturopathic methods such as acupuncture, psychological counseling, midwifery, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, and homeopathic medicine. After these studies are complete, the naturopathic physician will have a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree. Students who opt for a naturopathic education should keep in mind that this program is typically just as rigorous as a standard medical program, and can often include even more course hours. Also like a traditional medical doctor, a naturopathic doctor usually must pass board exams, and be licensed in order to practice.
Students may wish to specialize in additional areas of natural healing, which may be studied specifically at a naturopathic school. Some of these may include massage therapy, ayurveda, spiritual healing, hot stone therapy, reiki, aromatherapy, reflexology, and bioenergetics. As people turn to wellness and preventative measures to treat their illnesses, and generally seek a better quality of life, the demand for naturopathic doctors will likely continue to be high. A naturopathic education can be an effective way to fulfill these needs in one's own life, as well as to provide care for others.