Is nature, itself a doctor in a sense? If you’re looking for more natural treatments or perhaps want to study to be a naturopathic physician that prescribes fewer pills and more whole foods, how do you find accredited training? You might begin by looking at the various fields of preventive, integrative, complementary, functional, or environmental medicine and then explore naturopathy as a way to integrate all your medical training into using whole foods and lifestyle changes in conjunction with what you’ve gained in knowledge from preventive medicine.
In preventive medicine, doctors learn how to integrate clinical prevention into clinical practice. In naturopathy, doctors learn how to treat patients or prevent possible future illnesses or slow down the progression of illnesses with natural therapeutics such as whole foods, supplements, and lifestyle changes rather than with commercial drugs, unless the patient is acutely ill, for example with pneumonia or has a broken bone or internal injury, in which case, they’re sent to a hospital’s emergency room.
Numerous medical schools throughout the country train physicians and medical students in preventive medicine, one of the areas of focus is on treating patients with foods and supplements, including working with physical therapists and fitness trainers on individually-tailored exercise. The other branch of preventive medicine is in public health research.
In California, Loma Linda University offers a preventive medicine residency accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and fulfills the requirements for the certifying examination of the American Board of Preventive Medicine.
The American Board of Preventive Medicine currently certifies physicians in three areas: general preventive medicine, occupational medicine, and aerospace medicine. The preventive medicine training encompasses the clinical, administrative, and research skills involved with medical research, program and health care policy development, and administration.
Another unique program for physicians is Tulane's Preventive Medicine Residency Program that has an exceptional depth and breadth to its program. Established in the early 1960's, Tulane's program trains residents for careers in public health practice, academics, and administration.
Preventive medicine and public health training also includes, but is not limited to, the choice to treat patients with whole foods rather than pills for the purpose of preventive medicine, that is to prevent future possibilities of illness. In the current era of medicine, physicians must understand not only patient-specific issues, but also public health and population-specific healthcare approaches.
A recent report of the Institute of Medicine indicated an urgent need for an effective public health system that can respond to the public health threats that range from bioterrorism and AIDS to an epidemic of obesity, as outlined in the report, Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21.
The IOM report examines the education of public health professionals, who are an essential component of the public health workforce. Report recommendations range from establishing partnerships between schools of public health and other academic disciplines, local and state health departments and community organizations, to calling for the addition of public health training to medical and nursing school curricula and increasing federal funding for public health research.
Tulane's Preventive Medicine Residency Program responds to that urgent need of keeping the public healthy by preventing illness as the medical school includes an academic and a practicum phase, both of which provide for acquisition and application of knowledge, skills, and attitudes of preventive medicine and public health in real-life settings.
Career paths of recent graduates range from academics including clinical research to public health practice in local, regional, national, and international agencies; other graduates have entered the private sector for clinical practice or health care administration.
Tulane's Preventive Medicine Residency Program offers a regular medical school curriculum in preventive health to medical students as well as a program for physicians and other programs for a variety of graduate degrees in public health.
How is training in public health related to preventive medicine which in turn is related to treating patients with food and lifestyle changes rather than with pills? The connection to using food as medicine is that preventive medicine emphasizes preventing illness from happening in the first place by making changes in diet and lifestyles before illness sets in that’s so serious that it is a lot more difficult, if possible, to reverse with changes in foods, lifestyles, and supplements to correct imbalances and deficiencies in diets.
Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine also offers masters and PhD degrees in public health and/or tropical medicine emphasizing the assessment of individual health needs. Tulane provides training in the recognition, assessment and control of environmental hazards in health including those found in the workplace. There’s a focus on the recognition of the social, cultural and behavioral influences on health and illness. Tulane's medical school also offers graduate degrees as well as medical training in genetics.
How would you like to become a metabolic nutritionist, or perhaps consult a nutritionist trained in genetic and metabolic nutrition? For example, Amy Cunningham, MS, RD, LDN has just been elected as President of the Genetic Metabolic Nutritionists International (GMDI), the first and only professional organization of metabolic nutritionists. Ms. Cunningham has been the only fulltime metabolic nutritionist in Louisiana since she came to the Hayward Genetics Center in 1997.
With a membership of over 160 metabolic nutritionists, GMDI's mission is to provide standards for management of inherited metabolic disorders for which dietary treatment is the standard of care. As these rare disorders require specialized formula and regular monitoring, involvement of a trained metabolic nutritionist is required but the availability is severely limited in most communities. Ms. Cunningham's term will last from 2010 - 2012.
If you are thinking of becoming a metabolic nutritionist, check out the professional association, GMDI. The mission of GMDI is to provide standards of excellence and leadership in nutrition therapy for genetic metabolic disorders through clinical practice, education, advocacy, and research. GMDI members are leading practitioners in nutrition therapy who have joined together to identify education and training needs and to develop standards of practice in this highly specialized field. Membership provides opportunities for professional education and research, as well as networking and peer support.
You can train in preventive medicine or in any of the fields allied with approaching medicine from the prevention position. The Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC publishes reports on preventive medicine that may be of interest to people that want to know about where they can train in preventive medicine.
What’s unique to the field of preventive medicine is that some, but not all physicians who receive MD degrees in preventive medicine include programs where a patient can choose to use whole foods and supplements to create his or her own individualized plans or regimens in preventive medicine to hopefully prevent illness or at least slow down the progress of illness through finding out about what research results are available in the field of preventive medicine.
The goal of preventive medicine is to take responsibility to keep oneself (and the public) healthier. It’s about using research to gain foresight, insight, and hindsight. Patients want to know how to prevent and reverse illness or slow down its progression with age.
Preventive medicine is not only about treating patients with food and supplements. It’s about preventive health service delivery, including disaster preparedness and population-based research.
There are other specializations in medicine that focus away from pills for the purposes of preventive medicine approaches. Osteopathy sees a medical disorder or an illness as part of a larger problem in the body.
Therefore its approach to diagnose and treat an illness emphasizes treating the whole person rather than putting a band aid on a symptom. Osteopathy examines the inter-relationship of the body's nerves, muscles, bones and organs.
Another path is naturopathic medicine. One of the ways a physician who also has an MD from an accredited medical school can gain credibility in naturopathic medicine is to earn an ND after already earning an MD. Validation and accreditation is crucial. If you're a patient or a student, research carefully to make sure any degree is from an accredited school.
Before you go to a natural healer that treats people with food instead of pills, watch out for the non-accredited organizations that may create paperwork that are not accredited or verifiable. See this site to alert yourself to medical credentials. Be cautious about schools that are not accredited and offer degrees online.
Don’t take advice that instructs you to take coffee enemas to clean out your colon. See the medical Consumer Education site on non-accredited associations before you start a program of study or look for treatment.
There are presently five accredited colleges of naturopathic medicine in the United States and Canada: Bastyr University in Bothell, WA, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, National College in Portland, OR, and Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Tempe, AZ. The naturopathic medical program at the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, CT, has been accredited in April, 2009. The accrediting agency for naturopathic medical programs is the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).The CNME is the only naturopathic accrediting body in the U.S. that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education’s mission is quality assurance: serving the public by accrediting naturopathic medical education programs that voluntarily seek recognition that they meet or exceed CNME’s standards. Students and graduates of programs accredited or preaccredited (candidacy) by CNME are eligible to apply for the naturopathic licensing examinations administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE), and are generally eligible for state and provincial licensure in the U.S. and Canada.
If you go to a naturopathic physician, make sure the individual has graduated from an accredited school of naturopathy. If your naturopathic physician has taken four years of classroom and clinical training, the individual would have studied naturopathic therapeutics, including therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, natural childbirth, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy, and various therapies where research has shown them to be safe.
Always ask if a new therapy is being tried to be shown research reports stating it is a safe therapy for you and also ask whether the therapy suggested to you worked well in others with what possible side effects. Because the course work in natural therapeutics is added to a standard medical curriculum, naturopathic doctors receive significantly more hours of classroom education than graduates of many leading medical schools. In addition to classroom hours, naturopathic medical students do their clinical training in student clinics, various medical clinics and hospitals.
If you’re a patient in search of a naturopath, make sure the person you’re dealing with has graduated from an accredited school. An individual does not have to earn an MD degree before studying to be a naturopath. Some naturopaths formerly were registered nurses before they attended a school of naturapathy. Some doctors recommend naturopaths that have earned both an MD degree and an ND degree, but check out the reviews and patient satisfaction recommendations on anyone you want to consult. Make sure the naturopathy college attended has been accredited.
Naturopathic physicians are the only primary-care physicians clinically trained in the use of a wide variety of natural therapeutics. However, some physicians may first earn an M.D. in preventive medicine and then take an ND in naturopathy from an accredited school of naturopathy. Other naturopaths may have earned an MD first in integrative medicine, functional medicine, complementary medicine, environmental medicine, or osteopathy, and then earned an ND.
According to the site of the Council of Naturopathic Education, Universities and colleges may choose to call the naturopathic degree they confer either the “Doctor of Naturopathy” or the “Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine” degree. These are two different names for the same degree. By either name, the degree is usually abbreviated “N.D.,” but an institution that refers to its naturopathic credential as the “Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine” degree may abbreviate it either “N.D.” or “N.M.D.”
Presently, all colleges and universities with accredited or candidate naturopathic medicine programs confer the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree or, in Canada, the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine diploma. In all states and provinces that regulate naturopathic medicine, except Arizona, naturopathic physicians use the N.D. initials after their names.
In Arizona, they may use either the N.D. or N.M.D. initials. According to the CNME, "The different sets of initials do not indicate a difference in scope of practice, but only a preference by the individual physicians. The N.D. initials are the ones more widely associated with the naturopathic medical profession and are the only ones used in the corporate seals of both the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors."
CNME’s Handbook of Accreditation, containing CNME’s standards, policies, procedures, and governing documents, is available for $20 (U.S.), prepaid. Or, download a free PDF version of the handbook. The PDF file (81 pages, 800KB) may be opened and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free download.
A naturopath doesn’t have to have earned an MD first. The individual can enter naturopathy training after earning a B.S. and study four years to earn an ND. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) found 38 percent of adults and 12 percent of children in the U.S. use some form of alternative medicine. View the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine's video site. NCCAM’s address is at the National Institutes of Health. For further information, write to: NCCAM, National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20892 USA.
Bastyr University Naturopathic Medicine Program
14500 Juanita Drive, N.E.
Accreditation was initially granted in April 1987 and last reaffirmed in August 2008. The next full-scale evaluation is scheduled for spring of 2013, with a decision on continued accreditation to be made in fall of 2013. The university has institutional accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, a U.S. Department of Education recognized regional accrediting agency.
of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic Medicine Program
435 Columbia Street
New Westminster, BC V3L 5N8
Initial accreditation was granted in December 2008. The next full-scale evaluation visit is scheduled for fall 2012, with a decision on continued accreditation to be made in spring 2013. The college is recognized by all Canadian provinces that license naturopathic practitioners.
of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic Medicine Program
1255 Sheppard Avenue East
North York, Ontario M2K 1E2
Accreditation was initially granted September 2000, and last reaffirmed in April 2009. The next full-scale evaluation visit is scheduled for fall 2012, with a decision on continued accreditation to be made in spring 2013. The college is recognized by all Canadian provinces that license naturopathic practitioners.
National College of Natural Medicine
Naturopathic Medicine Program
049 S.W. Porter
Portland, Oregon 97201
Accreditation was initially granted April 1991 and last reaffirmed March 2006. The next full-scale evaluation visit is scheduled for fall 2009, with a decision on continued accreditation to be made in spring 2010. The college has institutional accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, a U.S. Department of Education recognized regional accrediting agency.
Southwest College of Naturopathic
Medicine & Health Sciences
Naturopathic Medicine Program
2140 E. Broadway Road
Tempe, Arizona 85282
Accreditation was initially granted in 1999 and last re-affirmed in April 2009. The next full-scale evaluation visit is scheduled for fall 2012, with a decision on continued accreditation to be made in spring 2013. The college has institutional accreditation with the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a U.S. Department of Education recognized regional accrediting agency.
University of Bridgeport
College of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic Medicine Program
60 Lafayette Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06601
Initial accreditation was granted in March 2006 and last re-affirmed in April 2009. The next full-scale evaluation is scheduled for fall 2011, with a decision on continued accreditation to be made in spring 2012. The university has institutional accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, a U.S. Department of Education recognized regional accrediting agency.
of Health Sciences Naturopathic Medicine Program
200 E. Roosevelt Road
Lombard, Illinois 60148
Initial candidacy was granted in March 2008. An evaluation visit for reaffirmation of candidacy is scheduled for spring 2010. The university has institutional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission, a U.S. Department of Education recognized regional accrediting agency.