When seeking out a provider for your health care needs, it can be difficult to sort through the types of providers out there, especially when it comes to "non-conventional", "holistic" or "alternative" practitioners. You want to be sure that you are receiving quality care when you invest in your health. If you have thought about visiting an ND, how can you be sure that you are receiving the high quality care that you deserve? What exactly does it mean if a practitioner has the letters "ND" after their name? If you're confused about what it means to be an ND, your confusion is not unfounded - it can actually mean a number of things!
Naturopathic medicine, as a profession, is currently only licensed or regulated in 21 states. Ohio is not one of them, which makes things a little more confusing here. Because there are a few different avenues by which one can attain the letters "ND" after their name, ranging from an online education of a few months, to attending a 4 year accredited naturopathic medical school, "having an ND" can indicate many levels of experience and education. But, not to worry - I have come up with a short list of 3 easy questions that are a good starting place to help you sort through the confusion. Many of these questions are often answered just by looking at an ND's website, but if not, don't hesitate to ask. It's your health and you have a right know that you are getting the highest quality of care.
1. Did you go to an accredited naturopathic medical school?
There are currently 7 accredited naturopathic medical programs in North America, spanning across 8 campuses. A list of these schools can be found here. This means that these programs have met the requirements of regional accrediting agencies approved by the United States Department of Education, as well as the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education, recognized by the US Secretary of Education as the national accrediting body for ND degree programs. If an ND obtained their degree from one of these accredited programs, you can be sure that they received the most high quality, in-depth and vigorous naturopathic medical education available.
2. Have you passed the NPLEX I and II exams?
In licensed/regulated states, NDs must pass the two NPLEX (Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations) in order to be eligible for licensure. The NPLEX examinations, set by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, set a high standard of testing that NDs graduating from accredited schools must take, in order to ensure the competence of NDs before they can be considered for licensure.
3. Do you have a state license to practice naturopathic medicine?
You may be wondering why I am including this question, as an ND who is practicing in a currently unlicensed/unregulated state. Well, I believe strongly that NDs should be licensed in every state, for safety, access to care, quality and public health reasons. As a board member of the OHNDA (Ohio Naturopathic Doctors Association), I am helping to work towards that end in Ohio. In the mean time, I believe that every ND with an accredited naturopathic medical education, who has passed the NPLEX, should hold a state license. If that means holding a license in a state other than the one of residence, due to current absence in licensing laws, then so be it. I am currently maintaining my Washington state naturopathic license, as that is the last licensed state in which I worked. It means that I am required to continue to do the mandatory continuing education every year, and once Ohio becomes licensed, I will be able to apply for an Ohio ND license.
Have a great weekend!