Career Pathways

What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a system of primary health care practiced by naturopathic doctors (NMDs) to prevent, diagnose and treat disease. This approach to health care emphasizes patient education and self-care and uses natural medicines and therapies to support and stimulate an individual’s self-healing process. Naturopathic medicine is rooted in many healing traditions, including herbal therapy, nutrition, hydrotherapy and others. The naturopathic approach to healing is more than 100 years old and has recently experienced a resurgence as an increasingly health-conscious public utilizes natural therapies as a complement or alternative to more conventional approaches to medicine.

As the field has evolved, practitioners have incorporated evidence-informed approaches into diagnosis and treatment, while continuing to focus on the individual. Opportunities for licensure and scope of practice vary by jurisdiction. Many states, such as Oregon, offer broad scopes of practice affording NMDs status as primary care physicians and reimbursement opportunities with insurance companies and Medicaid. While many naturopathic doctors are trained in primary care, like conventional medical doctors (MDs), some choose to specialize or focus their practices.

Why become an NMD?

Naturopathic medicine applies an individualized, whole person approach to health. Naturopathic physicians are trained to practice primary care medicine with an emphasis on conservative interventions and procedures that work with the body’s inherent healing capacity.

The American Association for Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of between 21,100 and 55,200 primary care physicians by 2032. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the number of persons over age 65 will increase by 48% by 2032, driving the demand for primary care. In addition, at the population ages, census data indicates that 1/3 of all currently active doctors will be ready to retire or close to retirement.

Because doctors of naturopathic medicine are trained as primary care physicians and have established primary care designation in a number of jurisdictions, the need for conservative, whole-person primary care services will continue to rise.

Why an NMD degree from UWS?

  • Study under licensed naturopathic physicians to receive more than 4,100 hours of training
  • Develop clinical skills with patients, under the supervision of experienced, licensed physicians (more than 1,200 hours of hands-on clinical training)
  • Be prepared to take the national licensing exams
  • Be prepared to take the state jurisprudence licensing exams 
  • Become a primary care physician
  • Participate in naturopathic medicine specialty organizations


While the process for obtaining licensure in each state and province is different, the majority of states that offer licensure typically follow this pattern:

  • Graduate from a Council on Naturopathic Medicine Education (CNME) accredited naturopathic program;
  • Pass Part I: Biomedical Science Examination, which may be taken after completing the basic science course identified by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE);
  • Pass Part II: Core Clinical Science Examination, taken after graduating from the program;
  • Pass – Clinical Elective Examinations (there are three Clinical Elective Examinations that are required by some jurisdictions), taken after graduating from the program;
  • Pass the Jurisprudence exam for the state / province in which you are applying to work;
  • Apply to the state/province;
  • Maintain the state/province mandated continuing education requirements

More detailed information about applying for licensure/registration is available through the licensing organization for each state/province. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) provides information about U.S. states regulating the practice of naturopathic medicine and contact information for the regulatory authorities. Another resource for individual jurisdictions’ requirements is the Federation of Naturopathic Medicine Regulatory Authorities (FNMRA). The FNMRA provides a central location for all regulatory authority information including laws, CE requirements, licensing requirements and scope of practice.

The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Institute for Natural Medicine white paper
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Institute for Natural Medicine released a white paper titled, Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists, in 2022. “This white paper provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventative, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice.” Read more here.

Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine Program Accreditation 

The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME), on April 6, 2023, approved the Eligibility Application submitted by University of Western States for the doctor of naturopathic medicine degree program. The Council’s acceptance of the application means that the program is authorized to proceed with its candidacy self-study process and to schedule an on-site evaluation. However, the acceptance of the application does not assure eventual candidacy or accreditation or mean that the program is formally recognized by the Council. For more information, contact the CNME using the contact form on its website ( or call 413-528-8877 or at PO Box 178, Great Barrington, MA 01230.