A career in medicine is the only choice of anyone who cares about improving the health and wellness of people. But that career does not mean that one needs to be a doctor, nor does it mean that practitioners need to prescribe drugs and chemicals to their patients. For anyone who has a passion for healthcare, but doesn’t want to participate in big pharmaceutical programs, naturopath might be the career for them.
Instead of prescribing drugs or surgeries, naturopathic doctors emphasize alternative medical treatments. To assess a patient’s health problems, these doctors evaluate a patient’s lifestyle, diet, and lifestyle. Combining modern medical diagnostic methods with holistic treatments, practitioners recommend dietary modifications, exercise, and herbal therapies. Additionally, naturopathic doctors often collaborate with traditional physicians to develop health plans for their patients.
According to Study.com, naturopathic doctors are increasingly in demand. Naturopathic surgeons earn a median salary of $208,000 annually, and forecasters predict that job growth will increase by 4% over the next ten years.
But where is the best place for future naturopathic doctors to learn their trade? Although one cannot learn the practice at a traditional medical school, there are still plenty of options available.
For this list, we’ve identified the best schools that have been accredited by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. All of the schools here are so good that we can’t really rank them. So instead, we’re listing them alphabetically, giving you all the information you need to take your first steps toward a rewarding career in naturopathic medicine.
Bastyr University (Kenmore, WA & San Diego, CA)
With campuses in both Kenmore, Washington and San Diego, California, Bastyr University is one of the best schools in the nation to study naturopathy.
The 51-acre Kenmore campus sits on the banks of Lake Washington, next to Saith Edward State Park Forest. Those learning at Bastyr Kenmore can form a bond with one another by living in the school’s student village, which consists of 11 cottages. Everything on the campus, from the student village to the renovated chapel which serves as the centerpiece, works to build tranquility and peace, in line with the school’s larger goals.
Opened in 2012, the San Diego branch of Bastyr University operates in a two-story building, complete with a small teaching program.
In addition to classes in naturopath and a teaching clinic, the center of Bastyr is the Tierney Basic Sciences Research Laboratory. The lab pursues research projects, including an ongoing study of Integrative Oncology, which examines treatment options for cancer patients. Similarly, the Center hosts a study in Integrative Neuroscience, which applies neuropathic principles to the central nervous system. In 2010, the Center partnered with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to perform research funded by a $3.1 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (Vancouver, BC)
Housed in downtown Vancouver, the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine trains passionate and caring professionals in alternative medicine. The school achieves this goal with a research-based learning theory, conventional academic wisdom, clinical experience, and creative problem-solving.
The school follows the lead of its namesake, the late Dr. Joseph Boucher, a naturopathic pioneer. One of the founders of Portland, Oregon’s National University of Naturopathic Medicine, Boucher operated a holistic practice, which combined psychology with natural medicines and exercise. Boucher continues that tradition by blending research-based medical practices with an emphasis on balancing mind, body, and spirit.
Students at Boucher take part in a cohort model, which emphasizes collaboration and small group learning. Both classmates and instructors put their beliefs into practice by offering words of encouragement to one another and fostering a community of support and education. From this model, students learn to approach medicine as holistic and preventative, working on letting nature express itself fully and helping the body and mind do their jobs of healing and caring for themselves.
Students gain experience in their trade while working at the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic, in which members of the Vancouver community receive holistic care. By interacting with and caring for patients, Boucher students develop the personal skills they’ll need in their later careers.
Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, ON)
Founded in 1978 as the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (OCNM) is one of the largest and most respected alternative medicine schools in North America. In collaboration with the William Osler Health System and the Central West Local Health Integration Network, OCNM operates the Brampton Naturopathic Teaching Clinic, where students receive hands-on experience developing their skills.
In its four-year Doctor of Naturopathy degree, OCNM combines clinical medicine and research with natural therapeutics. Students learn not only how to promote health and disease prevention, through the application of natural remedies and practices, but also how to manage the underlying physical, psychological and social causes of disease. They gain these abilities in courses covering biomedical sciences, homeopathy, physical medicine, and the history, philosophy, and art of naturopathic medicine.
Additionally, OCNM offers a bridge delivery program for those who earn their naturopathic medicine degree from a program outside of Canada. The bridge delivery provides a two-year accelerated track for international students to become naturopathic doctors without having to re-take courses.
National University of Health Sciences (Chicago, IL)
The National University of Health Sciences has a strong reputation for its chiropractic medicine program, including publishing the only refereed academic journal in the field. But the school deserves just as much acclaim for its work in other health science fields, including naturopathy.
NUHS is the most academically rigorous institution on this list, a reputation it holds by demanding the best from its students. The school takes an approach that prioritizes integrative learning, pulling together every aspect of health. Students learn naturopathy from a foundation of basic science coursework, which teaches students the fundamentals of the biomedical sciences, allowing them to become well-versed diagnosticians. Early in their studies, students take clinical theory courses, which help them apply their scientific knowledge to uncover root causes of disease and symptoms.
Students learn in the classroom with students in other health programs, as well as treat patients collaboratively within an integrative clinic. NUHS’s focus on collaborative learning encourages students to become colleagues rather than competitors. This better prepares them for future careers in today’s integrated health care. Additionally, NUHS students can expand their career credentials through enrolling in dual degree programs.
National University of Natural Medicine (Portland, OR)
As the alma mater of author and American Longevity founder Joel D. Wallach, author Dicken Weatherby, and popular teacher Paul Herscu, Portland’s National University of Natural Medicine is one of the most prominent naturopathy schools in the world. In fact, the school is the oldest programmatically accredited naturopathic medical school in North America. Founded in 1956 after the shuttering of the naturopathic program at Western States Chiropractic College, NUNM counts as its founders some of the biggest names in the field, including John Bastyr and Joe Boucher, who have become the namesakes of two other schools on this list.
One of the four schools in NUNM, the College of Naturopathic Medicine offers a variety of degrees, including a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and a Master of Science in Integrative Medicine. Recognizing the field’s roots in Asia, the school emphasizes drawing from the field’s original teachers and even offers Doctor and Masters of Oriental Medicine degrees.
All students gain hands-on experience by working in the NUNM Health Center, a teaching clinic where future practitioners study under licensed naturopathic doctors. In addition to a medicinal and a state-licensed laboratory, the Center offers conference rooms and labs in which students can review their work with mentors. Additionally, NUNM collaborates with various other agencies to operate several community clinics to provide low-cost naturopathic care and acupuncture in the area while allowing students to practice their trade.
Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences (Phoenix, AZ)
Founded in 1993 with an inaugural class of 42 students, the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences has grown to a leader in the field, one that enrolls over 400 future practitioners every year. The college prides itself as a home for like-minded students, faculty, and staff to come together and make a difference in people’s lives.
SCNMHS makes that commitment real by training students in patient-centered care through motivational interviewing, professional ethics, and embracing the biopsychosocial model of healthcare. In addition to the hands-on experience provided through work in the school’s partner clinics, students also hone their abilities in the SCNMHS Medical Center and the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine.
The former facility features 27 exam rooms, including two physical medicine, four hydrotherapy, three acupuncture, two counseling rooms, an IV-therapy suite, two surgery rooms for minor procedures, and 13 general-purpose rooms. In addition, students can debrief and review their work in one of the center’s six classrooms. In the in-house lab, students and their mentors can perform clinical tests and diagnostics on patients. In the newly-created Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine, students have access to an unprecedented learning environment that mixes traditional and modern therapies, such as acupuncture and cupping therapy, manipulation, nutrition, physiotherapies, prolotherapy, as well as conventional treatments.