where is naturopathic medicine headed?

The top three places I think you should know to watch for growth in naturopathic medicine:

1. Colorado – As you may or may not know the process of licensure for naturopathic medicine is a state-by-state process.  Currently there are 15 states in the U.S. with licensing laws for naturopaths.  According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP): “In these states, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from an accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical school and pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license.” These states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington and the United States Territories: Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

So why Colorado next?  Well, for one, it’s my home-state and where I hope to practice in the future.  But, two, and more importantly, this spring the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians (CANP) will again be petitioning for licensing laws from the Colorado state legislature.  Colorado has been the hotbed of debate with strong opposition not only from medical doctors (mainly AMA-associated), but also from the extremely large constituent of unlicensed naturopaths currently practicing in Colorado.  A licensing law for them could mean the end of the career.  If you are in Colorado or just interested in the politics of Naturopathic licensing get plugged in with CANP because we need a voice and we need strategic planning to create harmony within our profession – between naturopaths who have not attended an accredited school and those who have.

2. California – In September of 2010 Bastyr University confirmed its plans to open a second campus in CA.  Although no city or firm start date has been set, they have “optimistic hopes” for the first ND class to begin in 2012.  Initially, this would only be a campus for the naturopathic program … but with hopes of opening up to more programs in the future.

3. Washington D.C. – the biggest obstacle for naturopaths in the U.S. is having proper state legislature supporting our field.  Tireless efforts by NDs, ND students and ND proponents have occurred on ‘the hill’ lobbying for senate support.  If you have been positively impacted by naturopathic medicine and want to see it grow in our country to increase access to alternative healthcare it is imperative that our legislators know what naturopathic medicine is and why it is important for states to have licensing laws.

For more information on naturopathic licensure and the importance of seeing a naturopathic doctor who has graduated from one of the four accredited naturopathic medical schools in the U.S. visit the AANP website – http://www.naturopathic.org – or stay tuned here for further discussions! (There are also accredited schools in Canada: see http://www.cand.ca.)

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