What Does My Naturopath Do?
Complementary and alternative medicine has never been more popular. Nearly 40 percent of adults report using complementary and alternative medicine, also called CAM for short. Conventional physicians are embracing CAM therapies too, often combining them with mainstream medical therapies — spawning the term "integrative medicine."
As the demand for CAM grows, the need for well-trained naturopathic doctors could not be greater. The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), based in Toronto, Ontario, is one of seven accredited naturopathic colleges in North America. Interestingly, 20% of prospective naturopathic doctors in North America decide to complete their studies at CCNM. Among many other reasons, this may be due to CCNM’s strong focus on clinical research, extensive clinic and hospital experience, as well as the lowest tuition cost compared to any other accredited naturopathic college in North America.
To be considered for admission to the four year naturopathic degree, applicants must have completed a three- or four-year bachelor's degree in any discipline at an accredited institution.
Naturopathic education encompasses basic and diagnostic sciences – including anatomy, clinical physiology, biochemistry, pathology, embryology, immunology, pharmacology, physical and clinical diagnosis, and lab diagnosis – as well as conventional and naturopathic approaches to improving and maintaining patients’ health.
With over 3,000 hours of classroom training in basic medical science courses, naturopathic principles, and therapeutics, as well as 1,200 hours of supervised clinical experience, naturopathic doctors receive extensive training in a variety of disciplines including:Clinical Nutrition, Acupuncture, Botanical Medicine, Asian Medicine, Physical Medicine, and Lifestyle Counselling
Fourth-year interns treat over 100 patients per day at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic (RSNC), the largest naturopathic teaching clinic in North America. There are alsofive satellite clinics in community health centres around Toronto with specialties such as HIV/AIDS, and aboriginal health. Additionally, with clinic focusareas in sports medicine, adjunctive cancer care, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, and reproductive healthat the RSNC, there are opportunities for students to provide care to a varied patient population.
When students graduate from CCNM, they are required to pass the appropriate licensing exams for the province they will practice in. To keep their registration current throughout their career, they must meet the approved continuing educationrequirementsset by their provincial licensing body.
In Ontario, naturopathic doctors offer another avenue for access to primary general health care and health promotion. Naturopathic doctors can provide early diagnosis of, and treatment for, many health-related conditions. With lab analysis, and the use of diagnostics, they can obtain additional insight into an individual patient’s health.
Overall, CCNM educates well-trained naturopathic doctors with the knowledge and experience to integrate with mainstream medical therapies. This service is becoming a necessity with the growing demand for CAM services, and the accompanying need to navigate the general public in using naturopathic therapies safely and effectively.
Article written by Dr. Rachelle Viinberg, ND. Rachelle practices at an integrated health clinic in Toronto and is also a clinic supervisor at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic.