AANMC is of the belief that online/correspondence programs are not capable of producing qualified naturopathic physicians; their graduates are not recognized as naturopathic doctors in any jurisdiction that licenses naturopathic physicians. Graduates of such programs are neither qualified nor eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), so they have no means of becoming licensed physicians upon graduation.
While some of these part-time correspondence programs have developed their own accreditation agencies, these agencies have not been reviewed or approved by the Department of Education (ED) or by any other official reviewing body, providing no oversight for the standards they use. Some of these schools do offer programs that provide basic information on nutrition, herbs, and other natural medicine modalities; they simply are not offered at the level required of physicians. Still other schools offer programs which lack proper standards altogether. To learn more about questionable programs, visit Oregon state’s Student Assistance Commission Office of Degree Authorization.
So, for a school that defines itself as “accredited,” you must ask the question, “by whom?” If the accrediting agency is not one recognized by the ED, then the school will not adequately prepare you to practice medicine as a licensed naturopathic physician. Nor will you be permitted to take the NPLEX.
The following are some other indicators that a natural-medicine school may not provide an adequate education:
- There is no ED-recognized or approved accreditation for the school.
- It awards naturopathic medical degrees without offering students opportunities to see patients.
- It offers no patient contact or clinical lab opportunities.
- It offers all Web-based or CD-Rom courses, with no professor contact.
It depends on you.
If your purpose in studying naturopathic medicine is to become a practicing, primary care physician, then make sure you choose a quality, accredited, ND school that will truly prepare you to face this awesome and extremely rewarding challenge.
Katherine Gantz Morse and Richard Dent contributed to this article.