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Wednesday, May 16, 2018 | By: Dr. Tursha Hamilton

The ROI of Pursuing a Degree in Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Medicine

Are you considering pursuing a degree in Naturopathic Medicine? Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct primary health care profession that combines the traditions of natural healing with the rigors of science and evidence-based practice. Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary care physicians and focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness.

You may be wondering, what will you gain once you have earned this degree? Well for starters, a job satisfaction survey by The Conference Board states that 74% of naturopathic physicians reported satisfaction with their careers.

Here are several ways getting a degree in naturopathic medicine will grant you an excellent return on your investment.

Flexibility in Job Options and Work Environment

A naturopathic medical education provides the foundation for many rewarding career choices. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) currently practice throughout the United States and are employed in a variety of different professional settings, including private practices, multidisciplinary clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, insurance companies, supplement companies, laboratories, and other organizations related to health care. 

Upon graduating from an accredited institution, and passing the national board exams, students can begin practicing immediately. While many naturopathic physicians focus on general medicine, such as treating colds, the flu, or asthma, hypertension, diabetes, etc., others may decide to have a more specialized practice focusing solely on illnesses such as heart disease, autoimmunity or endocrinology; or on certain patient populations, such as women’s health, pediatrics, sports medicine, esthetics, addiction medicine, pain management, etc. 

Naturopathic doctors may also choose to go into the academic field and become faculty at educational institutions such as universities or community colleges, at the undergraduate or graduate levels. In addition to teaching, they can also choose to focus on research, progressing the field of naturopathic medicine further. There are also those who choose to focus on the management side of health care, non-profit leadership, or corporate and/or public health. 

Excellent Job Growth and Career Outlook

More and more states are beginning to recognize the value of naturopathic medicine. At this time, there are 20 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands that currently license naturopathic doctors. Many other states, including Illinois, have ND licensure pending in their state legislatures. However, naturopathic doctors aren’t limited to having successful careers in just licensed states. Many NDs have been able to find success in pre-licensed states, such as Illinois, partly due to the growing popularity of integrative practices.

Furthermore, career prospects for naturopathic doctors are growing each day as more people look for treatments that will supplement or replace conventional medicine.Today’s population has an increasing interest in wellness practices and therapies, a growing desire for healthful aging techniques, and a renewed focus on prevention and self-directed lifestyle changes.

In fact, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, nearly 4 in 10 Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine treatment.  Responding to this consumer demand, more hospitals and other health care institutions continue to incorporate natural treatments in their service offerings.

People may not realize it, but many naturopathic doctors can be found working alongside medical doctors at health facilities including: the Cancer Treatment Centers of America; the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers; Oregon Health and Science University Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital in Illinois.

According to the AANMC, “Americans are visiting NDs more frequently and spending more on natural health care services and products.” The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) predicts that consumer demand for alternative health care will continue to grow because of “research and changing attitudes about alternative, non-invasive health care practices.” The DOL also forecasts that employment of health care occupations will grow 18% from 2016 to 2024, faster than average for all occupations and driven in large part by the rapidly increasing older population.

Satisfaction of Helping and Treating Patients Using Natural Approaches

In this era of the growing opioid epidemic, naturopathic physicians are able to positively impact their patients’ health through natural, non-invasive, and less toxic therapies. This means NDs are at the forefront of medicine fulfilling the need for natural health care options in our health care system today.

NDs take their time to learn a patient’s whole history and do not simply diagnose a condition based upon a patient’s current symptoms; they also work to address the underlying causes of illness and to support the body’s own ability to ward off and combat disease. As a result, they generally spend more time with their patients. In fact, naturopathic physicians spend more than twice as much time with patients as conventional physicians at each visit (40 - 90 minutes vs. 5 - 14 minutes), permitting more time to discuss patients' concerns. This patient time allows for increased satisfaction among both patients and physicians.

Naturopathic doctors are also typically able to set their own hours depending on the number of patients they’d like to see, enabling them to maintain a better work-life balance. 

Salary Security and the Ability to Pay Back Your Loans

Going to graduate school for a medical degree is a big investment that requires both time and financial resources. It is important to know that you will be able to earn a good living as well as pay off your student loans.

The latest AANMC survey of over 1,200 NDs showed that an established ND, working full-time earns an average income of about $90,000. The earnings can vary depending on several factors including: locations and region; type of clientele served; fee structures; willingness to work with insurance carriers; business objectives, and marketing and networking efforts.

The survey findings also indicated that earning another degree in addition to the ND degree can boost earnings. This is a distinct advantage offered at National University’s Lombard, Illinois location, where students have the opportunity to earn degrees in several additional integrative medicine disciplines, including: chiropractic medicine, acupuncture, oriental medicine, and massage therapy — all on one campus.

Doctor of Naturopathic Program at National University of Health Sciences

National University trains students to focus on treating the individual rather than the disease, and to look for underlying imbalances to determine naturopathic treatment modalities best suited for the patient. You'll be uniquely prepared for the real world of health care today through learning in our integrative medicine environment. You'll graduate with the skill and confidence you need to not only practice, but to succeed and excel as a naturopathic physician. 

If you are interested in learning more about naturopathic medicine, check out our free resource, A Career Guide to Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor.

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