What is a Naturopathic Doctor?
I get this question a lot and it’s confusing. I get it. All the other healthcare practitioners their name says it all. I’ll explain Naturopathic medicine in context of how we are similar, and different, then your family doctor.
Our Training is Similar…
Naturopathic doctors are trained as primary healthcare providers, similar to your family medical doctor.
Our similar training teaches us physical diagnostic exams, laboratory testing, pharmaceuticals and IV treatment. We also learn phlebotomy (taking blood), reading x-rays and how to deliver babies.
We are able to provide breast exams, gynecology exams and digital rectal exams. Our training and testing is similar to conventional medical doctors. We actually take the same standardized patient practice exams.
Our licensing requires us to write five days of international licensing, in addition to, provincial board exams and practical assessments.
Is Your Scope of Practice Different?
Each province or state creates a scope of practice for each type of health professional. The scope of practice dictates which of these skills can be used for treatment of patients in that location.
For example, Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario and British Columbia write the same prescribing exam for pharmaceuticals. Provincial regulations determine which drugs can be prescribed. It is a lengthy list in BC, and about a dozen in Ontario.
Naturopathic Doctors Have a Varied Toolkit
Alongside the medical training, NDs spend time learning about herbs, nutrition and acupuncture. Our training teaches us about all other alternative therapies as well. Click here to learn more about our approaches to treatment. Our training is based on working to treat the whole person.
Our solutions are focused on reducing symptoms. We do this based on determing the source of the problem. This involves investigating a little deeper into your whole life.
If your training is similar, how is naturopathic medicine different?
We focus on the why and how. I spend time focusing on why your body is acting the way it is. My goal is to think about how we can shift it into functioning optimally. We want to work together to eliminate your symptoms by figuring out what is causing them.
I want to try and avoid masking the problem or suppress it. The focus is return your body to functioning fully. Our goal is to have you feel great again.
Our Appointments are Different
Naturopathic Doctors and MDs approach the situation very differently. One difference is the amount of time we each have with you. A short MD appointment is focused on a single question or concern. This type of visit usually involves an investigative test or prescription to help resolve the concern.
A naturopathic / functional medicine appointment is quite a bit longer. My intake is 75-90 minutes. We cover off what you are struggling with. Our appointments also examine your life from head-to-toe. We chat about everything from sleep to toxin exposure, elimination (yep, we talk about poop) to stress levels.
All of these areas are important for us explore. This helps us to figure out what is going on, and how it affects various pieces of your life. It also helps in the development of a treatment plan that fits your needs.
What does this all mean to you as a patient?
It means, that I can work alongside your medical team which may include a conventional medical doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc. I believe we can best work as a team to diagnose and treat conditions.
Have more questions please message them to me or post them here. I’d love to be able to share more about our approach to health.
The Author, Christina Carew, is a naturopathic doctor who practices functional and strategic medicine in Toronto.
As a medical investigator, she is in the business of changing people’s lives.
Dr. Christina focuses on finding the biomedical reasons for symptoms that are often unique to each patient and helps her patients remove the obstacles that stand in the way of living a healthy vibrant life.
Want to know if her approach is right for you?
Note: This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed health care worker