The practice of naturopathic medicine may seem a bit “way out" for some folks, but it is becoming more and more mainstream in today's world of health care. Many traditional health care schools now include some components of naturopathy in their curriculum, as many Western doctors have learned that naturopathic medicine can be a valuable healing tool. The regulation of naturopathic medicine schools and licensing of practitioners helps to ensure consistent and quality practices are met.
The regulation of naturopathic medicine schools and naturopathic physicians is overseen by various organizations and means. Most states and Canadian provinces have individual regulations regarding the practice of naturopathic medicine, but national organizations have considerable influence in determining qualifications of schools and the licensure of practitioners.
The Council on Naturopathic Registration and Accreditation (CNRA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote traditional naturopathic techniques by recognizing trained and degreed practitioners, and certifying the credentials of naturopathic doctors for public information and use. The CNRA is nondiscriminatory in its policies, and recognizes individuals rather than schools. The interested of CNRA is in the quality and professionalism of the student, the graduate, and the practitioner, rather than the school from which a degree has been received. Naturopaths must complete an application form. Upon acceptance, a certificate indicating registration as a naturopath is conferred.
The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) was established in 1978 to serve as an accrediting agency of North American naturopathic medical institutions, naturopathic educational programs, and post-graduate naturopathic residency programs (including postgraduate training in naturopathic family care and other specialties) in the United States and Canada. CNME is recognized as an accrediting agency for four-year naturopathic colleges and programs of study in the United States and Canada, by American and Canadian national naturopathic professional associations, and by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). CNME suffered some difficulty with the Department of Education regarding bias in its accreditation processes a few years ago; however, they continue in practice.
There are several naturopathic medical schools accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education in the United States and Canada. Naturopathy institutions interested in accreditation by CNME must voluntarily seek recognition as meeting or exceeding standards set by this organization. CNME is a member of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA) and a member of the Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada. CNME abides by the rules of the ASPA Code of Good Practice. Through advocacy of high standards and through inspection prior to granting accreditation, CNME provides students and the public with some assurance of confidence in the quality of naturopathy programs and education.
CNME accredits medical programs that lead to Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (NMD) degrees. For those interested, CNME standards for residency programs can be found in The Handbook on CNME Postdoctoral Naturopathic Medical Education (PNME) Sponsor Recognition Process and Standards.
Students who have graduated from CNME-approved programs can apply for the naturopathic licensing examinations, which are administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners. CNME graduates are also likely eligible for U. S. state and Canadian provincial licensure.
There are also regional institutional accrediting agencies to look for when seeking a quality naturopathy education. These are Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Some practices of NDs, as of MDs and ODs, are regulated by federal standards. States and provinces regulate naturopathic medicine practices independently, where states have no broad regulations. City and county jurisdictions often have licensing and practice regulations that must be considered by naturopathic physicians. Various medicinal practices, such as acupuncture, herbalism, chiropractics, massage therapy, and other natural healing remedies may be regulated by specific laws in specific jurisdictions.
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Michael Bustamante is a staff writer for Media Positive Communications, Inc.in association with . Visit our Natural Healing Directory and find Colleges, Universities, Vocational Schools and Naturopathic Schools at ; your educational resource to locate schools.