Are you thinking about scheduling a visit with a naturopathic doctor? You may be wondering, what is a naturopathic doctor, or how does a naturopathic doctor’s visit differ from a typical doctor’s visit?
A naturopathic doctor is a health care provider who combines traditional healing methods with modern science in the self-healing of the patient. Naturopathic doctors emphasize prevention, addressing the root cause in supporting their patient’s journey towards optimal health. Their education and training involves four years of medical school, and they are required to sit for basic science and clinical board examinations to practice as a licensed physician.
In an initial visit, you will spend approximately 90 minutes discussing your chief complaint, past medical history, diet and lifestyle in order to piece together the root cause(s) of your symptoms. Treatment plans are individualized to the patient’s needs and may include the following:
- Nutritional and lifestyle counseling
- Botanical Medicine
- Supplement and medication management
- Ordering of diagnostic lab work
- Physical medicine
- Minor surgery
- Intravenous Therapy
- Referrals to appropriate providers
Below are some questions that are frequently asked prior to an initial visit:
Should I bring my medical records — such as labs, imaging and consults — to my first visit?
If available, this is helpful. These records are typically requested and reviewed by the doctor between your first and second visit.
Do I need to have any lab work completed ahead of time?
At the end of your initial visit, your naturopathic doctor will decide whether further evaluation is needed in the form of labs. There are currently many self-pay lab options that are now available to patients. However, before you invest in tests that you may or may not need, we would suggest waiting until your appointment for recommendations regarding ordering lab tests.
What else can I do to prepare for my naturopathic visit?
Bring yourself and your story! It can also be helpful if you bring your supplement and medication bottles so that we can be sure of the exact names, brands and doses of medication you are taking.
Are there sub-specialties in naturopathic medicine?
All naturopathic doctors are trained to practice primary care medicine. Formal specializations include board certifications in naturopathic oncology and pediatrics. While no other formal specialties exist, many naturopathic doctors will choose to gain expertise, through specialty associations and continuing education, in areas such as hormonal health, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, environmental medicine and digestive health.
You can find licensed naturopathic physicians in private practices, hospitals, clinics and community health centers throughout the United States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Canada in five provinces. Twenty U.S. states require licenses for naturopathic doctors.
In order to find a medical school educated and licensed naturopathic doctor near you, visit https://www.naturopathic.org/ and click “Find a ND” at the top of the page.
Congratulations, you are now well on your way to experiencing the healing power of nature!