Pre-Medical Preparation at UHMānoa: Naturopathic Medicine
(Text compiled from the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges website www.aanmc.org, NAAHP's Medical Professions Admission Guide, and the UHM 2005-2006 Catalog.)
Naturopathic programs offered in Hawai'i: None
Medical doctors, or physicians, are highly trained healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations, diagnose illnesses, prescribe drugs, and treat patients suffering from injury or disease using a variety of techniques.
Physicians serve in all types of communities, from rural to inner city, and in a wide variety of settings, from private practice to clinics and hospitals. They also work in specialized settings, such as homeless shelters, schools, sports programs, prisons, nursing homes, third-world countries, and the armed forces. About one-third of the nation's physicians are generalists, or "primary care" doctors, although that percentage is declining as more physicians choose to become specialists. Generalists include fields such as internists, family physicians, and pediatricians. Specialists focus on a particular system or part of the body; examples include neurologists, hematologists, cardiologists, and podiatrists, to name only a few.
Physicians also serve in research, studying and developing new treatments for disease, in academia, sharing their skills by educating medical students, in health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, medical technology manufacturing, health insurance companies, and in corporations with health and safety programs.
There are five primary fields in medicine: Allopathic, Chiropractic, Naturopathic, Osteopathic, and Podiatric, all of which diagnose and treat disease.
- Allopathic physicians (M.D.s, Medical Doctors, or Doctors of Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease; treatments include prescription medication and surgery. Allopathic medicine offers both primary care and a large number of specializations, but many MDs specialize.
- Chiropractic physicians (D.C.s, Doctors of Chiropracty, or Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine) focus on the promotion of health through the alignment of the musculoskeletal structure. D.C.s do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
- Naturopathic physicians (N.D.s, Doctors of Naturopathy, or Doctors of Naturopathic Medicine) focus on maintaining physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness through lifestyle choices and natural remedies such as acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy, etc. N.D.s do not use invasive procedures such as surgery.
- Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s, Doctors of Osteopathy, or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine) focus on diagnosing and treating disease with an emphasis on primary care, holistic evaluation, and the prevention of diseases. D.O.s can specialize but many work in primary care. D.O.s receive training in the manipulation of the musculoskeletal structure, also known as osteopathic manipulative medicine, or OMM, in addition to the core medical training. The scope of practice for M.D.s and D.O.s is very similar.
- Podiatric physicians (D.P.M.s, or Doctors of Podiatric Medicine) focus on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases concerning the foot and ankle. Podiatric medicine is an early specialization of allopathic medicine and includes the prescription of medications and surgery.
Becoming a Doctor of Naturopathy (N.D.) or Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.M.D.) requires approximately 8 or more years of education:
Bachelors Degree (~ 4 years);
Naturopathic Medical School (4 years)
Postdoctoral programs, or Residencies (1+ years)
The first two years of naturopathic medical school are generally classroom lectures, problem-based learning, or a mixture of the two. The final two years are usually primarily clinical internships under the supervision of licensed professionals. In addition to the standard medical curriculum, naturopathic training includes nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling.
After graduating from naturopathic medical school, N.D.s must pass a board exam for their state or jurisdiction of practice to become licensed as a primary care general practice physician. All physicians must be licensed to practice.
Physicians may choose to attend a postdoctoral residency program for further clinical training or specialization. Programs are certified by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education.
Most importantly, remember that requirements vary from school to school! See the attached list of schools and their prerequisite courses; you should create a list of all the courses you will need to apply to the schools you are interested in attending.
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) recommends students complete at least three years of pre-med training and earn a baccalaureate degree before applying. The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to naturopathic schools:
BIOL 171/L and 172/L
Introduction to Biology I and II
(two schools require or recommend Biol 275/L as well)
CHEM 161/L and 162/L
General Chemistry I and II
CHEM 272/L and 273/L
Organic Chemistry I and II
(two schools require only the first semester of Organic Chemistry)
PHYS 151/L (or PHYS 170/L)
College Physics I (or General Physics I)
(one school requires no Physics; lab is optional for all but one school)
Additional requirements include English, other humanities, psychology, and other social sciences. Recommended courses include anatomy, biochemistry, medical ethics, medical terminology, microbiology, philosophy of science, physiology, public speaking, and statistics.
Naturopathic school tuition, as high as it is, covers only a fraction of the cost of educating a N.D. or N.M.D., which means that each new student represents a huge investment. Schools need to be certain that the students they accept will be capable of completing the curriculum and are likely to become good physicians.
Are you capable of completing the medical curriculum?
Admissions committees are looking for students who have:
- completed the prerequisites
- a high overall GPA
- a high science/math GPA
- balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic
Are you likely to become a good physician?
Admissions committees look for students who have:
- demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service
- demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability)
- high ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic
- a broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences
- experience in the field and with what naturopathy entails
- a well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.)
- excellent oral and written communication skills
- strong letters of recommendation
None of the accredited naturopathy schools currently requires a standardized entrance exam, but students should always check with individual schools to be certain.
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) offers seven affiliated North American schools to choose from. These superior colleges are accredited and meet both federal and academic standards. Explore all AANMC member schools to discover the unique qualities of each institution.
As of 2011 there is now a new centralized application service, the NDCAS, which can be found at https://portal.ndcas.org/. Through this new service, applicants may apply to four ND schools using the centralized application system. The remaining ND schools must be applied to directly. Applications to individual schoolscan be ordered or downloaded online from the schools’ websites. All of the schools’ websites can be accessed through the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education at http://www.cnme.org/links.html
Naturopathic schools usually require letters of recommendation (a guideline is available in PAC) and some require an interview. Students are responsible for all costs incurred while interviewing, including airfare, lodging, and meals.
Note: Deadlines and application procedures differ from school to school. It is your responsibility to meet all deadlines and follow all procedures; be sure to read all instructions carefully!
Tips on applying:
- The more you know about the school, the better your chances of being accepted.
- Most application questions can be answered by researching on the AANMC website
- Contact individual schools' Admissions Offices to find out how they handle:
- Advanced Placement (AP) credits
- International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
- College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
- military credits
- courses taken at a community college
- courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
- residency issues
- time limits on acceptable science courses
- coursework taken outside the U.S.
UHMānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to naturopathic medical schools.
|UHM's Pre-Medical Association (PMA)||www.hawaii.edu/premed
|UHM's Biology Club||www2.hawaii.edu/~bioclub
|Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC)||www.aanmc.org|
|Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME)||www.cnme.org|
|American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)||www.naturopathic.org|
(includes links to a variety of alternative medicine programs in addition to naturopathic; the site includes unaccredited programs)
|Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Program||http://preparingforgraduateschool.weebly.com/|