I’ll start with what admissions probably may not tell you: Becoming a doctor of Naturopathic Medicine is NOT for the weak of heart. Just a warning: If you know you care too much about what people think, you’re easily bothered by people making flash judgments or uneducated conclusions about you, or you are expecting an easy road through medical school, then, please, hear me out:
Your friends or family WILL make jokes about peyote and voodoo medicine when they hear that you’re studying “NATURO-what?!” medicine. Many people will reduce the vast amount of knowledge of the biomedical sciences and healing arts in our medicine down to one healing modality, “Right, so you study..homeopathy, right?” People will say things like, “Uh.. yeah, I’ll go to a real doctor..” They’ll conclude you’re some radical vegan hippie that brews Kombucha, is anti-big pharma. (When in reality, you love Kombucha, probably realized veganism wasn’t for you and have prescribed pharmaceutical drugs to patients when necessary.)
You will feel frustrated because you WILL be working the same laborious hours as 1st and 2nd year MD students (I know this because I’m engaged to a 3rd year MD student.) You will be expected to know the same material AS WELL as botanical medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, physical medicine..etc. You will be required to take 2 sets of board exams. It will take blood, sweat, and tears to get through the program and even when you’re but a few months away from graduating, some random dude at a party will say, “OH NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE. I tried that! I got this supplement off the shelf of CVS for my runny nose and it didn’t work!” (As if the efficacy of an entire healing profession can be reduced down to one supplement that one randomly decided to try on their own?)
Are you so passionate about natural health that you’re ready for a lifetime of educating the public of their healthcare options when they ask what you do? Are you motivated to compassionately change misconceptions that your friends, family members and strangers have about “alternative” medicine? Are you excited to have constructive debates with your fellow scientist friends when they question the validity of your medicine? Bottom line: Do you have the courage to follow your heart?
If your response is, “YES!” then apply to an accredited 4 year naturopathic medical program ASAP! (http://www.aanmc.org/)
If your response is, “Well… maybe not..” then please know that I didn’t realize how hard the path would be when I entered the program. I used to really care about peoples opinions of me. Then I entered clinic, I started seeing patients healing from chronic illnesses that they had thought would never resolve. At that moment I realized that all I really care about is healing people. From then on, I never resisted making dialogue with the misinformed and instead have chosen to use those situations to educate people on who naturopathic doctors are and what they can do for you.