There was a time when naturopathic physicians were considered drugless practitioners.
For the past 25 years, nearly all jurisdictions regulating the practice of naturopathic medicine included prescribing privileges in their statutes. Why should a naturopathic medical student study pharmacology? Here are three reasons:
- Naturopathic medicine is based on patient-centered care, the imperative to understand and address the patient’s needs; a set of six guiding principles; and The Therapeutic Order. This structured approach to diagnosing and treating each patient’s individual experience of disease distinguishes naturopathic physicians from other practitioners, not the particular therapies prescribed or shunned. Pharmaceutical drugs can play an important role in patient care, particularly when employed within the naturopathic, patient-centered model.
- The Therapeutic Order, also called the hierarchy of healing, generally guides the least invasive (therapeutic life changes) to most invasive treatment (drugs and surgery). Most chronic diseases, and many acute illnesses can be treated wholly or in part at the lower end of this scale. However, many conditions need drugs or surgery upon diagnosis. Naturopathic physicians must be able to distinguish these conditions and appropriately treat (with drugs if necessary), co-manage with or refer to other physicians.
- The practice of patient-centered care requires understanding each patient’s clinical condition as well as the extent and rate at which he or she is willing to participate in re-establishing health. Some patients are ready to make major health-promoting changes, while others are not. The former group can often forego or reduce their prescriptions (with the help of the prescribing physician), the latter cannot. You’ll learn how to work with both types of patients.
You'll receive 100 hours of classroom pharmacology education, which is reinforced during clinical training at the SCNM Medical Center and community health sites.