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Clinical Training

Early patient focus and clinical exposure immediately puts students in the real world of medicine.

The patient focus of SCNM’s curriculum begins on the first day. You will immediately begin taking the first of six clinical practice courses that span two years. These courses emphasize patient-centered healthcare through motivational interviewing, professional ethics and embracing the biopsychosocial model of healthcare. Early in the program, you’ll be exposed to standardized patients to hone your medical skills, and as early as your third quarter, you’ll engage in community healthcare settings and observation rotations to develop an understanding of your role as a naturopathic physician.

Clinical training at SCNM is designed to provide an intuitive progression of medical education. Our demanding program exceeds the clinical education requirements as prescribed by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). During your time at SCNM, you will clock 132 hours of clinical experience in didactic and lab settings; 44 hours through field observation of local physicians; 22 hours though clinical posts at the SCNM Medicinary and Laboratory; 1,232 hours with direct patient care in primary and secondary physician’s roles; and 220 hours at a our elective sites (more than 100 options are available for elective site clerkships). The average number of patient contacts per student exceeds 1,000 (minimum of 500 required).

To progress in your clinical education, you must successfully pass a number of milestone exams that address your competence in clinical skills. Some of these skills include intake, vitals, charting, physical exams, differential diagnoses, interpreting diagnostic results and development of a diagnostic/treatment plan. Fortunately, our students receive mentoring from experts in the field (with a 6-1 ratio of students to physicians), so you can expect your skills to be continually refined.   

The SCNM Medical Center and Pain Relief Center (PRC) immerse students in real-life clinical patient experiences under the supervision of experienced naturopathic physicians. Plus, our clinics expose students to the newest diagnostic and therapeutic equipment in the field. Students also have the opportunity to work with diverse patient populations at the college’s eight community clinics and more than 100 off-site clinics, including hospitals, medical centers and medical mobile units. Up to one-quarter of clinical training hours may be earned with other doctoral-level medical professionals, such as MDs, DOs and OMDs.

Our program is designed to give you the knowledge and confidence to hit the ground running as a practicing physician once you graduate. You will treat and see an array of patients and utilize our wide scope of practice during your more than 1,500 clinical experience hours. 

Broad Clinical Experiences = Great Patient Care

With our 87 clinical student rotations, students have the opportunity to participate in pediatrics, homeopathy, general medicine, women's medicine, IV therapy, acute medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, cancer, environmental medicine, hydrotherapy, mind body, neurofeedback, physical medicine, pain management, prolotherapy and many other shifts. 

  • SCNM Medical Center – Our on-campus clinic sees more than 15,000 patient visits annually
  • Pain Relief Center - Learn to treat patients using cutting-edge techniques for pain relief 
  • Private practices – More than 100 sites available for field observation
  • Community clinics – See underserved and uninsured populations

Progressive Clinical Education 

Clinical clerkships in the final two years align with the early clinical experiences starting in your first year. Our five-year option allows you to distribute the basic sciences and preclinical medicine across two years instead of one; the remaining three years are unchanged. View the two options side by side here. 

First year: Learn how to conduct an intake and practice your physical exam skills on real people. We hire standardized patients to mock real clinical-setting experiences. At the end of your first year, you’ll spend 44 hours shadowing physicians in private practice. At this time, you can also begin your clinical posts in the medical center’s medicinary and laboratory.

Second year: Continue observing practicing doctors in the field observation program and perform physical examinations on standardized patients. Learn how to chart in the electronic medical records system and perform in-depth case analysis. Year two is devoted to both preparing you for your first board examination and preparing you to enter the medical center. The year’s work culminates in an entry exam that will demonstrate your mastery of a medical intake and physical exam skills on a standardized patient.

Third and fourth years: Provide direct patient care under the direct supervision of an attending physician as a primary or secondary student clinician in the SCNM Medical Center and at extended sites. Extended sites are academic medical centers within our community run by our faculty. These clinics help underserved and underinsured patients within our community.

Additionally, students in their ninth quarter and beyond may choose to participate in approved elective site rotations. Elective site rotations are staffed by physicians in private practice, hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, etc. These physicians are not SCNM faculty; yet, due to their generosity and commitment to medical education, they offer students the opportunity to learn not only medicine, but often practice management in real-life practice settings.

After 27 rotations and 500 patient contacts (minimum), you'll finish your medical educational program by demonstrating your ability to provide an intake, physical exam, laboratory analysis and treatment for a standardized patient.


Continue your clinical training with a hands-on residency at the SCNM Medical Center an affiliated site. Learn more here.

  • Medical Center

    The SCNM Medical Center is a bustling community of naturopathic healing. It is the starting point of your clinical training to become a naturopathic physician.

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  • Pain Relief Center (PRC)

    The Pain Relief Center (PRC) is one of the newest additions to SCNM’s campus. Recognizing that pain is one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical care, SCNM opened the PRC to give patients alternatives and students an unprecedented learning environment to combine traditional and modern therapies.

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  • Community Clinics

    Through SCNM’s Community Medicine Department, we serves thousands of medically-underserved children and families, domestic violence victims, individuals battling HIV/AIDS and men and women recovering from addiction. 

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  • Scope of Practice

    The legal aspects of practicing naturopathic medicine vary from state to state in the United States and from province to province in Canada. NDs in the state of Arizona benefit from a large scope of practice. And, as an SCNM student, you’ll benefit from studying and training in Arizona as you’ll learn and practice every naturopathic therapy including acupuncture.

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