The legal aspects of practicing naturopathic medicine vary from state to state in the United States and from province to province in Canada. Scope of practice refers to the range of healthcare methods a physician may employ in any given jurisdiction or state and defines how broadly a physician may treat a patient. Naturopathic doctors in the state of Arizona benefit from one of the largest scopes of practice that includes acupuncture, IV therapy, injection therapy, minor surgery, prescriptive abilities and more. As an SCNM student, you will benefit from studying and training in Arizona because you will learn, practice and observe every naturopathic therapy for your ultimate success.
At SCNM, you’ll benefit from attending medical school in a regulated state with the broadest scope of practice. Regulation is important because it protects patients and allows naturopathic doctors to utilize their full range of skills. When naturopathic physicians can use all of the naturopathic modalities, patients receive better care and health care costs are reduced.
NDs may practice in unregulated states and provinces, however, their scope of practice will vary. In regulated states/provinces, naturopathic physicians must pass either national or state board examinations and must have graduated from an accredited four-year, graduate level, naturopathic medical school such as SCNM. Their actions are subject to review by a state board of examiners to ensure protection of patients. Licensed naturopathic physicians must also fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually.
The broadest scope of practice for naturopathic medicine in the United States is in Arizona, where naturopathic physicians (NDs also credentialed as NMDs) have increased scope beyond NDs in other US states. In Arizona, NDs may perform many of the same activities performed by allopathic physicians, such as MDs or DOs. For instance, their formulary or list from which they may prescribe, includes not only vitamins and minerals, but also vaccines, antibiotics and oral contraceptives. Additionally, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration approved Arizona NDs to prescribe controlled substances from the formulary. This means NDs in Arizona are issued DEA numbers. Additionally, their scope includes IV therapy, injection therapy, minor surgery, physical medicine, botanical medicine and homeopathy. Finally, licensed NDs in Arizona may practice acupuncture as part of their scope of practice if they’ve completed 200 hours of acupuncture classroom and clinic coursework (included in SCNM’s curriculum).
You will learn, practice and become skilled at using all of the modalities of naturopathic medicine at SCNM. This will make you a highly sought after physician no matter where you decide to practice. Once you graduate, your knowledge will empower you to pursue your dream career. If you choose to go into family practice, focus on certain conditions or specialize in your favorite therapies, you’ll be prepared with the most broad and comprehensive education and training.
As shown on the map below, efforts to enact regulation are underway in several states and provinces. For more information about the legal status of naturopathic medicine in a particular area, please visit the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.
Currently, 22 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories of Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands have licensing or registration laws for naturopathic doctors (NDs/NMDs). The U.S states with licensing or registration laws include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. In these jurisdictions, naturopathic doctors are required to graduate from accredited four-year residential naturopathic medical programs and pass a national naturopathic medicine board examination (NPLEX) in order to receive a license or registration.
Click here to discover more information about the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX) and the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE).
Licensed and registered naturopathic doctors must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements annually and have a specific scope of practice as defined by their state’s law.
Students Responsibility – Incoming ND students should review the specific academic requirements for the program in which they are enrolling, including those related to clinical training as well as pre-qualifications for licensure such as the need for a criminal background check. We highly recommend that students contact the applicable licensure board(s) in their state of residence or in the state where they intend to obtain a license before beginning an academic program that results in licensure and prior to beginning any clinical training. Many licensure boards have additional requirements beyond successful degree completion to obtain a license. Please be advised that state laws, regulations, and policies may change at any time. The information provided is strictly limited to the College’s determination of whether its educational program, if successfully completed, would be sufficient to meet the educational licensure or certification requirements in a State. The College cannot provide verification of an individual’s ability to meet licensure or certification requirements unrelated to its educational programming. For more information on states and provinces that license naturopathic medicine, please visit the AANP website.
International Students – Prior to enrolling in the ND program at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, prospective students living and/or working outside of the United States should confirm with the appropriate certifying agency whether successful completion of the ND program at SCNM will meet the credentialing requirements of the country in which they intend to seek employment.