Most naturopaths go into private or group practice. A few N.D.'s find positions in natural health clinics. Due to the small number of accredited doctoral programs, only a very small percentage of naturopaths become teachers. The federal government is encouraging research into the efficacy of alternative health care approaches. More research opportunities are becoming available, and an increasing number of naturopaths are pursuing this aspect of the profession. The thriving natural food industry is providing more opportunities for naturopaths as consultants. The majority of N.D.'s work in the states that license them; however, naturopathic physicians can be found throughout the country.
The career services office of the naturopathic college you attend can help you in searching for that first job. Join professional organizations, attend meetings, and get to know people in your field. Networking is one of the most powerful ways of finding a new position. Get to know professionals in other areas of alternative health care. As other alternative health care modalities expand, they will be more likely to include naturopaths in alternative clinics.
As a newly licensed naturopathic physician, you might begin working on a salary or income-sharing basis in a clinic or in an established practice with another naturopath or other health care professional. This would allow you to start practicing without the major financial investment of equipping an office. You might be able to purchase the practice of an N.D. who is retiring or moving. This is usually easier than starting a new solo practice because the practice will already have patients. However, some newly licensed practitioners do start immediately in private practice.
Most naturopaths work in private or group practice, so advancement frequently depends on the physician's dedication to building a patient base. N.D.'s in private practice need a general sense of how to run a successful business. They must promote their practices within the community and develop a network of contacts with conventional medical doctors or other alternative practitioners who may refer patients to them.
Some naturopaths advance by starting their own clinics with other naturopaths or with other alternative health practitioners. In any medical field, learning is lifelong, and many naturopaths derive a sense of professional satisfaction from keeping up on changes in allopathic medicine and in natural health research. A few very experienced N.D.'s write textbooks or become professors at the accredited universities. With the growing government interest in research into natural health care, more naturopathic physicians will find opportunities for advancement as researchers.
Tips for Entry
Schedule an appointment with a naturopath to learn firsthand about the profession.
Practice the listening technique of helping others to feel free to speak by nodding or using other gestures to encourage them to continue talking.
Read articles on the history of naturopathic medicine to discover its link between two popular cereal brands—Kellogg's and Post.