The-US-Department-of

{Authors note: I wrote this post in May 2011 when I was a fourth-year naturopathic medical student at Bastyr University.  Since that time the curriculum of both University of Washington and Bastyr have changed significantly.  As of 2012, Bastyr’s ND program has switched to a systems-based approach, similar to the 2011 curriculum of University of Washington (except of course with more emphasis on natural, whole-person treatments).  I haven’t updated the statistics in this article due to the incredible amount of time it takes to research and compare credit-by-credit the curriculum of the two schools. For updated references, visit www.bastyr.edu/academics/areas-study/study-naturopathic-medicine/naturopathic-doctor-degree-program#CurriculumYou can also e-mail a student ambassador in the naturopathic medicine program at admissn@bastyr.edu for more information comparing the curriculum.}

I talk about Bastyr and naturopathic medicine a lot.  By now all of my friends and most of my family’s friends are well-versed in naturopathic medicine, our role as primary care providers, and my educational level.  I was having one of these conversations with a family-friend (my parent’s generation) who finally asked me “so, you’re going to be, like, almost a doctor, aren’t you?” Ouch.

After nearly four years of medical school, dozens of 12-hour days, hundreds of patients seen, and more information than I can possibly fit in my brain, I certainly hope I will become a doctor.  This brings up a common misconception: that naturopaths are quacks who get online degrees and don’t know what they are talking about.

So what is our educational training? 

Naturopathic physicians attend four-year graduate schools that are nationally accredited by the Council for Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).  The CNME is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which classifies the ND degree as a Doctorate-Professional degree, on par with MD and DO.  Currently 6 schools in the US and Canada are accredited through the CNME to provide naturopathic medical education.

The naturopathic program consists of at least 4 years of study with over 4,100 clock-hours in the classroom or clinic.  A minimum of 1,200 hours are spent in clinical education with direct patient contact under supervision.

The first two years of the ND program are very similar to an allopathic program.  We learn all the basic sciences including anatomy, biochemistry, immunology, microbiology, histology, pathology and physiology.  Here is a breakdown of the curriculum:

University of Washington medical students average over 70 credits per year (72 and 78 credits for the first and second years), which is similar to Bastyr’s ND program (74.5 and 77 credits for the first and second years, respectively).

The main difference in education between allopathic and naturopathic physicians in the the area of specialization.  By definition naturopathic physicians are specialists in natural treatment of primary care conditions.  From the beginning of our education we focus on primary care – diseases and conditions that a practitioner would encounter in an outpatient clinic.  We touch upon emergency medicine, surgery and high-force pharmaceuticals (like chemotherapeutic drugs) in the context of referrals and co-management.  However, unlike allopathic students we do not go through rotations in these areas.  While MD students do rotations in specialty fields in their 3rd and 4th years (like Oncology, Obstetrics, Surgery, etc), ND students do clinical work in naturopathic primary care only*.   We see people in an out-patient setting, directly managing the care of “our” patients under the supervision of a licensed naturopathic physician.

Also, naturopathic medical education differs in that we have a broad scope of practice with multiple modalities that we can offer our patients as treatment.  Throughout our education we have multiple courses in pharmacology, botanical medicines, homeopathy, counseling, nutrition, and naturopathic manipulation. In the state of Washington naturopathic physicians can prescribe most medications, perform minor surgery, offer counseling services (just like a licensed mental health counselor), offer nutritional advice (like a dietician), and perform osseous manipulations of the spine and extremities (like a chiropractic physician).


Naturopathic medical students also take board exams comparable to the USMLE boards taken by allopathic students.  These tests are called the NPLEX exams – naturopathic physician licensing examinations, and are governed by NABNE.  Only students from accredited schools of naturopathic medicine are eligible to sit for these exams.  Students must complete two sets of examinations, one after the first two years of the ND program (the basic science boards), and one after graduation (the clinical science boards).  Just for a comparison, our basic science boards are similar to USMLE Step 1 exam, and the clinical science boards are similar to the Step 3 exam.  The USMLE Step 2 exam, which evaluates physical exam and clinical skills, is similar to our Clinical Entry exam, which is governed by the school (Bastyr) itself – we must do a complete intake, physical exam, and differential diagnosis on a standardized patient (actor), graded by a member of the clinical faculty.  We must pass this exam (after our 2nd year) in order to see patients in the clinical setting.

Only after completing all 4,100 hours, passing both sets of board exams, and getting a diploma is a naturopathic student eligible for licensure.  This is in contrast to some so-called “naturopaths” who receive online or distance-learning degrees. In all 17 states that license naturopaths, only those who graduated from an accredited 4-year school can call themselves naturopathic physicians or doctors.

So to clarify, YES, I am going to be a doctor! A naturopathic doctor, that is. 

References:
Source: “Basic Science Curriculum.” UW Medicine.  University of Washington, 2011. Web. http://uwmedicine.washington.edu/Education/MD-Program/Current-Students/Curriculum/Basic-Sciences-Curriculum/Pages/default.aspx. 19 May 2011
Source: “Program Tracks and Curricula for Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine.” Bastyr University.
Bastyr University, 2011. Web.  http://www.bastyr.edu/education/naturopath/degree/curricula.asp. 19 May 2011. 
Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges. AANMC, 2011. Web. http://www.aanmc.org/. 19 May 2011.


(*with a few exceptions – we can do adjunctive care for cancer patients, but not primary treatment). 

Related posts:

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

28 Responses

  • Allie says:

    Excellent post. I’m glad to have come across it. I will be applying to ND school this Fall and have received are you going to be a ‘real’ doctor from a couple people, the stigma and ignorance (for lack of a better word) about the profession is quite frustrating. Though, I try to be a good advocate and explain it to them. Again, good post.

  • Erika Krumbeck, you are a brave woman! I came to your site from the SBM blog where I saw your commentaries and the follow-up ad hominem attacks that followed.

    I like the way you think and I will start following your blogs. I have been practicing as an ND for the past 19 years. Here are my thoughts regarding the topic of your blog post: http://drkathygraham.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/woo-woo-voo-doo-quackery-and-snake-oil/

    I had to laugh at myself when I saw a doctor on SBM ask you a question regarding pheochromocytoma and beta-blockade administration. His implications were clear: naturopathic physicians are stupid, naturopathic physicians do not know how and when to refer to medical doctors, and naturopathic physicians cause harm.

    About 10 years ago, I saw this 30 some year old woman who presented with abdominal pain, headaches, extreme anxiety, palpitations, a resting pulse of 90-100/min, and a BP of 150/90. The reason I clearly remember this, is because I had asked her to go back and see her MD so that he could do a blood and urine test for pheochromocytoma, as you know, a very rare condition. Instead, the MD wanted to put her on Propranolol and laughed at her request for the tests I had asked for, and of course, ridiculed me. The tests were never done. The patient refused the beta blocker, and she ended up with a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety disorder that improved with botanicals, nutrient therapy and counseling.

    This pheochromocytoma question on the SBM blog that the doctor asked you, was a non sequitur. There is no situation that I can ever think up, where a naturopathic doctor would need to know whether a beta blocker was contraindicated in a patient with pheochromocytoma. A better question would have been, what symptoms would a patient have for you to suspect pheochromocytoma in order for you to refer the patient to a medical specialist?

    That wasn’t the first time I had been ridiculed by MDs in my town for sending patients back to them requesting further diagnostic testing for conditions I wanted to rule out. I don’t hear much ridiculing these days since I have referred patients back to their MDs for testing, where previously undiagnosed thyroid cancers were discovered, previously undiagnosed breast cancers were discovered, multiple H. pyloris infections were found (one was a child with a 6 year history of the bug who had seen a pediatrician for years!), etc., etc., etc.

    The reason I bring this up, is because one (of many) of the concerns these SBM docs have, is that a naturopathic physician will miss a diagnosis and fail to refer appropriately. In the past, I have experienced the exact opposite problem with MDs. They felt I was bothering the patient with my requests for unnecessary testing, and burdening our socialized healthcare system with these ridiculous requests when I would refer the patient back to them.

    (cont’d in next post)

  • (cont’d from previous post)

    Today I am lucky. The MDs in my town now are on the ball and very thorough, so that when I see a patient, most have already seen many specialists and have had umpteen zillion tests done before they see me.

    There are a few things I have read on SBM that I do agree with. More RCT studies need to be done on some of the naturopathic modalities to show (or not show) the level of their efficacy. However, as you know, many modalities that we use don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold of the RCTs and will forever exist in the world of empirical evidence as cited in this blog that I wrote: http://drkathygraham.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/is-homeopathy-nonsensical-3/

    I also agree with these SBM docs that say naturopathic physicians shouldn’t be primary care physicians. Physicians? Yes. Primary? No. I realize I am probably one of the only NDs in North America that believes this. Until NDs have the legal right to refer to medical specialists and order radiologic testing, an ND cannot be a primary healthcare provider.

    I also know that our licensing board in BC is working hard to acquire those privileges (i.e. specialist referral and radiologic testing), but until then, I will not and cannot consider myself a primary care doc. When we get those privileges in British Columbia, I will reconsider my stance.

    Have you written anything about your opinions on ND primary care in any of your blogs? If so, could you please direct me to them? If not, I’d be interested in reading your take on the matter.

    In my opinion, both skepticism and open-mindedness are important in order to assist patients.

    Good luck with your studies and future career! There is definitely a wonderful place for the practice of naturopathic medicine in helping many people live longer and healthier lives.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is gretemike from the SBM blog.

    The premise of this blog entry seems to be that a ND is a “real” doctor. If that is the case, then why shouldn’t NDs be primary care physicians?

    The answer, of course, is that a ND is not a real doctor. And that was Dr. Robert’s implication in the SBM blog.

    It would be very interesting to have a group of medical school graduates and a group of Bastyr graduates take the medical boards and compare the results. I can never arrange such a thing, but Erika can on her own try some of the test questions I referenced.

    • drkathygraham – I do believe ND’s should be primary care physicians, but you are right – only if they have appropriate prescriptive authority, as well as the authority to order labs, imaging, and refer. I do not think we should have hospital privileges, since our education does not include many interventions that are obviously life-saving in a hospital setting.

      gretemike: In Washington state, where I am, ND’s ARE considered primary care physicians. As far as the State of Washington is concerned, ND’s are “real doctors”. Patients can choose an ND as their primary care provider under their insurance plans.

      In Washington we DO have the authority to order labs, imaging, refer, and prescribe almost all prescription medications (obviously not chemotherapeutics, and some legend drugs).

      gretemike: I used the USMLE Step 1 exam to study for our Basic Science Boards, and I am now using the USMLE step 3 exam to study for our Clinical Science Boards. I typically do pretty well, though there are some subjects I don’t know as well (hospital interventions, chemo, etc). Remember that our ND education only covers conditions seen in a primary care setting.

    • Anonymous says:

      People who wish to be NDs are often those that claim to be “open minded”. The only truly open minded people are those able to be skeptical of their own views in order to accept in new information. Those who wish to be NDs seem to have difficulty with that concept, which is necessary for a real doctor. You may need to question your existing diagnosis of a patient to be able to abandon it when contrary new information comes in. The same should be true of your diagnosis of the education you are paying for.

      re: ” I do believe ND’s should be primary care physicians, but you are right – only if they have appropriate prescriptive authority, “

      i.e. your ego is leading you to wish to be able to practice what you are not qualified to do but wish to pretend you are. Despite the nonsense you’ve been fed, you know a fraction of what real MDs do, and know much that is false. Yet of course its easier than getting an MD, and you can remain “in denial” since you are surrounded by clueless people that also know as little as you do, and patients who won’t know enough to correct you.

      You don’t exhibit enough critical thinking skills to be able to competently assess your educational background, let alone be trusted with a patient who may turn out to be far more ill than you realize since you won’t know enough to realize it, and there are myriad ways NDs can rationalize the limited set of explanations they do have for diseases to pretend they do know whats going on.

      People like you who wish to take the easy way out and get an ND rather than an MD are fooling themselves and will fool their patients.. to death in some cases. If you aren’t smart enough to get an MD, become a nurse. Yet I doubt you will since the clueless people scamming you at your “school” who are stupid enough to either teach the nonsense they teach there, or to work at a place that does, will try to tell you that you are perfectly qualified.

  • I was unaware that NDs in Washington state were able to make specialist referrals and order imaging tests. Does that include CT scans and MRIs?

    Are there any other states in the US that have all of the medical privileges that your state does?

    In that case, I amend my comment: I do not believe NDs should be considered primary healthcare providers except in those states and provinces that have complete medical privileges like Washington state has.

    Erika, I agree with your position regarding hospital privileges for the reason you state.

    @gretemike. In a perfect world, NDs should be considered primary care physicians, but legislation does not allow NDs in most states and in all provinces (at the present time) those medical privileges necessary to practice as such. I maintain my opinion regarding ND primary care because of legislation only, not because of lack of naturopathic education, skill or intelligence.

    Regardless, the bottom line for me is always the same: is the patient getting well? is this happening without harm to the patient? is the patient getting the best medical care possible? – be it found in conventional medicine, naturopathic medicine, both or neither.

  • Anonymous says:

    A ND is not a MD. That’s literally true and obvious of course, but since it’s true then there are obviously differences between the two. And those differences mean everything. A quick glance at Bastyr’s curriculum via their website shows a heavy dose of homeopathy. And homeopathy is really not respectable, for reasons discused to death on the SBM site. There’s other stuff that’s different too, like the addition of colloidal silver to the formulary in Vermont. The point is that the stuff that makes NDs different is demonstrably bogus. Even Erika had some reservations about homeopathy in one of her posts on SBM (which I found quite intriguing).

    If homeopathy (and colloidal silver and the other stuff mentioned on the SBM blogs) is as bogus as it seems, then it’s a shameful waste of time and money at best and an unforgiveable distraction from potentially beneficial treatments at worst – a strike against the core value of doing no harm. Hence the high level of emotion that often accompanies the discussion.

    In any case if it is true as the MDs of SBM say, that you lack sufficient education, then I hope for you both all the luck in the world.

    -Gretemike

    • Yes, for me it is a matter of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Though I don’t understand homeopathy, and still consider myself a skeptic, it isn’t enough reason to discard the totality of my education.

      I just got around to reading drkathygraham’s blog post on her own experiences with homeopathy. My comment was going to be much the same – I don’t understand it, I’m still skeptical, but quite often homeopathy just works! And when it works it seems to lead to a dramatic difference in patients (I mean changes in lab values, objectives signs, even a different demeanor and affect). I don’t understand it!

      I don’t know any ND’s that use colloidal silver (maybe topically??)

    • Anonymous says:

      If you go to a school that teaches 2+2=5 as if it made sense, that is reason enough to question the other things they teach there.

      If you don’t understand homeopathy for the nonsense/placebo it is, which takes very little time, you understand far too little about science to make any claim of being remotely qualified to be a doctor (even if some incompetent docs fall for homeopathy).

      You’ve been scammed, likely in part by people that are well meaning but deluding themselves into thinking they know more than they do.

  • @Gretemike I appreciate your respectful manner of discussion.

    As for myself, I do not use colloidal silver, but I do use homeopathy. As a naturopathic student 22 years ago, I was by far and away, the most skeptical of this “bogus” type of medicine in my class. I have already posted the link above regarding my thoughts on homeopathy:
    http://drkathygraham.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/is-homeopathy-nonsensical-3/

    In general, naturopathic medicine is the safest medicine on the planet.

    I too read SBM, but to exercise the critical thinking and skeptical part of my brain (or just when I feel like I need a good dose of masochism 🙂 ).

    I have altered a few things in my practice for the better because of reading SBM, but on the whole my practice remains the same.

    Open-mindedness is just as important as skepticism, for without both, the best possible medical care is not possible.

    Good luck to you to, gretemike.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only truly open minded person is one able to be skeptical of their own views or they can’t accept new better views. NDs show little evidence of being real skeptics rather than being gullible.

      Anyone who falls for homeopathy doesn’t understand enough about science to be practicing medicine.
      Yet I suspect you would never be “open minded” enough to consider such a statement since your desire to practice medicine and to refuse to take the time to do the hard work to learn real medicine will prevent that.

      re: “In general, naturopathic medicine is the safest medicine on the planet”

      Wow is that absurdly illogical. It is filled with bogus treatments that prevent real treatment from being sought. You folks are in such incredible denial that you refuse to consider that your ignorance and lack of ability to think logically about evidence is harming and even killing people.

  • Here’s my question for you and for other skeptics, that I continue to wonder about. For those patients whom conventional medicine has not been able to help relieve suffering for, what is your angst about a medicine that improves the quality of life for these patients? I’m talking about patients that have seen numerous specialists, have had every diagnostic test done under the sun, have been prescribed upwards of 10 pharmaceutical medications, and STILL feel extremely unwell. These patients will then seek out naturopathic care, and many will experience relief of their suffering and great improvement in their quality of life because of this type of healthcare.

    The closest I have come to reading an answer for my question was written by an infectious disease specialist on SBM. His bottom line was that the ends did not justify the means, because the means for him, was placebo.

    I had always (falsely) assumed that all doctors wanted their patients free of suffering and to live a life of quality. I was wrong.

    I would be first in line to admit that all the treatments I prescribe are bogus if I didn’t see the relief of suffering in so many people.

    Dr. David Katz said it best in this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/questioning-the-guardians_b_884473.html

    “When the going in medicine gets tough, a clinician can tell their patient “tough luck,” but that to me seems wrong. Instead, I believe we should tough it out by our patient’s side, and help make decisions when the next logical thing to try is far from clear”.

    If adopting an only “science based medicine” point of view to the exclusion of all else would help relieve the suffering of all people, I’d adopt this point of view in a heartbeat. That’s just not the case.

    The other issue you raised was one of harm. Naturopathic doctors are trained to refer patients for conventional medical care when this is appropriate. The issue of harm could be debated at length, however, I’m not sure that Erika’s blog is the appropriate place for a discussion like this. Suffice it to say, that after having worked for 10 years at a critical care teaching hospital in the conventional medical field, having personally witnessed numerous heartbreaking iatrogenic deaths in this environment, having seen some (potentially fatal) misdiagnoses by MDs while working as an ND, being aware of 1200+ pages on PubMed regarding iatrogenic conditions, and on the other hand, reading the handful of heartbreaking cases on SBM regarding harm caused by NDs, I maintain my opinion:

    In general, naturopathic medicine is the safest medicine on the planet. This isn’t “absurdly illogical”. It is a fact.

  • A Real MD says:

    Ok, I was interested because I saw the, ” You’re What Kind of Doctor?” online and thought it was very funny. I don’t understand why any of you think you are “physicians” and personally I find it extremely offensive that you guys even have the balls to call yourself physicians compared to those of us that went to real medical school. Of course anyone can take an anatomy class, or this and what. CNRA are always talking about how they think they are equal to an anesthesiologist which that alone is laughable and offensive in its own right.

    It’s even more comically to think your exam is anywhere near USMLE standards. Just for fun, why don’t you throw down some cash and register on usmleworld and start doing questions. Better yet, why don’t you register on NBME.org, take one of their exams and post the eval scores. If you truly think your stuff stacks up against ours, I’d love to see your posted NBME scores which are accurately representations to what you’d likely score USMLE Step 1 and beyond since you can’t take the actual REAL USMLE Step 1 since you aren’t even qualified to sit for this. I’m sure you might have a few of your students pass, highly doubt your average person at any of your “institutions” could get anywhere near passing.

    To think states are allowing you guys the ability to prescribe controlled substances is even scarier. You really believe in all your magical stones and trees, than there is no reason you should be given this ability to prescribed a controlled substance. You want to keep treating cancer patients with power crystals, and tree bark, go ahead. There are plenty of stupid people that need to be weeded out.

    Lastly, “In general, naturopathic medicine is the safest medicine on the planet. This isn’t “absurdly illogical”. It is a fact.” of course when you giving someone sugar pills your stuff is the safest. Nobody said drugs don’t have side effects.

    • Actually, I did use the USMLE study guides and test prep material to study for my NPLEX exams. I did quite well with the practice tests, except in sections about emergency medicine and hospital-based care. As we are not hospitalists, these subjects are not included in our curriculum.

      I am in no way saying that naturopathic physicians are “equal” to medical doctors. I respect my medical doctor colleagues for their wisdom in diagnosis and handling of major surgery, complex diagnoses and emergency medicine (and many other things). This does not diminish my capacity as a primary care physician or natural medicine specialist. Both physicians have their place in this world.

      Not all naturopathic physicians agree with our ability to prescribe controlled substances. But just so you are aware, obtaining a DEA license as a naturopath requires additional training beyond what we receive in naturopathic medical school.

      If you believe we treat our cancer patients with “power crystals and tree bark” then you obviously have not read my blog carefully – or the licensing laws that govern the ND scope of practice. Licensed ND’s are required to work in conjunction with oncologists in the case of cancer patients – you can check out the Cancer Treatment Centers of America for more information.

      Lastly, since you claim to be “a real MD” – I am concerned about your statement “There are plenty of stupid people that need to be weeded out.” Really? Because that would be in grave violation of your code of medical ethics.

      • Meg says:

        Absolutely love reading your responses! You respond with such grace and tact, which can’t be said for “Real MD” or the other commenters in this discussion.
        I am a prospective ND by the way and am doing research on the internet. I really appreciate your blog!

  • sya says:

    My spouse and I stumbled more than here various web page and thought I really should examine factors out.

  • Pingback: What is the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor (N.D) And An M.D? | HEALTHYfashionista.com

  • Pingback: What is the difference between a Naturopathic Doctor (N.D) And An M.D? | The Natural Doctor

  • Pingback: What in the world is a Naturopathic Physician anyways? | Wausau News

  • J. Coleman says:

    Drs. Graham and Krumbeck: Pardon the vitriol and ad hominem attacks of my fellow skeptics here. Debating clinical trials and the efficacy of homeopathy is critical. Replacing civility and composure with ratcheted emotion is not. In case others here were beginning to wonder, being a thoughtful skeptic and being a gentleman are not mutually exclusive.

  • MQH says:

    High advisory: financial investment in naturopathic medical school has a very low return on investment. If you have an interested in being a health care provider with high return on investment, look into becoming a physicians assistant or nurse practitioner. If you are more ambitious and want the prestige, satisfy the requirements and apply to medical school, either MD or DO, and do a residency.

    The truth is that naturopaths do not receive the same basic medical training as other health professionals. Naturopaths also learn a lot of weird stuff that has either been disproven, is unproven because of low plausibility, or outright bonkers, e.g., homeopathy, applied kinesiology, cranio-sacral manipulation, etc. Many naturopaths are highly misinformed on basic biology, chemistry, and physics. Many lack basic understanding of public health (i.e., vaccines). Many do not know how to think critically or follow the scientific method.

    All naturopaths are undertrained compared to PAs, NPs, DOs, and MDs. These professions gain a wide variety of real clinical experience treating a vast array of medical conditions and diseases, unlike naturopathic students who gain experience in their schools’ clinics seeing people who are best classified as hypochondriacs (“the worried well”) or who claim to have bogus, non-specific conditions, like multiple chemical sensitivity.

    Please do yourself a HUGE favor and do not become an ND. Go practice medicine that is scientifically based and deliver it with kindness, compassion, sympathy, and attentiveness that are critically lacking in our austere medical community.

    Good luck!

    • Hi MQH,

      Nice e-mail address 🙂

      I agree with some of your statements. First, being a naturopathic physician isn’t the best return on investment, at least financially. It is hugely rewarding, but with low financial returns.

      Applied kinesiology and cranio-sacral are NOT modalities that are a part of naturopathic curriculum (though they are taught as elective courses in some schools). Homeopathy is taught, and I have much to say about the advantages and disadvantages of that, but I believe you can find another entire blog post on that subject. Even though it has not been scientifically confirmed in most cases, I have seen dramatic improvement in patients with homeopathy. Placebo or not, it can be very effective regardless of the means by which is works.

      I use vaccines in my practice, so I’m not sure what you are getting at there.

      As to training, I do not believe we are undertrained, except in regards to inpatient medicine. Naturopathic physicians don’t see patients in a hospital setting, so much of our knowledge is severely limited in terms of emergency medicine, major surgery, etc. I happily refer my patients to specialists for situations that require it.

      I have to laugh when you say we are undertrained compared to PAs, NPs, MDs and DOs. I can’t tell you how many times I have caught a misdiagnosis from one of my conventional colleagues.

      You are right that we see a lot of patients who are “worried well” – but I also see a huge number of patients for whom conventional medicine has simply failed. Some of these patients have true medical diagnoses (Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, depression, dementia, PCOS, etc). Others have been told “there is nothing wrong with you,” and yet they have a long list of symptoms that bother them. The patients outside of the bell curve are those that I see in my practice, and they DO get better, often dramatically so.

  • Folken says:

    I’d like for one M.D. or D.O. in any specialty to explain to me the root reasons for cancer. I’d like for one M.D. to explain, down to biophysical mathematical detail, why a given pharmaceutical agent has the side effects it has. How about explaining why changes in diet and lifestyle have positive effects in some cancer patients but not in others? Why do some people who smoke and drink live into their 90s while others who follow the same behaviors die in their 50s?

    They can’t. Because M.D.’s don’t know what they don’t know, which is by far the greatest ignorance there is. Most doctors, maybe with the exception of those who were engineers first, don’t even understand the basic physics of the equipment they routinely use, let alone any effect it may have on a living system. Medical history is full of examples of doctors “knowing best” only to harm their patients.

    Medical school training or any current science-based curriculum DOES NOT bring anyone to this depth of knowledge. The cell is a living system of unimaginable complexity. It is a physical system of millions of variables, which can only be described statistically. Much has been done to parse out some of the major aspects of cell biology and, by extension, health, but to believe we somehow have all the answers or that we have perfect knowledge of the thing we call “life” is utter delusion and pure hubris.

    MD’s don’t know shit, so for them to get on their high horse with their limited training, flawed education, weak (to non-existent) mathematical abilities, poor understanding of physics and engineering, and general immaturity (let’s face it, most people enter med school straight after the conformist conveyor belt route in their young 20s, when they know everything), for MDs to insult the naturopathic doctor is nothing more than insecurity and stupidity at its finest.

    By the way, you’re pretty.

  • Rebecca says:

    Dr. Krumbeck,

    I have been heavily considering pursuing a degree in Naturopathic Medicine, also hoping to attend Bastyr. I have even designed my current major at the University of Minnesota around that pursuit. However, having read the absolutely atrocious backlash posted by some of the MDs, who curiously provided no credentials to support their acclaimed status, I am beginning to re-think my dream. My university has a program which has designed many studies and is in the process of conducting a great deal of research on the efficacy of many alternative medicines to include acupuncture, herbal medicines, yoga, and alternative psychotherapies such as creative arts therapies. Based on my classes within the program and also those within the more traditional pre-med field, basic sciences, Health Psychology, I have noticed that many people are recognizing a desire for methods of treatment for some conditions that are gentler than pharmaceutical prescription and less invasive than surgery. It seems to be a shift occuring, not just within the university, that is prompting us to a more nature-inclusive, whole-person mindset. I agree with this as do many of the nurse practitioners and medical doctors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through some of my more advanced courses. I have been warned that some in the medical community are still extremely opposed to anything other than the biomedical model of health, but I had no idea how insulting and personal the attacks could be until I read the comments on your blog. I guess I’m just wondering: Is it worth it? How do you cope with the anger, hatred, and, what actually appears to be fear, from the “medically righteous?” Thank you for your post.

    • Sigh. Yes. But remember that the internet in general is packed full of people who think they can act however they please to whomever they please without risk of someone calling them out for who they really are: jerks. Just to note, I did not publish some equally scathing and unprofessional comments coming from the “other side” who are accusing the commenters of being “imbeciles,” “in the hands of Big Pharma” and “egocentric” – it’s not just MD’s who can be trolls, so can the naturopathic supporters. These commenters went way over the line of what is appropriate, so I did not include their comments.

      This is not a career for the faint at heart. But then, neither is medicine in general. Whether MD or ND, medicine is full of controversy, jockeying for position, elitism, and battles in scientific literature. The reward is great, but the cost (financial, emotional, etc) is great as well.

  • Shay says:

    I think it’s amazing that naturopathic has shown to be more rewarding for the patient that allopathic medicine but it’s still only taught in 6 accredited schools in the US. Allopathic medicine has gotten us this far as a country but I think it’s time for a change because there seems to more and more chronic illnesses.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *