As a small business with strong ties to integrative and holistic practitioners, we can think of no better day to honor the tireless work done by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) than today, on National Doctors’ Day. Did you know that currently 19 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? This is in great part thanks to the unceasing efforts of the AANP through lobbying, educating policymakers and the public about the benefits of licensure, and petitions. As you read this, 5 states have bills pending, 4 intend to file in 2017, and 4 intend to file in 2018. The most recent to successfully require licensure was Massachusetts, in January of this year—after over 20 YEARS of advocacy!
You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult. After all, in states with licensure required for naturopathic doctors, NDs are required to graduate from a four-year accredited, residential naturopathic medical school. They must pass an extensive postdoctoral board examination (the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations – NPLEX) before applying for a license to practice medicine. They must also log a certain amount of clinical training in order to receive a license. All of this helps the public differentiate between trained NDs — who are educated in conventional medicine along with traditional healing — and those without accredited degrees.
As Carrie Runde, ND, of the AANP Board of Directors, said in her blog post, “Practitioners who hold licenses have received degrees from accredited medical programs, abide by legal and ethical standards, and fulfill yearly continuing education requirements in order to provide optimal patient care. By holding a medical license, you are telling the world you are a naturopath who has received accredited training as a family doctor and who stays current on medical practice as required in the state in which you hold a license.”
Licensed naturopathic physicians must fulfill state-mandated continuing education requirements each year, and abide by a specific scope of practice defined by their state’s law. This map shows the states that currently regulate naturopathic doctors.
The fight for ND licensure is a hard battle won state by state, and each year the AANP provides advocacy grants to state associations that are nearing this goal. With a top priority for obtaining licensure in all 50 states by 2025, we applaud the tireless advocacy efforts of the AANP in their efforts to push for licensing or registration laws for naturopathic doctors.