Naturopathic Medicine Scope and Licensing

So this week is naturopathic medicine week in the US, and I’m joining in even though I’m a Canadian ND (naturopathic doctor). I went to naturopathic medical school in the states and loved my school and my time down there. I was there before,  during and after the affordable care act (Obamacare) was introduced and was able to see and treat such a broad spectrum of people. One of the things that was most important to me in my training was working with low income populations. My school, the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM), had 13 community clinics all throughout the city and offered highly discounted treatments. Many clinics had different focuses and were lead by doctors highly experienced in that field of medicine including pediatrics, culturally relevant care for non-English speaking patients and new immigrants, LGTBQI health, and addictions management.

Scope of Practice

In Oregon, where I trained NDs are licensed primary care providers and can do almost everything a licensed general practice MD can, including prescribing medications, ordering imaging, and being covered by all types of medical plans. In B.C. where I currently live and practice NDs are “technically” primary care providers which means we can diagnosis and treat most conditions,  run labs and prescribe most medications. Labs from an ND must be paid for out of pocket by patients, but prescriptions are covered in the same way they would be if an MD prescribed them.  In BC we can’t order imaging (ultrasounds, CT scan etc) and have minimal coverage from provincial health care, but many people have good health benefit plans that cover our services.  I offer primary care services, including PAPs, drivers exam, basic medication refills, and of course, do naturopathic intakes and treatments for patients (more info on that here). In B.C., NDs are allowed to see patients online and in person. For online appointments, I use the secure video platform.


All NDs in North America complete two licensing exams, called the NPLEX, and in B.C. I am licensed with the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia (CNPBC). I hold my pharmaceutical license as well with the CNPBC. Licenses are renewed yearly. Graduating from a 4 year naturopathic medical college and passing your NPLEX distinguish NDs from other people who call themelves naturopaths, but who are not Naturopathic DOCTORS. The doctorate level naturopathic education is available only in North America. Many other places in the world incorporate different natural therapeutics into medical training or have other degrees for natural healing, but the ND designation is unique to North America. NDs have been trained in North America since 1902 and licensed to practice medicine in Canada since 1920. For more on the history of naturopathic medicine check out my podcast episode!