Frequently Asked Questions
How is A Naturopathic Doctor trained?
A licensed naturopathic physician (N.M.D.) attends a four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D. The same premedical undergraduate coursework is required with a competitive application and admission process similar to conventional medical schools. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, physical medicine (manual manipulation of the joints), homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling. There is 2 full years of supervised clinical internship and optional 1,2 or 3 year residency programs. A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician.
Can A Naturopath be my primary care provider?
As primary care providers, naturopathic physicians can do everything your primary care doctor can do…
- standard medical diagnostic techniques such as extensive health history, physical examination, EKG’s, blood tests, radiology, and other standard laboratory procedures.
- holistic interpretation in order to find the underlying cause of the disease process.
- natural medicines and therapies as the first line of treatment, rational use of prescription drugs and surgery, and referrals to specialist when necessary.
What is the difference between Naturopathic Medicine (NMD) and conventional medicine (MD or DO) practices?
Training of an NMD, MD, and DO is similar when it comes to science and medicine, but NMDs are required to learn additional naturopathic modalities. Acupuncture, botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy and nutrition are used before pharmaceutical drugs. We prefer to only use drugs when absolutely necessary. Basically NMD’s have a larger toolbox.
For example… you think you have the flu, YUCK! You’re trip to the NMD would feel different than the experience with your MD. There is always time for same day appointments for sick patients. Most family practice offices are scheduled months out, making it hard to be seen when you are actually SICK. Once in the office, vital signs are taken by the medical assistant and the doctor comes in without much waiting time. A thorough health history and physical exam is done. This part of your visit will feel similar to your MD but you’ll spend double or triple the time with the NMD instead of the quick” in and out” appearance of most insurance MD’s. Diagnostic and treatment plan options will be reviewed and you’ll have time to ask questions. Diagnostics in this case would include bloodwork and/or a simple in-office flu test. A typical treatment plan for the flu by the NMD would include a high dose vitamin IV to rehydrate and stimulate the immune system, injections of medications to help nausea, vomiting, body aches and fever. An herbal anti-viral supplement would be sent home along with detailed home care instructions and a “pocket prescription” for flu medication to use if absolutely necessary. Our patients find that 95% of the time the natural treatments are successful and the prescriptions aren’t necessary. The MD would offer a prescription…and that’s all.
My insurance company tells me your services are not covered?
Insurance is in business by figuring out ways to NOT PAY. BUT, it is technically illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against a licensed primary care provider (which NMD’s in AZ are) since the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) took effect in Jan 2014. We are not yet “in-network” with any insurance companies at this point but we are actively seeking that status. The AZ Naturopathic Medical Association has been in aggressive communication with the AZ Insurance Commissioner because discrimination is still taking place. Until we become in-network providers we urge patients to send in coded service summaries given at the end of the visit and seek re-imbursement for office visit charges. Depending on your specific “out of network” provider coverage you will get reimbursed for a percentage of your visit directly from your insurance provider. If you are DENIED this by your insurance company we like to see those letters, we sanitize all personal information and send the denials as “evidence” to our Association’s attorneys that are actively fighting this discrimination. Many of our patients with good insurance are reimbursed for visits at our office without a problem. We always code lab orders, radiology orders and prescriptions for medicine so they are covered by insurance without a problem. Our office visit charge and any supplements purchased are usually the only out-of-pocket expense. Patients are encouraged to use funds from Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) for supplements and office visits.