Friday, April 15, 2011

Differentiating between Naturopaths and Naturopathic Physicians.

For anyone not involved in the field, it can be incredibly difficult to differentiate the relative training and authenticity of degrees within alternative medicine.  Let me say that within all of medicine, it matters far more how ethical the person is than what degree they have. We all know stories of top ranked surgeons who have failed to practice ethically, and relative laypeople provide the backbone of much of our hospice and homecare structures.  So the degree doesn't matter in one sense.  But in another sense it really does matter, especially when it becomes the focus. 

Here's the information on Robert Theil.  "He is not a medical doctor, but is registered as a naturopath by the Federal District of Columbia, licensed as a Naturopath by the State of North Carolina, licensed as a Naturopathic Scientist by the State of Alabama and is licensed as a Naturopathic Physician by Bingham County, Idaho." 

Wow!  So if I were anyone other than who I am, I would think this guy is a naturopathic doctor, same as doc maloney.  Well, no.  Every place that he lists happens to not require a four year degree, boards, etc.  So he didn't go to Naturopathic medical school.  It doesn't mean he's a bad person, just that he's not licensed. 

In fact, the organization that Robert Thiel is a major member of, the American Naturopathic Medical Association, is the one fighting licensing and the medicalization of Naturopathy.  That's right, the ANMA is against the licensure of N.D.s  They run a program where you get a correspondence degree when you are board certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification and Accreditation Board.  Yep, they are board certified, not licensed.  It's kind of the cart without the horse, and if it seems confusing, it's meant to be.  It is this confusion, and the layering on of degrees without depth, that truly bothers me.  I have one degree, from one state, and it is more comprehensive than I can hope to master in my lifetime.  I can't imagine trying to fully master a variety of degrees from a variety of states. 

So a traditional Naturopath like Robert Thiel is not to be confused with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians ( which is the professional group advocating for the licensure of N.D.s.  We all get licensed, and practice medicine, which includes diagnosing and treating disease.  In Maine, I do not use the term physician, but the term Naturopathic Doctor.  See  But I was trained in Oregon, where we are Naturopathic Physicians. 

Now, I also saw a nice looking book from an English Naturopath, and I have no idea of her relative level of qualification.  It just shows the level of knowledge necessary to differentiate.  But it also matters what people do it their practices.  So, to show that differentiating does not mean discarding, have a look at both their books. 

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