Thursday, May 1, 2008

Are You Prepared?

Here are some tips beyond General Requirements to ensure that you are prepared for school in naturopathic medicine. Also, if you have not been to see a naturopath yet, click on the What to Expect link under Prospective Patients.

Academic Prerequisites

All the naturopathic schools have very similar entrance requirements. Unlike other Canadian Medical schools, an undergraduate degree is mandatory for entry into both Naturopathic schools in Canada. Furthermore, there are specific course prerequisites: General Biology (one year), Biochemistry, General Chemistry (one year), Organic Chemistry, Intro Psychology (one year/half year for Boucher) & Humanities (one from a choice), Physiology (one year for CCNM). Some of the American schools also require Physics as well as a Math (algebra based) course.

**Note: if you do not have all the pre-medical sciences, CCNM does offer these through its Continuing Education Department.

The Application Process

There are no MCAT entrance exams for naturopathy (medical schools may weight MCAT scores at 15% of the applicants pre-interview admissions criteria - the remainder is 50% academic record, 25% life experiences and 10% reference letters. Source: University of Calgary, 2008). Instead, your academic record carries the most weight, followed by your extracurricular/volunteer/ employment (life experiences) and entrance letters will get you to the interview stage.

To prepare for your school interview and entrance letters, it helps if you are currently, or were in the past, the patient of a Naturopath. The experience of being a patient will show a relevant and much deeper understanding of the issues of naturopathic medicine.

Also, one of the application questions usually includes an understanding of the history of naturopathy. If at all possible, get the book Nature Doctors by Friedhelm Kirchfeld & Wade Boyle - you will need it in first year as well (it is available on line through Amazon and Chapters).

Volunteering or working somewhere in the health industry will also show your dedicated interest in health and helping others.

1st Year Prep

A strong science background will help ease the volume of required learning in the first year. If at all possible, take a university Human Physiology course and especially Anatomy. Although neither course is mandatory for acceptance, they are both recommended by most naturopathic schools. These are year long courses and Anatomy will be one of the most time consuming courses to learn because of the immense amount of memorization. I was fortunate to have a taken Anatomy (with cadaver labs) and was able to enjoy the review and learn some additional things that I missed the first time around. As such, I was able to put a minimal effort into studying Anatomy and focus on other courses that I had never encountered before (My wife and I also had a baby which took a bit of time!).

The intensity of naturopathic college is probably unlike anybody can prepare you for. A typical day (of 1st year) at CCNM can range from 8:30am to 6pm spent in classes with a 1 hour break to eat. Also, although the exams are slightly more applied than most university exams, a passing grade for each course is a minimum of 65-70% depending on the school . As such, many students go to class all day and then study until bed. This leaves very little time for family or a second job. The possibility to work might be better at Boucher because their trimester system lengthens their school year, but they take fewer classes at once.

School is very expensive, about $20,000 per year. So make sure that you work out your financing/loans so that you are not forced to work part-time during school. This can be a battle and I am by no means an expert on financial advice-it's tough! Both schools in Canada are eligible for government student loans (If more funding is needed, an educational Line of Credit to Naturopathic Students is most easily acquired through the CIBC). A few people do choose to work part-time throughout the year because it is a break from studying or relaxing atmosphere etc. but, I still don't know how they do it!

Remember though, if this is your passion, you will be able to do it!


Anonymous said...

This is a very helpful site. I look forward to more of your thoughts

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

I'm glad you found the site helpful. There is much more to come. Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know boucher was a trimester system. Maybe I should have applied there as well, but I got into ccnm. It was closer to home which was why I applied there instead of boucher.

Good blog.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the information! I wish I stumbled across this sooner. I am currently in the process of applying (as in my application is practically done and I'll be sending it in soon).

Great blog!

Delia said...

Your site is great!! Thanks for posting this info....I wish there were more blogs from N.D. students. I'm sure you are busy but I have a question. What are some examples of questions that applicants can expect to be asked during the interviewing process?? I think that I am prepared to apply at the end of this year and I am nervous about interviews next year. I'll be applying to the four schools in the U.S. Any thoughts on the best school to choose out of the four? Thank you so much for your time, I will understand if you cannot get back to me.


Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Hi Delia,

I can certainly understand your nervousness about the interview process. My interviews with both Canadian schools were so different in format and content that it is hard to give an indication of what questions to expect. However, your thoughts on integrity, how to balance life, values and finances and the future of naturopathy may all be covered. Also, there may be a moral scenario where there is no clear right or wrong answer.

As for suggestions on the 4 schools in the US, nothing can replace a school tour. As I have not yet had the opportunity to tour the US schools I am unable to give any suggestions.

Best wishes in your future

Anonymous said...

Your site is great! I am interested in pursuing a career in naturopathy.. only, I completed my BA in psychology, I had thought I wanted to go into counselling psychology. However, recently I have decided that I am more interested in naturopathic therapies. I am aware of the prerequisite courses I would have to take. But seeing as I do not have the science background I would assume most applicants have, do you have any suggestions as to what I can do to increase my chances of getting into CCNM?

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Psychology is a great background for naturopathy. For example, counseling skills are extremely important in implementing lasting life style changes. (With a psych background, you will find the psychology courses here at CCNM fairly basic).

Yes, most CCNM students do have a science background which will make first year easier. Anatomy and physiology are the killer courses for non-science majors in first year. So, although they are not mandatory prereques, a course in both of these will help tremendously.

Secondly, if you haven't done so already, get to know a naturopath who practices as a generalist and primary care practitioner. This patient experience is invaluable and they can also answer more of your specific questions.

All the best.

Naturo said...

Hi, I found your post very informative. I actually have an interview with CCNM this Monday and was wondering if you could shed some light on what I'm in for? Anything you could tell me will be helpful. Thanks

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Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Thank you so much for all this awesome information! It's really helpful and so generous, it sounds like you are a fantastic ND. I am wondering, you applied to both Boucher and CCNM, why did you choose CCNM in the end?
Thanks again,
Cheers, Julia

Anonymous said...

Your site was really helpful! I wish I had stumbled on it earlier before sending out my applications. I have an interview scheduled with CCNM and I am rather nervous about it. I would love to hear any feedback/advice you could give me on how to prepare for my interview. Do I need to do extensive research about the field of Naturopathy? Thank you so much once again for all the information you have provided here. I look forward to reading more from you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I have been looking for a site that provides info. like this. I Was hoping you could tell me what Specific attire You recommend or is most appropriate for an interview?
Thank you!

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Congratulations on your interview! Appropriate attire would likely be "Business casual." Dress shirt, dress pants and a tie.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this - it was exactly the information I'd been searching for in a concise form!

All the best!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone knows about the admission statistics for some of the naturopathic schools in America, specifically Bastyr? I am so worried about getting in somewhere. I don't really have a back up plan.

Vicontessca said...

Thank you so much for this website! I found it just on time :) This is so great! Thank you for sharing,

Jessica said...

Awesome information! I just had an interview and will have another one next week. :)

Andreamac said...

This is a great site, thanks!

I have a question regarding the admission requirements...

I am currently an occupational therapist, with 5 years experience,having completed a BSc with an honors in psychology, and a masters in science - occupational therapy. I have anatomy and human physiology background, but, unfortunately, when I completed my organic chemistry, I did not. Omelette the lab. Will this automatically exclude my application?

Also, I have been out of school for 5 years and am nervous about re-entering the academic field... Any thoughts/suggestions?

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Hi Andrea Mac,

Your background sounds like a great prep for naturopathic medicine. I'm not sure what you intended to say with "Omelette the lab" but if you don't have a lab component, this may be a problem. Call the schools admissions to investigate.

After 5 years out of school, Naturopathic Medical training can be a lot more time intensive than a Master's degree depending on the school you attend. Start preparing!

All the best

Andreamac said...

Thanks! And yes, you are correct, 'omelette the lab' = complete the lab. I will certainly follow-up on your suggestion to phone admissions!
Great website, great resource, thanks so much!

rs said...

I am a prospective student, and I am very worried about my debt. I cannot see myself doing anything else other than being an ND, but the debt is terrifying me. I also still have a big chunk from my undergrad. So worried. But thank you so much for posting on how to prepare, happy to see I have finished all requirements you mentioned. All the best, rs