Thursday, May 1, 2008

Accredited Schools

There are currently 6 accredited Naturopathic schools in North America:

1. Bastyr University (Seattle, Washington)

2. Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (Vancouver, BC)

3. Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (Toronto, ON)

4. National University of Naturopathic Medicine (Portland, Oregon)

5. Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (Tempe, Arizona)

6. University of Bridgeport (Connecticut)

**Note: Not all Provinces and States are regulated for Naturopathic Doctors and therefore some people can call themselves a "naturopath" without the accredited training. Furthermore, a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and Doctor of Natural Medicine (DNM) are not equivalent. Therefore, make sure you support someone who has gone the distance and graduated from an accredited school.

For a list of accredited and upcoming candidate schools, go to the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education.

Here is my experience with the two Naturopathic Schools in Canada:

I had the privilege to tour and receive an interview with both schools. At the time, it was a very difficult choice between the two schools as each offer their own benefits. One advantage both Canadian schools have over the American schools (with the exception of SCNM) is the inclusion of acupuncture and TCM within the ND curriculum.

CCNM is large and established and exudes a feeling of security. It has the Robert Schad Naturopthic Teaching Clinic which sees more than 26,000 patient visits per year. The location also offers the Paracelsus Herb Garden which I absolutely love. (Interestingly, we found rent to be on average much cheaper in Toronto than Vancouver). Over the course of the 1st year, most of my professors knew me by name and some would stop and talk in the halls. Our 1st year September class was 82 people and approximately another 50 people from the January intake joined us in second year (this "January Intake" option is exclusive to CCNM and has advantages and disadvantages discussed later). The Unity Summit, which happens in the 1st week of school, is a must and it did not take long before I knew everyone in my class by name. The curriculum at CCNM is organized into a semester system which puts CCNM students out at the same time as the university students in May. This does make for a nice long summer break after 1st year for September intake students to revitalize their bank accounts or relax and prep for the next year (Sorry January intake). However, the shorter semesters give the impression of cramming 5 years of school into 4 years - do not underestimate the intensity.

Boucher is at a fancy location in New Westminster (Vancouver) near the harbor front. The class sizes are small (they told me a max of 35 people per class) and the students I met appeared to have a tremendous amount of pride in their school. My interview was conducted by a Naturopathic Doctor who was on Boucher's Board of Governors, and I definitely felt valued and privileged to spend nearly an hour talking with her. Boucher also organizes the school year into a trimester system which I think has some great benefits. Although Boucher students only get 2 months for summer, I believe that the trimester system, which spreads out the amount of material required to know over a longer period of time, is very conducive to learning.

Different Strengths

I noticed a slight difference in the focus of modalities between each school, although the curriculum appears to be nearly identical. One difference the graduates informed me about when I visited Boucher was their proficiency and competence with the physical modalities i.e. joint/spinal adjusting. As of yet, a lot of people are not aware that Naturopathic Doctors are trained in adjustments, i.e. Chiropractic medicine.  My impression was confirmed by several students that either transferred to Boucher from CCNM or visa versa. Correspondingly, at Boucher there was possibly less focus on Botanical Medicine and TCM.

Alternatively, at CCNM, interest in physical medicine seems to be at an all time low (It is interesting to note that the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Canada's only accredited Chiropractic college, is just 5 minutes up the street from CCNM!). However, my 4th year intern was exceptional at spinal adjustments and there are additional opportunities to become proficient at this modality at CCNM if students take them. (Now, after completing my internship, I can say that I enjoyed helping people with soft tissue and spinal problems and confidently utilized adjustments when indicated.)

My point is not that one school is superior to the other in any way, but there are definitely some subtle differences that are hard to tease out from face value.  Ultimately, I believe that your education will be the result of what you make of it.


mdkmedico said...

I've just received invitation for an interview at BINM. I was told that the interview process will consist of roughly 10 minute portions and following each portion you change rooms. I was told by the admissions advisor that the whole process takes about an hour. Was your interview process at either schools similar to this? And can you offer any advice as to how to prepare for such an interview? Thank you so much in advance.

Dr. Richard Mountain said...

Congratulations on your interview!

My interviews were over the phone and a panel format instead of the "bell ringer" style. First of all, be yourself and then a familiarity with BINM and the current issues in naturopathic medicine will help a lot.

All the best,


Anonymous said...


I have recently came across your blog and have been reading many of your posts.

I was reading this post and was interested in the advantages and disadvantages you were going to mention about the January intake at CCNM. I have applied for the January intake and I just wondered what your thoughts were about it. I would have liked to have applied for the September intake but I had decided to apply late so I wanted to ensure that I was a "priority" applicant to increase my chances of getting in.

Thank you

AglaƩe said...

Hi, I am looking to apply for next January too and would like to know more about your thoughts about it. ;)

Canadian University List said...

Great blog. Keep up the good work :)

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