Friday, April 3, 2009

Online learning

Recently I have seen a lot of advertisements for online naturopathic training in the US. I have even read where some people adamantly defend their online naturopathic diplomas. Although I am sure that they worked hard, and gained insight into some areas of natural medicine, I cannot see its applicability to becoming a doctor.

In contrast to online naturopath education, accredited schools train naturopaths to be primary care providers. As an example, this year (my second year at CCNM) we had the privilege to learn and practice physical & clinical diagnosis (PCD) of every body system. We had standardized patients for the male genital and female breast exams and our final practical exams this year will be on standardized patients. Next year our PCD training will include female gynecological exams on standardized patients.

Although there is substantial reading and preparation (including lecture time on theory) required before we attend the PCD practicals, the understanding and applicability of the theory is not complete until we work through the practical sessions, get feedback from supervisors and our colleagues, and learn from our mistakes. Many times subtle differences in technique can miss a diagnosis. Nothing can replace practical learning.

I can not imagine how online training prepares for practice as a doctor since doctors treat patients not computers. Certainly, one could learn about the theoretical aspects of medicine but be left without any idea of how to actually be effective with patients. Especially for those who live in the US, for your safety, please make sure you see a naturopath who graduated from one of the Accredited Schools.

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