What Is Naturopathy? (With Career Steps and Skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 6 April 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Naturopathy is the theory that a person can heal themselves with techniques such as diet, exercise and massage. There are a variety of different careers you may pursue related to naturopathy. Learning about naturopathy and the roles involved may help you decide if this is the right career field for you. In this article, we answer the question 'What is naturopathy?', explain what naturopath professionals do, provide a step-by-step guide on how to become one, including the key skills for a successful naturopath career and answer some of the most commonly asked questions.
What is naturopathy?
The answer to the question 'What is naturopathy?' is that naturopathy is a form of therapy that patients can use to complement medical techniques, like the standard physical exams and laboratory tests. The basis of naturopathy includes the importance of a healthy diet, clean water, sunlight, exercise and stress management. It supports a person's choice to lead a healthy lifestyle and assists the body's capacity to heal itself. Some naturopathy therapy techniques may include nutritional medicine, diet advice, herbal medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle advice and other therapies such as massage, acupuncture and meditation.
What does a naturopath do?
A naturopath is someone who uses natural and non-invasive methods to promote the body's natural healing mechanisms. Some of these treatment methods may include:
prescribing herbal medicines to treat illnesses
offering advice on diet and nutrition to help with detoxification and the prevention of disease
giving advice for stress reduction
using hydrotherapy, homeotherapy, oriental or ayurvedic medicine
using air, heat, cold, water, sound or ultraviolet light to prepare the body to heal itself
applying cold or heat packs to reduce pain and stimulate organ function
performing acupuncture or acupressure
providing therapeutic massage, stretching or resistance techniques
performing skin prickling to collect blood samples
treating minor cuts or abrasions
reporting patterns of patient's health conditions
Some of a naturopath's duties and responsibilities include:
understanding a patient's medical history
creating effective treatment plans and explaining them to patients
administering herbal medicines
keeping patient records confidential
maintaining professional development
ordering diagnostic imaging procedures
conducting physical exams
interviewing patients to document symptoms
performing minor procedures like the removal of moles
consulting with other physicians and obtaining previous medical records
How to become a licensed naturopath
A traditional naturopath and a naturopathic doctor are two separate occupations within this field. There are no formal prerequisites to becoming a naturopath, but most practising naturopaths have qualifications in the field. A licensed naturopathic doctor (ND/NMD) is a trained primary care provider who diagnoses and provides medications to patients of any age or gender. If you decide to become a licensed naturopath, follow these five steps:
1. Earn a bachelor's degree
The first step towards becoming a licensed naturopath is to earn your bachelor of health science (naturopathy). This degree takes four years of full-time study to complete. The degree focuses on social sciences, including psychology and counselling, nutrition and diet planning, botany and herbal medicines, diagnostic and clinical skills. Upon graduation, a licensed naturopath may choose to complete an internship.
Related: FAQ: What Is a Diploma?
2. Hold a current first aid certificate
Choose the right first aid course for you. Whether you opt to study online or attend a live course, a certificate in first aid takes only one day to complete and includes 16 credits with one theory and one practical course. This course can develop your knowledge and skills about first aid and enable you to provide first aid in an emergency. You might learn how to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation and deal with patients who are choking or severely bleeding. These courses are typically nationally accredited.
3. Hold a current Working With Children Check
The Working With Children Check (WWCC) is a requirement for anyone who works with children. It involves a national police check and a review of reportable workplace misconduct. It can take up to four weeks to receive this check and is valid for five years.
4. Apply for membership in professional associations
It's important for students and graduates to become members of a professional association. Establish your credibility by registering with the Australian Register of Naturopaths and Herbalists (ARONAH) and renew your membership every 12 months. Demonstrate the mandatory Continuing Professional Development (CPD), as this proves your willingness to stay up-to-date with the latest practices and provides confidence to your clients.
5. Seek job opportunities
The final step to becoming a licensed naturopath is to look for job opportunities in your desired area. During your internship, work to build a professional network of doctors who can provide a job reference. Create a resume and cover letter to highlight your qualifications and apply for jobs that pique your interest.
Fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine
Most naturopaths share the unifying principles of naturopathy. According to the Australian Natural Therapists Association, there are six fundamental principles of naturopathic medicine that naturopaths typically adhere to:
Do no harm: These professionals may try to make use of the most natural and holistic remedies.
View nature's healing power: They may trust in the body's wisdom to heal itself.
Identify and treat the causes: Naturopaths often look beyond the symptoms to find the root cause and treat that instead.
Acknowledge the doctor as a teacher: Naturopaths work to educate patients on the steps to take to achieve and maintain health.
Treat the whole person: These professionals may view the body as an integrated whole and they may focus on treating the overall health, rather than one part or condition.
Prevent illnesses: They typically focus on overall health, wellness and prevention of disease.
What skills make a successfully licensed naturopath?
A licensed naturopath has personality traits and qualities that help them succeed in holistic care. Some of these include:
Listening and communication skills
Before offering a natural treatment plan, licensed naturopaths listen carefully to each patient. This helps them get a clear idea of the condition they're dealing with. They also use their listening and communication skills to explain to their patients the treatments they require and communicate that information to them in an empathetic and understanding way. The first consultation usually takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
Being self-sufficient and able to adapt to different situations is crucial, especially if you want to start your own practice. You may have to be a self-starter and a self-motivator. Adapting in any given situation is a strength and a skill to pursue.
Kindness and compassion are key skills when dealing with patients. Feeling well cared for and understood goes a long way in a patient-doctor relationship. As a licensed naturopath, it's required to build a positive rapport with patients.
Licensed naturopaths typically don't just treat single symptoms like a headache. They also try to interconnect all symptoms in the body. It's important to be critical thinkers and problem solvers to succeed. Delving into all aspects of a person's health and linking symptoms may help lead to the proper diagnosis.
If you're planning on opening up your own naturopathy clinic, organisational skills are essential. The ability to set objectives, plan and manage your appointments and achieve goals within a set time frame all play a role in being a good organiser. Organisational skills create a productive and effective workplace.
Frequently asked questions for a naturopath
Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about this career:
What is the typical environment like for naturopaths?
Naturopaths work an average of 38 hours per week. Many naturopaths have their own clinics and work for themselves, which encourages a healthier work/life balance. As a naturopath, you could work in clinics with a number of natural therapy practitioners, such as homeopaths, kinesiologists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, reflexologists, Ayurvedic consultants and hypnotherapists.
What is the expected salary of a naturopath?
The national average salary for a naturopath is $60,693 per year in Australia. Within naturopathy, there are other job titles and roles you may pursue, and the salary can vary in each of these positions. For example, acupuncturists earn an average of $88,251 per year. A massage therapist earns an average of $55,985 per year.
Can a naturopath write prescriptions?
If the naturopath has a bachelor's degree and is a licensed naturopathy practitioner, they may write prescriptions for medications. Naturopaths choose alternative natural remedies first to treat patients. They may then refer a patient to traditional medical techniques.
Salary figures reflect date listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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