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Practising Naturopathic Medicine in British Columbia


Starting Your Naturopathic Medicine Career?


You can find more articles and information for NDs at:


There are more than 300 Naturopathic Doctors (or NDs) in British Columbia. They have been licensed as doctors in BC under the Ministry of Health since 1921. Naturopathic physicians usually have an accredited college dgree, and have a minimum of 7 years post secondary education. Their education includes a minimum of 3 years pre-medical training at a university followed by 4 years at an accredited naturopathic college or university.

To obtain the designation of Naturopathic Doctor, ND, you must have completed a program in naturopathic medicine from an accredited college or private institute. Candidates must then pass the international Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination (NPLEX). In British Columbia naturopathic physicians must then pass oral and written examinations conducted by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia (CNPBC), the licensing body.

The College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia is the regulatory body established to govern the practice of naturopathic medicine in BC. In 1999 Cabinet approved the repeal of the Naturopaths Act and designated naturopathic medicine as a regulated profession under the Naturopathic Physicians Regulation pursuant to the Health Professionals Act. Registrants of the College may perform the acts set out in the Naturopathic Physicians Regulation and the Health Professionals Act. The College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia is the primary contact. The BC Government maintains a page outlining the current legislation for Naturopathic Medicine.

Legislation in BC allows for the reserved titles of Naturopathic Physician, Naturopathic Doctor and ND. The College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC (CNPBC), by overseeing the board examination process, confers the right to individuals to use such reserved titles, and to practice naturopathic medicine. Note that the word “naturopath” is a lay term referring to a person who may not have received an accredited education.

The information shared here is based partly on the BC Work Futures web site, which is in the public domain. The British Columbia Occupational Outlooks (BC Work Futures) used to include Naturopathic Physicians within the NOC 3123 group (Other Professional Occupations in Health Diagnosing and Treating), but at this time the page is not available.

The Government of Canada Job Futures site contains information about NOC 312, which includes Naturopathic Doctors, and the Province of Alberta has an occuptiaonal profile for NOC 3123.3 Naturopathic Doctor.

For a general overview of the profession see the Wikipedia article about Naturopathic Medicine. To find the latest online information about these accredited colleges check with:

Nature of the Work

Licensed naturopathic physicians are health professionals who diagnose and treat the diseases and injuries of patients; naturopathic physicians work in private practices.

Main Duties

Naturopathic doctors diagnose patients' diseases and disorders. They employ natural methods of healing, such as acupuncture, acupressure and spinal manipulation, in their treatment. They also may use Bowen Technique, reflexology, hydrotherapy, herbal medicines, biochemical therapy, nutritional therapy, homeopathy and psychological therapy in their treatment.

Most naturopathic physicians set up their own private practices. Therefore, besides diagnosis and treatment responsibilities, they also have to take care of running a small business. This includes having to look after finance and administration, as well as developing a client base.

Education & Training

A degree in Naturopathic Medicine and successful completion of provincial examinations administered by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC (CNPBC) are necessary in order to practise as a naturopathic doctor in B.C. The CNPBC is the licensing and regulatory body, which reports directly to the BC Ministry of Health.

The British Columbia Naturopathic Association (BCNA) is the professional association for licensed NDs in BC.

The board examinations NDs undertake in BC are the same exams taken in all North American jurisdictions where a license is required. These internationally standardized board exams are called NPLEX, and they are conducted by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE).

The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine is accredited by the Naturopathic Board of Medical Examiners, as well as by the BC Private Career Training Institutions Agency (PCTIA), and offers a four-year diploma in naturopathic medicine.The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine is a Member of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges of North America.

Naturopathic practice includes seven major disciplines. Each of these is a distinct area of practice and includes diagnostic principles as well as therapeutic skills and techniques. These include acupuncture and Oriental medicine, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, naturopathic manipulative therapy and lifestyle and psychological counselling.

Prospective naturopathic physicians should be emotionally stable, tolerant, empathetic, patient, able to solve problems and think creatively and analytically. Naturopathic medicine is more than just a health practice. It is a philosophy and a lifestyle. Prospective naturopathic doctors should value natural health practices, enjoy working with a variety of people and believe in the body's ability to heal and thrive.

Working Conditions and Earnings

Naturopathic doctors work in well-lit, clean offices that are usually their own. Sometimes they have to travel to make house calls.

They usually set their own hours. However, most of the time they adjust their hours to meet the needs of patients and sometimes work evenings and weekends. Some of them work in a group or clinic setting, to allow for planned vacations and sharing of work.

On average, professionals in this occupational group in B.C. earned $41,700 in 1995. Full-time, full-year professionals earned an average of $67,300. The respective all-occupation averages in the province in 1995 were $27,900 and $39,400. Earnings generally vary depending on the number of hours worked, the number of years in practice, the number of established clients, location and other factors.

After graduation, what sort of income can I expect to make?

Your income will depend on where you practice, how long you have been there, and the size and type of clinic you operate. Remember that your taxable income, after deducting business costs, will be very approximately half of your gross revenues. Your after-tax income will depend on the specifics of your financial situation.

In an article published by the BCNA in 2003, the Association stated that "income varies according to the style of medical practice a doctor chooses. A naturopathic medical practice where the doctor has no support staff and works part-time may only generate $20 or $30 thousand a year, whereas a doctor who employs a large staff and works long hours can make in excess of $200 thousand a year. The average income for doctors in BC is in the $80 thousand range."

Employment Prospects

Employment for professionals in this occupational group is projected to grow at an average rate of 2.5% per year, much faster than the average for all occupations in B.C. through to 2008, according to the Canadian Occupational Projections System (COPS).

The expectation of continuing and increasing demand for services of professionals in this occupational group is based on a growing and aging population. As more of the baby boom generation starts reaching their later middle ages, the overall demand for various health care and treatment services is expected to increase.

The high demand for licensed naturopathic physicians reflects the growing importance of alternative primary and preventive care. Alternative ways of keeping healthy or healing are becoming more acceptable to the public, many of whom no longer rely solely on medication and surgery, which should help maintain the demand for the services of naturopathic doctors and result in more employment opportunities for NDs.

Most services provided by professionals in this occupational group are privately funded. Changes in public funding policies should not affect demand for these services to any great extent. On the other hand, the cost associated with setting up a private practice is quite substantial. New graduates will probably work as staff or associates for a number of years in order to gain experience and earn sufficient income to pay for start up costs.

Individuals who consider entering this profession are advised to consult training institutes and industry sources for up-to-date information on specific service outlook and employment opportunities before making career and training decisions.

BC Work Futures – Similar Occupations

Full details about similar occupational classifications can be found at the BC Work Futures web site.







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