The Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND) degree is an intensive four-year program that fosters the development of a uniquely skilled type of physician, one who is capable of delivering comprehensive health care with a heart. Our approach is personalized care with the intent to change lives. We teach our students to think, critique and develop their individual strengths as healers; to customize evidence-informed therapeutic options to each patient’s situation and preferences; and to motivate and educate patients on how to live with less pain, burden and suffering.
Once the immediate needs of a patient are addressed, our physicians move on to wellness coaching and motivating their patients to live, eat, sleep and exercise better; manage stress; and reduce risk factors for chronic disease. Ultimately, we train our physicians to provide positive transformation, improve quality of life, and reduce burden where possible. This is primary care of the future, where terrible burdens of current chronic disease epidemics are delayed or altogether curbed by fundamental changes in lifestyle.
Our entire program is focused on how to succeed in practice, how to curb the current epidemic of chronic disease, and how to make a meaningful and positive impact on the communities we serve.
ND Department Mission Statement
“Cultivating tomorrow’s physicians to empower patients and communities through integration of traditional, innovative, and evidence-informed naturopathic medicine.”
ND Curriculum Threads
Ethics, DEIB, Practitioner Cultivation, Evidence Informed Practice, Homeopathy, Nutrition, Pharmacology, and Botanical Medicine
ND Program Outcomes & Course Competencies
PO1: Medical Knowledge - Knowledge for Practice: Students apply evidence-informed principles of biomedical, clinical, epidemiological and social-behavioral sciences to guide diagnosis, treatment, and patient care decisions.
A. Apply knowledge of normal human structure, function and development, from the molecular through whole body levels, to distinguish health from disease and explain how physiologic mechanisms are integrated and regulated at different stages of the lifecycle.
B. Develop foundational knowledge of the core naturopathic therapeutic modalities. The naturopathic therapeutic modalities are botanical medicine; counseling (lifestyle counseling, health psychology, mind-body medicine); clinical nutrition (includes dietary counseling and nutraceuticals); homeopathic medicine; hydrotherapy; minor office procedures; pharmaceutical agents; and physical medicine (including manipulation, and electrotherapy).
C. Provide justifications for interventions to diagnose, prevent, treat and manage a specific patient’s diseases, injuries, and functional deficits of organ systems.
D. Describe the epidemiology of common diseases affecting populations, including methods for prevention and early detection of disease and systematic, population-based approaches for reducing the incidence and prevalence of disease.
E. Explain the impact of the intersectionality of social determinants of health on seeking, receiving, and complying with health care including but not limited to biases, attitudes, and systemic and institutional barriers. Impacts include psychosocial, socioeconomic, environmental, culture, lifestyle, lifecycle stages, and identities.
PO 2: Patient Care & Procedures – Skills for Practice: Students are able to conduct a complete and accurate history, physical exam and objective assessment, to arrive at a diagnosis. They provide personalized, compassionate, ethical, holistic patient care expected of an ND within the context of a patient-centered model.
A. Gather essential and accurate information about patients and their conditions through history taking, physical examination, review of prior data and health records, laboratory data, imaging and other tests.
B. Critically evaluate historical information, physical examination findings, laboratory data, imaging studies, and other tests required for health screening and diagnosis.
C. Construct a prioritized differential diagnosis and make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgement.
D. Identify urgent and emergent situations commonly encountered in primary care then intervene and/or refer as appropriate.
E. Integrate data from a clinical encounter to develop, implement, and revise as indicated, short- and long-term patient management plans consistent with naturopathic principles and the Therapeutic Order; considering each intervention’s safety, efficacy, contraindications, actions and interactions of therapies, predicted outcomes, alternatives, costs, and level of evidence.
F. Develop an individualized treatment plan consistent with naturopathic principles.
G. Apply personalized healthcare services addressing physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects to patients, families, and communities aimed at preventing health problems, eliminating health disparities and maintaining health. .
PO 3: Effective Communication: Students communicate effectively, in person or via technology, to optimize patient relationships and patient care. They consult, collaborate with and refer to other health professionals as appropriate.
A. Communicate effectively and professionally in both verbal and written communications with patients, peers, and the public across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds .
B. Effectively share and elicit information from patients and families of diverse backgrounds, languages, cultures and communities.
C. Formulate mutually agreed upon management plans utilizing shared decision making with patients and their families while supporting advocacy.
PO 4: Ethics and Professionalism: Students act professionally in carrying out responsibilities, adhere to ethical principles, and be sensitive in providing care to a diverse patient population.
A. Exemplify the professional values of naturopathic medicine
B. Demonstrate responsible behaviors expected of naturopathic physicians.
C. Demonstrate awareness of one’s limitations in knowledge, skills, and emotions.
D:.Demonstrate and embody legal and ethical standards, principles, and moral reasoning.
PO 5: Career Development and Practice Management: Students identify opportunities and develop a strategic plan for establishing and maintaining a viable career using their naturopathic medical education.
A. Develop a viable career plan .
B. Applies knowledge from coursework to achieve an ethical livelihood
C. Demonstrate sound financial literacy and time management
D. Implement time management skills (Develop effective patient, clinical, and time management skills)
E. For graduates seeking private practice:
Create a realistic business plan.
Apply basic principles of marketing towards establishment and growth of a patient base.
Identify resources for hiring employees, writing contracts, disciplining and firing employees.
Implement basic inventory management procedures.
Define terms used in employment and facilities contracts.
Apply principles of business operations such as regulatory compliance, developing patient care and office forms, purchasing professional and business insurance, using health information technology, implementing a patient scheduling system, and developing clinic policy and procedure manuals.
Apply principles and regulations of medical billing and coding to charge appropriately for patient services.
PO 6: Systems-Based Practice : Students demonstrate an awareness of the developing role of naturopathic medicine within larger frameworks of healthcare systems, advocating for optimal patient and community health care.
A. Practice cost-effective healthcare through evidence-informed management, preventive strategies and lifestyle management, with an aim at alleviating the overall healthcare burden.
B. Participate effectively within a healthcare team
PO 7: Practice-Based Learning, Research, and Scholarship: Students will critically appraise, assimilate and apply scientific evidence to improve healthcare. Demonstrate an understanding of the strengths and imitations of research and dedicate themselves to ongoing personal reflection and lifelong learning.
A. Utilize critical reflection on one’s own performance (knowledge, skills and attitudes)
B. Apply the skills of evidence-informed practice to naturopathic patient care.
C. Demonstrate an understanding of intellectual property and its ethical use.
NUNM Health Centers
The strong support of our state and county health authorities sets NUNM apart from other naturopathic medical schools. Our students intern in our state-credentialed Tier 4 Patient-Centered Primary Care Home (PCPCH), which has become an exemplary model for how primary care should be organized and delivered. Our interns are trained to use electronic medical records (EMR) equipped with evidence-informed therapeutics, evaluation and clinical decision guidance tools, and referrals to investigations and medical specialists—all in real time. Our EMR system allows for collaboration with major hospitals in the Portland area—and links to health providers all across the nation. At NUNM’s primary care home, students learn how to anticipate, guide and coordinate the care of even the most complex of cases with specialists, behavioral and mental health providers, and community partners.
Our ND program combines primary care with the foundation of evidence-informed traditional nature cure. We focus on experiential education and our students benefit from a preceptorship program, simulation labs, diverse clinical experiences, internships and research.
Our curriculum is delivered in an innovative, clinically integrated system where students encounter real patients and clinical scenarios as early as their first quarter—followed by progressive and challenging clinical rotations during the first three years of the program. This design prepares students to smoothly transition into the role of physician in their fourth year, under the watchful mentorship of more than 40 accomplished academic and clinical teachers.
Students in the ND program experience a rigorous biomedical education, an inspiring journey into healing philosophy and practice delivered through the core themes of cultural literacy, ethics and professionalism, evidence-informed practice, naturopathic philosophy, and practitioner cultivation. Each theme is led by one or more of our dedicated faculty to ensure that every block of the curriculum prepares the physicians of tomorrow to thrive in the current and challenging environments of healthcare provision in the U.S.
First-year classroom studies include the normal structure and function of the body with a solid introduction to naturopathic theory, philosophy, therapeutics and medical systems. Students enter the clinic in an observational capacity and begin preceptorships in the first year.
The second- and third-year didactic curriculum focuses on organ system block courses that integrate all aspects of the normal and abnormally functioning system, including pathophysiology, prevention, evaluation and diagnosis of disease. Therapeutic modalities, including botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, physical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, and other natural and pharmacological methods are woven throughout all organ systems courses. All courses highlight cultural competency, ethics, evidence-informed decision-making, medical jurisprudence, naturopathic philosophy, communication skills and professionalism, while emphasizing a whole-system approach to optimal health and wellness.
Second-year clinical experience continues with preceptorships and hydrotherapeutics. After the completion of second-year coursework, students are eligible to sit for the NPLEX Part 1 Biomedical Science exam.
The third-year clinical curriculum consists of practical training as a secondary intern in a variety of supervised settings, ranging from community-based clinics to the on-campus medical health center. To advance to secondary status, students must pass a clinical proficiency examination, or OSCE 1 (Objective Structured Clinical Examination).
The fourth year is focused on clinical training as a primary intern as well as elective coursework. To attain primary status, students must pass the OSCE 2 exam, with a final OSCE 3 examination required for graduation. Our graduates complete 1,254 clinic hours, which include more than 500 supervised patient contacts.
Because the program is rigorous and the course load heavy, students may apply to complete the ND degree in five rather than four years. In some cases, students may be required to be in the five-year track. Students may take no more than seven years to complete the ND program.
While at NUNM, students may undertake any two programs concurrently (e.g., ND/MAcCHM/MSOM, ND/MSiMR, MAcCHM/MSOM/MScN, etc.). Contact the Office of Admissions for more information.
ND Course Descriptions
Course codes ending in a “T” designate tutorial; course codes ending in an “L” designate lab. If a student fails a lecture portion of a block course, the student will need to retake all three sections—lecture, tutorial and lab. If a student fails a tutorial or lab portion of a block course, the student will only need to retake the tutorial or lab.
ND students are required to complete 16 elective credits for the purpose of enhancing the breadth of their education. Students may take graduate-level electives through the College of Naturopathic Medicine, College of Classical Chinese Medicine, and School of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies (as long as course prerequisites are met).
Students enrolled in concurrent programs are required to complete the number of elective credit hours of the program that has the greater number of electives between the two programs.
Summer Intensive Courses
The Summer Intensive meets on ground after completion of the 1st year online program. It includes a weekend naturopathic philosophy retreat, as well as a collection of hands-on lab classes that are part of the Clinical Anatomy, Therapeutic Modalities and Clinical Education block courses. These lab classes build on the didactic knowledge learned in the online lecture and tutorial courses and they focus on developing practical skills.
Naturopathic Medicine Certificate Programs
ND students in good academic standing are eligible to apply for admission into the Homeopathic Medicine and Natural Childbirth/Midwifery Certificate programs. Due to space constraints, admission is limited. These are not degree programs. Contact the Office of Admissions for further information.
Homeopathic Medicine Certificate
The Homeopathy Certificate is open to current naturopathic medicine students, and begins to prepare the recipient to apply for the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP) credential after they graduate. The certificate requires a student to take all elective homeopathy courses in addition to the homeopathy hours integrated in the ND block curriculum. There are additional requirements for case analysis and written papers to complete this certificate. Students are required to apply to be included in the program, to ensure that they can be scheduled in the required courses while they are pursuing their naturopathic medicine degree. Contact the Registrar’s Office for further information.
Natural Childbirth/Midwifery Certificate
The natural childbirth/midwifery program at NUNM is a synthesis of the philosophies of natural medicine and traditional midwifery. Although NUNM’s program is didactic only, and does not include the experiential aspects of training, it prepares students to seek further education through clinical preceptorships, should they so choose. With dual training as a naturopathic physician and midwife, naturopathic midwives are uniquely qualified to provide comprehensive health care for women and their families throughout their lives.
The Natural Childbirth/Midwifery Certificate program provides the didactic education necessary for a graduate to complete requirements to sit for the American College of Naturopathic Obstetricians (ACNO) licensing examination. These courses are in addition to the required Reproductive Systems block course in the ND program, and are comprised of six elective courses. Students receive instruction in the natural process of pregnancy, labor and birth, while also being trained in detection and management of unusual and emergency situations. Students intending to include natural childbirth in their practices must complete the entire didactic sequence of coursework to familiarize themselves with the management of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and neonatal periods.
Program coursework meets Oregon licensure requirements for the certificate of natural childbirth, and is recognized by Washington state midwifery requirements. Both states also require practical clinical experience, which is not included in this certificate program. Individuals interested in practicing naturopathic midwifery in other areas should contact local governing agencies to inquire about requirements.
Students must be in good academic standing and may apply for the program in their third year of the naturopathic medicine program. Although NUNM does not formally offer a clinical component, the College of Naturopathic Medicine can assist with connecting students with qualified preceptors in the community. Students who are interested in a clinical preceptorship will be interviewed by the preceptor. Unfortunately, due to limited available positions, not all students will be offered a clinical preceptorship.
ND Graduate Medical Education (Residency) Program
At the end of their accredited naturopathic medical program, NDs can become licensed for practice once they have successfully passed their NPLEX board exams and have completed state licensure requirements. However, postgraduate education and training is highly encouraged. There are increasing opportunities for further clinical education in the form of naturopathic residencies, and NUNM leads the profession—we developed and administer the first and largest graduate medical education program certified by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). Currently, residency placement is a highly competitive process. In addition to earning a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from an accredited institution, candidates must demonstrate professionalism, maturity, commitment to serve, excellent clinical abilities, and an aptitude for enhancing their clinical skills. NUNM is committed to assisting the profession in developing an adequate number of residency opportunities to allow the graduates of all accredited naturopathic degree programs to receive the benefits of graduate medical education.
For information about applying to an NUNM residency position, other opportunities, and application requirements and deadlines; please visit nunm.edu/residency-nd and aanmc.org/naturopathic-residencies/residency-timeline.