The Case for Postgraduate Training in Naturopathic Cardiology
Mastering the vast amount of information which is left to naturopathic medical students in only four years of medical school is a formidable task. In the modern era, naturopathic physicians in training are called upon to master at least two systems of medicine: naturopathic medicine and conventional primary care medicine.
To truly understand the size of that task, we must understand several other facts:
- Medical doctors master a single system of medicine over a total of seven years, (four years of medical school followed by three years of postgraduate clinical training).
- Naturopathic doctors trained at colleges accredited by the CNME are trained in both naturopathic medicine and general/family practice conventional medicine, including the conventional therapeutics of pharmacology and minor surgery.
- Naturopathic medicine could be viewed as more than one system of medicine itself as it comprises doctoral-level mastery of clinical nutrition, physical medicine, counseling and mind-body medicine, botanical medicine, and homeopathy. Doctoral-level training programs are available in each of these stand-alone disciplines.
- Many naturopathic medical students are voluntarily attempting to master at least one other medical discipline simultaneously with naturopathic and conventional medicine. Most often, those additional disciplines include one or more of: Chinese medicine, natural obstetrics and midwifery, and medical research.
- Naturopathic doctors licensed to practice medicine are not yet required to complete residency, therefore most complete this vast training in only four years. There are not yet enough residency positions available to fill the educational need. Therefore students complete almost twice the education in a little over half of the time that medical doctors take to master a single system of medicine.
While many naturopathic medical students choose to complete their curriculum in five years, or more if they have chosen to study multiple disciplines, the overall programmatic timeline is still exceptionally short given the amount of material to be mastered.
There are several other considerations to be made which inform our point of view regarding the necessity of postgraduate training of licensed naturopathic physicians. For instance, the number and variety of patient conditions treated and managed by naturopathic interns vary widely depending on the rotations that they complete, the settings in which those rotations occur, the types and numbers of preceptors that an intern has, and where they accumulate their external rotations with those preceptors.
We are extremely proud of and pleased by the robust training that is completed by licensed naturopathic physicians by the time of their graduation. We are impressed by the ability of each individual to master the mountain of material with which they are presented and in such a short period of time. We are routinely in awe of the high quality of the physicians who leave our training programs. Yet, it cannot be denied that in certain areas of medicine the majority find themselves routinely underprepared for the demands of clinical practice.
Naturopathic Cardiology and Its Opportunities
A handful of naturopathic physicians in this country relish and excel in the treatment of cardiovascular conditions. Unfortunately, most naturopathic physicians do not share that confidence and excitement; rather, they feel out of their depth when dealing with the heart. With such wide opportunities to influence the health of the nation, cardiovascular medicine is an area where naturopathic physicians need to excel. There is an opportunity here to heal a nation, to promote our profession, and to help our conventional colleagues become aware of and enthusiastic about the ability of naturopathic medicine to fill an important niche within the greater medical field. The steps forward in capitalizing on those opportunities are to increase the postgraduate education and training of naturopathic physicians in cardiovascular medicine and other special disciplines and to establish professional organizations to create and uphold standards of practice and training in areas of naturopathic practice focus. A professional board of naturopathic cardiovascular medicine will achieve both of these necessary advances in our profession; it is an idea whose time has come.
CNM – the worldwide leading Center of Excellent in Naturopathic Cardiology
The Center for Natural Medicine (CNM) is continuing as the global leading Center of Excellence in Naturopathic Cardiology. We are the only facility in the world offering naturopathic cardiology training and care in a clinical treatment facility under the supervision of a professor of naturopathic cardiology. We are experts in this paradigm of health care and have been offering these services for over a decade. Since 1999 the Center for Natural Medicine (CNM), in collaboration with National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), has provided a teaching clinic (H&L), training naturopathic medical student interns in cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine. These students serve in a six month internship working as a team with a resident naturopathic physician, support staff and under the supervision of Dr. Milner to provide optimal naturopathic care.
In July 2012 will be significantly expanding. NCNM, and Dr. Milner with help from Dr. Jeremy Mikolai, our current second year Naturopathic Cardiology resident, will be expanding our clinical training of ND interns from 24 to 48 each year. We are excited about our ongoing training of ND residents and we will be offering post graduate medical education to ND’s in Naturopathic Cardiology in the near future.
Dr.Milner and Mikolai are also working toward the creation of an intensive fellowship training program in naturopathic cardiovascular medicine to further develop this area of special focus for naturopathic physicians. Ultimately, that work will lead to the board certification of naturopathic doctors in cardiovascular medicine.
For more information on our program go to Heart & Lung Wellness.
Naturopathic Cardiology Publications