What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Do?
I spoke to a nursing student recently. As I spoke to her about her school and studies I ended up telling her that I am a Naturopathic Doctor. Naturopathic Doctors are fairly common in Washington State. Two accredited Naturopathic Colleges are in the Northwest: Bastyr University is outside of Seattle and National College of Natural Medicine is in Portland, Oregon. Both Washington State and Oregon license Naturopathic Physicians. The nursing student had never heard of Naturopathic Doctors despite being in nursing school, which wasn’t surprising.
She asked me, “what does a Naturopathic doctor do?”
“Well, what does a Doctor do?” I replied.
Her response stunned me: “You go to a doctor and they make you better, by cutting out the problem or by giving you medicine.” Her tone was almost accusatory. I suddenly felt a little defensive.
I took a deep breath. I can’t recall what I said next but I knew we had a disconnect. . . “A doctor makes you better,” This implies that the Doctor is a God-like being and a person’s body is incapable of healing without a Doctors intervention. Maybe M.D. stands for Medical Deus instead of Medical Doctor?
And here the difference lies. Docere, is where our language has gotten the word doctor. Docere is a latin word meaning to teach or to instruct. As a non-deity, only a mere Naturopathic Doctor, I help the person create an environment so their body may heal. Phrased another way- my role is to teach, to guide, to be knowledgeable about the healing arts, so my patient- the “one who suffers” can heal. I am to diagnose the issue(s) afflicting my patient by listening to the person, physical exams, lab tests, and even imaging. Whether my patient requires: healthy food, nutrients , rest, exercise, lifestyle changes, stress reduction, someone to listen, surgery, herbal medicine, a homeopathic remedy a>, or a pharmaceutical to help them heal, my role is to walk with them, guide, and teach them so their body may be able to heal itself.