Minnesota Registers Naturopathic Doctors at Last!
Recent legislation in Minnesota allows Dr. Oppitz, Dr. Aberle, and about 25 of their colleagues to register with the state their intent to practice as naturopathic doctors. It is a long-awaited first step toward full licensure. Friend and colleague Dr. Helen Healy in St. Paul has been working for this for over twenty years!
The following is a synopsis of the Minnesota statutes governing naturopathic doctors.
Must have earned the degree of Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from a four-year medical school accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). Must have passed naturopathic board exams (NPLEX). Must renew registration annually providing evidence of 25 hours of approved continuing education each year.
May perform physical exams. May order clinical lab tests and perform certain ones. May order x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other forms of diagnostic imaging. May admit patients to a hospital. May perform "minor office procedures" involving superficial tissues. May perform electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, massage, microcurrent, and therapeutic exercise to name a few. May prescribe nutraceuticals, herbs, supplements, homeopathics, non-prescription medication, etc.
May not administer anesthesia. May not prescribe pharmaceuticals. May not perform surgical procedures beyond superficial tissue.
What we'd we like to see in the future:
1. Laws requiring insurance companies to reimburse patients for naturopathic medical expenses; they're not likely to start on their own.
2. The introduction of a brief pharmaceutical formulary outlining drugs like antibiotics that can be prescribed by NDs. While it may seem counter to the philosophy of naturopathy, prescription drugs have their place. It's the reliance-on and over-use of pharmaceuticals that runs counter to the philosophy of naturopathic medicine. Interestingly enough, the state of Minnesota requires a portion of continuing education hours be spent on pharmacology. Maybe it's an indication of things to come:)