Naturopathic Medicine: How to Choose the Best Doctor?

"People know more about how to buy a car than they do about selecting a doctor” —Don Powell, president of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine

Naturopathic medicine has become more popular and mainstream.  How do you navigate the healthcare system and find the right Naturopathic Doctor for you?  Getting to know your provider and their practice style will make your health & wellness experience rewarding.  Below are the top suggestions to keep in mind during your search.

Education: 

Naturopathic Doctors (ND’s) are graduates of accredited Naturopathic Schools of Medicine.  They are board certified physicians, who are trained in conventional & alternative modalities, and provide an integrated approach to health.  Having said that, as a patient, it is good to know:

  1. Where your physician received their education and additional training?
  2. Do they belong to any of the state and nationally recognized associations such as Washington State Association of Naturopathic Physicians or American Association of Naturopathic Physicians?

 Knowing your ND’s education and professional background can be reassuring as you consider them to be your care provider.

Expertise:

Most Naturopathic Doctors are primary care doctors.  However, there are many who choose to specialize in different areas of medicine and receive extensive training.  Knowing your health needs is crucial when it comes to finding the right doctor.  Your Naturopathic primary care doctor can be a great resource and referral for other ND’s, who specialize in your area of interest.  Knowing why your ND chose a certain area of specialty can also be enlightening and eye opening.  Several key points to keep in mind during your search:

  1. Are you looking for a family doctor or someone who specializes in digestive care, dermatology, orthopedic medicine, or reproductive medicine to name just a few.
  2. Have a conversation with your potential ND about their training in their specialty as well as their professional experience.

Communication:

In any relationship, communication is key to success.  Doctors are notorious for leaving their patients guessing and failing to communicate with other providers.  Important questions to ask your doctor are:

  1.  How will they communicate with you in between visits?
  2.  Will they be in communication with your current primary care doctor to assure appropriate coordination of care and attention?

Good communication between you, your provider, and other health professionals involved in your care is essential to your health and wellbeing.

Personal approach to health:  

No one asks their doctor this, but knowing what your health care provider does to maintain and optimize their health can be a direct reflection of their approach to health.  After all, if they can’t take care of their health, how can they take care of you?  Some key questions to ask are the same ones the doctor may ask you:

  1. How is your diet?
  2. How do you manage stress?
  3. What do you do for physical exercise?
  4. How is the quality of your sleep?

This is just a few ways to get a better idea if your Naturopathic Doctor is practicing what they are preaching.  

Online presence:

Some doctors shy away from using social media as a way to promote themselves, their research, and expertise.  Social media, however, can help patients get to know their doctor better by seeing the different topic they write about, their presence in the community, and what they are passionate about.  Here are key points to keep in mind:

  1. Does your doctor have an online presence? 
  2. How does your doctor use social media?  
  3. Do they contribute valuable content that is informative and easy to understand?

Insurance:

Many doctors, Medical and Naturopathic, are moving away from accepting insurance for many good reasons.  One important reason is, that insurance limits the quality of service doctors are able to provide due to time and monetary crunch.  Here are some top reasons why your doctor is not participating with insurance companies:

  1. Most providers who are not “in-network” are able to spend more time with their patients and provide better treatment and treatment options.  
  2. Insurance does not cover certain specialty procedures that are highly effective, but deemed unnecessary.  Most patients come to see Naturopathic Doctors when they have tried everything and have already spend countless hours and dollar bills on health care. Discovering treatment that works and meets your health goals is priceless.
  3. Your doctor wants to deliver exceptional care and service without being limited by the agenda of insurance companies.

When it comes to insurance, your Naturopathic Doctor should be able to guide you through the process, so that you can make the best decision for your health and wellbeing.  

Learn more about Naturopathic Medicine and schedule your appointment to start feeling better!