Naturopathic Medicine Program in Your 4th Year

clinical student looking at chart


The fourth and often final year at Bastyr truly begins a time of transition out into the “real world.” The focus shifts away from class and into clinicals, grades and homework into entrepreneurship and networking.

Almost all the classes are remote in your last year, which allows for greater work-life balance. I always try to catch some Vitamin D and movement during my classes, taking my dogs on a walk, listening to my class near the ocean, or simply stretching while listening. Coursework focuses on what it truly means to be a naturopathic doctor in this world, with classes such as public health, business practices, medical procedures, and clinical ecology. One of my favorite classes of this year is Grand Rounds, a year-long course in which we have guest lectures from naturopathic doctors all over the country sharing a bit of their wisdom with us. Of course, some difficult classes are still sprinkled in, such as rheumatology and oncology.

However, the main focus of your fourth year is gaining clinical experience. We complete four shifts per quarter at the Bastyr campus or at a variety of cool off-site shifts. We have the opportunity to learn from a variety of experienced practitioners on our shifts, and students have some choice in deciding the supervisors they would love to learn from. On our shifts, we practice being doctors, working with patients in a collaborative effort to assess, diagnose, and treat. As fourth years, we serve as the primaries for patient care, meaning we are the main practitioner responsible for taking a history, diagnosing, and treating our patients with well-appreciated support and oversight from our supervisors. Another focus of the clinic is demonstrating competency in a variety of subjects. During our time in the clinic, we must demonstrate that we are competent in a variety of medical conditions, physical exams, diagnostic procedures, and essentials of practice by obtaining signatures from our supervisors. 

Students are also focused on connecting with the outside medical field through preceptorships or internships, conferences, networking events, and spending time learning about their chosen specialty. Students begin applying to residencies and truly considering what the next few years will look like for them.

There is truly a lot of reflection and growth during this year. As the many tests and assignments are (finally) coming to a close, we are excited for our future and all that it holds. Fourth year is truly the light at the end of the tunnel, as we begin to feel competent as doctors and eagerly creating our next steps.


About the Author

Kirstin is a dual track MACP and ND student at Bastyr University San Diego (Class of 2023). She is passionate about mental health, chronic fatigue, and chronic pain and loves exploring the many San Diego hiking spots with her two dogs on the weekends.