Naturopathic Doctor Clinical Practice

Clinical Training

An education in naturopathic medicine requires much more than textbooks and medical equipment. Careful faculty mentorship is a significant part of Bastyr's Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program.

Consistency and Quality in Training

At Bastyr's teaching clinics as well as at off-site community care clinics, you are trained to be a primary care physician capable of treating a broad spectrum of patients. This training emphasizes the highest standards in patient assessment, differential diagnosis, medical record documentation, referral practices and patient follow-up.

You will learn from faculty who are outstanding physicians and recognized leaders in their fields. Your shift supervisor encourages, leads and directs each patient/clinician encounter while allowing you gradually increasing levels of autonomy.

Diverse Patient Population

Between the over 40,000 yearly patient visits to Bastyr Center and our community care clinic sites in the Seattle and San Diego areas, you will have many opportunities to treat a wide variety of patient populations, including:

  • Pediatrics
  • Geriatrics
  • Non-English-speaking
  • Low-income

While the majority of shifts concentrate on general medicine, specialized training shifts also are available in:

  • Homeopathy
  • Physical medicine (including hydrotherapy)
  • Nutrition
  • Lifestyle counseling
  • Environmental medicine
  • Immune wellness
  • Minor office procedures (such as wound repair and skin lesion removal)
  • Integrative pain clinic
  • Integrated acupuncture and naturopathic medicine
  • Diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Lyme disease

Patient Contacts/Training Hours

  • You will average close to 600 patient contacts through a minimum of 1,200 clinical training hours.
  • Bastyr's clinics utilize a "team care" training approach, assigning two advanced naturopathic student clinicians to one exam room with one instructor observing and supervising their work for an entire quarter.
  • You will know in advance which patients you'll be seeing at the clinic each day, giving you time to properly prepare.
  • You also are required to complete 132 preceptor hours shadowing health care professionals in their practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you understand Bastyr's unique clinical education program better, we've answered some of the questions students often ask us.

How many clinical faculty do you have and what's the ratio of faculty to students?

We typically have 50-60 clinical faculty members, which includes six naturopathic medicine residents. The ratio of students to faculty is 6:1.

What happens during a typical patient appointment?

Usually, you will meet with your patient for 60 to 90 minutes. That time will be spent in taking a thorough history, conducting the physical exam, ordering diagnostic testing as required, making a diagnosis and formulating a treatment plan with the supervising physician.

How many off-site clinics do you have?

We currently have 13 Seattle-area community care sites at which ND students work 15 external shifts supervised by Bastyr's own clinical faculty, and the list continues to grow. Sites include a cancer wellness center at a local hospital, several clinics for the homeless and underserved, a clinic supporting the Latino population, homeopathy shifts at a women's homeless shelter and senior centers.

We also have a presence in the Puget Sound Neighborhood Health Clinics. These training sites provide students with opportunities to work closely with the Seattle community and to collaborate with service agencies and other health care providers.

What is a preceptorship and how does it fit into the clinical education program?

All ND students are required to accrue 132 hours in preceptorships. These hours are spent observing and "shadowing" health care professionals in their practices. Students choose and secure their own preceptors. A database containing hundreds of national and international opportunities is available to help you find the practitioner you would like to work with. Every year, students establish new preceptor sites based on their own contacts, areas of interest and regional preferences.

While at least 88 preceptorship hours must be spent with practicing naturopathic physicians, students may choose to include a mix of other health care professionals, such as medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy and chiropractors. Under the supervision of these preceptors, students may interact with patients, assist with some medical procedures, attend meetings with the practitioner, and learn about the business of running a practice.

How many patient contacts can I expect and how does the total compare with other schools?

Bastyr ND students receive a minimum of 1,200 clinical training hours. Those hours must include a minimum of 350 direct patient contacts in order to graduate. Most of our students, however, average 600 patient contacts by the time they earn their degree. It's hard to compare our patient contacts directly to those at other schools, since each school calculates its patient contacts differently. Some schools use contact hours as a form of measurement, while Bastyr counts any significant and supervised clinical interaction/contact with a patient, no matter what the length of time. (For example, two hours spent with one patient would be considered only one patient contact.) Bastyr does not apply patient interactions through preceptorship toward the required contacts.

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