High Test Scores Show Strength of New Curriculum, California Campus

Bastyr ND Student studying

Bastyr University naturopathic medicine students on both campuses performed strongly on a standardized test, a major step toward earning a professional license.

Students scored above national averages on the 2014 Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), taken after their second year in the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine program. This was the first class at Bastyr University California to sit for the exam since the program launched in San Diego two years ago. The inaugural class’s high cumulative scores show it keeping pace with Bastyr’s Kenmore, Washington, program.

“I’m extremely proud of our inaugural class,” says Joni Olehausen, ND, associate dean for naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University California. “These results are a reflection of our students’ dedication, perseverance and hard work during their first two years at a new campus with a new curriculum.”

See more about the breakdown of scores. Graduating Kenmore campus students outperformed national averages on the clinical test as well.

This was the first test for Bastyr students under the revised integrated curriculum introduced at both campuses two years ago. The scores suggest students are learning well under the new curriculum, which emphasizes clinical experience and a systems approach to understanding the body (e.g., respiratory system, circulatory system, cardiovascular system, and so on).

“We’re pleased that the pass rate continues to be very high and exceeds the average of all the schools,” says Jane Guiltinan, ND (’86), dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine. “It shows we have a fantastic student body who are passionate and committed to learning, on both campuses, especially for the pioneering group in California.”

“Also, I think we are very fortunate to have been able to recruit amazing basic sciences faculty to both campuses, who have great teaching skills and extensive experience.

The NPLEX is administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, an independent organization. The test, which students took in August 2014, covers biomedical science topics including immunology, pathology, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry and genetics.

Students take a second NPLEX exam focused on clinical care after completing their degree. Passing both exams allows graduates to become licensed as a naturopathic doctors (NDs) in states and provinces that license the profession. The first class of California students will take the clinical exam in summer 2016.

The NPLEX exam process is comparable to what conventional medicine (MD) students take through the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

“An important part of being a physician is having a solid underpinning in basic medical sciences,” says Dr. Guiltinan. “NPLEX is an important evaluation to assess that.”

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