Vermont is currently undergoing both a shortage of primary care physicians and a reevaluation of policies in the state related to the practice of naturopathy by naturopathic doctors (NDs). This report details the policy history and current policy environment on naturopathy, identifies the areas of need for primary care, and evaluates the educational training and accreditation of naturopathic practitioners in Vermont. The six areas of concern in naturopathic education are: the undergraduate prerequisites to entering ND programs, the teaching of homeopathy, medical coursework, the lack of ND residencies, the licensing examination, and the continuing education policies.
This paper discusses options for the State of Vermont, including stricter regulations on the practice of homeopathy, providing quality ND internships and residencies,formulating an additional examination for new ND practitioners, requiring more continuing education hours, and improving the integration of NDs into existing hospital systems. The result of such policy changes may yield improved quality of care provided by NDs, broader patient access to naturopathic practices, increased alignment of ND and MD care through Blueprint for Health teams, and the drawing in of more primary care practitioners to Vermont. Properly trained naturopaths as primary care providers can contribute to reduced healthcare costs in Vermont and personalized care for patients. MDs can learn from NDs about holistic evaluations of disease while NDs can learn about modern technologies for improving the efficacy of care.