Clinical Training – Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

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Student in the clinic seeing patient

One of the primary reasons students tell us they choose NCNM is the depth, breadth, and diversity of clinical experiences offered through our clinical training program. Throughout four years of training, students gain experience in various and diverse primary care settings and are able to train with physicians utilizing one of the broadest practice scopes in the country.

Students gain practical clinical skills by working under the supervision of licensed naturopathic physicians, in a variety of healthcare settings including, NCNM’s primary teaching clinic, our community clinics, and at other private health care facilities. Students begin learning through observation in the first year and gradually gain more responsibility for patient care, as didactic responsibilities lighten and clinical education and responsibilities become more integral each school year. All patient care occurs under direct supervision of licensed physicians.

After the first year of clinical education, which is primarily an observation year, students begin working 1:1 with patients during clinical rotations for hydrotherapy. While they are not responsible for diagnosis or management, second year students administer various hydrotherapy procedures under the supervision of a physician and learn to interact with patients, gain proficiency in basic physical exam skills, assess patient concerns, and begin to develop charting skills. Treatment modifications, as prescribed by the referring doctor or supervising physician, are discussed and utilized to allow students to become increasingly skilled in the application of hydrotherapy as a healing modality as well as a variety of physiotherapy devices. In addition to technical skills, emphasis is placed on learning how to interact with patients on a one-to-one basis, developing communication skills, and maintaining professional conduct while cultivating a caring, responsible, efficient, and trustworthy clinical presence.   

As students move into their third year they take on the role of “secondary intern”. In this role students begin to develop their clinical thinking skills in real life situations. They participate in primary care medical visits and are part of a treatment team consisting of a supervising physician, primary, and secondary intern. Secondaries function as integral members of the treatment team and are responsible for the beginning of the patient visit (greeting and rooming patients, taking vitals, reviewing allergies and medications, initiating the patient’s medical history) as well as assisting the primary with ordering labs, completing physical exams, and reviewing patient instructions.

In a students 4th year, a lighter academic course load enables students to devote more of their time to developing their clinical skills and working directly patients and other providers. The role of a primary intern mirror the duties of practicing clinician and includes direct patient care (history taking, performing physical exams, and developing treatment plans) as well as long term management, referrals, and follow up.

Requirements for the completion of the clinical practicum include 1,264 clock hours of direct patient contact with a minimum of 500 patient contacts; demonstrated competence in specific clinical skills; under the guidance and assessment of the clinic faculty in clinical skills, knowledge, judgment, professional and ethical behavior, and communication skills.