Only 17 states in the U.S. regulate naturopaths as they perform complimentary and alternative health services. Such services often include nutrition management, acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage. These services are each licensed in North Carolina under individually trained providers. Like a majority of the states, North Carolina does not license naturopaths to practice medicine.
Since becoming licensed in 2005, naturopaths in California have made many efforts to gradually expand their scope of medical practice. This year is no different, with CA naturopaths pushing legislators to consider legislation that would not only require insurance companies to reimburse for their services but also expanding those services to do the following:
- Prescribe medications without medical training or the requirement for physician supervision, including controlled substances.
- Allow naturopaths to supervise other health care providers such as nurse practitioners in addition to the current allowance for naturopathic assistants.
- Perform in-office procedures including mole removal for biopsy.
- Perform joint manipulation services typically performed by physicians and chiropractors.
Such an expansion of scope of practice goes well beyond the training of naturopaths, shifting their focus from complimentary health care providers to the equivalent of a physician. Physicians have 4 years of medical education and at least 3 years of residency training prior to practicing at the level sought by naturopaths in California.
We encourage North Carolina lawmakers to continue to protect patients by only licensing those who have attended medical school to practice medicine in our state.