Moving my practice from Washington state to California has encouraged me to be more vocal about health and my expertise in it, largely because naturopathic doctors are not as integrated into the broader medical community here as we are in Washington and there is a stark decrease in public awareness of naturopathic medicine because of it. In Washington, naturopathic doctors are able to take insurance, prescribe most pharmaceuticals, and function to the full scope of their training as primary care physicians. Cross referrals and collaboration with MDs are common and the state is more densely populated with NDs making the profession more commonplace.
In California, however, and the majority of other states, consumers don’t have the option of coverage for naturopathic medicine and we are therefore not utilized as often as we would be otherwise. Our scope of practice is also restricted compared to that of Washington and this, coupled with the surprisingly broad scope of practice California grants a number of other health professions (see Parts I and II of this series), makes it difficult to discern who to seek for more holistic care, especially in health-conscious LA where everybody seems to be a wellness expert. This is another reason driving me to speak up – it’s confusing here, and this state is not alone in that. In California, it is illegal for me to call myself a physician as I can in Washington and a handful of other states; I must only use doctor to describe myself and this makes my education in medicine less clear. Anyone with a doctorate degree may use “Dr.” and in healthcare, someone with the doctor title could be an acupuncturist, chiropractor, psychologist, etc. none of who are able to prescribe you potentially necessary medications or perform your next gynecological or prostate exam. These are physician tasks and while I can legally do these things I cannot use the proper title reserved for them. This makes it harder for the general public to understand the role of naturopathic medicine in healthcare.
SO MANY PEOPLE are seeking more holistic care yet don’t know where to go for guidance – so they get it from a friend, family member, an influencer, the media, or treat themselves. We are inundated by health advice today from both medical and non-medical sources and it makes it difficult to know who to trust and listen to when it comes to health. Choosing who to get your health information from is ultimately up to you but it should come with being well-informed about your sources, and it is one of my goals to offer more tangible, trustworthy insight into the health and wellness space.
As a start, it is important to lay a foundation of understanding about the various health professions and options available to you. And, please know, you do have options apart from the current medical paradigm. This is what you will find in this series of posts I’ve titled “Who’s Who.” For many of you, I think you may find that naturopathic medicine is what you’ve been seeking all along. I’m also selfishly doing this because most of my friends and family have an extremely loose understanding of what I do, and I’m tired of people confusing me with homeopaths. Naturopathic medicine is not homeopathy and homeopathy is not naturopathic medicine; the two are very different from one another.
This is a three-part topic and I’ll start by outlining the different western medicine-based practices. In Part Two I’ll address non-western systems of care and I’ll end with a post on my concluding thoughts.
Thank you for taking the time to listen.