Over the last 13 years people interested in a pursuing a career as a naturopath have frequently interviewed me. This brief article highlights the top five ‘insider’ tips I consider most important.
Know your state laws
Only 11 states currently license the Doctor of Naturopathy[i]. You need to make certain no one can accuse you of practicing medicine without a license. For example, unlicensed Doctors’ of Naturopathy should not wear white doctor’s coats, wear stethoscopes around their necks, diagnose, or refer to clients as patients.
Respect the traditional medical industry
Many naturopaths rage against traditional medical or pharmaceutical industries. However, it is essential to maintain a complimentary posture. At times I have requested specific diagnostic tests or procedures be performed that only the patient’s MD can order. Clients also inherently trust their traditional doctor and will frequently accept your advice while they are in your office, yet ask their traditional doctor if your treatment recommendations are acceptable.
Listen to what your client is really looking for
When I was considering becoming a naturopathic doctor, like others seeking my help, I interviewed one as well. Given the many optional approaches most naturopathic doctors can follow when working with a client, I asked him how he knew how to best proceed. I remember his answer to this day, and it has never failed me: Listen to the client. Clients will actually tell what type of natural approach they are seeking.
Distribute supplements or not?
Many clients expect you to carry the supplements that you recommend. While it may seem like you’re offering your clients’ added convenience by carrying stock, it can also create doubts that you are recommending specific supplements only to increase your profit margin. My personal choice was not to stock or sell items. However, I always made certain to let clients know where they could source what was recommended at the best price.
I’ve yet to identify why this is the case, but most clients do not have the same respect for boundaries with the naturopath they do with their traditional doctors. As such, it is important to enforce established personal, professional, and office protocol. Remember, your clients are your clients; they are not your new friends.
[i] Melnick, M. (2011). For naturopathic doctors, licensing is a tricky issue. Time Magazine. http://healthland.time.com/2011/02/22/for-naturopathic-doctors-licensing-is-a-tricky-issue accessed December 2013.