The Naturopathic Physician, what is the Difference?

Naturopathic Physician

NMD, DO, MD, NP, what is the difference?

When I began pursuing a career in medicine, I knew I was looking for a medical profession that focused on treating patients as people. I envisioned myself taking the time to listen to my patients and confidently present them with treatment options that would produce the best outcome. I was also dedicated to finding a medical career that focused on preventing disease. This is how and why I became a naturopathic physician. 

What Is Naturopathic Medicine

In Arizona, naturopathic physicians are licensed physicians trained in primary care, pediatrics, oncology, and endocrinology. A naturopathic physician attends a four-year graduate-level medical school with a curriculum equivalent to a traditional medical program. In addition to the standard medical curriculum, naturopathic medical students are required to complete four years of training in various natural and holistic disciplines like nutrition, botanical medicine, acupuncture, and more. Some naturopathic medical graduates will complete a 1–3-year post-graduate residency. 

What to Expect From Your Naturopathic Physician

As outlined in a recent WebMD article, “The goal of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person. It also aims to heal the root causes of an illness.” Naturopathic physicians take an in-depth approach to your health, focusing on the whole person. This approach allows the provider to obtain a diagnosis and find the most appropriate treatment options instead of palliating only the current symptoms. Naturopathic physicians spend time with their patients, educating them on lifestyle changes that can support good health in the long run. 

What Do Naturopathic Physicians Treat 

As primary care physicians first, we see patients who are acutely ill, have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, or are looking to be seen for their annual wellness check. The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges has stated that naturopathic medicine is often beneficial for most health concerns or conditions. 

The Many Different Treatment Modalities

Just like your internist or general practitioner, a naturopathic physician can perform clinical, laboratory, and diagnostic testing. In Arizona, naturopathic physicians can also prescribe medication and perform minor surgery procedures. A naturopathic physician may also utilize acupuncture, botanical medicine, counseling, homeopathy, intravenous/injection therapy, nutrition, or physical and manipulative therapy. Having received training in various treatment options, naturopathic physicians can use a hybrid approach to their care.

To learn more about naturopathic licensure and see which states have licensed physicians, visit:

Dr. Nichole Shiffler

Dr. Nichole Shiffler is a naturopathic primary care physician and medical director of Be Well Medical Primary Care. Dr. Shiffler focuses her practice in women's and pediatric medicine. Dr. Shiffler also has an extensive history of treating irregular menstrual cycles, thyroid disease, menopause, acne, PCOS, and diabetes. She utilizes nutrition and herbal medicine to deliver an effective treatment plan to her patients. Dr. Shiffler is available for patient care at Be Well Medical Primary Care. Call (480) 219-9900 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shiffler.


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