• Dr. Olivia Froehlich

Alphabet Soup of Holistic Healthcare

Updated: Mar 28


Alphabet Soup of Holistic Healthcare: Naturopathic Doctors, Functional Medicine Doctors, Integrative Medicine Doctors, Osteopathic Doctors, and Chiropractors

If you're looking for a natural or holistic healthcare provider, you have probably come across many different types of providers, with different titles, and different acronyms at the end of their names. The field of natural health and your individual health concerns are already complex, now you have to sift through the different provider types, let alone the different doctors themselves?! How is their training different? Do they all have the same experience with nutrition, herbs, pharmaceuticals, and supplements? Do some of these providers overlap and offer the same experience? Are some of them better suited for certain patients than others? The list of questions is endless!


Sometimes, clients have already tried 1-3 other types of doctors before they find the naturopathic doctors here at Atlantic Naturopathic. When it comes to natural and holistic healthcare, licensed naturopathic doctors have the most rigorous and comprehensive training in all things lifestyle alterations for disease prevention, nutrition, herbal medicine, supplements, homeopathy, and environmental medicine. However, patients may fit best with certain provider types based on their health goals, treatment preferences, and eagerness to enact lifestyle changes. This is why we wanted to put together a blog and chart to compare and contrast some of the most common types of alternative care providers: naturopathic doctors, functional medicine doctors, integrative medicine doctors, osteopathic doctors, and chiropractors.

Naturopathic Doctors

Functional Medicine Doctors

Integrative Medicine Doctors

Osteopathic Doctors

Chiropractors

Acronym

ND

Physicians (MD, DO, ND, or DC), and non-physicians (PA, NP, RN, etc.)

MD or DO

DO

DC

How do they get to be called this?

Attend and complete naturopathic medical school at an accredited naturopathic medical school; pass the licensing exams; maintain an active license; complete continuing education credits

Attend and complete accredited healthcare practitioner program; maintain an active license; complete the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) program, case report, exams

Attend and complete either medical or osteopathic medical school (MD or DO); maintain an active license; complete an American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM) approved fellowship

Attend and complete osteopathic medical school; internship/residency/fellowship; pass the licensing exams; maintain an active license; complete continuing education credits

Attend and complete chiropractic school; pass the licensing exams; maintain an active license

Is the label a degree or a certification?

Degree

Certification

Certification

Degree

Degree

Length of schooling in degree or certificate

4-5 years; optional residency 1-3 years

Length of whichever healthcare provider program they completed prior to pursuing this certification; IFM program on average takes 2-2.5 years to complete courses

Length of medical or osteopathic medical school + residency; 1-2 year Integrative Medicine fellowship

4 years; internship, residency, fellowship

4 years

Regulating bodies

North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE), individual state laws

Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)

American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM)

National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME), individual state laws

Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB), individual state laws

Training includes

Diagnostics, physical exam, labs, imaging, minor surgery, herbal medicine, homeopathy, environmental medicine, physical medicine, hydrotherapy, osteopathic manipulation, supplements, nutrition, pharmaceuticals

Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice class; Average of 17 hours of lecture material per module including bioenergetics, cardiometabolic, environmental health, gastrointestinal, hormone dysregulation, immune system

Diagnostics, physical exam, labs, imaging, minor surgery, pharmaceuticals

Diagnostics, physical exam, labs, imaging, minor surgery, physical medicine, osteopathic manipulation

Diagnostics, physical exam, labs, imaging, chiropractic manipulation

Written by:

Dr. Olivia Froehlich, ND


References:

Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). https://aanmc.org/?keyword=naturopathic%20medicine&gclid=CjwKCAjwiuuRBhBvEiwAFXKaNPzyzfalFH4nG-4rG-7Rlzyszkaz0mlrAHX0Nz0LuShEuAtSFGTDLhoCp2AQAvD_BwE

North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). https://www.nabne.org/

Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). https://www.ifm.org/

Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB). https://fclb.org/index.php

American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM). https://www.abpsus.org/aboim/

National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners (NBOME). https://www.nbome.org/

Functional Medicine and Naturopathic Medicine: What’s the difference? https://richmondnaturalmed.com/functional-medicine-naturopathic-medicine/



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