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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Prep for a career in naturopathic medicine

By David Chilton
Special to the Toronto Sun

Barbara Weiss has a business degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and spent 16 years in marketing before a change of jobs that she calls "a second career for me."
Naturopathic medicine uses a holistic approach to treating patients that comprises nutritional supplements, herbal and botanical treatments, homeopathy and lifestyle counselling. (Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, photo)

What Weiss gave up marketing for was naturopathic medicine, a profession that uses a holistic approach to treating patients that comprises nutritional supplements, herbal and botanical treatments, homeopathy, lifestyle counselling and so on.


Weiss, 40, says she was dissatisfied with some aspects of her business career, and had been interested in naturopathic medicine for 10 years before she returned to school.

The trouble was she didn't have the necessary science background for direct entry into the four-year Naturopathic Doctor (ND) program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. Fortunately, the College could help her and she enrolled in its 16-week preparatory program designed to provide the foundational science for applicants who don't have it.

Weiss, who's now in her third year of the ND program, says the preparatory program lived up to its name. "I didn't actually find it to be that difficult. I found that it was a good segue into entering the program and getting prepared for the first year of our training."

The prep program runs Monday to Thursday between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. with labs on Fridays, says Patricia Scott, recruitment manager for the College.

"We've purposely kept it in the evenings because mature students traditionally take this course of action," she says. "So a lot of them are still working or caring for their kids. We like (for them) to continue working for as long as they can."

There are five courses in the prep program, says Kavita Sharma, the college's associate dean of academics. Students have to study organic chemistry, biochemistry and other subjects that are the equivalent of university courses and hours. Once the 16 weeks have been completed students are then eligible to apply for a place in the ND program proper.

  • The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine's preparatory program lasts 16 weeks and has two intakes.
  • Prep classes are taught in the evenings Monday to Thursday with lab work on Fridays.
  • The average age of prep class students is 30.
  • Many more women than men take the program and 78% of NDs are women.
  • Tuition for the preparatory program is $6,531.
  • The ages of prep program students range from 21 to the late 50s, Scott says, with the average about 30. She explains that the ND profession is 78% female, so the prep program is heavily female too. Most of its students were educated in Canada.

    The program has two intakes: 16 weeks of study from May to August or August to December. Admission to the prep program is competitive. Scott says there are about two applicants for every place and those who will be interviewed need references and so on. Tuition for the 16-week program is $6,531.


    Like the preparatory program itself, the College's ND program has two intakes. Both dovetail with the conclusion of the 16 weeks of study. May to August students can, if accepted, enrol to begin in September; August to December students can enrol in January.

    The ND program takes 85 to 100 students in September and 35 to 55 in January. Sharma says since studying to become an ND is post-graduate work, direct applicants must have completed three full years of university and have credits in general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, psychology and a humanities subject. If enrolled, they will take licensing exams at the end of their second and fourth years, and have to fulfill certain clinical and preceptorship requirements. NDs are regulated by the Drugless Practitioners Act in Ontario. Tuition for the four-year program is $15,570 a year.

    That's not small change. But then neither are the fees NDs charge. The College's recommendation starts at $125 an hour for those in private practice, which is where Weiss thinks she'll head once she graduates.

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