Maryland Governor Signs Bill to License Naturopathic Doctors
Annapolis, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley today signed a bill to enable naturopathic doctors in Maryland to become licensed to practice naturopathic medicine. Maryland becomes the 18th state to license naturopathic doctors. Passage of the law reflects the public’s growing confidence in naturopathic medicine as an effective form of medicine.
Passage of the bill, which received strong bipartisan support, culminates four years of effort by naturopathic doctors in Maryland to gain licensure. After opposing licensure for four years, the medical society representing Maryland physicians dropped its opposition, largely because of a growing number of MDs who strongly supported the bill. Aiding the naturopathic doctors’ efforts was support from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Dr. Peter Beilenson, the former Commissioner of the Baltimore and Howard County health departments and current President and CEO of the Evergreen Healthcare Co-Op.
According to Dr. Emily Telfair, president of the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians, “The law will lead to greater access for Marylanders to doctors who emphasize disease prevention, healthy lifestyles, and natural therapies. It will also enable consumers to distinguish between licensed doctors who meet extensive education and training requirements and others who call themselves naturopaths but do not meet the state’s rigorous licensing standards.”
A turning point in the licensure effort came when Maryland’s Health Secretary, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, and leaders from the Maryland General Assembly visited the Casey Health Institute in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The policy makers were impressed by the patient-centered, integrative approaches being used there to treat patients.
“The new law continues the movement to bring emerging professions such as naturopathic medicine into the medical mainstream,” commented Jud Richland, CEO of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. “Patients are increasingly demanding the kind of whole-person care delivered by naturopathic doctors. One by one, states are enacting laws to license highly skilled naturopathic doctors so that citizens have access to the kind of care that so many Americans are seeking.”
To become licensed in Maryland, a naturopathic doctor must attend a four-year naturopathic medical school that is accredited through the U.S. Department of Education. Accredited naturopathic medical schools train naturopathic doctors in the same basic sciences as MDs. They also provide training in holistic and nontoxic approaches to preventing disease, optimizing wellness, and treating various health conditions. The doctor must then pass a rigorous professional licensing exam.