Scope of Practice
Scope of Practice for California Naturopathic Doctors
California Licensure Requirements
California naturopathic licensure requires (1) proof of having graduated from one of the 4-year accredited naturopathic medical colleges, (2) a passing NPLEX score, (3) completion and submission of application for California licensure, which may be obtained from the Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine in Sacramento, CA. Licensure does not currently require passage of California specific board exams. Residencies are not a current requirement. More information can be found on the Naturopathic Medicine Committee's License Applicants page.
For further information about licensure in California as well as other frequently asked questions, be sure to check out our FAQ page! If our FAQ page and Scope page doesn't answer your question, please post it in our private Facebook group for NDs!
Scope of Practice
With the passage of SB907, NDs gained the ability to practice medicine in California. Although this was a great victory for our profession, in order to ensure that licensure occurred, we had to make some initial compromises. As a result, our ability to practice medicine to the full extent of our training is currently somewhat restricted, but we are working on changing this. In the mean time, here’s what you need to know:
- Identify themselves as doctors. (Un-licensable naturopaths may continue to call themselves naturopaths but may not use the terms ND or Naturopathic Doctor.)
- Perform physical exams, including gynecological exams
- Order lab tests as well as diagnostic and imaging studies
- Perform CLIA waved tests in office, such as urinalyses and pregnancy - however, this requires applying for lab director status
- Collect gynecological and venipuncture specimens
- Treat with diet, herbs, nutrients, homeopathics, hydrotherapy, and neuromuscular technique Grades 1-4
- Independently prescribe natural and synthetic hormones (although testosterone and HCG require a DEA number)
- Under MD/DO supervision, prescribe legend and Schedule IV-V controlled substances, and prescribe Schedule III drugs under a patient-specific protocol checked by a supervising MD or DO (find out more about supervision and prescribing here).
- Dispense drugs or any other substances an ND is allowed to legally prescribe or furnish, as long as all specific requirements are met (labeling requirements, etc.)
- Administer IV/IM/SC injections and IV preparations
- Hire Naturopathic Medical Assistants
- Identify themselves as physicians
- Prescribe Schedule I-II drugs. (These are largely drugs with high abuse potential such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines.) Cannabis is a Schedule I drug.
- Perform Grade 5 manipulations
- Perform or interpret diagnostic or imaging studies
- Practice midwifery (unless they are also licensed midwives)
- Hire and give orders to medical personnel beyond naturopathic medical assistants
The legislative committee of the California Naturopathic Doctors Association consistently works on improving our scope of practice privileges to reflect a scope of practice that is consistent with naturopathic medical training. Long term goals include:
- Independent prescription privileges for legend and schedule III-V drugs
- Minor office procedures
- The ability to perform Grade 5 manipulations
- The ability to hire and give orders to nurses