Navigating the various doctors and practitioners can be confusing. What do the different degrees mean? What are their qualifications? What is the best kind of doctor to treat my condition or chronic illness? We’ll explore the differences between a Medical Doctor, Functional Practitioner, and Naturopathic Doctors. Learn the differences and determine which one is best for you!
The information provided on this website is not meant to be used, nor should it be used, to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. This information has NOT been evaluated by the FDA. This website is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician. The reader should regularly consult their doctor in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. Full Disclosure Policy, Legal Clause, and Terms and Conditions – Click HERE.
After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an Autoimmune Disease, I went to an Endocrinologist. For 5 years, I went once every 3 months, my appointment was 5 minutes max, and he treated me with the wrong medicine. I finally came to my senses and fired him.
It was then that I started to explore different practitioners and different treatment options. Navigating the sea of doctors and degrees was difficult enough, but adding functional and alternative medicine practitioners in the mix made it even more confusing.
The Differences Between Doctors
We’re keeping it simple. Here are the basic differences between a Medical Doctor, Functional Practitioner, and Naturopathic Doctor, along with alternative-style doctors.
Medical Doctors can be a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). After a bachelor’s degree, the student will attend medical school to obtain their MD or DO for a total of 7 years.
Residency is an additional 3-7 years. The final step is to obtain board certification and licensing.
The focus of a medical doctor is on acute care and addressing the symptoms.
Appointment times are typically 7-10 minutes.
Functional practitioners are practitioners who are certified by the Institute for Functional Medicine.
In order to be eligible, practitioners need to have a Masters Degree in a health-related field from an accredited university AND an active healthcare license to practice in their state.
Eligible degrees include: Acupuncturist, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Doctor of Chiropractic, Doctor of Osteopathy, Medical Doctor, Naturopathic Doctor, Pharmacist, Registered Nurse, and more.
After a bachelor’s degree, the prospective Naturopathic Doctor (ND) student will attend 1 of 6 Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical College (AANMC) accredited Naturopathic programs (such as Bastyr) and also pass boards and licensing. This includes 4,100 hours of instruction plus 1,200 hours of clinical training.
NDs use a more holistic approach to diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illnesses. They can prescribe medication if needed.
It’s important to note that an ND designation can be confusing. Ask your doctor about their education because there’s a big difference between a Naturopathic Doctor and a Naturopath. A Naturopath has a Ph.D. style degree and is often conferred online. They are more of a health coach or consultant and do not have the clinical training, medical education, accreditation, and experience that an ND has.
Alternative-style doctors take a holistic and consultative approach. They listen to the patient’s health history and story, ask questions, and become more of a medical detective. Expect a long intake form with a detailed medical history and lifestyle questions.
The appointment times can be 60-90 minutes. Ask about the cost and check with your insurance, as it will depend on whether it’s covered or not.
How to be an Empowered Patient CEO
Can you imagine what it would feel like if you had a trusted practitioner who partnered with you to explore the root causes of your chronic illness? Becoming an Empowered Patient CEO means that you no longer are scared and helpless but instead you are confident in the partnership with your practitioner to explore the root causes of your chronic illness and find that breakthrough in your healing journey that you so richly deserve.
Imagine… feeling empowered with your health and finding and collaborating with the doctor who is right for you! Click below for the FREE webinar…
Are you Inspired?
Be sure to download your FREE Chronic Illness Blueprint to change your trajectory, increase energy, and maintain balance!
Love, hugs, and being educated on the difference.
This article and website contain affiliate links and ads which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and make a purchase. Any information on this website is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor for medical advice. We believe in conscious capitalism and the American Dream. Full Disclosure Policy, Legal Clause, and Terms and Conditions – Click HERE.