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Under the oversight of Jonathan Tokiwa, intern Alex Coulson administers acupuncture with electro-stimulation to Andrea Shum at a naturopathic teaching clinic at Brampton Civic Hospital.PETER POWER/The Globe and Mail

Job: Naturopathic doctor

The role: These health professionals start by conducting detailed interviews with their patients to determine their health history. They then use that information to assess and manage their patients' conditions using a range of natural therapies and treatments, according to Nicholas De Groot, dean at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). He says that includes "low impact" therapies, ranging from herbal remedies and natural supplements to dietary counselling.

Salary: Those starting out can earn about $50,000 a year, increasing steadily to more than $100,000 as they gain more experience. Naturopaths who run their own practices also tend to earn more.

Education: To become a naturopath, you must first obtain an undergraduate university degree with some standard premedical science courses, including biology, biochemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry and introductory psychology, according to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND). You must then complete a four-year, full-time program at an accredited school of naturopathic medicine.

There are seven accredited schools in North America, according to CAND. Professionals also need to write and pass standardized North American board exams known as the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examinations (NPLEX) to qualify for regulation and licensing.

By the numbers: There are about 2,000 naturopathic doctors in Canada, according to CAND's 2014 Annual Report. That's up from about 1,500 in 2010. "The profession continues its extraordinary growth and CAND membership has more than tripled in the last 10 years," the report says.

Job prospects: Good, especially as naturopathy becomes more widely accepted in today's society. "There is pent-up demand for high-quality natural health care," Mr. De Groot says. More employee health and wellness plans are also incorporating naturopath services, which is helping to drive demand.

Challenges: While more Canadians are turning to naturopathic medicine to help cure what ails them, there are still many who question its legitimacy when compared with conventional pharmaceutical medicines. Mr. De Groot says many Canadians also aren't used to paying for health care services, which they must do when visiting a naturopathic doctor.

Why they do it: Naturopaths are interested in health care and treating and preventing illness through natural products. "They like the philosophy and the approach of health prevention and promotion," Mr. De Groot says.

Misconceptions: Some people are under the impression that naturopaths don't believe in conventional medicine. "We aren't anti-pharmaceutical or anti-surgery," Mr. De Groot says. "It's about the appropriate intervention at the time of need."

Give us the scoop: Are you a naturopathic doctor? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

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