Not even Sen. Josh Hawkins, the author of a bill licensing naturopathic "physicians" for the first time in Mississippi,
I call that buying a pig in a poke. That's a particularly dangerous proposition when the pig is about to be licensed as primary care physician.
Had they studied the bill more thoroughly, the good Senators might be surprised to learn just how broad a scope of practice they are granting naturopaths. SB 2511 allows them to practice "primary care," call themselves "physicians," and diagnose and treat what is known as the
That's a lot when you admittedly don't know whether their education and training is up to the task. Unfortunately, instead of looking into the matter further, the committee members simply put naturopaths under the jurisdiction of the medical board and said they had to work "under the general supervision of a physician." That's a bandaid, not a cure.
I have been
Accredited naturopathic schools have some basic science education, but much of the naturopathic students' time is spent learning about herbs, homeopathy, dietary supplements, colonics and other unproven remedies in courses taught by other naturopaths. Unlike MDs and DOs, they don't do several years of residency after graduation. Their
After graduation, they
Until recently, the insularity of naturopathic education and practice left it shrouded in mystery. Most people, like the Mississippi legislators considering this bill, knew little about it. Fortunately, a little disinfectant sunshine has recently been shined on naturopathy by Britt Hermes, who graduated from the premier U.S. naturopathic school, Bastyr University, and practiced as a naturopathic doctor.
No legislator should vote on this bill without reading her blog,
Mississippi legislators appear to be under the impression that naturopathy will "offer more options," as Sen. John Horhn put it, for the state's citizens. Sen. Horhn is correct. Mississippians will have "more options," just not good ones.
For starters, naturopaths are
Rather than preventing disease, as they claim, naturopaths have
Fortunately, Ms. Hermes is not the only one to share the unvarnished truth about naturopathic practice.
"if there's one thing this dump of tens of thousands of messages shows, on just a cursory examination . . . it's this. Contrary to the whitewash campaign of "Naturopathic Medicine Week 2014" promulgated a couple of weeks ago by credulous legislators [in Congress], naturopathy has been, is, and always will be quackery."
But what of the idea of putting naturopaths under medical physician supervision, as the latest version of SB 2511 does? It's a bad idea, that's what. In the first place, "under the general supervision of a physician" is undefined. What does that mean? How closely must they be "supervised"? Will the medical physician be liable for the naturopathic physician's actions? Will naturopathic physicians practice their "primary care" in independent offices, or must they practice only in a medical physician's office?
More importantly, medical doctors are educated and trained in, and practice, evidence-based medicine, which has as its core an accumulated body of science and respect for the scientific method. Naturopaths are educated and training in
If legislators find naturopaths vexing now, just wait until they get a practice act. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians is gunning for full primary care scope of practice in all 50 states. Their strategy is to accept a more restricted scope as a "foot in the door" and keep coming back to the state legislators, year after year, for expanded practice. They've done this in every state where they've gained licensing and there is no reason to think they won't do it in Mississippi.
The sole reason SB 2511 has gotten this far is ignorance about naturopathic education, training and practice on the legislators' part. They are about to buy a pig in poke, a pig that's going to prove hard to get rid of should Mississippi legislators decide the whole idea was a mistake. (Idaho licensed naturopaths in the early 2000s, only to turn around and delicense them in 2015.) The citizens of Mississippi deserve better.