Frequently Asked Questions
Is Lifespan Naturopathic Medicine currently open?
Lifespan Naturopathic Medicine is currently CLOSED. Dr. Angela Ross became the Executive Director of the non-profit Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians (WANP) in July 2020 and opted to take a break from private practice while she gets herself situated in this position. She will re-evaluate her availability over time, but she is not currently available for patient care. (See the “Resources” tab for excellent primary care provider options!)
Does Lifespan Naturopathic Medicine take insurance?
Lifespan Naturopathic Medicine is currently closed. If/when Dr. Angela Ross reopens to patient care, she will be an out-of-network provider for all health insurance plans. Payment in full will be due at the time of service for all appointments.
Dr. Ross will be happy to provide the paperwork necessary for anyone to submit an out-of-network claim to the appropriate health insurance carrier on request.
Dr. Angela accepts payment in the forms of cash, check, or card (debit, credit, HSA, FSA).
What is naturopathic medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care profession that emphasizes prevention, treatment, and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances that encourage an individual’s inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.
What is a naturopathic doctor/physician?
Naturopathic physicians combine the wisdom of nature with the rigors of modern science.
Steeped in traditional healing methods, principles, and practices, naturopathic medicine focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnosis and treatment. By using protocols that minimize the risk of harm, naturopathic physicians help facilitate the body’s inherent ability to restore and maintain optimal health.
It is the naturopathic physician’s role to work in partnership with a patient to identify and remove barriers to good health by striving to create a healing environment – both internal and external.
In Washington State, naturopathic physicians are fully licensed by the Department of Health as primary care physicians (PCPs), are covered by most insurance carriers, and have prescriptive authority for all legend (non-controlled) drugs and limited controlled substances.
What kind of training does a naturopathic physician have?
In states (including Washington State) that license or otherwise regulate naturopathic medicine, a naturopathic physician (ND) must successfully complete a four-year, residential, graduate-level naturopathic medical program at a fully accredited naturopathic medical school. This academic program includes rigorous training in all of the same basic and clinical sciences that are taught in a conventional medical program, but it also includes training in holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness.
Some examples of coursework above and beyond the standard medical curriculum that naturopathic physicians take include:
- clinical nutrition
- herbal/botanical medicine
- nutrient therapy
- exercise science
- physical medicine
- homeopathic medicine
In order to be licensed to practice medicine in Washington State, a naturopathic physician must also complete two sets of professional board exams. These exams – called the Naturopathic Physicians’ Licensing Examination (NPLEX) – are administered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE) and are traditionally completed at two separate times:
- The first set of exams emphasizes basic sciences and is traditionally completed after the first two years in the medical program.
- The second set of exams emphasizes clinical sciences and is completed after successful graduation from an accredited naturopathic medical school.
It is only after successful completion of both sets of professional board exams that a naturopathic physician can be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician. Once licensed, naturopathic physicians must fulfill annual, state‐mandated continuing education requirements.
Do naturopathic physicians complete a residency or internship as part of their training?
Residencies are a required part of a conventional medical school program, but not for a naturopathic medical school program at present.
Conventional residencies are subsidized by the federal government; therefore, there are enough residencies and enough funding to accommodate graduates of conventional medical programs. Naturopathic residences are not subsidized by the government; therefore, there are relatively few private naturopathic clinics that can afford to support a resident out of its own budget.
Because there are only a small number of residencies available to naturopathic medical school graduates, they are not currently a required piece of a naturopathic physician’s training. However, naturopathic medical students spend the majority of their final two years in a clinical, out-patient, family-practice setting performing hands-on patient care. In other words, many aspects of a traditional residency program are already built into the naturopathic medical training program.
Dr. Angela Ross elected not to apply for a residency position after graduation, opting instead to open Lifespan Naturopathic Medicine on her own. She has many mentors in the naturopathic community whom she consults with as needed.
Does Dr. Angela Ross have a specialty?
After spending nearly 7 years doing naturopathic primary care, Dr. Ross turned her focus to mental health. She has a particular interest in supporting people through significant transition, grief, and trauma. She decided to make this the focus of her practice after recognizing that so many disease processes are rooted in the mental/emotional sphere (which is not to say that diseases are being “made up” or are “all in someone’s head”!). Whether it is the physical body holding onto a memory in its tissues or the mind struggling to feel worthy, there is profound healing work to be done at this foundational level. Dr. Angela brings this perspective into every patient interaction and feels most connected and useful to her patients when she can help tap into the deepest levels of imbalance in order to help create the space for re-balance. She uses a combination of conversation and connection, hands on techniques, and some herbs and nutrients to help people identify and move through places where they feel stuck, thereby clearing the way for optimal health on all levels of their being.
[A note on naturopathic “specialization”: unlike in conventional medicine, there is not a formal route to specialization in the naturopathic community, with a few key exceptions. At present, naturopathic physicians can obtain advanced training in integrative oncology to become board certified in that field. Those naturopaths are designated with the letters “FABNO” (which indicate that person is a “Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology”). There is also an option to become board certified in homeopathy, which is designated by the letters “DHANP” (which indicate that person is a “Diplomate of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians”). Although there has been some movement to provide additional testing and board certification in both naturopathic primary care and naturopathic pediatrics, those do not yet exist. Therefore, when a naturopathic physician indicates that s/he “specializes” in a field (other than oncology or homeopathy), it simply means that s/he has a special interest in that field, or that s/he has had success with patients in that field, or that s/he has pursued additional training outside of school in that field. It does not necessarily mean that s/he went through a formal process to be a “specialist.”]
What is the difference between a naturopathic doctor (ND) and an allopathic medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO)?
There are several key differences between NDs and MDs/DOs. While there are practitioners of all degrees who are exceptions, in general, NDs will spend more time face to face with patients than MDs or DOs. Dr. Angela Ross does not have a nursing staff or other clinical assistants. Therefore, the entire duration of a visit is spent face to face with her. Dr. Ross believes there is tremendous therapeutic value in the patient-practitioner relationship and therefore spends a lot of time fostering this relationship and building trust.
There also tends to be a difference in how symptoms are viewed. Conventional medicine generally views symptoms as annoyances that need to be eliminated. While the ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is the same, the approach is slightly different: A naturopathic physician understands symptoms as the body’s way of communicating that there is an imbalance somewhere. The goal of treatment is not simply to eliminate the symptom; it is to address and correct the underlying imbalance that is causing the body to express the symptom in the first place.
Treatment options are a third way that naturopathic medicine tends to differ from conventional medicine. While conventional physicians tend to be trained primarily in pharmaceuticals or surgery to eliminate symptoms, naturopathic physicians have many more treatment options in their proverbial medicine bags. For example:
- A naturopathic physician will ask about and make recommendations on diet and lifestyle factors.
- S/he has vast knowledge of botanical and nutrient therapies that can sometimes address imbalances without as many or as harsh side effects as pharmaceuticals.
- S/he can engage in counseling or various body-work or physical medicine modalities to try to open the mind-body connection and address root causes.
Naturopathic physicians are also trained in appropriate use of pharmaceuticals – as well as in pharmaceutical/supplement interactions – and can prescribe medications or provide surgical referrals as needed.
Never be afraid to ask the questions that are on your mind. (There are no stupid questions!)