Treating the whole person and embracing the healing power of nature

Welcome to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. SCNM has a rich history of sending naturopathic physicians into the world with not just a knowledge of naturopathic medicine but a rich experience in its healing effects. We train and prepare graduates for the future of medicine and health care. Since day one, we have been an innovator in the field of naturopathic medicine and we strive to advance the profession and opportunities for graduates.

As a student at SCNM, you’ll learn in the classroom setting and clinic environment as well as in student clubs, activities and study groups. At SCNM, students are united in a calling to become NDs and the supportive community is here to fuel their success. 

To know SCNM, is to first know and understand what naturopathic medicine is.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a general practice field, though many naturopaths develop specialties and areas of emphasis. Such medicine is complementary to conventional medicine and dedicated to the study and celebration of holistic health and healing, covering all aspects of family health from prenatal to geriatric care. It blends centuries-old natural, non-toxic therapies with cutting-edge advances in medical science, and is committed to empowering patients to retain control over their health and well-being.

Naturopathic medicine concentrates on whole-patient wellness; the medicine is tailored to the patient and emphasizes prevention and self care. Naturopathic medicine attempts to locate and treat the underlying cause of the patient’s condition rather than focusing solely on symptomatic treatment.


The Naturopathic Physician

Naturopathic physicians are primary care physicians clinically trained in natural therapeutics and whose philosophy is derived in part from the 2000-year-old Hippocratic teaching (vis mediatrix naturae) that nature is the healer of all diseases. Their practice is based on same bio-medical science foundation that conventional practice is; however, their treatment philosophies and approaches differ considerably.

While naturopathic physicians and conventional physicians share common diagnostic methods, naturopathic physicians treat patients using natural therapies such as physical manipulation, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, counseling, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy. They choose treatment based on the individual patient, not based on the generality of symptoms.

Naturopathic physicians spend a great deal more time with their patients. Like conventional family doctors, many naturopathic physicians have the credentials to prescribe medication and make a full range of treatment decisions, but focus on developing a collaborative relationship with the patient, with the goal of empowering them to steer and improve their own health with greater independence from professional treatment.

Naturopathic physicians cooperate with all other branches of medical science, referring patients to other practitioners for diagnosis or treatment when appropriate. This approach has proven successful in treating both chronic and acute conditions.

Six Principles of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic medicine uses therapies that are safe and effective. Since the goal is to identify and treat the cause, naturopathic physicians avoid, and consider harmful, treatments that obscure the cause by suppressing symptoms.

The human body is inherently able to restore and maintain health. The physician’s role is to support the body’s innate abilities with natural, non-toxic therapies, and to assist the patient in creating a healthy environment and lifestyle.

Symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal. Naturopathic physicians seek and treat the underlying cause of a disease. The origin of disease is removed or treated so the patient can recover.

The human body, mind, and spirit are fully integrated aspects of a person’s overall being. Each patient is a unique whole, and requires individualized and comprehensive consideration for healing to occur.

The naturopathic physician’s most important role is to empower the patient to reclaim agency over his or her own health. The physician strives to instill the patient with hope and knowledge. Ultimately, it is the patient not the physician who achieves healing.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Naturopathic physicians shift the emphasis from fighting disease to building and maintaining good health. The ultimate goal of naturopathic medicine is prevention.

Our History

Now that you know more about the medicine we teach and practice, it’s important to know about our long history in the Valley of the Sun providing education and care for those looking for integrative care.  From our inception, we've blended new ways of learning and teaching with timeless principles of naturopathic and conventional medicine.

SCNM was founded in 1993. It quickly outgrew its first home and moved to the current Tempe campus in 1996.  The medical center remained in Scottsdale until 2010 when a campus expansion made it possible to co-locate academic learning with clinical services and training in Tempe.

Anyone who has visited the campus will tell you that SCNM is much more than a bricks and mortar academic institution…it’s a place where passionate, like-minded students, faculty and staff come together to make a difference in people’s lives. And, the feeling is tangible on campus.

Throughout the decades, our student body grew from its inaugural class of 42 to its current size exceeding 400. We remain committed to our founders’ vision of making the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine a force for change to help transform healthcare.