As the naturopathic profession continues to grow and develop, new career paths have opened up which were not available just ten years ago. Naturopathic doctors are increasingly employed by universities, hospital systems and large integrative medical practices- even in some states that do not license naturopathic doctors. Simultaneously, the steady growth of the natural products industry has continued to offer more roles for NDs as product researchers and formulators, professional educators, and regulatory advisors.
Despite this growth, the job market for naturopathic doctors remains competitive as increasing numbers of new graduates outpaces the addition of new jobs by employers. Here are five bits of wisdom I’ve picked up over the past five years of working with naturopathic doctors as a physician recruiter.
Balance Creativity with Focus
We naturopathic doctors are a creative bunch, and while creativity is an important aspect of naturopathic care, employers want to hire candidates with a clear focus on their career goals. If your dream is to work remotely part-time for a product manufacturer, while running your own practice on the side and possibly making quarterly mission trips to South America, that is great! However it won’t make you look attractive as a candidate to potential employers. It’s alright- some people are just not cut out for long-term employment. The good news is that there are many other paths to make a living besides earning a salary! But if it is a steady salary you are looking for, then a clear and focused vision will most definitely benefit your chances for landing a great job.
Pick a Niche
Casting a wide net is a great way to catch a lot of fish, but if you are on the hunt for something specific, you will need specialized skills. There are plenty of jobs for those who are willing to do anything to earn a paycheck, but those who thrive have learned to sacrifice some of their many interests in order to achieve greater mastery in a few. A candidate who can communicate, “This is what I will do for your company.” is much more valuable than one who simply says, “I will do whatever you want.”
Start Your Own Practice
It might sound counterintuitive at first glance, but starting your own practice could be a great way to better qualify yourself for future employment. Since employers invest considerable resources in recruiting candidates and training them once hired, it may work to your advantage to be able to communicate that you have already run your own private practice, and would now prefer to be employed. This helps the employer feel assured that you are not going to decide venture out on your own once you are able to build up a practice, and save up a little cash.
Take Friendly Advice Lightly
Telling your friends and family that you are on a job hunt is likely going to result in a lot of unasked for advice. While well-intentioned and sometimes genuinely helpful, unless they are- themselves- a naturopathic doctor, a friend or family member’s advice about how you should go about getting a job in your field will have limited usefulness at best. If you are seeking guidance, it is often helpful to develop a relationship with a mentor who is not in your immediate social circle. A good recruiter will also serve as a career mentor, if need be.
Know What You Are Worth
It is often uncomfortable for people to place a monetary value on their own work. However if you are going to accept a salaried position, this will be an inevitable part of the process. Often times this can bring up deeply emotional issues connected to self-worth, and so it is important to be preventive and begin the process of self-evaluation long before it comes time to accept an offer of employment. If you are working with a recruiter, make sure they have a clear awareness of the salary range you are willing to accept.
Keeping these tips in mind can help you to better distinguish yourself when it comes time for an interview, and more importantly, to help attract offers that you are genuinely enthusiastic to accept.
Dr. Matt Marturano, ND is co-founder of Orchid Holistic Search, a recruitment service for naturopathic and integrative physicians, and the natural products industry. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.