Clayton College of Natural Health, a Birmingham-based, unaccredited Internet correspondence school that has faced criticism over its academic standards, is preparing to cease operations.
The Clayton school for years has been a classic diploma mill operation, offering doctorates and other degrees to students of natural health care, without providing clinical training or educational standards of any kind. They have unceasingly been opponents of accredited schools of Naturopathic medicine and licensing for Naturopathic Physicians who attend four year graduate schools of Naturopathic Medicine.
Well-known graduates of Clayton include television nutrition personality Gillian McKeith, controversial naturopath Hulda Regehr Clark, author Robert Young, and author Kim Barnouin, co-author of the diet book, Skinny Bitch.
The danger has been that Clayton graduates have represented themselves as Naturopathic doctors and have mislead consumers into believing they are seeing a graduate of an accredited medical school. It has been this misrepresentation that has caused their discredit, not any attempt to limit the study or use of natural medicines. The graduates of the Clayton school and other unaccredited programs have been represented and supported by the American Naturopathic Medicine Association.
Accredited programs of Naturopathic medicine are represented by the American Association Of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). A licensed naturopathic physician (N.D.) attends a four-year graduate-level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an M.D., but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology, and counseling (to encourage people to make lifestyle changes in support of their personal health). A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction as a primary care general practice physician.
Additional information on naturopathic schools can be found through the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Colleges at www.aanmc.org or the AANP at www.naturopathic.org.
The professional growth of Naturopathic, Chiropractic, and Oriental medicine has been based on standards of education that reflect the need for competent health care. Medicine is not the exclusive domain of any one profession and health education is the prerogative of any individual. Its misrepresentation however is not. The growth of good health care is dependent on honesty and integrity as well as adequate training.
1. Hough HJ, Dower C, O'Neil EH (September 2001). "Profile of a profession: Naturopathic practice". San Francisco: Center for the Health Professions, University of California, San Francisco. http://www.futurehealth.ucsf.edu/pdf_files/Naturo2.pdf.