Patient-Focused From Day One

Clinical Training

Patient-Focused From Day One

As a new student at Sonoran University, you will immediately begin taking the first of six clinical practice courses that span two years. These courses emphasize patient-centered care through motivational interviewing, professional ethics and embracing the biopsychosocial model of healthcare. Early in the program, you will be exposed to standardized patients to hone your medical skills. As early as your third quarter, you will work in community healthcare settings and observation rotations to develop an understanding of your role as a naturopathic physician.

Clinical training at Sonoran University is designed to provide an intuitive progression of medical education. Our demanding program exceeds the clinical education requirements as prescribed by the Council of Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). The average number of patient contacts per student exceeds 1,000 (minimum of 500 required).

To progress in your clinical education, you must successfully pass a number of milestone exams that address your competence in clinical skills. These skills include conducting a patient intake, taking vitals, charting, conducting physical exams, differential diagnoses, interpreting diagnostic results and development of a diagnostic/treatment plan. Our students receive mentoring from experts in the field (with a 6-1 ratio of students to physicians), so you can expect your skills to be continually refined.

The Sonoran University Medical Center and The Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine immerse students in real-life clinical patient experiences under the supervision of experienced naturopathic physicians. Our clinics expose students to the newest diagnostic and therapeutic equipment in the field. In addition to seeing patients at our campus clinics, students also have the opportunity to work with diverse patient populations at the college’s nine community clinics and more than 100 off-site clinics, including hospitals, medical centers and medical mobile units. Up to one-quarter of clinical training hours may be earned with other doctoral-level medical professionals, such as MDs, DOs and OMDs.

Our program is designed to give you the knowledge and confidence to hit the ground running as a practicing physician once you graduate. You will treat and see an array of patients and utilize our wide scope of practice during your more than 1,500 clinical experience hours.

Clinical clerkships in the final two years align with the early clinical experiences starting in your first year. Our five-year option allows you to distribute the basic sciences and preclinical medicine across two years instead of one; the remaining three years are unchanged.

First year: Learn how to conduct a patient intake and practice your physical exam skills on real people. We hire standardized patients to mock real clinical-setting experiences. At the end of your first year, you’ll spend 44 hours shadowing physicians in private practice. At this time, you can also begin your clinical posts in the medical center’s laboratory and the Sonoran University Medicinary.

Second year: Continue observing practicing doctors in the field observation program and perform physical examinations on standardized patients. Learn how to chart in the electronic medical records system and perform in-depth case analysis. Year two is devoted to both preparing you for your first board examination and preparing you to enter the medical center to work with real patients. The year’s work culminates in an entry exam that will demonstrate your mastery of a medical intake and physical exam skills on a standardized patient.

Third and fourth years: Provide direct patient care under the direct supervision of an attending physician as a primary or secondary student clinician in the Sonoran University Medical Center and at extended sites. Extended sites are academic medical centers within our community run by our faculty. These clinics help underserved and underinsured patients within our community.

Additionally, students in their ninth quarter and beyond may choose to participate in approved elective site rotations. Elective site rotations are staffed by physicians in private practice, hospitals, ambulatory care facilities, long-term acute care facilities, etc. These physicians are not Sonoran faculty, but due to their generosity and commitment to medical education, they offer students the opportunity to learn not only medicine, but also practice management in real-life practice settings.

After 27 rotations and 500 patient contacts (minimum), you will finish your medical educational program by demonstrating your ability to provide an intake, physical exam, laboratory analysis and treatment for a standardized patient.

  • 87 clinical student rotations
  • Sonoran University Medical Center, our on-campus clinic, sees more than 15,000 patient visits annually
  • Learn to treat patients using cutting-edge techniques for pain relief at the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine
  • More than 100 private practice sites available for field observation
  • Treat underserved and uninsured populations at community clinics

The Sonoran University Medical Center is a bustling community of naturopathic healing. It is the starting point of your clinical training to become a naturopathic physician.

Our medical center, located on-campus in Tempe, is home to 27 exam rooms: two physical medicine, four hydrotherapy, three acupuncture, two counseling rooms, an IV-therapy suite, two surgery rooms for minor procedures and 13 general purpose rooms. The medical center also includes six classrooms where students and supervising physicians can observe patient interactions via closed-circuit televisions. Each section of the building was thoughtfully constructed following an environmentally friendly design, which includes recycled building materials and non-toxic paint.

The Sonoran University Medical Center’s in-house lab provides easy access to an array of critical testing. You will find that these diagnostic lab results greatly impact treatment decisions you make as a student clinician. Our advanced hydrotherapy suite features dry saunas, a steam room, constitutional hydrotherapy treatment rooms, and men’s and women’s locker rooms.

In addition, an on-site medicinary carries more than 7,000 products you’ll use when prescribing treatments. These products include dry herbs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, botanical tinctures, and homeopathic remedies. Sonoran University was also the first ND school to implement an electronic health records (EHR) system, making it possible to integrate modules for practice management, patient care information, and lab operations.

Approximately 15,000 patient visits occur annually at the Medical Center, with patients coming from all across North America. During your final two years at Sonoran, you’ll see people of every age, sex, ethnicity and social status while providing them care under the supervision of an attending or resident physician.

The medical center is where your classroom learning meets practical application with patients. In this setting, you will apply your intake and physical diagnosis skills to identify causes of pathology in patients. This may include multiple modalities, such as nutrition, botanical medicine and homeopathy. On some of your rotations, you will evaluate your patients to see if environmental toxins, both current and past, are impacting their health. Pharmacological intervention may be the most appropriate treatment in other cases. You will work with your attending and resident physicians to decide on appropriate laboratory testing and treatment for your patients.

Our clinic sits adjacent to the Lim Commons building, which houses a teaching kitchen, café, library, Sonoran’s Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine, the Sonoran Medicinary and other facilities that will offer you unparalleled and fully-integrated educational opportunities in naturopathic medicine.

The Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine is one of the newest additions to Sonoran University’s campus. Recognizing that pain is one of the most common reasons that patients seek medical care, Sonoran opened the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine to give patients alternatives and students an unprecedented learning environment to combine traditional and modern therapies.

Examples of these therapies include acupuncture and cupping therapy, manipulation, nutrition, physiotherapies, prolotherapy, as well as conventional treatments. Through the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine’s integrative model, you will draw on the knowledge of MDs, NDs, acupuncturists and other providers who have many decades of combined clinical experience.

The clinical reasoning offered in this rich setting will give you a strong foundation as an ND while also setting you apart from your peers. Many people can learn the mechanics of injecting; we want to teach you the “why,” or in some cases, the “why not.”

The Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine features 10 exam rooms, two counseling rooms, four open bays, one conference room, a fluoroscopy suite with a C-arm fluoroscope, and an on-site medicinary. Sonoran University is the only naturopathic medical school with these tools available and we use them to provide in-depth training you’ll need to fully utilize our wide scope of practice. We’re leading the way in regenerative medicine and injection therapies by allowing students to practice these techniques themselves under a clinician’s supervision.

Like our Medical Center, the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine was constructed using recycled building materials and non-toxic paint while maintaining a low carbon footprint through energy-efficient building systems. It also utilizes our electronic health records (EHR) system, integrating modules for practice management, patient information and care, lab and medicinary operations.

You’ll see many patients who come to our Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine when conventional medicine is not helping them or when they hope to get off prescription medications and avoid surgery. At the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine, you’ll work with patients who suffer from chronic pain like degenerative joint disease or sports injuries and those who struggle with acute pain resulting from a car crash or work-related injuries.

Between the Neil Riordan Center for Regenerative Medicine and Medical Center, more than 40 physicians and almost 200 clinical students work with thousands of patients annually. You’ll spend your final two years in the centers providing patient care under the direct supervision of a physician.

Community Clinics

As part of your clinical education, and in conjunction with Sonoran University’s community medicine department, Sonoran students (under the supervision of a physician) serve thousands of patients including families in low-income school districts, survivors of domestic violence, women and children recovering from homelessness and trauma, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and patients recovering from substance use.

Providing care at these clinics will teach you to become more clinically efficient as you experience a spectrum of cultural, economic and sociopolitical perspectives. This is invaluable to your training as a well-rounded physician and citizen.

One of the invaluable lessons you will learn at our community clinics is optimizing resources when providing patient care. Because expensive interventions like labs and equipment may be unavailable to your patients, you will develop out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving skills while using the available resources in creative ways.

Equally important to Sonoran University is our dedication to making a positive impact and building healthier communities. You will find that simple changes like removing a dietary trigger, adding a multivitamin and practicing deep breathing can make drastic changes in a person’s health and lifestyle. Because chronic pain or health issues often prevent patients from earning adequate income, your treatment could change a patient’s entire life.

Along with the rewarding aspect of providing healthcare to people who could otherwise not afford it, we are creating awareness to the public and other health professionals about what naturopathic medicine is and the watts we can work together to help patients.” – Amy Waite, Sonoran Student

Learn More About Sonoran’s Community Clinics

Sonoran University’s Community Health Program has been dedicated to providing healthcare for underserved communities for over 20 years. Funding for this program is provided by Sage Foundation for Health through the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit, in-kind donations from natural products companies sold at the Medicinary, and grant funding from various organizations. The community clinics featured below are supported by Sage Foundation with the exception of Mission of Mercy.

The 200-person shelter provides holistic support to men and women who strive to overcome homelessness and move forward in their lives. Shelter guests live in the program full-time until they can move into a sustainable and suitable environment. The project aims to increase the shelter residents’ access to basic healthcare, provide them with quality services and teach them preventive practices.

Students and faculty physicians from Sonoran University’s College of Naturopathic Medicine will provide shelter residents with:

  1. Access to medical care for prevention and early identification of health conditions.
  2. Access to non-opioid pain relief.
  3. Support for nutritional deficiencies.

The Tempe Elementary Clinic offers healthcare from pediatrics to geriatrics 2 days a week for the Tempe Elementary Community. Supervising doctors and residents oversee 3rd and 4th year students from Sonoran University’s College of Naturopathic Medicine providing wellness exams with preventative screenings and individualized patient care to address the most pressing needs of this diverse community.

Appointments, supplements, lab tests, imaging, and other remedies are provided at no cost to patients thanks to generous donations from community members and organizations through Sage Foundation for Health. Naturopathic healthcare is about collaboration, whether with the patient, another allied health professional, or a vital community resource.

Changing Lives is a recovery program offering long-term, comprehensive services to women and children. The facility can house and provide for approximately 200 patients. The 12- to 18-month program provides a stable, nurturing environment where women work through addiction and abuse issues. They receive life skills education and counseling, which helps them become self-sufficient by leading to career assessment and job placement.

During your clinical rotation, you will focus on basic supplementation, acupuncture, physical medicine and homeopathy. You will have an opportunity to be quick on your feet as you help patients recovering from addiction, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

Located in central Phoenix, Changing Lives is a program of Phoenix Rescue Mission, a charitable organization that offers Christ-centered services for men, women and children who are struggling with homelessness, drug addiction and trauma.

Arthur M. Hamilton Elementary, located in the Murphy School District, is typical of schools in Phoenix’s underprivileged neighborhoods. It serves mostly minority children, many from the nearby housing projects, and almost all with household incomes below the poverty line.

Established in 2002, the Sonoran University clinic at Hamilton Elementary was one of Sonoran’s first naturopathic community clinics. Before the Sonoran clinic, Hamilton students were only able to get emergency services. They couldn’t get yearly check-ups and many families would not seek medical care except in the most extreme circumstances.

Now, Sonoran University students provide more than 1,800 patient visits per year to students and their families at the naturopathic clinic. The clinic features five exam rooms, a private teaching room, a medicinary and a waiting room.

On your student rotations at Hamilton, you’ll learn the full scope of practice in naturopathic care, from wellness visits to treatment of acute and chronic health complaints. You’ll hone your skills in primary care, laboratory services, acupuncture, physical medicine, supplementation and homeopathy to treat patients within the school district.

Diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic disease gives you a thorough clinical education through whole-family naturopathic care. The most prevalent concerns patients present include diabetes, obesity, asthma in the school, learning disabilities and ADD.

In addition, because the patient population is primarily Spanish-speaking, shifts at this clinic offer a great opportunity to improve your skills in Spanish.

The Sonoran University Roosevelt Health Center, located within the Roosevelt School District, treats students and families from 19 different schools within the district borders. This 4,000 sq. foot health center is the first Sonoran Community Clinic with the unique design to incorporate group visits and encourage communal health education. This new health education model fits perfectly with the shared philosophy of the George Brooks Sr. Community School, the campus which houses this new health center.

Other nonprofit partners on the community school campus offer GED courses, parenting classes, after school programs, community gardens and a greenhouse featuring a hydroponic system. Together we are providing the education and tools necessary for this community to create a brighter future.

Medical students at Roosevelt Health Center will help empower patients of all ages so they can take control of their diabetes, asthma, obesity, or other illness. Today’s healthcare is about collaboration, whether with the patient, another allied health professional, or a vital community resource. Sonoran University clinical students will see patients alongside other health professionals to provide the best medical care the Roosevelt community has seen. Supervising doctors and residents will oversee third and fourth year medical students and provide treatment of acute illnesses, wellness exams with preventative screenings, individualized patient care, as well as group visits to address the most pressing needs of this diverse community.

As the largest domestic violence shelter in the Southwest, Sojourner Center has been an advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors since 1977. Over the years, Sojourner has provided shelter and support services to tens of thousands of women and children affected by domestic violence.

Sojourner’s empowerment programs are designed to help survivors form a new set of beliefs, essentially making the transition from a survival mentality to a thought process that focuses on their future.

Sojourner’s empowerment belief aligns with the “docere” principle of naturopathic medicine where the physician is the teacher. By educating patients about living a healthier life, naturopathic doctors and students are empowering their patients to make the smart decisions about their health and wellness.

Sonoran University has provided care at Sojourner Center for more than a decade. The clinic offers lab testing, diagnostic imaging, prescription medicine and non-prescription medicines including supplements.

On your shifts at Sojourner Center, you’ll see patients for a wide array of issues ranging from depression, insomnia and anxiety to routine concerns like colds, flus and back pain. With this training, you’ll focus on the challenges that come with trauma from domestic violence.

Clinical students will employ the full scope of naturopathic modalities, including nutritional counseling, lifestyle counseling, acupuncture, homeopathy, supplementation and botanical medicine to address emotional recovery and self-sustainability. Sonoran offers free supplements and prescriptions to patients treated in the clinic.

Southwest Center is a research and resource center for LGBTQIA2S+ individuals and patients living with HIV/AIDS based in Phoenix. It is the largest clinical trial, education, behavioral health and nutrition support center dedicated to fighting HIV and AIDS in the Southwest.

The center’s vision, “leading the fight against HIV and AIDS,” is carried out through its mission of reducing infection, improving quality of life and contributing to worldwide research.

Today, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are taking HIV- and AIDS-fighting drugs that earned FDA approval, thanks in part to the center’s clinical trials and biomedical research program.

The Sonoran clinic at Southwest Center was one of Sonoran’s first community medicine programs. At this fast-paced clinic, you’ll learn to provide adjunctive care to patients, including lifestyle counseling, acupuncture, cupping, and physical medicine. Learn that living well is a product of integrative care at this unique training opportunity.

Since 1994, Mission of Mercy has been providing free healthcare, free dental care and free prescription medications to the uninsured and underinsured. Mission of Mercy operates four mobile clinics around the Valley serving patients throughout Maricopa County. Sonoran students work under the supervision of Brad Smith, N.M.D., Medical Director and Sonoran Alum as well as Roselynde Bryant, N.M.D., Assistant Medical Director and Sonoran Alumna. Sonoran University students have been working at Mission of Mercy since 1998.