On 2nd July 2014 the Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) announced that as of December 2015 the Advanced Diplomas of Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine, Nutritional Medicine and Homoeopathy would be aligned at Bachelor degree level and removed from the Training Package. Why is this fantastic news, and what does this mean for Naturopathy and Herbal Medicine, and for current and future practitioners? Read on to find out.
For a number of years many in the profession have argued that the Advanced Diploma level was inappropriate as our minimum qualification standard in Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine (WHM). This was illustrated by the introduction of innovative Bachelor programs offered at universities such as Southern Cross University (SCU), University of Western Sydney (UWS) and even those run by private colleges such as Nature Care College and Endeavour College. However over the years a number of these programs have faltered and eventually shut down, in large part because they could not compete with the shorter and less expensive Advance Diplomas being offered elsewhere.
Over the last 15 months the CS&HISC convened meetings and discussions with Subject Matter Expert Groups (SMEG) to look at continuous improvement of the various qualifications in complementary medicine. As a member of the SMEG for Naturopathy & WHM, our early discussions focused on a number of improvements which – whilst highly desirable for the profession – moved the qualifications further and further away from the specification for an Advanced Diploma level qualification. Thus began the debate about whether the qualifications should be changed, and aligned with the standard for a Bachelor level education. The CS&HISC released two rounds of consultation with stakeholders, in September 2013 and February 2014, and the majority opinion was that the professions of Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Medicine are better aligned at Level 7 – Bachelor Degree.
What this Decision Means
- From December 2015, the Advanced Diplomas of Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine, Nutritional Medicine, and Homoeopathy will no longer be offered to new students by any training institutions.
- According the the CS&HISC “students enrolled before that time will not be affected by the change” – in other words a teach-out period will be in effect.
- Existing graduates with Advanced Diplomas will NOT suddenly be irrelevant. It is almost certain that professional associations will continue to accept Advanced Diploma as the minimum entry standard for some years to come, in recognition of the fact that this has been the standard until now.
- It does NOT mean that our profession is now a registered health profession. For the time being we are still self-regulated, although obviously there is still considerable effort being invested by groups such as the NHAA, ANTA and ARONAH to change that.
- The profession will need to get behind the creation of guidelines and standards for Bachelor degree level education, to ensure a level of consistency and minimum standards across the country.
Over the coming days and weeks I will be posting a more in depth discussion of why Bachelor degree education is more appropriate in our profession, so check back regularly.
In addition, here are some places where you can find out more:
- Complementary & Alternative Health, Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council
- Changes to Education Standard for Nat and WHM, National Herbalists Association of Australia
- Changes to Naturopathy, Nutrition, Homeopathy & Western Herbal Medicine qualifications, Australian Natural Therapists Association