Big step forward for naturopath profession
The Alberta naturopath profession are now recognized and regulated by the provincial government, which says Albertans will have access to more and better primary health care.
Health Minister Fred Horne says the new regulation under the Health Professions Act assures that Albertans are receiving safe, effective services from qualified naturopath professionals.
The regulation establishes the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta and gives that body the authority to establish requirements for entry into the profession and ongoing professional development.
The regulation will also allow the College to set standards for professional practice, investigate complaints and govern use of protected titles, including Naturopath and Naturopathic Doctor.
“Our government recognizes that Albertans want choice when it comes to their health, especially in the areas of wellness and illness prevention,” said Horne.
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“More and more people are relying on the services of naturopathic doctors, and they can now be assured that the practitioner they visit has the competency and skills required to practise in Alberta.”
“Today, Albertans can have confidence when they reach out to a member of the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta, that they have a naturopathic doctor who meets stringent competency and practice requirements,” said College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta Founding President Dr. Allissa Gaul.
“We offer Albertans a distinct system of primary health care that is an art, a science, a philosophy and a practice of diagnosis and assessment, treatment and prevention of illness, and we applaud this government for making health and wellness a priority to benefit Albertans.”
Naturopath doctors focus on health promotion, illness prevention and treating disease using natural therapies and substances that promote the body’s ability to heal.
In addition to authorizing self-governance, the regulation also describes the restricted activities naturopath doctors registered with the College are permitted to perform, including the following:
- Minor surgeries, such as removing warts and moles, obtaining skin samples for biopsies and doing sutures
- Ear examinations, cerumen management, nasal lavage and placing herbs in nasal passages
- With additional training approved by the College, alternative medical treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, and intravenous administration of ozone, chelation therapy or supplemental vitamins and minerals
Naturopath doctors are not permitted to prescribe drugs, order x-rays or ultrasounds or administer intravenous nutrition.
The permitted activities have been extensively reviewed by the Health Professions Advisory Committee, and other professional colleges were consulted as the regulation was developed.
Currently, there are 144 practising naturopath doctors in Alberta. Minimum education requirements are three years of pre-medical education plus completion of a four-year professional program at an approved, accredited naturopathic college or university.
Naturopath services are not covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, but may be covered by Albertans’ supplemental insurance plans.
In addition, professional regulation facilitates registration of naturopath doctors, allowing Albertans to claim naturopathy costs as a medical expense on their personal income tax returns.