New provincial regulations applauded by local naturopath
Airdrie’s newest naturopath is happy with a new provincial regulation that establishes the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta and gives the body the authority to self-govern.
“It basically means that we will have more access to (medical files),” said Dr. Kin Leung, who is in the process of opening a new naturopathic clinic located in northwest Airdrie.
“Right now we can’t access files like normal medical doctors.”
The change also gives the college the authority to establish requirements for entry into the profession and ongoing professional development.
Leung said the change is positive. 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.
“There are a lot of people that call themselves naturopaths,” he said. “Now that it is regulated, people can’t claim to be naturopaths. It protects the public as well.”
According to Leung, who has been practicing for five years and is opening a new clinic on Aug. 1 that will specialize in cancer treatment, the new regulation also brings credibility to the profession.
Becoming a naturopath requires four years of medical training just like someone who practices traditional western medicine, he added.
The Province made the announcement to changes under the Health Professions Act on July 25.
“Our government recognizes that Albertans want choice when it comes to their health, especially in the areas of wellness and illness prevention,” said Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne.
“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 practice 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 Dr. Allissa Gaul, founding president of the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta.
“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.”
Naturopathic doctors focus on health promotion, illness prevention and treating disease using natural therapies.
In addition to authorizing self-governance, the regulation also describes the restricted activities naturopathic doctors registered with the college are permitted to perform, including injections, minor surgeries, 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, naturopathic doctors are also able to perform alternative medical treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, intravenous administration of ozone, chelation therapy or supplemental vitamins and minerals.
Naturopathic doctors are not permitted to prescribe drugs, order X-rays or ultrasounds or administer intravenous nutrition. There are 144 practicing naturopathic doctors in Alberta.
Minimum educational requirements are three years of pre-medical education plus completion of a four-year professional program at an approved, accredited naturopathic college or university.
Naturopathic services are not covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.
Professional regulation also facilitates registration of naturopathic doctors, allowing Albertans to claim naturopathy costs as a medical expense on their personal income tax returns.