Naturopaths could soon be regulated
Health: College could pursue non-members acting as naturopaths
By: By Tanya Kostiw
| Posted: Wednesday, May 09, 2012 01:43 pm
New regulations for Alberta naturopaths could soon help shed some light on the industry and who is qualified to practice.
Currently in Alberta, there is no body governing naturopaths and there is nothing to enforce regulations to prevent anyone from calling themselves a naturopath. Many naturopaths voluntarily register with the Alberta Association of Naturopathic Practitioners, a group lobbying for the industry to be regulated.
Regulations for the naturopathic industry under the Health Professions Act have been put forth to cabinet and are waiting to be signed off . Once the regulations are approved, the AANP will turn into the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta and only those members will be able to call themselves a naturopath and similar variations.
This change could help people like MD of Foothills resident Angel Ulriksen, who tried to complain about a naturopath who she said told her to stop taking her medication, which caused her to suffer from adverse side effects.
Ulriksen went to a naturopath who wasn’t a member of the AANP, but belonged to two other natural health organizations. One is in the United States and he wasn’t registered as a naturopath at the other one.
Ulriksen said she wants people to be aware of what naturopaths can do and thinks more people don’t speak up about their negative experiences because they are embarrassed.
“I’m not against naturopaths but I think we need to know what they can and can’t do,” she said.
With no regulations in place, the naturopath she went to cannot be held accountable for his actions, she added.
Okotoks naturopathic doctor Dr. Gayle Maguire voluntarily registers with the AANP.
“That for us just allows us to represent ourselves well to patients and strengthen our profession,” she said.
Maguire said regulating the industry will be a good step for the profession and could help eliminate ambiguity around who is a qualified naturopath.
“It is counter-productive to our field to have people that look and sound a lot like us that are perhaps doing unsafe things and there’s no accountability,” she said.
Macguire said her most immediate concern with the lack of regulations is patient safety and said people should not have adverse side effects with proper care.
She advised people to check a naturopath’s qualifications and to check the AANP’s website to find registered members.
Macguire couldn’t remember the exact cost of AANP membership fees but said they are over $1,000. She said the dues could be a deterring factor for some, but they are worth it for her.
AANP president Allissa Gaul said practicing naturopaths who aren’t registered with the group likely aren’t deterred because of the dues but because they don’t qualify. The qualified naturopaths the AANP are aware of are already members, she added.
“There’s not like a bunch of people out there who just aren’t registered,” Gaul explained.
Presently, naturopaths registered under the AANP must graduate from an accredited college, pass standardized North American licensing exams and maintain continued competence.
Once the college is established, it could go after non-members who call themselves naturopaths, but it could be costly, Gaul added.
“It will let us know that there is yet another individual calling themselves that and we will take common sense measures to rectify the situation,” she added.
Other provinces such as Ontario and B.C. have regulations in place for the naturopathic industry.