Eight years ago, the province of Ontario passed the Naturopathy Act, 2007. While naturopaths have been practicing under the Drugless Practitioners Act, 1925 (DPA) since the 1920s, legislative changes were sought out in order to bring naturopathic doctors (NDs) into the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) with all the other regulated health professionals, as implied by the act’s name.
Tomorrow, July 1, the Naturopathy Act is set to be proclaimed *fingers crossed*. In other words, it’s (almost) official!
From the patient’s perspective not much will have changed. Lots of things are staying more or less the same. Here’s a brief overview:
NDs will continue to be a self-regulated profession, acting in the best interests of the general public, like the other health professions.
NDs will continue to update their skills through continuing education and professional development. NDs will also complete self-assessment and practice assessments to ensure patient safety and compliance with regulations.
NDs will continue to perform acupuncture and spinal manipulations, perform gynecological and rectal exams, communicate a diagnosis, and administer substances by injection or inhalation.
NDs will be able to prescribe certain medications, including high doses of vitamins, bio-identical hormones, thyroid hormones, and some restricted herbs. In order to prescribe, NDs have to take a rigorous prescribing course and exam. I am working through the course material now. You can see my study photos on Instagram.
NDs will be able to use the title ‘Doctor’ or ‘Dr’ in front of their names. You can still call me Cyndi.
NDs will be able to requistion lab tests directly from Ontario laboratories, without the signatory of an MD (this is how it has been done in past years). Although lab tests still won’t be covered by OHIP, it is possible that this may change in the future, in particular for certain public health tests.
Overall, the changes may not appear to amount to much but legislative changes take a lot of time and effort. Thanks to all those who have worked hard to make the transition to the RHPA as smooth as possible.
These legislative changes will position Ontario NDs closer alongside their peers in British Columbia, Hawaii, Washington, Vermont, Oregon, and California where NDs have much broader prescribing authority and a scope of practice consistent with primary care.
The future of naturopathic medicine looks good!