‘Mapping the naturopathic landscape: An examination of regulatory, education and policy infrastructures and frameworks in a global emerging profession’
This research project is in collaboration with World Naturopathic Federation and will examine regulation, education and policy infrastructure and frameworks that impact the development of the naturopathic profession internationally. All health professions are shaped by a policy, regulation and education, built of numerous interrelated formal and informal infrastructures and frameworks that have the potential to advance or limit development and variation of practice. Well-developed professions have identified, codified and applied frameworks and infrastructures in the context of these professions. However, despite high presence and utilisation in many countries, the emerging profession of naturopathy has not had similar examination, even though World Health Organisation has called for such examination.
Using a mixed methods approach this research project will use a quantitative survey, document analysis of existing resources and qualitative interviews with key stakeholders (such as international associations; educational establishments and independent regulatory bodies) to provide an overview and understanding of the current global naturopathic landscape (policy, regulatory frameworks, education, competencies) to assist decision making in the emerging field of naturopathy.
Why did you decide to embark on your research degree at the Faculty of Health at UTS?
I was looking for supervisors from a university that had established credibility in the field of complementary medicine research, in particular naturopathy, with a public health focus. The Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) has an established research program that is relevant to practitioners and patients with a focus on policy and regulation. This is of particular interest to me as an ex-nurse, naturopath and educator, consumer of integrative health care and current New Zealand representative of World Naturopathic Federation.
What contribution to knowledge are you planning to make with your research project? What change might that bring about?
My research will identify regulation, education, policy infrastructures (formal and informal) and frameworks in existence internationally with examine their impact on the development of naturopathy as an emerging profession. Such examination may assist decision making in the systematisation of naturopathic education, codification of scope of practice and the integration of naturopathy into mainstream health care.
Who will benefit from your research? How?
The naturopathic profession will benefit as a whole through global examination of regulation, education, policy, infrastructures and frameworks to provide decision makers with the strongest argument for standardisation and development of a norm for the naturopathic profession. Codification of knowledge base, education standards and clinical application of knowledge base and research focus is required for communications with NGOs such as W.H.O., governments and insurance companies.
Outcomes of this research project will assist professional associations to examine their governance practices, program assessment and accreditation practices, competencies and continuing professional education requirements. This will inform the development of policies and procedures that support the development of the profession in preparation for statutory regulation and integration into mainstream health care.
Education providers’ decision making will be assisted through international curriculum mapping and understanding the impact of education on scope of practice.
Naturopathic practitioners are likely to benefit through progression towards common competencies and scope of practice that will assist in the integration of naturopathy into mainstream health care, workforce transferability and practitioner mobility between countries.
How did you go about selecting your supervisor?
My supervisors are Dr Jon Wardle, Dr Amie Steel and Professor Jon Adams. I had identified Dr Jon Wardle (Naturopath and Researcher) many years ago and had followed his research in the field. Professor Jon Adams had also come to my attention through a previous research project I was involved with and Dr Amie Steel I had become known to me through a shared professional association network. All three researchers are recognised internationally in the field of complementary medicine and public health. The development of ARCCIM and my association with World Naturopathic Federation was the pinnacle in making the decision to study at UTS.
What has been the most valuable part of your research student experience at the Faculty of Health at UTS?
Unlike my other previous research endeavours, my experience studying at UTS was not a lonely one. UTS offers a range of supportive programs and resources. Winter school for me was an opportunity to meet up with other higher research degree students and we have formed a supportive network. Thanks UTS.
What advice would you give to future research students thinking about starting a higher degree in research at the Faculty of Health?
Find a topic that really interests you and that can hold your interest through the ups and downs of the research journey. Start identifying who the key researchers are in your area of interest and begin networking, ideally internationally. Finding a supervisor that fits with your research interest is the key. Don’t be stopped by life events, hold your vision and contact universities and potential supervisors that share your interest.