Preamble: This story begins many, many years ago. In fact, I was still studying to obtain my BSc Kinesiology. The year was 2006. I had decided in my 3rd year of university that naturopathic medicine was the likely pathway for me. As a Kinesiology student, you often have very clearcut pathways - MD, osteopath, chiropractor, dentist, nurse, PhD, personal trainer, teacher, occupational therapist, etc. Naturopathic Doctor was newer addition to the list, but no less important. I learned about naturopathic medicine when the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) came to a career fair at Western University, where I was studying, but I didn't comprehend what it was all about until my 4th year of university. I was taking a course called History of Medicine. It was a thesis course with an amazing advisor. I told him I wanted to study the history of naturopathic medicine in Canada. He was all for it. So in I dove for 8 months - researching, learning, interviewing, and more. I spent many a day in the CCNM library in Toronto. In so doing, I happened upon a transcript of Dr. Iva Lloyd's History of Naturopathic Medicine. It was here that I learned about the Naturopathy Act of 2007. The act that has now, 8 years later, finally come into affect in Ontario.
I decided that a key piece of my research also involved me having the ND experience. So I became a patient of Dr. Reina Persaud in London, Ontario. At the time, I was experiencing frustrating female health concerns. I hadn't had a period in a year and the MD at the university health clinic told me I wasn't going to be able to have children. Within 3 months Dr. Persaud had my period back by repairing my nutrition which she supplemented with herbs. It was a stunning experience for me. At that moment, I knew naturopathic medicine was my calling.
I began my training in 2008. And, now, here we are today - July 1, 2015 - a pivotal day in the history of naturopathic medicine in Ontario and in Canada. One that I had read about so many years ago.
What is Happening - the RHPA:
Now that you have my preamble, let's dive into WHAT is happening today and how that is effecting me and you, our patients. In short, NDs will move under the same legislation as most other health professionals in Ontario. This is called the Regulated Healthcare Practitioners Act, 1991 (RHPA). Who else is under this act? MDs, dentists, chiropractors, nurses, etc. Virtually all healthcare practitioners are represented under this act. It is timely that NDs are under the same act.
But let's talk about what this means for you...
What Does This Mean for You - The Patient?
1. College of Naturopaths of Ontario:
Like your MD, who is regulated under the College of Physicians and Surgeons, NDs are now regulated under the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). We have been self-regulated up until this point in Ontario under the Drugless Practitioners Act of 1925, but we are now taking our regulation to the next level. This is a wonderful benefit to you, the patient, because you can be fully assured that we are regulated to the same rigorous standards as most other healthcare professionals in Ontario.
2. What is an ND?
Interestingly enough, as an ND I am asked almost daily what it is I do. I have my own spiel I tell people - "we're primary care professionals who are trained much like your family MD, but we treat with botanicals, nutrition, supplementation, and more, instead of with pharmaceuticals". Now we will have a clearly defined role, with clearly defined rules. This is a benefit to you because you can be rest assured your ND has the ability to perform her/his duties as an ND within the defined scope of the RHPA. This is a benefit to NDs because we can now better educate the public about our scope of practice.
3. Lab Testing
If you've seen me as your ND you know I've asked for your most-recent labs or I've requisitioned labs of my own. Labs are key to practice. Up until this point we've been running labs with the help of MDs for years. Now, under the RHPA, we will be able to order most labs directly through Ontario labs. Again, if you've had labs run through me, you'll know that I've told you you'll have to pay for them yourself as a key step towards investing in your health. This is still the case. These tests won't be covered by OHIP, but there will be a few public health tests that NDs will be able to order free of charge. Overall, this is very important for faster access to labs.
4. In-Office Testing:
Many of you may have had IgG Food Sensitivity Testing done by me in the office, too. Under the Laboratory Act, which is an important element of RHPA, we will no longer be able to collect blood samples in office. No worries - we'll just send you to the lab.
5. Out of Province Testing:
Some of the tests we run, such as IgG Food Sensitivity tests require shipping of samples to labs outside of Ontario. Under this new act, NDs will no longer be able to send samples to and labs outside of Ontario. This will require some adjustment by NDs, including me, but this is critical for you. The Ontario government is not able to ensure the quality of any labs outside of their jurisdiction. So, for now, be patient as we sort out of some of these details and find the appropriate labs with the appropriate tests to maintain practice. Your health care will not be interrupted.
6. Prescribing Rights:
Ontario NDs have not had official prescribing rights in the past. Now, under the RHPA, NDs will have access to certain prescription substances after taking an extra course and passing the associated exam. Yes, this means that I will be studying all summer for yet another exam. For now, you may experience a small disruption in care with services like vitamin B12 injections because we have to pass the exam before continuing to inject. In the meantime, we will provide you with short-term options to ensure continuity of care.
UPDATE: I have written and passed the prescribing exam and B12s have resumed.
This is a HUGE day for naturopathic doctors in Ontario. Please take a moment to congratulate your ND. We will be celebrating with family and friends and a glass of champagne. You can read the official press release here from the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND).
Please also be patient with us as we work through changes in practice.
We are most grateful to you, as always, and also for the incredible effort put forth by CONO, OAND, and many others to make this happen.
It is with great pride that I write this post to you today. My eyes are tearing up, my heart is full, and nostalgia is strong as I think back on my early years of learning about the act, my years and years of training to get me to this point, and how amazing it is that I and my associates are now under the same regulation along with all other medical professionals in Ontario.
My passion is your care & now it's going to get even better!
Dr. Rachel Corradetti, ND
Your Naturopathic Doctor!!!!
P.S. I'm going to celebrate with a glass of champagne now!
P.P.S. Happy Birthday to Canada, too! It's a pretty cool day, overall.