Inaugural naturopathic courses deliver important step in contemporary healthcare education

Published 5 November 2020
Woman smiling in front of a bookcase Rachel Arthur

In a first for Australian higher education, and an exciting development for the profession, the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine has launched its groundbreaking postgraduate naturopathic medicine courses.

Starting in January 2021, the two flagship courses – a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Naturopathic Medicine and a Master of Advanced Naturopathic Medicine – will enable students to develop a deep and critical understanding of specialised areas of practice, such as integrative gastrointestinal health, mental health or reproductive health.  

The new degrees integrate research and clinical content with an innovative and immersive design, allowing students to upskill in contemporary naturopathic practice and improve research literacy. The courses will be delivered online in a unique virtual platform that provides an interactive and flexible study experience.

Associate Professor Matthew Leach, Deputy Director of Education at the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM), said these courses present a new opportunity for naturopaths to enrich their practice, elevate professional standing, and enhance patient outcomes.

“One of the common criticisms of naturopathic medicine is that it is not evidence-based. Our courses aim to change this narrative by equipping graduates with the necessary knowledge and skills to acquire, appraise, and translate evidence into practice, but also generate evidence through the development of research skills,” he said.

The courses are also breaking ground as the first globally to be underpinned by a novel clinical reasoning framework which fosters alignment between naturopathic medicine education, practice and research.

“Until now, education programs have been primarily focussed on preparing graduates for private practice,” said Associate Professor Leach.

“If naturopathic medicine is to be an integral part of mainstream healthcare, we need to shift our focus toward creating graduates with the capability to work with diverse healthcare teams in diverse settings - our courses provide an important step in that direction."

Rachel Arthur is a clinical naturopath and nutritionist. She completed her Honours degree with Southern Cross University in 2005 before teaching in the undergraduate naturopathic medicine program.

“The quality of the graduates that came out of Southern Cross was noteworthy and distinctive. The culture of rigorous pedagogy and evidence-based drive was really cemented in the early years,” said Ms Arthur.

“A lot of postgraduate options traditionally presented to naturopaths are more mainstream medicine focused, so the courses NCNM are offering provide a great opportunity for practitioners to focus on a specialisation, but with a tailored naturopathic approach.

“This has to lead to better patient outcomes – if you narrow your knowledge and sharpen your tools in one area, you have got to produce good outcomes.”

Professor Jon Wardle, Foundation Director of the NCNM, said these courses have intentionally brought together a team of leading clinicians, academics and researchers, all with a commitment to research-led teaching and education.

“These courses are the first step of our program to bring higher standards to naturopathic training, and to help naturopaths make a positive difference to people’s health,” said Professor Wardle.

Applications are now open for study starting on 4 January 2021. For more information about the degrees, visit the NCNM website.

Media contact: Caitlin Zillman, NCNM Marketing and Communications Manager 0424 632 177 or caitlin.zillman@scu.edu.au