Study Naturopathy

As evidence-based natural medicine plays an increasingly active role in the suite of solutions to Australia’s growing health care needs, Southern Cross University is at the forefront. The centrepiece is Australia’s first National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, based at the Lismore campus, with its three-pronged approach: innovation, research and education.

The National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) has developed a suite of innovative courses that aim to enrich clinical practice, enhance professional standing, and empower future leaders in the field of naturopathic medicine.

The courses delivered through NCNM are underpinned by a framework of critical enquiry, clinical reasoning and evidence-based practice. Patient-centredness, integration, interdisciplinarity and the principles of naturopathic medicine form an integral part of these courses. Graduates will be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to work with diverse patient groups and teams across a range of professional settings.

Naturopathic medicine equipment and ingredients in kitchen

 

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Introduction to the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, recorded at the Discover 2020 virtual Open Day event.

Southern Cross University has a long history in supporting naturopathic medicine and continues that today with being the first university in Australia to offer postgraduate pathways in naturopathic medicine. So what is the national centre for naturopathic medicine? NCNM is a new centre just opened up earlier this year and its main purpose is to be a hub for innovation in three key areas in research education and leadership. A unique aspect of NCNM is that we are truly multidisciplinary we have expertise not just in naturopathic medicine education and research but also in nutrition for medicine psychology, nursing, law and biomedicine. The vision of NCNM is to empower future leaders in the field of natural medicine. Physically we are located on the Lismore campus but our team is dispersed across all campuses. So let's look more closely around the educational hub within NCNM.

So as many of you may know naturopathic medicine has has changed considerably over the last century and somewhat in the last decade or so we're just very fortunate where a degree is a pathway into the profession but that pathway has not certainly been been innovative. It tends to have been for some time being quite attached to that historical vocational model and unfortunately a lot of the vision within those programs has been about preparing naturopaths for what we see them as being today rather we're seeing as being in the future. So NCNM represents a game changer in the field because we see the field as being where we would like it to be so we're actually looking at preparing a profession preparing a workforce that can better meet the healthcare needs of consumers, of families of communities of the population. So what is our vision here at NCNM. We call these the three Es: our vision is to enrich clinical practice, enhance professional standing and empower future leaders. So how do we achieve that? We achieve that through a number of strengths one of those strengths is that we have access to an international team of experts in naturopathic medicine education and research. These experts are actually true leaders in the field they're trailblazers they're setting new benchmarks for the field with access not only to those experts but also experts in educational design, in pedagogy and educational technology we actually have the capacity to live an innovative approaches to naturopathic medicine teachings and learning that hasn't actually been seen in nat med education in australia before. Actually underpinning our programs is the need to be interactive, engaging and meaningful. This is to ensure that what event in the classroom is absolutely authentic but also translatable and applicable to clinical practice.

So where potentially can these programs take you? So mostly at the moment we are offering mostly postgraduate offerings so most of you will probably come with a nat med
background or an interest in say the organic stream. So within the nat med area, a bachelor degree is generally focused on preparing people for private practice as a natmed practitioner. We're looking at thinking forward and thinking about where else would we like to see the profession heading and what contribution can the profession make to the health care system more broadly. Start thinking about where nat med practices can potentially work for thinking beyond private practice and thinking about their role maybe in teams working in other healthcare settings maybe working beyond healthcare and thinking about their role in in public health community health in regulation and policy but also thinking about its contribution to the field in the areas of education and research. So how about the organic movement? The organic food and nutrition program. The idea there is to provide some foundational knowledge and skills today to work across the whole organic food industry right from organic food production right through to retail commerce, regulation and policy development. Let's focus a bit more on some of those key programs we have to offer at NCNM.

The first of these is the graduate certificate in advanced naturopathic medicine. This starts in January next year and the purpose of a certificate is to extend your knowledge and skills naturally medicine so not just your clinical knowledge and skills but also those professional skills such as critical thinking, clinical reasoning information literacy and research literacy. So the the purpose then of the program is to expand your career and postgraduate education opportunities to get you started thinking a bit differently as a practitioner and thinking about your role of natural medicine within the healthcare system so this program is currently offered three times next year in January, April and August and is solely offered online but the benefit of that is that it allows absolute access to everyone across Australia. It also allows absolute flexibility for people who may have other work or family commitments. So the program itself contains four units and if you study the program part-time you can complete those units over a eight month period. So what about the master of advanced nat med? The course is a bit longer, contains eight units and the idea is it actually goes beyond expanding your knowledge actually advancing your knowledge and skills not just in those professional areas so research literacy, information literacy and so on but also an opportunity to actually gain some skills and knowledge in particular specialties of practice.

So at the moment we have three specialists that practice within that program and they have been driven by what the industry is telling us is important to them. so those they are reproductive health, mental health and gastrointestinal health and as a person who might be enrolling in this program you can choose to either specialise in one of those areas or actually be more of a generalist and pick and choose the electives that best meet your needs and the needs of your patients and community. Like the grad cert this program is offered three times throughout the year, is solely online for flexibility and accessibility and if you complete all our units part-time you can complete this program in 1.3 years. The other program we have to offer is our graduate certificate in organic food and nutrition. This program has actually officially started this week, we had our first cohort of students running through that program and this is the first postgrad qualification in organics in Australia. So like I mentioned before it's really setting some new ground the idea here is to really enhance understanding organic food systems so the program itself goes right from the basics from soil health and how that impacts on plant health, animal health and human health and looks at the relationship between organic foods and nutrition and health. This program is offered four times a year contains four units and again is solely online and if you complete this all four units part-time you can complete the program in eight months. That is hopefully just a very quick snapshot of our programs I guess the idea is to give you more time to ask questions that are more pertinent to yourself but before we do that I'll hand you over to Associate Professor Lauche to talk more about our research programs.

Well thank you very much Matthew for your presentation on the educational pathways so as I said before our centre is really new it's been established in March 2020 and one thing like our vision is that we conduct research that is rigorous and of highest quality and is informed by community need and clinical practice. Our staff have diverse backgrounds and qualifications and expertise and that translates directly into diversity in research methods and research areas so we can cater for any kind of research from basic science to clinical science, health services research or public health research. One of our goals of course is to build capacity and leadership by mentoring the next researcher generation and that might be you eventually. We do have several strengths, we have a broad national and international network of experts in research but not just research also in industry, in education.

Our partnerships are very sustainable and we offer a very unique and rigorous program and one thing you may want to keep in mind is that our research ties in with other centres at the university as well. So we naturally align with other disciplines in health like nursing psychology, osteopathy, also exercise science as well as science for example plant science. So at this stage we have two degrees on the next slide you can see our first research degree that is the masters by research or masters by thesis and it's a masters in health science. The masters of health science is ready to develop your knowledge and research skills that are essential for your research or academic career and there might actually be a pathway for PhD study if you don't have any postgraduate qualification yet. You can enroll at any time the master will be offered in Lismore but also online and I guess depending on the restrictions and whether campus will be opened or not, online is actually quite a feasible solution at this time. The duration is two years if you study full-time four years if you study part-time. The admission requirement for the masters of research is a bachelor degree from any university and we also welcome international students for them um there's another requirement which is the English language proficiency they need to provide.

On the next slide we have our Doctor of Philosophy degree it's a PhD in health science and if you study that you can create a meaningful contribution to health research you can help us increase the evidence base of naturopathy through scholarly work and this may represent a major milestone for your academic career. Again you can enrol at any time, the only limitation in terms of enrolment may be if you require a scholarship because there are certain deadlines that you have to meet for the scholarship and for commencing your scholarship. Again you can study in Lismore
but you can also study online and we also welcome international candidates. The PhD takes three to four years full-time and six to eight years part-time. Again there are like different time frames like three years because your scholarship will usually be covered for three years The admission requirement is you either have a Bachelor's degree from any university with first-class honours or you have a second-class honors first division or you do provide a degree equivalent to a Masters degree that has to have a relevant research component. Again international students also have to provide English language proficiency tests. We do provide scholarships you might want to consider an Australian government scholarship, an RTP scholarship that covers a PhD for three years and a Master degree for two years.

We also have options for industry co-funded research scholarships that need to be discussed on a case-by-case basis. At this stage if you are an undergraduate student and you want to gain insights into our research degrees and you don't know if research is the right thing for you, I'll just make a very quick announcement we are very soon announcing our summer research scholarships they are specifically targeted at undergraduate students to undertake short-term research projects within our centre's research areas and it really gives you the chance to develop skills and research and explore whether a higher degree in research might be the right thing for you. The first round will be open for SCU undergraduate students and depending on the restrictions we prefer an on-site um training in Lismore and the training would be between six and twelve weeks during session three. and in the long term in any study period, but for now we're looking at this summer study session. So of course in terms of infrastructure we are well equipped, we all have different expertise. SCU has state of the art laboratories so our collaboration with different centres is very essential. We have established international collaboration and reputation and professional networks that we can draw on.

Q&A session with academics from the National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, recorded at the Discover 2020 virtual Open Day event.

Firstly there's a there's a question here from Kaz who's asking whether you need a Bachelor in naturopathy or science to enrol into the postgrad. I might throw that one to you Matthew.
For postgraduate qualifications the entry requirement into all three programs is a Bachelor but of course there is some opportunities there to have a discussion with us around whether you can bring in other qualifications also experience that might equate to a Bachelor.
So just for the grad cert and Master of advanced nat med the requirement at this stage is a Bachelor or equivalent in a related field, for those looking at a grad certain organic food and nutrition it's a Bachelor in any field.
There’s another question from Tan who's asking how the master is different from the Bachelor in naturopathy in terms of you know what extra ground does it does it cover beyond what you might do in a Bachelor degree?
Sure so I guess the primary objective of the Bachelor degree is to prepare someone for clinical practice as a naturopath and primarily for clinical practice as a solo practitioner. The idea of the Masters is to really push those boundaries both in terms of managing more complex cases but also working outside of that practice area in terms of thinking how can I work within and understand other members of the healthcare team, where else are my skills potentially transferable to so thinking about my role in public health, in community health and other aspects like that.
I guess the key point of a Masters is not just the necessary the increased complexity but also about it's about providing much more high level analytical skills to be much more critical not just about you know yourself and your practice and your profession but also about where you what your contribution is to the field as well.
So this is where you start getting those much more advanced skills in areas like clinical reasoning, critical thinking, information literacy and research literacy and of course evidence-based practice. Are there any rumblings you know will there be an undergraduate degree in naturopathy offered in the future at Southern Cross?
That question might have come up
Definitely absolutely we’re in discussions around that idea and in the process of planning that as a proposal for moving forward so yes definitely watch this space yeah
Is a research component to the Masters program?
Definitely so we have both a coursework component also a project component. The idea of the coursework component is not just about providing just the generic research training you often see in many programs but actually having training that's applicable to clinical practice so we have a unit called practice-based health research - it's about research methods that you can potentially use and apply immediately in a practice environment and then those skills you can essentially develop further in terms of our project work and that's a two unit program where you essentially learn the skills of research right from developing a question right through to developing a proposal, conducting the study whether it might be a survey or a systematic review and then implementing that and then that kind of ties very nicely with an evidence-based practice unit around translating those findings into interaction practice.
This might be a question for Romi but the question is wondering whether you have to be an SCU student to take part in the in the summer school that you'd mentioned?
That's actually a good question so in the long term we are thinking about opening that possibility up for students of other universities but for the first round this year we are just looking at SCU undergraduate students
Someone has asked regarding the entry requirements for the graduate certificate , he has a Bachelor in health science “I'm majoring in food science in nutrition” would something like that be considered for entry into the graduate certificate Matthew?
I just want to clarify is that the grad certificate in organic food and nutrition or the grad cert in naturopathic medicine?
So the advanced nat med is as the name suggests about advancing that medical practice so there's some assumption there that you've got already those prerequisite skills in natural practice and this is about extending those skills beyond that so I guess it's about the pathway into the grad cert and master of advanced nat med is to have that Bachelor of health science or in naturopathy to allow you to extend that knowledge and skills.
Elsie is also asking about entry into the masters with eight years of clinical experience as a naturopath and has an advanced diploma would that be something that that could be considered ?
Well I guess for those people that don't if you necessarily meet the I guess the written standard for the Bachelor of Health Science and naturopathy that's we have to manage by case-by-case scenario so we have to actually speak with you directly look at your transcript and your experience and then work out a solution for you there
Definitely so the big thing with that is get your get your application in and then we can work with you uniquely between our admissions team and our academic team on assessing your background for entry into our programs and I'd like to echo that same for research so you may have a cv that's not typical for research just feel free to contact us and we'll work it out.
Linda has a question regarding the grad cert of organic food and nutrition, she's wondering about the kind of the background of some of the lecturers in the course whether or not the course has any alignment with permaculture and also asking about how much whether the sort of practical experience integrated as well
There's a few aspects there so I guess for the question though because the program is heavily aligned with regenerative agriculture and organic food systems around that space but certainly for the four units each of the unit developers and subsequent unit assessors from that are were experts in the field so a dirt to dinner unit is an expert in soil science, a food is medicine unit is an expert in nutrition and organic food the expert in the program in organic food systems has a long history of expertise in that particular area and the farm gate to plate is both a leader in an organic food regulation but also actually practicing farmer and butcher.
Yeah and a question from Melissa perhaps for Romi regarding you know she's asking if you wish to do a clinical trial as a part of your postgraduate research are there contacts within Southern Cross that could assist with locating potential trial candidates support around that - I hope I get that question right!
So to me it looks like you're looking for participants for your clinical trial well we recruit them through social media through press releases so there's really no problem on recruiting potential trial candidates we work very closely with our marketing and communications offices so we'll do everything that we can to ensure that you'll get your participants if you run a clinical trial as part of your degree.

And another question from Rhonda how is it best to kind of start that process of wanting to discuss the masters or PhD if they wanted to talk to someone about one of the programs?
The best is just to contact us, contact us through NCNM research so just google NCNM go to the research side of our web page there's an email address just write us an email and then we'll just have a chat and discuss what's the best option for you.
All right thank you I mean now we got we've got a few more coming in.
All right there's a question from Annabelle regarding whether there's any particular scholarships open for the masters of and naturopathic medicine?
We do have general scholarships available but do we have anything specifically for naturopaths?
That's a great question but it's unfortunate as a centre we don't have scholarships for our programs but like there are prescriptions available through SCU yeah so certainly head online to our website and Codi will place that link in in the chat for you where you can go and have a bit of a look at the diverse range of scholarships available.
Nothing specifically for the for the masters however a wide range of different scholarships is available and we just have one application process as well so you can get that in as part of your application and our scholarships team will work with you from there.
Now Lara has a question for you Romi who's asking wanting to clarify regarding entry into the PhD do they need to have completed an honours/masters and graduate courses or can you apply with simply an Honours program you know in a Bachelor of Health Science?
Good question oh sorry I'm on sorry I thought I was muted there are different pathways so usually for a PhD you need to have like a Bachelor with first class Honours or a second class first division but like if you don't have that if you have a different Bachelor without first class and second class you can just choose to start with the master first and then upgrade that to a PhD later but it really depends. You may have had some research experience already you may have some publications or been involved in research projects and that might actually give you the credit to get a direct entry into the PhD.
I think best is really to contact us and discuss your case individually.
Thank you yeah certainly you know I think with all of this we will answer your questions this evening but to go into more depth and to start that process of working with us one-on-one to find you know find that study pathway for you definitely get in contact with us and we can work with you from there.
Samantha has asked a question about the food nutrition field wondering whether there are any plans for a Masters level qualification in that field? Great question lots of prophets I think in the audience we definitely are having conversations with regenerative agriculture around the idea potentially having extended programs looking at the grad cert as a pathway into the masters and potentially organic through science as well.
And quite a bit of a bit of interest in the chat in a Bachelors degree programs as well which is really great really exciting
Melanie has an advanced diploma of naturopathy and is in the process of completing a Bachelor of health science and I believe in complementary medicine but it's not yet finished you know we may have rushed on this before but will there be any pathways available for those without a without a degree
Yeah I think again it's kind of a case-by-case basis but I guess the thing is you still have the central component is the naturopathic background and then how we can I guess work out what's an equivalent to a Bachelor with guessing your qualification and your experience or track record.
So a couple more questions in there as well around here people who have completed a nursing degree or other sort of various areas like that you know as Matthew's saying looking for that direct experience in there in that sort of area but certainly reach out to us and we can discuss discuss the specifics with you as well.
Melinda is now asking just wondering about how practical the organic food nutrition course is - I think whether it's really she's wondering whether it's a very theoretical course or there are some practical elements?
Another great question so yeah what we've kind of kept in mind is the idea that we want to keep the program online so allows people access across Australia and the flexibility as well but the idea that potentially it's not too theoretical that it has no actual it's not authentic or applicable to the real world setting so what we've actually worked very closely with our centre of teaching and learning is to make sure all the activities we put in place, the content we put in place and the assessments actually have application and translatable to practice.
We have a lot of technology in place where you actually are almost working on organic farms virtually and interacting with that in terms of let's have a look at the soil and unpack the soil and actually see what's actually in there so you actually have an option to actually apply that in a virtual setting as closely approximating real life as possible.
And Kaz has come in with a question wondering whether the teaching within within the centre is based around a particular philosophy - she's aware of many different many schools of thought.
Yeah definitely another good question so certainly we spent a lot of time this year thinking about the pedagogy of our programs and of course like you said there are there are many different pedagogies to to draw from and I don't think any single one addresses all the needs of I guess the profession moving forward. So we've actually drawn from quite a few different pedagogical frameworks, one of the strongest is probably case-based learning and where there's actually authenticity and translatability to clinical practice within that so that's embedded within all of our units and programs.
On top of that we also have underpinning inquiry-based learning to show that the content you have again is actually authentic.
You actually I think right from the ground zero you actually start thinking about the content and the content actually has a purpose rather than just getting through this exercise finishing the assessment and then having nothing at the end of that.
Other components within that is interprofessional learning so understanding a bit more about other players in the healthcare team, understanding their roles and perspectives and how we sit as a profession against those professions and of course one of my areas of particular passion - evidence-based practice and that's a strong philosophy underpinning all of our programs.
Thank you Matthew and thank you as well for sharing some of your insights around the program. A last question from Chloe about whether HECS-HELP is available for the course?
FEE-HELP is available for the the grad certs and the masters programs so certainly there is that option there it's a similar government loan program for post graduate study so there is that that option.

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