Happy holidays and Happy and Healthy New Year for 2016!

Each year at this time, I send out some brief highlights of the year from the College’s perspective and some directions for the coming year. I have been privileged to be involved in the College’s negotiations with the provincial government in the authorization and implementation of the changes to the Naturopathic Physicians Regulation and the bylaws that resulted in major advances from 2009 onward. 2015 continued the process of implementing those advances.

The clarification of naturopathic doctors’ scope of practice through the articulation of restricted activities was a major step forward. There has been an ongoing process requiring interpretation of the restricted activities with respect to new treatment modalities that registrants wish to use. In some cases, the College’s due diligence involves a number of different committees and the Board in order to appropriately deal with matters. In a number of instances, treatment modalities or procedures have been deemed to be within the scope of practice, but at the same time the Board decided that minimum training standards and the establishment of a certification was needed. New certifications introduced in recent years include IUD insertion and removal, Immunization, Advanced Injection Therapies and Aesthetic Certifications. Such certifications have established minimum standards for the protection of the public, but have also provided greater clarity for registrants as to what is and what is not within scope. Often, the defined scope of practice for registrants who become certified is broader than that which existed just a few short years ago.

Of course, you are all aware that prescribing authority was authorized at the same time as the restricted activities were defined. At this stage, the majority of registrants hold prescribing authority certification. I am pleased to note that, on the whole, prescribing by naturopathic doctors has been safe, with very few complaints since 2009.

Investigations and monitoring by the College included improper use of scheduled substances, sexual misconduct, as well as other types of professional misconduct. Certain outcomes can be seen on the public notification section of the College’s website, where  information can be read as required under the HPA. Of course, we cannot comment upon ongoing investigations. It is important for all registrants to be aware of the work done by the Inquiry Committee, since the work of the College in addressing complaints is vital to the public’s confidence that those holding a license and who are in good standing with the College practise safely and are regulated by the College.

I want to express my thanks to the board and staff of the College for the support of the project to bring many functions online. The automated registration has been working well. We thank those registrants that worked with staff in early phases to get the system working smoothly. The system enables you to register online and we are trying to implement as many facets of the system as possible that will provide registrants with improved service. Please direct any suggestions on further improvements to the online self-service system to Sarah Sharp, Manager, Registration, Legislation and Policy at the college office. There have been a number of misinterpretations of certification fees this year by some registrants. A number of registrants have already received assistance from staff and found that their fees were lower than they initially thought. Please contact Sarah Sharp if you still have questions about calculating your fees. Staff is ready and willing on December 31st to assist those who have not yet completed their registration. As of December 30th, most registrants have started the online registration process and completed their required submissions. Please note that December 31st is the last day that staff is available to assist you with registration before the January 1st deadline.

As indicated previously, the College will be reviewing CE requirements and certifications in 2016, with a view towards simplifying requirements for registrants where feasible, while preserving the regulatory intent.

The College has joined with a number of other health colleges in a public information campaign focused upon letting the public know that they should be seeking out licensed health professionals. You may have seen some of the recent ads on cable tv and on social media involving child actors.

It has been a privilege to serve in 2015, to observe the growth of the profession and the dedication to safe practice that is evident with so many registrants. At the same time, it is vital that the College continues to deal effectively with complaints and concerns regarding unsafe practice, professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct.

I want to thank all of the volunteers on College committees, inspectors, advisers and members of the Board, who have continued to work collaboratively with staff to regulate naturopathic medicine in the public interest. Thanks to all registrants for your cooperation as the College moves forward in 2016, with an eye on service to the public and to our registrants. Best wishes for the New Year.

Sincerely,

Howard Greenstein, B.Sc., M.A., M.B.A.

Registrar & CEO

College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC