Primary contact practitioner training: a comparison of chiropractic and naturopathic curricula in Australia
Grace, S, Vemulpad, S & Beirman, R 2007, 'Primary contact practitioner training: a comparison of chiropractic and naturopathic curricula in Australia', Chiropractic Journal of Australia, vol. 37, 1, pp. 19-24.
Levels of control over curricula for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) vary in Australia. For example, accreditation with government registration boards is mandatory for chiropractic, whereas accreditation with state accrediting boards and professional associations is voluntary for naturopathy. The Australian public is increasingly seeking the services of CAM practitioners, often as their primary contact practitioner, and may be unaware of the diversity of training within CAM. Objective: The aim of this study was to compare two CAM curricula: chiropractic and naturopathy, in the context of primary contact practitioner training. Design: Accredited naturopathy and chiropractic programs in Australia were located. Key learning areas and approaches to clinical training were identified and compared. Results: Chiropractic and naturopathy, two examples of CAMs, have different levels of control over their curricula. The key learning areas (Medical Sciences, Profession-Specific Subjects, Research Methodology, Professional Studies and Clinical Training) identified in the study were similar in chiropractic and naturopathy curricula. Within the different chiropractic or naturopathic courses, the percentage of the courses allocated to the key learning areas were comparable; however, there were differences when comparison was made between chiropractic courses on one hand and naturopathy courses on the other. On average, chiropractic courses allocated 45.9% of their curricula to medical sciences, whereas university-based naturopathy courses allocated 26.2% to medical science and non-university naturopathy courses allocated 23.1%. Conclusion: Chiropractic registration guarantees a uniform level of training for all practitioners. This training was found to comply with accreditation board requirements. The naturopathy courses in the study had elected to comply with the requirements for state government and professional association accreditation, and a level of uniformity was evident amongst the various courses. It is pertinent to note that although both groups of practitioners are entitled to practise as primary contact practitioners, chiropractors and naturopaths had markedly different focuses on medical science training. We suggest a review of naturopathy curricula is warranted in the context of uniformity of training for primary contact practitioners.