Thinking about a career in natural medicine? Here's what you need to know to get accredited
Words DR MARK SHORING
The delivery of natural medicine education within Australia has been a rapidly evolving phenomenon. Over the past 30 years, educational standards have seen “entry to practice” level qualifications evolve from Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate (AQF 4) or Diploma (AQF 5) levels to Advanced Diplomas (AQF6) and Bachelor (AQF7) levels within a short period of time. With the introduction of professional Master programs (AQF level 9) and Doctoral degrees (AQF level 10), this issue has led to additional challenges for educational providers and associations alike. Here, we explore these issues and how educational providers and ANTA managed these issues.
The AQF was introduced by the Commonwealth Government in 1995. The purpose was to ensure that all higher and vocational education programs were delivered and assessed at an appropriate level. Under the AQF each level requires a program and its associated units of study (or subjects) to be taught and benchmarked to their specific level. For example, Bachelor programs require graduates at this level have a broad and coherent knowledge and skills for professional work and/or further learning. In contrast, a Diploma program requires graduates to have a specialised knowledge and skills for skilled paraprofessional work and/or further learning.
ANTA maintains that as practitioners you must be capable of working independently, analyse and evaluate knowledge, transmit knowledge skills and ideas to others and be capable lifelong learning as a bare minimum to practice.
Higher education programs (such as Bachelor (AQF7) qualifications) are delivered by self-accrediting universities that could devise natural medicine programs and approve them through their own internal governance pathways (such as the senate), or non-self-accrediting providers that require delivery approval of the each program and campus or campuses with its associated educational department. The burden for non-self-accrediting providers is much greater than that for mainstream self-accrediting universities. Non-self-accrediting providers typically take around three years to develop and gain approval for delivery of program and campus. The accreditation period is typically around three to five years. Initially non-self-accrediting providers would seek approval through their respective state-based education departments; however, in 2011 the Commonwealth Government established the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) to replace the state-based approval systems. In contrast, self-accrediting providers can devise and approve their programs via their own institution’s senate. This reduces governance burden leading to course construction and approval in less than two years.
Vocational level qualifications (such as Advanced Diploma (AQF6) qualifications) are delivered by TAFE or private providers and are referred to as approved registered training organisations (RTOs). All RTOs must deliver programs in line with competencies listed within associated training packages. A training package is a training/educational and assessment road map required for program delivery. ANTA as an organisation continues to advise the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Skills Council to ensure the quality of each training package associated with natural medicine education is at a practice entry standard.
Governance of educational providers was initially undertaken by the associated state-based education department where the campus was located. Training providers would be audited periodically to ensure that each training package and associated assessment was adequately delivered. In 2011, the state-based system was replaced with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). This agency now undertakes all governance and auditing of training providers and their delivery of the associated training packages.
Prior to the implementation of the AQF, educational providers delivered natural medicine programs on an ad hoc basis. Depending on the institution, your study at a Certificate or Diploma level may have benchmarked higher or lower than the same qualification level post-AQF release. ANTA’s position has always been to ensure “quality” and “peak of the profession” standards devised by practitioners for practitioners. ANTA maintains that as practitioners you must be capable of working independently, analyse and evaluate knowledge, transmit knowledge skills and ideas to others and be capable of lifelong learning as a bare minimum to practise. Under the AQF a Bachelor qualification (AQF7) is the minimum qualification aligning with these values. As ANTA is a leader in natural medicine practices, we continue to push our high standards and values with educational providers through our course assessment guidelines and evaluations while also actively participating in course advisory committees at individual educational institutions.
Further, academics at both higher education and vocational education institutions are required to have qualifications and experience commensurate with the delivery of each program that they deliver. Higher education providers typically seek qualified practitioners with several years of clinical experience aligned with the program that they seek to teach. They are also typically required to have at least one AQF level higher qualification than that with which they teach. Should these professionals also have an additional educational qualification this would also be ideal. Ultimately, higher education providers seek to have academics that also have a Philosophy Doctorate (PhD). All trainers are also required to have completed a Certificate IV Training & Assessment (TAE40116).
The landscape associated with the delivery of natural medicine education has significantly evolved over the past 30 years. As the premier natural medicine professional association, ANTA continues to direct and consult with government agencies and educational providers with relation to educational and training standards commensurate with the expectations of practitioners for entry to professional practice.
For more, visit anta.com.au
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