Naturopathic Doctors Scope of practice is expanded.

In April ’09 Health Services Minister George Abbott announced that the scope of practice for Naturopathic Doctors has changed. We have been given prescribing and diagnostic lab rights. This will not come into full effect for approximately 6 months – 1 yr, but it is a huge step in the right direction. This gives us the ability to play more of a primary role in your health care. We will have the ability to order blood work or other diagnostic labs as well as prescribe or wean you off a medication without sending you to a GP. We will keep you updated once things are in full effect.

Excerpts from the BC government’s press release on regulatory changes for Naturopathic Doctors are below:

Ministry of Health Services


VICTORIA – B.C. is supporting health professionals and creating more choice for patients by enhancing the scope of practice for midwives, naturopathic physicians and registered nurses, Health Services Minister George Abbott announced today.

“Expanding the role of midwives, registered nurses and naturopathic physicians allows B.C.‘s health system to offer more options for patients,” said Abbott. “British Columbians made it clear during the Conversation on Health that they want increased choice and better access to health services and today we are meeting our 2008 throne speech commitment to expand the scope of practice for these professions.”

The enhanced scope of practice for naturopathic physicians means practitioners with additional training will be able to prescribe medication as appropriate to their primary care practices.

To protect patient safety, the regulations require naturopathic physicians to have successfully completed a certification course before administering, prescribing or dispensing prescription medication.

Additionally, the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. will receive access to B.C.‘s PharmaNet database system so that it can monitor its members’ prescribing patterns. The College will also establish standards, limits and conditions for prescribing based on the recommendations of an inter-professional committee that includes medical doctors, pharmacists and a Ministry of Health Services representative.

“The scope of practice legislation for naturopathic physicians has been unchanged in B.C. for more than 50 years,” said Dr. Lorne Swetlikoff, naturopathic physician and board chair of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia. “This move recognizes the current education and skills of naturopathic physicians and allows us to fully support the needs of our patients.”

There are over 300 registered naturopathic physicians in B.C. and naturopathic medicine has been a regulated health profession in B.C. since 1936.

With the enhanced scope of practice for the nursing profession, registered nurses will now be authorized to independently provide a broader range of health services including suturing, tuberculosis screening and managing labour in hospital when the primary care provider is absent. Registered nurses working triage will now also be able to immediately order diagnostic ultrasounds and X-rays. Additionally, registered nurses will be able to dispense or administer prescription medications in urgent situations including severe allergic reaction, drug overdose, post-partum bleeding and for communicable disease prevention and management.

“An enhanced scope of practice for registered nurses recognizes the key role that they play in B.C.‘s health-care system,” said Val Cartmel, president of the College of Registered Nurses of B.C. “These changes will increase efficiency and choice for patients while registered nurses and nurse practitioners will continue to work closely with other health-care professions to provide safe, quality care to patients.”