First-ever naturopathic medicine program for foreign professionals commences

May 10, 2013 - All News

Staff Report
Twenty-two international medical graduates have just taken their first step to becoming regulated Canadian naturopathic doctors, beginning the first-ever naturopathic medicine program delivery offered specifically for IMGs.
The IMG program delivery, launched by the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), offers graduates of medical schools an opportunity to further their health care careers in Canada.
Applicants to the CCNM program have demonstrated their knowledge through successful completion of either the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE) or the United States Medical Licensing Examination Part I (USMLEI).
IMGs have education and expertise that is valued in Canada. Through the bridge delivery of its naturopathic medical program, CCNM is providing access to education for those who wish to further enhance their knowledge and skills for a successful health-care career in Canada.
“There are over 10,000 foreign trained medical graduates in Canada, over 7,000 in Ontario alone. Most of these highly trained individuals are currently engaged in lower skilled jobs that make little or no use of their medical expertise. That doesn’t make sense for Canada, and it doesn’t make sense to these medical professionals,” says CCNM President Bob Bernhardt.
“We see value in ensuring that these highly trained immigrants to Canada can build upon the knowledge and skills that helped them gain entry to the country and use them in gainful employment,” Bernhardt adds.
He points out that doctors and health-care professionals who arrive in Canada as immigrants or refugees and who wish to pursue a career in medicine must negotiate a complicated and costly series of evaluating and licensing examinations. When these exams are successfully completed, international medical graduates (IMGs) are required to perform up to two years in a hospital residency program.
“Unfortunately, their access to residency has been limited, and this exclusion creates frustration for those who want to further their careers as Canadian doctors,” Bernhardt says.
Students in the first IMG cohort include surgeons, oncologists, pediatricians and a medical geneticist, and comprise medical professionals from countries including Egypt, Iran, China and Colombia.
Many foreign-trained medical doctors feel that the nature of a naturopathic doctor’s practice is much closer to their experience as a medical doctor than practice in the provincial fee-for-service system that drives the average duration of standard visits to allopathic doctors to less than 10 minutes. Therapies associated with naturopathic medicine are used worldwide: clinical nutrition; lifestyle management; traditional Asian medicine and acupuncture; botanical (herbal) medicine; physical medicine; and homeopathy.
The program
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary care that addresses the root cause of illness or disease and promotes health and healing using natural therapies. Naturopathic doctors (NDs) are highly educated primary care providers who integrate standard medical diagnostics with a broad range of natural therapies.
The six-term (two-year) bridge delivery allows for reasonable sequencing of all required courses, as well as enhanced opportunities for integration of the IMG and third-year student cohorts.
Students will learn to model and integrate naturopathic medical practice through mentorship and observation at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic (RSNC). Clinic exposure, commencing early in the delivery, provides context for the different modalities that define the practice of naturopathic medicine.
The bridge delivery cohort will be supervised through 1032 hours of primary clinical experience — the same number as required in the four-year offering. The IMG students will have opportunities to serve as interns in the seven clinics run by CCNM, including the five community health centres and the new teaching clinic within Brampton Civic Hospital.
Founded as the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1978, CCNM has produced highly educated primary care providers and increased the profile of naturopathic medicine in Canada.
CCNM is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) and is a member of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC). Graduates receive the naturopathic doctor (ND) designation.
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