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Being a Careful Consumer
ANCB’s Guide to Naturopathic Certifications
As naturopathic healing methods increase in popularity and acceptance, the public looks to professional certification as a means to evaluate the competence, ethics and credentials of practitioners. Unfortunately, the rise in naturopathy’s popularity has also led to the emergence of new certifying groups, some of which are willing to shortcut certification standards to bring in new certificants and revenue. The search for a meaningful naturopathic certification has become a case of “Buyer Beware.”
The American Naturopathic Certification Board (ANCB) is proud of the high certification standards we’ve set, and we think it important to review these standards. In addition, ANCB’s certified practitioners are the best ambassadors for our high quality certification program, and we’d like you to be more informed. Accredited colleges are similarly poised to educate students about the importance of a rigorous certification process and it is critical that today’s graduates help raise the standards of our profession by seeking out a high-quality certification.
At the core of any meaningful credentialing process is an appropriate certification examination. Both the CTN and CNW exams were developed by ANCB using state-of-the-art education and testing standards, incorporating concepts such as “content domains,” “rater judgment,” and “psychometric validation.” While these might not be household words, they are the fundamental building blocks of a solid testing program such as ANCB’s. Passing the ANCB exam and obtaining an ANCB certification whether it is CTN, CNW, or both, builds personal pride as well as pride in the profession.
In contrast, some certification organizations do not require that applicants take a standardized examination. Some even offer certifications over the internet or through the mail after a cursory review of an applicant’s background. These certifications truly have no substance or value.
Continuing Education (CE) is vital to staying current in naturopathic modalities and maintaining an effective practice. New developments in the natural health field, new sources of natural products, and new healing methods are continually emerging. That’s why ANCB requires our certified professionals to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years and submit documentation of this education.
Surprisingly, as with exams, some certifying organizations do not require continuing education. Apparently, they are satisfied with the status quo when it comes to our understanding of natural healing methods.
Code of Ethics and Conduct
Both consumers and providers of health care alike are familiar with the term “Do No Harm,” which represents the most basic ethic of our profession. Going far beyond the minimum, however, ANCB ‘s Code of Ethics respects client privacy, requires disclosure of training and experience, prohibits discrimination and inappropriate relationships, and recognizes the validity of federal and state laws. In the event of a breach of this Code, ANCB’s Code of Conduct outlines a procedure for investigating and resolving complaints, including measures for disciplinary action.
It is amazing that while the issue of trust is such a major consideration in seeking out health services, not all certification organizations employ comprehensive Codes of Ethics and Conduct. Because of lax attention to ethical considerations and conflict resolution, problems that could be averted can become front-page news that reflects poorly on our entire profession.
Federally Registered Trademarks
Trademarks have been in the news lately, as groups seek to gain protection for certain terms and services. Because it is valuable and distinguishing, trademark protection is actually difficult to obtain. Unlike other, unsuccessful attempts to secure trademark protection, ANCB’s federally registered certification marks: “CTN,” “Certified Traditional Naturopath,” “CNW,” and “Certified in Nutritional Wellness,” are federally protected and are designed for the exclusive use of our certified practitioners.
What’s At Stake
Remember that a professional certification serves several purposes. We might think its main function is to provide assurance and instill trust in clients seeking health services, or to demonstrate to our peers that we’ve been recognized and accepted. While these are legitimate functions, we must also remember that as government interest in addressing our nation’s health care crisis grows, it tends to focus on the professional liability and personal responsibility of providers. If we as a community of natural healers are reluctant to hold ourselves to the highest standards in voluntary professional certification, we may likely face the imposition of harsh regulations and restrictions on the services we provide. This would serve only to undermine our mission. This is why ANCB provides only the highest quality naturopathic certifications, and it’s also why we urge you to join us in rejecting those organizations that settle for less.
© 2013 American Naturopathic Certification Board