Etincelle Santé

Federal diploma in naturopathy

As naturopathy is more or less recognized in different countries and contexts, it’s important to set the record straight.
In Switzerland, the profession is recognized, and benefits are covered by supplementary insurance schemes according to certain criteria. Professional associations bring together therapists who meet their specifications, and collaborate with a number of insurance companies.
At present, legislation governing naturopaths varies from canton to canton. The ASCA website brings this information together nicely and clearly. In the canton of Vaud, for example, anyone can work as a naturopath; only qualified naturopaths can be reimbursed by supplementary insurance. In the canton of Berne, the situation is quite the opposite: naturopaths need a right to practice granted by the cantonal doctor, and this right is subject to the requirement of a federal certificate or diploma (DF).

Obtaining the federal diploma

But how do you get it? For those who have already studied in the field, some schools offer bridging programs or validate acquired skills. For others, you’ll need to start your studies from the beginning, preferably with a clear understanding of the context from the outset.
The diagram below summarizes the various modules to be performed (or validated), with the comments I thought relevant.
Basically, you start by taking courses in different disciplines, grouped into modules M1 (academic medicine), M2 (naturopathy MTE, TCM, ayurveda or homeopathy), M3 (health and ethics), M4 (working as a therapist), M5 (business management) and M6 (internships).
Once you’ve taken the courses and passed the exams at one of the schools, you’ll receive the certificates you need to register for the official M1 and M2 exams (which can be taken at the same time or separately). At the same time, accredited schools issue certificates directly for modules M3, M4 and M5 (phew, at least something you don’t have to do in 50 steps!). Finally, the M6 is supervised and validated by the same school that validates the M2 (since not all schools offer the same program, there has to be a minimum of consistency).
Well no, not finally, because it’s not over yet! Together, these M1-M6 diplomas lead to the federal certificate, which is the intermediate stage. You can be recognized by all the professional associations, you can obtain a right to practice… but you still have to complete two years of part-time mentored practice (M7) before taking the final exam and obtaining the long-awaited DF (phew)!

OrTra MA

The OrTra MA is the governing body for the DF. Their website contains all the relevant information for students or practitioners wishing to embark on this path.
I mainly use the Profession page and its sub-pages (available in the drop-down menu) to keep abreast of what’s expected of us and our professional skills (mainly the professional profile and naturopathic philosophy documents).
The Modules page and its sub-pages provide information on what is expected in each module. Even if application differs from school to school, it’s important to be aware of the requirements, especially for the M1 and M2 modules whose final exams depend on an external body.
For those already at M7, there are already plenty of individual mentors and group mentoring offers. The official list can be found on this page of the OrTra website.
Finally, the Higher Professional Examination page and its sub-menu provide all the information you need about the final exam.

The schools

Schools whose training programs are recognized by the OrTra can be found on this page. It’s important to make sure not only that the school is accredited (or in the process of being accredited), but also that the training program corresponds to what you’re interested in. Indeed, if you already wish to specialize in massage, make sure you follow a program rich in many hours of manual therapies. On the contrary, if this isn’t your cup of tea and you’re more inclined towards purely naturopathic practices, nutrition and phytotherapy, you’ll need to find a school that matches your interests.

Don’t forget, however, that even if you can specialize during your training years, skills in all these disciplines will be required for the exams (and that it’s always useful to have a good overview and basic skills everywhere, so that you can inform your patients)!