Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and may not be construed as medical or legal advice. While the author believes the information to be accurate, he makes no claims as to its accuracy and the reader is encouraged to make independent inquiries.
The North American Society of Homeopaths is a bi-national organization of Canadian and US homeopathic practitioners or aspiring practitioners. Founded in 1990, its original mission was to create a voluntary self-regulatory structure for an independent profession of homeopaths per se, as opposed to professionals trained in the conventional medical sciences who also offer homeopathic treatment. This mission remains the primary work of NASH, however many additional initiatives and projects have been added since.
NASH is incorporated as a non-profit membership organization, and governed by its officers and an elected Board of Directors. NASH has members in Canada and the United States, in five membership categories: Registered Member, Associate Member, Student Members, Institutional Member and Friend of NASH. There is also a small category of “Honorary Members.” Registered members make up about one third of NASH members and each have a vote for the NASH board of directors. All board members and officers are registered homeopaths and all are volunteers. In addition, many members volunteer for committees for specialized projects, such as the as proof editors for the journal or the student liaison project.
The main focus of NASH has been to represent, legitimize and protect the “professional homeopath” – the NASH registered member. NASH has put in place regulatory guidelines such as a Code of Ethics and standards of practice that registered members must agree to in order to be accepted, to regulate homeopathic practice in the absence of statutory regulation. The guidelines are reviewed and adapted continually as the regulatory environment changes. NASH also accepts, as registered members, homeopaths who wish to support its work towards establishing an independent homeopathic profession and who are licensed in a medical or allied health profession, so long as they meet NASH requirements.
The purpose of NASH is to assure consumer access to homeopaths who meet accepted standards of training, certification and clinical skill, as well as uniform ethical and practice standards. The NASH grievance procedure allows for recourse in case a client should feel an ethics violation has occurred. It specifies procedures for the investigation, mediation and disciplinary measures in case of a formal complaint. Qualification of registered members includes a specified level of education, supervised clinical training and completed certification with the Council for Homeopathic Certification, or equivalent.
NASH works to represent, legitimize, and support the homeopathic profession. It supports local legislative activities by its members to create a safe legal environment for their practice. NASH has given financial and other assistance to local grass root efforts in the U.S. to introduce legislation that would expressly allow the practice of homeopathy. This is important because homeopaths in the United States can face legal charges should they come under government scrutiny for alleged concerns that they engage in the unauthorized practice of medicine or other licensed healthcare profession.
Until laws permitting homeopathic practice have been exacted by all states, NASH standards and scope of practice is expected to reflect the relatively uncertain regulatory environment found in most states – a scope of practice significantly below the level of training of most trained professional homeopaths. These limitations may not apply to states where laws have been exacted that permit a broader scope of homeopathic practice. Health freedom laws have been enacted in Minnesota, California, Rhode Island, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, where alternative healing practitioners, including homeopaths, may practice without a license subject to certain restrictions.
In Canada, NASH has begun a legislative initiative in Ontario, in response to statutory regulation of homeopathy and remains active representing the interests of professional homeopaths. It is anticipated that homeopaths will practice under new regulation as soon as a “Transitional Council” has been implemented. NASH advocates the adoption of internationally accepted standards for all homeopaths in Ontario.
In all other provinces, with the exception of Quebec, the practice of homeopathy by professional homeopaths, as well as anyone professing to practice homeopathy is permitted, in the absence of statutory regulations. Some of the most highly qualified homeopaths in Canada have the initials RSHom(NA) behind their names.
In Quebec, the situation is similar to a few states in the U.S., such as Connecticut, Nevada and Arizona, where homeopathy is legally defined as a medical practice. Homeopaths in these jurisdictions that do not have a background in or a license to practice medicine may run into legal difficulties even if they practice homeopathy only as consultants, although there may be legal procedures to circumvent or overcome these difficulties.
In Arizona, the practice of unlicensed homeopaths is permitted under certain circumstances where homeopaths practice under the supervision of a medical doctor. According to a new law change enacted this year, homeopaths who prescribe potencies “with dilutions below the concentration of substances in drinking water” for the “spiritual vital force” are exempt from restrictions of the Integrative Medicine Licensing Law, however not of conventional medical or licensing laws. In Hawaii and Minnesota, homeopaths have been investigated for practicing naturopathy without a license, and diplomatic efforts are under way, to coordinate with the legislative initiatives of naturopaths and homeopaths.
NASH has representation in other homeopathic organizations, such as the National Center for Homeopathy, a membership organization for public education and promotion of homeopathy; the Council for Homeopathic Certification, the Council for Homeopathic Education, and the Homeopathic Action Alliance. Through the Homeopathic Action Alliance NASH works closely with the various homeopathic professional practitioner organizations to resolve common concerns.
These professional practitioner organizations include the American Institute of Homeopathy, for licensed homeopathic physicians; the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians, for licensed naturopaths; the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, for licensed veterinarians; American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, for licensed pharmacists; and the Homeopathic Nurses Association, for licensed nurses.
In addition to national practitioner organizations, there are also more than twenty local state organizations in the U.S., such as the California Homeopathic Medical Society. In Canada, there are about a dozen homeopathic associations of varying size and rather loose membership criteria, most of them on the West Coast and in Ontario.
Benefits for members of NASH include first and foremost the opportunity to support and work for the future of the homeopathic profession in North America. Registered members have the right to vote and to become officers or directors on the board. They receive a free listing of their practice information in the Directory of Registered Homeopaths on the NASH website. They can also list themselves in a directory for teaching consultants. Registered members may qualify for financial support from the legal defense fund and for support for legislative work from the legislative fund.
All members enjoy access to an extensive tape library, journal archive, and archive of scientific research on homeopathy. Associate members and students have access to mentors and clinical supervisors. NASH has a student liaison program to keep future homeopaths up-to-date on legislative, educational and practice issues. NASH members benefit from networking with other members and participation in conferences and symposiums. Student members even qualify for a student discount at the National Homeopathic Conference organized by the National Center for Homeopathy.
All NASH members received a free subscription to the respected scholarly journal The American Homeopath featuring articles, interviews and book reviews by renowned homeopaths, many of them holding the initials RSHom(NA) – Registered Member of the North American Society of Homeopaths. Homeopathic educational programs and schools may increase their exposure by joining NASH and supporting its work, and introduce their students to the opportunities and rewards of creating a homeopathic profession.
The NASH Foundation has been established to seek and make available funds for education, and research in homeopathy. Donations to the NASH Foundation are tax-deductible.
Appendix: The Council for Homeopathic Certification
The Council has published the following statement on its mission:
The Council was formed in response to a new vision for homeopathy’s future as a unified profession of highly trained and certified practitioners, and with a desire to create one meaningful national standard for practitioners of classical homeopathy.
The CHC works with existing homeopathic educational, training, and professional organizations to promote excellence in classical homeopathic practice, including the North American Society of Homeopaths, which requires certification by CHC of its applicants for registration.
The Council promotes the inclusion of homeopathy within the recognized scope of practice of all health care professions.
How we fulfill our mission
Certification by CHC is a public statement of recognition by a practitioner’s peers of training, knowledge, skill and competence in classical homeopathy. The certifying board includes homeopaths from major health care professions, as well as the growing group of professional homeopaths. This certification also assists the general public in choosing appropriately qualified homeopaths from all professional backgrounds.
Who we certify
Candidates for certification must fulfill educational and clinical experience prerequisites established by the CHC in order to undertake a challenging written exam. Those who pass the written exam subsequently take an oral examination. Successful candidates receive a certificate stating that they are “Certified in Classical Homeopathy”, and are entitled to use the credential ‘CCH’. This certification is not a license to practice, but is helping to define a national identity for the homeopathic profession.
* Create a common standard to establish competence in classical homeopathy
* Define standards of homeopathic care and professional ethics
* Administer an exam process to certify homeopaths to this level of competence
* Assist the public to choose appropriately qualified homeopaths from all professional backgrounds with a national directory of certified practitioners
* Promote the inclusion of homeopathy within the recognized scope of practice of all health care professions
* Cooperate with existing organizations to strengthen the homeopathic profession with an agreed credential and excellence in classical homeopathic training and practice
Benefits of Certification
CHC Certification offers you these benefits:
* Attests your proficiency as a classical homeopath to patients and other practitioners using a known standard
* Encourages practitioners who would refer patients to a homeopath in your area to choose you due to confidence in your demonstrated skill
* Includes you in a national directory, distributed in printed form and on-line here, helping you to build your practice
* Qualifies professional homeopaths to apply for registered membership with the North American Society of Homeopaths
* Qualifies you for participation in insurance or provider networks which require the CCH credential
* Strengthens the public view of our profession through acknowledgement of a national standard
Certification v. Licensure
Since the laws regarding health care vary considerably in the various US states and Canadian provinces, there is no universal statement that can be made about the conditions under which homeopathy can be practiced. Due to the demonstrated safety of homeopathic remedies when properly used, many individuals have been able to practice homeopathy throughout North America. However, the lack of official recognition of homeopathy as a method of health care by all states and provinces may be an issue in some jurisdictions.
The certification offered by the Council is not a license to practice homeopathy. Licenses can only be granted by states or provinces. Also, there currently is considerable discussion as to whether licensing is appropriate or necessary for the practice of homeopathy. However, many in the homeopathic community feel that a certification such as the one offered by the CHC, NASH, HANP, CCHC, and other organizations is important in setting standards and offering, thereby, some guidance to the public.
Certification is a peer-recognition of having attained a reasonable level of competency in homeopathy. Being certified by the CHC offers a level of professional recognition and helps to establish educational and competency standards within the profession – a necessary early step toward greater legal recognition of homeopathy.
In the dozen or so states that license naturopathic physicians (ND or NMD), homeopathy is included within their scope of practice. Only three states in the U.S. (Connecticut, Arizona, and Nevada) have a state licensing board that licenses medical doctors to practice homeopathy. Arizona also has a provision for Homeopathic Medical Assistants (HMA) who work in conjunction with a licensed homeopathic medical doctor, MD(H). According to the laws of particular states or provinces, some licensed practitioners (MD, DO, DC, LAc, FNP, etc.) may be allowed to use homeopathy in their practice. California, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Rhode Island allow registered practitioners of alternative medicine to practice without being licensed.
The CHC expects that all practitioners it certifies who do not happen to be licensed to practice homeopathy will ensure that their clients have been made aware of the status of homeopathic practice in that state or province. Where appropriate, this might include informing the client that any homeopathic recommendations the practitioner may offer are not intended as the practice of medicine, and that the client may need to also consult a licensed health care professional.
Being licensed to practice homeopathy in another country does not automatically confer similar privileges to practice homeopathy in the United States or Canada unless formal legal requirements – such as further study, passing of examinations and state licensure – have been fulfilled.
We encourage international applicants to enroll in North American homeopathic training courses and to undertake formal study here for at least a year before submitting an application to take the CHC examination. These courses will help to provide a practical idea of how homeopathy is practiced in North America and should help individuals prepare to take the CHC exam and successfully complete the certification process.
Visit NASH at : http://www.homeopathy.org