International Conference – Final Day Highlights

Whilst it was a long weekend for all, the 8th International Conference on Herbal Medicine finished with lots of future-focused presentations and discussions.

The morning opened with 3 different concurrent streams, including my presentation on “Training the Next Generation”. In my talk I discussed what the different qualification levels mean under the Australian Qualifications Framework, and what that means in terms of skills and capabilities for graduates. In short, I made a call for the profession to realise that Advanced Diplomas, whilst currently the clinical entry standard, are not the right fit for herbalists and naturopaths, and that we need to work together to make Bachelor qualifications the entry level.

I had some great feedback, more than expected. In some ways what I had to say was quite confronting as a huge number of us only have Advanced Diplomas (or even Diplomas if you’ve been around for a while!). The key point that people clearly recognised is that this is not a criticism of the individual, more a wake up call to entire profession that in order to be a real health care profession, we need to think beyond Advanced Diplomas and generic Bachelor of Health Science tack-on upgrades.

Ses Salmond followed with a presentation summarising her clinical trial on herbal antioxidants and silymarin in hepatitis C. It’s been a long time in the making, and Ses has amazingly stuck it out and now submitted her PhD thesis – so congratulations to Ses! The summary of the trial method and results was very interesting, as were her tips on running clinical trials in CAM based upon her own experiences.

Simon Mills delivered the final formal presentation of the weekend, and wrapped up Part 1 which he delivered on Friday morning. He presented some great ideas and personal experiences on different practice models which he has pursued in herbal medicine, and I think this inspired many in the audience.

The final panel discussion brought together Daniel Baden (Australia), Simon Mills (UK), Stephen Foster (USA), and Jill Dunn (New Zealand) to discuss the international perspective on the regulation of both herbal practice and herbal medicines themselves. It was great for everybody to see the similarities and differences in the regulatory environments in these countries, and compare that to the situation we face in Australia. And to once again realise that in some ways we have a far more favourable regulatory environment than many of our international colleagues.

Finally it was off to the airport for many, but not before a relaxing chat and drink, and final goodbyes to many colleagues whom we sometimes only see at these NHAA International Conferences every 3 years. Once again, a very successful and educational conference.

Copyright Ian Breakspear, 2014