The topic of practitioner registration is no stranger to long time followers of this blog however we felt that it was of paramount importance to touch upon this subject once more primarily because there is a lot of false information circulating during this COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who are unaware, it is illegal to practice certain modalities unless a practitioner is registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) (https://www.ahpra.gov.au/).
You can search for your practitioner’s qualifications on the main page of the AHPRA website by typing their surname and selecting the modality they practice:
Clicking on the “select health profession” box shows you the list of every modality that MUST be registered to practice – once more as AHPRA is a government agency, people who are not registered on this site cannot practice legally and as such your health may be further damaged by choosing to see these practitioners.
Within the scope of ‘Chinese Medicine Practitioner’ is where you will find the registration for:
- An Acupuncturist – someone who is trained and qualified to do acupuncture.
- A Herbal Medicine Practitioner – someone who is trained and qualified to formulate and dispense herbs to their own patients.
- A Herbal Medicine Dispenser – someone who is trained and qualified to formulate herbal script or receive herbal script from a herbal medicine practitioner to dispense to their own or other patients.
Some practitioners are registered for all three under the umbrella or Chinese Medicine however not all practitioners who do Acupuncture are trained to do herbal medicine – it is of paramount importance that you determine if your practitioner is properly trained.
A few other points to note: within the scope of Australian Law, it is not illegal for someone to do a certain medical service as long as they do not use the protected term for that practitioner. For example – a dentist can do acupuncture as long as they do not call themselves an ‘Acupuncturist’. Just as well an Acupuncturist could perform dental services as long as they do not call themselves a ‘Dentist’. It is evident how dangerous this is for patients and one should only ever seek out the services of a practitioner performing their own professional trade.
When undertaking a treatment from a practitioner who offers you a service outside their usual scope, for example a physiotherapist offering acupuncture – it is of paramount importance to check their registration prior. Now they may have trained and earned a double degree but their registration could have a clause or condition next to their name such as “can only perform treatment with a translator present” or “not qualified to perform diagnosis”. This information will be found next to their name and codes when you search on the front page of the AHPRA website. It ought to generally show the following:
In regards to the current COVID-19 pandemic, proper Chinese Medicine Clinics are allowed to remain open as we are front line practitioners. Our clinics should have always adhered to the highest hygiene clinics even before the pandemic as our modality is governed by the state bodies determining health services for the community. Stores that have closed that have previously offered acupuncture (such as massage shops) were likely not qualified to begin with. Though this is not true for every store, more often than not it is the case.
To conclude, before you undertake ANY form of therapy – ensure that your practitioner is registered with AHPRA. In the hospital system, nurses have their registration checked prior to employment and they are required to update it annually unfortunately there is no check system for independent practitioners and as such it is of paramount importance for the patient to check prior to commencement of treatment. Remember that any practitioner can do any therapy as long as they do not use the protected title but this does NOT mean they are trained to do so.
All the practitioners who work at the Chinese Health Institute are fully trained from a tertiary institute for a minimum of 4 years and have obtained a degree in health. Our registration is open for everyone to check on the AHPRA website and our team details can be found here.