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National rules for the education in Complementary Medicine approved in Italy

On 7 February 2013, the State and the Regions and Autonomous Provinces Conference approved the national rules for the education in Complementary Medicine. The process which led to this important event started in 2007, when the Tuscan Regional Council approved the Regional Law of Tuscany n. 9/2007, which regulates education and practice of Complementary Medicine (CM) by medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians. The legislation stipulates that Regional Professional Associations are to draw up lists of professional experts in CM based on the requirements defined by the Regional Law and by the Regional Committee for CM education, and to issue a specific certification.

On 20 December 2012, a proposal of National Agreement among the State and the Regions and Autonomous Provinces on rules of CM education, that includes at the moment only medical doctors and dentists, was approved by all the Italian Regional Presidents and finally the Agreement was officially signed on 7 February 2013.

Now Italy is one of the few European countries with a national law stating the rules for education in Complementary Medicine.

The agreement defines the training and accreditation of complementary medicine professionals and education institutions and  provides for the establishment of lists of CM professionals who practice acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy. Those wishing to register must have a certificate issued by accredited public and private training centres and must have completed a course of no less than 500 training hours, included 100 hours of clinical practice, after having passed a theoretical and practical exam and discussed a thesis. Courses for medical doctors cannot last less than 3 years.

Transitional provisions for professionals who initiated the practice of CM before the law were also set up.

In addition to the basic principles and clinical application of complementary medical techniques, courses must ensure the teaching of medical criteria based on evidence, the capacity to conduct clinical research, and the knowledge of legislation and regulations on rights to information and informed consent.

So far, the Italian rules on CM education can be a point of reference aiming at possibly defining European rules in all the Member States.

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