Introduction: The rise of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professions has taken place alongside an increase in public use of CAM therapies. Some actions have been taken to establish educational standards, often focusing on educating competent professionals to ensure citizens' freedom to make choices for their own healthcare while at the same time ensuring their safety. However, in professions like homeopathy that are unregulated in most European countries, it is not clear what it means to be a competent homeopath. The aim of this study was to investigate educators' views on what a competent homeopath is and what they require in their education.
Methods: This was a qualitative study based on grounded theory methodology involving telephone interviews with 17 educators from different schools in 10 European countries. It used constant/simultaneous comparison and analysis to develop categories and properties of educational needs and theoretical constructs and to describe behaviour and social processes. The main questions asked of subjects were "What do you think is necessary in order to educate and train a competent homeopath?" and "How would you define a competent homeopath?"
Results: The educators defined a competent homeopath as a professional who, through her knowledge and skills together with an awareness of her bounds of competence, is able to help her patients in the best way possible. This is achieved through the processes of study and self-development, and is supported by a set of basic resources. Becoming and being a competent homeopath is underpinned by a set of basic attitudes. These attitudes include course providers and teachers being student-centred, and students and homeopaths being patient-centred. Openness on the part of students is important to learn and develop themselves, on the part of homeopaths when treating patients, and for teachers when working with students. Practitioners have a responsibility towards their patients and themselves, course providers and teachers have responsibility for providing students with effective and appropriate teaching and learning opportunities, and students have responsibility for their own learning and development.
Discussion: According to homeopathy educators' understanding, basic resources and processes contribute to the development of a competent homeopath, who possesses certain knowledge and skills, all underpinned by a set of basic attitudes.