Meet Ashley Hillsley, the Program Director for Diploma of Health Science at Australasian College of Natural Therapies and The Southern School of Natural Therapies.
Ashley has been working in the field of health and education for more than 7 years, with experience in various health industry settings such as retail, sales, pathology laboratory and as a Clinical Naturopath utilizing the modalities of Nutrition and Herbal Medicine in practice. In his career as an Educator and Academic, he has previously held various roles that include Senior Lecturer and Program Manager. Ashley has a passion for the foundational student experience with a commitment to providing high-quality education with innovations that enhance the learning experience. He takes a student centred approach, aiming to make a positive impact and support the development of the health professionals of the future.
What has inspired you to work in this industry?
After starting my career as a Medical Scientist working in a variety of roles within the health sector more broadly, I found that I had a specific passion for helping others and for exploring the evidence base in complementary medicine. This led me to studying Naturopathy. As a Naturopath, the core learnings that resonated with me were the importance of an individualised approach to health care to best support health and of being a teacher to help empower others to make sustainable changes in their own lives. Eventually, I became an educator to help others take the same journey into complementary medicine.
What are the benefits of starting out with a Diploma of Health Science?
The Diploma of Health Science is your foundation if you are thinking of upskilling in your current role or even thinking about changing careers. In this diploma, we explore the foundational sciences that are your pathway to higher education in complementary medicine. Available fully online, as well as on-campus or in blended modes, the Diploma is a way to springboard your career in health science. It’s also a platform for further study – you can use your credit points to transition into one of our range of Bachelor programs. And, because it can be studied fully online, you can start without making a big change to your current lifestyle and commitments.
The Diploma of Health Science is your foundation if you are thinking of upskilling in your current role or even thinking about changing careers.
What are the key topics in the industry right now?
Some key topics in the industry are the increasing public awareness and embracing of Health & Wellbeing. This increasing social awareness has fuelled the trend of Fad dieting that can often involve non-evidence based diets usually self-prescribed and may also involve supplementing with over the counter Herbal Medicine products based on the use of google self-diagnosing.
How can studying a Diploma of Health Science help to address these trends?
With the growing trend of self-prescribed dieting and herbal medicine supplementing, our Diploma of Health Science students gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles of the Human Body, how to evaluate evidence and learn essential communication skills. This enables students to explore the impact of these choices and determine the difference between fad diets or self prescribed herbal supplementing from sustainable healthy choices. Graduates will be able to communicate the evidence base of either Nutrition or Herbal Medicine based on electives selected to help empower others to make good choices for their health & wellbeing.
What is your vision for the industry and our courses at ACNT/SSNT as well as Torrens?
The Complementary Health industry is moving towards Bachelor level qualifications as the minimum requirement for new clinical practitioners but the sources people seek for health advice can be varied and often informal such as blogs or YouTube.
“My vision is for the delivery of courses that support the development of health professionals equipped to meet the future needs of our industry. The Diploma of Health Science, is a great example of such a course and gives students a taste of study in Higher education while aiming to inspire those unsure about which path in Health is right for them. Many of our Diploma students continue on to study in one of our clinical Bachelor programs in Naturopathy, Nutrition or Herbal Medicine inspired to become practitioners. Others exit with our diploma able to support our industry or clinical practitioners as educated health advisors. These health advisors are able to coach people on how to find and understand the evidence base of Complementary Medicines and to evaluate health claims of companies or individuals to assist with making informed decisions. For companies they can provide valuable insights and advice for health in marketing, administration roles, community health, human resources or in practitioner support roles. For individuals they can act as advocates for good health by coaching others to navigate sources of health information and by guiding people towards the appropriate health professionals such as Medical Practitioners, Naturopaths, Nutritionists and Herbalists who can offer the expert individualised health advice they may need.”
As more people readily turn to social media, blogs and search engines for solutions, we need to ensure more evidence-based information is reaching our audience as early as possible to reduce the risk of miscommunication and Diploma of Health Science graduates can help to ensure people within their community receive this information and find their way to the appropriate health professionals sooner.
This means providing a course where graduates are agile and resilient enough to understand how the traditional understandings of Complementary medicine can be brought to life in the evolving health sector and embracing the role of technology in the future of our industry. Our graduates are prepared for the evolving Complementary medicine sector. The Diploma of Health Science is the first flexible step on the pathway to being a part of this change either by upgrading into our Bachelor level courses to become a practitioner or for entry-level complementary health roles.
What are your top 3 reasons to study a Complementary Medicine course with us?
- Students get a unique balance between the traditional understandings of complementary medicine along
with an evidence-based health science approach.
- Strong core foundation in health science which essentially provides the framework that creates strong practitioners and professionals when they leave our programs.
- Industry-leading teachers and educators that bring real experiences and contexts into the classroom that bring the knowledge to life.