Since 2011, the SVDE [Swiss Association of Registered Dietitians] has been involved in framing a new Swiss federal law governing the health care professions (Healthcare Occupations Act [HOA]). The current law is to be revised in order to put the health care professionals qualifying at Switzerland's universities of applied sciences on a better footing vis-à-vis doctors, who are trained in the traditional universities. The new law encompasses the following health care professions: nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, midwives and dietitians.
The aim of the new law is to promote quality in the professional health care courses taught in the universities of applied sciences, at the same time uniformly regulating the requirements governing education and professional practice in this field throughout Switzerland. In addition, the recognition of foreign qualifications will be ensured. This will be achieved by including certain general professional competencies, which will be the same for all the health care professions in the new law. This regulation lends transparency to the acquisition of professional qualifications and constitutes an important precondition for the recognition of foreign degrees and diplomas. The unified regulation of professional practice within the responsibility of each speciality also forms part of what is being achieved. In this respect, the law stipulates obligations such as lifelong learning and disciplinary procedures for breaches of professional standards.
In the course of sittings of the "advisory group", the SVDE was kept regularly informed by the Federal Office of Public Health and the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation of the state of progress of the legislative work, and was often asked to submit comments on proposed amendments. The SVDE usually agreed on joint comments with representatives of other Swiss professional health care associations, and sometimes also with representatives of the universities of applied sciences. As a result, some of our concerns found expression even in the draft stages of the bill. The process leading to creation of this valuable law has now been going on for about two years and is set to continue for a further one or two years. We are pleased to be able to report on it to our international colleagues in this special issue of the newsletter. The recognition of dietitians is a matter of worldwide importance!