2010: a Year of Pricking, Prodding, and Provoking

You know what, comrades, this was a very interesting year for CAN and particularly for the CAN blog. So much happened that I think we need a 3 part post -- at least -- just to reflect on it all.

Part 1: CAN vs. the Acupuncture Profession

This time last year, we were in the throes of the battle over the First Professional Doctorate. We were hearing lots of comments from the opposition to the effect of, “What does the FPD have to do with community acupuncture? Why do you want to stop the rest of us from getting doctorates? And why do you want to lower Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine's respectability in the minds of the media, health care community, patients, practitioners and future generations in America FOREVER?” And so on. To be honest, plenty of us who were fighting the battle were asking ourselves whether confronting the FPD was really the best use of our energy. Was it really worth it to try to communicate to the acu-establishment our concerns about (1) the lack of accessibility of acupuncture treatment, (2) the high cost of acupuncture education, and (3) the general economic dysfunction of the profession, especially since they didn't seem to be able to understand what we were saying?

Let's use some of our blog posts to reflect on how that played out, over the course of the year. And remember those 3 concerns, OK?

January

The No FPD Channel continues its regularly scheduled broadcasts.

Skip explains why CAN exists, and first uses the term “cultural competence” on this blog. Yes, we can blame him. Let's do. He also suggests that there is not really one acupuncture profession, but two: the acupuncture education profession, and the acupuncture practitioner profession, with separate goals and divergent interests.

Larry breaks down the details on some glaring problems with ACAOM's process around the FPD.

Andy posts the official letter from the CAN Board to ACAOM, opposing the FPD.

Melissa rejoices in being a “loudmouthed, undereducated, over-opinionated, misinformed, low-level practitioner” who has finally come home to her own kind.

The Zang Fool pricks and prods as only he can.

And John Weeks posts in The Integrator that the FPD “exposes rifts on the future of acupuncture and oriental medicine”. He identifies the conflict as the basic tension between service to patients and status for the profession – neatly summing up what we have been trying to say to the acu-establishment all along.

And on January 13th, the infamous “CAN Document Drop” occurs at the ACAOM offices, reigniting a passionate debate within the acupuncture profession about whether or not it's OK to walk into an office building during business hours. UNANNOUNCED.

February

ACAOM makes its Decision on the First Professional Doctoral Standards. I seethe.

March

Continuing our run of bad news, the Zang Fool does not win the AAAOM-SO essay contest.

And with a sense of timing that can only be described as comic, NCCAOM finally releases the results of their 2008 Job Task Analysis.

Coincidentally, Justine announces the return of the annual CAN survey.

April

Andy posts CAN's official letter of complaint to the ACAOM regarding its decision on FPD standards.

Miss Bootie Que educates us all about the virtues of hybrids.

I solicit CAN's involvement in the Portland Acupuncture Project: the Zang Fool updates us on the Portland Moxibustion Project and other news (I know, I know, that's actually May and I'm cheating, but it fits better here.)

May

We find out, 48 hours before it happens, that CAN is going to be mentioned in the New York Times. We scramble to make our front page readily comprehensible to people who know nothing about community acupuncture. Coincidentally, during a routine maintenance upgrade, our Drupal-based website crashes for about 24 of those 48 hours, getting back online just about an hour before the article is posted on the Times website.

We read it and weep.

Saving the day, our fabulous patients respond with dozens and dozens and DOZENS of comments. One of my favorites:

“I am very encouraged to see the volume of letters supporting community acupuncture, as much because of it’s affordability as because of the powerful effects of this treatment modality.

As an educator, I was surprised to see in this otherwise well researched article, the comment that community acupuncture was not recommended for “complicated cases” — it struck me as a juvenile opinion, no support for the statement offered, the kind of thing I’d expect to red pen in a junior high research paper.

Twenty-five years ago, I was vice president of the board of a school of traditional oriental medicine. Acupuncture became one of my primary go-to treatments, for maintenance of health and wellness, and for healing when I needed it, at any level. Those treatments were costly, but the private room, soft lights, etc. seduced me into thinking this was the only environment for this science.

Three years ago, I was broadsided by an 18 wheeler carrying a load of gasoline to the gas station. I was sitting in my legally parked car, my seatbelt off, ready to exit the car. I tried to keep up with the acupuncture, it helped tremendously with the pain during months of physical therapy. My business and income were suffering, and I had to let go the $120 acupuncture. One year ago, I sustained brain injury from carbon monoxide poisoning from a botched service on the furnace in my home. I could not afford any of the local provider’s I found — even a local MD who practiced acupuncture had a prohibitive new patient fee and co-pay. A friend’s daughter recommended I look for a CAN in my area.

Not for complicated cases? Aside from my cognitive rehabilitation, my CAN provider is my primary treatment. I am so very grateful I can afford to see him twice a week at one-third the cost of what I had once paid. The results are clear to me, it not only helps, it heals body, MIND and spirit!. . .. even something as “complicated” as the effects of brain injury.

I was unsure about the community setting at first; I didn’t know anything about primarily distal acupuncture. I found plenty of history and studies online to support my decision to choose a community acupuncture clinic. Please, do your research. You are writing for the NYTimes. Your elitist, I’ve gotta have the bling, preferences should not be a spring board for you to give an opinion that can prevent others from finding healing.

You might want to look into Pennsylvania Area Veterans Acupuncture Project — providing free acupuncture in a community setting for all veterans.

  • ECB”

And let's not forget, no matter what, the New York Times STILL published an article about the cost of acupuncture. We are officially no longer the only ones talking about our concern #1.

Back to our blog: staying with the “all hell breaks loose” theme for the month, we demonstrate that we will give even our self-proclaimed allies within the profession an earful.

The take home message from May is, if you mention community acupuncture in a way that we don't like, you will hear about it. No matter who you are.

June

It's math-o-rama!

In a take-no-prisoners guest blog, Shauna reveals the true costs of an acupuncture education.

And continuing June's theme of unheard of transparency within the profession, Justine announces the results of the annual CAN survey.

July

The sun is bright but the chickens are in the way:

The Department of Education announces new regulations targeting for-profit schools whose graduates can't repay their loans.

Our new friend and fellow number-cruncher Steven Stumpf analyzes what this might mean for the acupuncture profession.

Keith, aka “the Googler”, locates the website where the Department of Education is taking comments, and rallies the troops to speak truth to power.

We find out that Dort Bigg, Executive Director of the ACAOM, has mysteriously resigned, along with Rebekah Christensen, the long-time Executive Director of the AAAOM.

CAN's concern #2, the high cost of graduate education, is now out in the open as well.

August

Acupuncture Today baffles us by announcing that the NCCAOM Job Task Analysis results were actually MUCH WORSE than they appeared.

Steven Stumpf demands the raw data from NCCAOM used to compile the JTA; he doesn't get it.

He does, however, publish an article titled “Unveiling the US Acupuncture Work Force”, giving a formal academic treatment to CAN's concern #3, the general economic dysfunction of the profession.

September

Skip starts out the month with a bang and a raging argument with an erstwhile ally, Richard Browne, revisiting May's theme that the CAN blog is no respecter of persons.

Jessica gives the best definition of CAN yet and explains why we are often so confounding to the acu-establishment: we're a starfish.

October

Acupuncture Today, despite firing me as a columnist, must still have some fond feelings left, because they keep pitching me softballs; East Asian Medicine and Orientalism, anyone?

Apparently Tri-State feels the same about Larry. How do you define “acupuncture practice”?

ACAOM doesn't love CAN, though, because they keep ignoring us.

And then! John Weeks picks up the NCCAOM Job Task Analysis again in The Integrator, with an interview with Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, and reveals that Acupuncture Today released the truly dreadful income data about part-time practitioners in part thanks to all the discussion on the CAN blog. Does anyone else find this surreal?

This offers me another opportunity to try to put it together – concern #1, #2, and #3, all in one place – with a post on Martian Geology, courtesy of a heartbreaking comment on the Department of Education site. Remember that one?

“Title IV Funding for Acupuncture and First Professional Degree Acupuncture school is a scam that ruins students lives forever. There is no way for me to ever pay off my student loans. I am too old to start over. I cant find a way to work it off and I am exhausted from trying for the last 13 years. This was my last shot at a life and a career. Acupuncture ate my life and has destined me to a life of poverty and nothing to retire on. Please stop this abuse and destruction of students lives. There is no living to be made in acupuncture because there are no jobs. You might as well learn martian geology for all the good it will do you as a business. Ongoing costs of maintaining licensing, certification, malpractice, CEU's all feed somebodys pocketbook but mine is empty.”

November

The CAN Board of Directors' meeting in Portland: chaos and anarchy. Absinthe and tattoos. We Dig Deep.

We dig up rumors of a new Deep Throat, which remain unconfirmed. Is it true that we were, indeed, thoroughly played in the FPD debate by Deep Throat #1, representing the interests within the profession that favor the DAOM degree and see the FPD as a threat? So that now the FPD is effectively tabled while the ACAOM pursues Title IV Funding for the DAOM? And the ACAOM won't take the AAAOM's calls? We may never know. And do we really care if the DAOM gets Title IV funding? Since it's not an entry-level degree, we probably don't. Unless, of course, Deep Throat starts talking smack about community acupuncture, in which case, watch out.

December

John Weeks, bless him, just won't let the NCCAOM JTA rest. He returns to the topic in his end of the year summary, "The Coming of the Light", referring to the debate that mostly took place here as "a healing crisis" for the profession.

And all the public attention to our 3 concerns about accessibility of treatments, cost of education, and the economic dysfunction of the profession seem to be –finally – attracting an oblique, defensive response from the acu-establishment via AT. So we reprise our theme from May: if you talk about us, we will talk back to you. (BTW, this includes talking about us in CCAOM meetings. Yeah, we heard about that. )

Jennifer handles Mark McKenzie's "Progress Report on Our Profession".

Larry tackles Will Morris' "Cultural Competency in East Asian Medicine: Perspective as a Tool".

Unlike John Weeks, these authors don't think of what's happening as a healing crisis. What these AT articles seem to be getting at is really, everything with the profession is just! fine! -- apart from us. Us and our emanating disharmonies, us and our moral convictions. There aren't any structural problems that need to be fixed; we just need to adjust our attitude and our perspective. The thing is, though, there's no chance at all of anybody here believing that. Not after the year we've just had.

Not only are Jennifer and Larry's posts terrific responses in their own right to the AT articles, but they revisit concerns #1, #2, and #3. They are both like a new cAN manifesto. The message just gets clearer and clearer.

Looking back on this year – just in this first category of posts – makes me a little dizzy. Wow, what happened here? Comrades, I think what happened here is...a blog. A real blog. A blog that does what blogs are supposed to do, which is to help people collectively think and talk about things that they couldn't even acknowledge a year ago. A blog as a means of liberation. A thing unheard of in the acupuncture profession up until now. And a great foundation for 2011.


Stay tuned for Part 2.

This story was posted on December 28 2010 by Lisafer.

Comments

  • December 28 2010 at 10:58 AM
    Jessica Feltz writes:

    Wow!

    “The FPD has been tabled”?!?  That is the best holiday gift I’ve received this year!!!  I have half-a-mind to drive over there right now and plant big smooches on each ACAOM staffer!  http://www.pocacoop.com/images/blog_uploads/smiley-kiss.gif

    I don’t care about the DAOM, b/c it isn’t entry-level. 

    Did all you acupuncturists who accused CAN of denying them the opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree hear that?  WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE DAOM! 

    Let ACAOM pursue Title IV funding for it.  It doesn’t impact access of care to our communities, so it isn’t worth our time to address.  We’re too busy building an alternate universe over here…

      0 likes
  • December 28 2010 at 4:15 PM
    ewolfk writes:

    Thank you

    and I’m sorry.  I joined CAN just about a year ago and being a part of this community has been great.  I’ve changed my practice as a result, which has helped me and others as well.  It has also been wonderful to learn that I’m not the only one out here concerned about the choices made by some of the leaders within the profession.  It’s been great to find there is effective action that can be taken rather than repeatedly banging my head on my desk.  I’m also aware that I continue to be an outsider and that some of my efforts to help have, in fact, made the lives of some of you more difficult, at least temporarily—doubly distressing because I don’t want to distract you from what you do best—make it more possible for more people to get treatment.   I hope that my intention, which is to help “the profession” think more deeply about where their energy goes, so that more and more people can receive acupuncture, comes through.

    Congrats, CAN, on doing so much good for so many people.  Thanks for the Blog.  Thanks for so much good and helpful and thoughtful dialogue.  Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

      0 likes
  • December 29 2010 at 12:13 PM
    Nic writes:

    CAN <3

    IMHO CAN is awesome.  What a good year to jump on board!

     

    Nick

      0 likes
  • December 29 2010 at 12:53 PM
    tessmcginn writes:

    thanks for the stroll down memory lane…

    Good to keep the historical in chronological order.

    There are trails of tears and laughter that could be commented on in regards to this post.  I will keep it simple.

    Joyous new year everyone.  Keep the revolution alive!

    Tess Bois (formerly McGinn)

    One World Community Acupuncture

    Fitchburg, MA

      0 likes

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