How the Acupuncture Profession is in Danger of Following the Mortgage Bankers of 2008.

Acupuncture is relatively simple in my mind – at least, when compared with biomedicine involving surgery or pharmaceuticals. In the hands of a licensed professional, it is safe and effective and vastly underutilized in America. Why is it then, that the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is attempting to push a requirement that entry level practitioners obtain a PhD as a condition of licensure?  Well, with that many syllables in their organizational identity, why should anyone expect simplicity?

Jokes aside, I’ve come to the conclusion that institutional greed and short sightedness is motivating their decision. The official spin is that by implementing a “First Professional Doctorate” (FPD), acupuncture will become a more mainstream, recognized medical profession, and thus advance the acupuncture profession. Unfortunately, the logic of this assertion quickly breaks down upon analysis as my esteemed colleagues in the Community Acupuncture Network have eloquently explained:

Cris's blog

Keith's blog

Larry's blog


Less clear is whether the ACAOM is actually asserting that the FPD will advance the needs of the American health care public. A critical examination of the facts easily shows once again, that it will do exactly the opposite: By lengthening the educational requirements for acupuncture students and thereby dramatically increasing the cost, these costs are inevitably passed on to health care consumers, closing the door of acupuncture access for the vast majority of Americans. Furthermore, fewer acupuncturists will be able to afford the cost of an education, inevitably excluding individuals from non-white, middle and working class backgrounds from entering the profession. As a result, fewer options will exist for patients, and again, fees will naturally increase due to simple supply and demand economics.

The Community Acupuncture Network formed three years ago in order to make acupuncture affordable for the vast majority of Americans who cannot afford to receive treatment at $75 to $200 per treatment (the traditional going rate). Therefore, we are opposed to this self serving move by the ACAOM as it only holds short term benefits for the existing crony capitalists who either own acupuncture schools, live off of credentialing fees or otherwise make their money off the existing status quo in the profession.

If the FPD is enacted, eventually these short term benefits will dry up and collapse, much as the mortgage downfall of 2008 crashed down upon the ethically bankrupt financiers (or more accurately, upon the American taxpayer).  Whether one subscribes to the wisdom of the East, the teachings of the Bible, or common sense fairness –  it is clear that poisonous seeds yield only poisonous fruit. Only when actions are implemented based upon an altruistic sense of universal responsibility, can positive results be obtained.

What can you do? Visit your neighborhood CAN clinic and ask to sign their petition to the ACAOM. Better yet, write to the ACAOM directly and let them know your opposition to the FPD. Join our Facebook group opposing the FPD. Keep patronizing your local CAN clinic – we are actually doing something about the health care crisis rather than talking about doing something. Keep your Chi flowing and never give up hope!

Thanks!

Jordan Van Voast, L.Ac.

CommuniChi

"Community is the Heart of Health"

This story was posted on November 18 2009 by River Jordan.
Tags: fpd

Comments

  • November 18 2009 at 6:02 PM
    emily writes:

    Again, who would benefit?

    Acupuncture is simple and a simple question is enough for me to answer this debate for myself: Would the FPD benefit my patients?Well, let’s see… I would have to go back to school which would result in limited office hours and dividing my attention between work and school.  I would graduate (again!) with higher student loan debt which would mean more worries for me and potentially higher fees for my patients.  The clinical skills I might learn in an FPD program would probably pale in comparison to the hands-on experience I get in my office every week (not to mention a Dr. Tan continuing education course or two).Getting a stressed out, over-educated and higher-charging “doctor” in return for a Licensed Acupuncturist with more real-world experience?  I doubt that my patients would see it as an even trade.

      0 likes
  • November 18 2009 at 7:03 PM
    crismonteiro writes:

    Hey Jordan,Thanks for this

    Hey Jordan,

    Thanks for this blog—I think your sentiment is dead on: that decisions made by “experts” and “regulators” often end up crashing down on the heads of regular people.

    To me acupuncture, and the delivery of it to thousands, and even millions of people does seem relatively simple when compared to western medicine, and its delivery.  Unfortunately this whole FPD issue is not so simple and gets pretty confusing.

    You ask above:

    Why is ACAOM attempting to push a requirement that entry level practitioners obtain a PhD?

    ACAOM is actually not doing this.

    What ACAOM is trying to do is not this simple.

    ACAOM actually can’t change any regulations in any state and the degree being proposed is not a PhD. 

    To clarify: the degree being proposed by the profession is not a PhD., nor is it a post-graduate doctorate (DAOM).  Both a PhD. and post-grad. doctorate are advanced degrees that people get after they get a BA, or MA.

    In our profession there is currently one entry-level degree—a master’s degree, and one post-graduate degree—the clinical doctorate(DAOM).  The master’s degree for our profession is abbreviated in a number of different ways (see #10 MYTH).

    The degree that ACAOM is attempting to get approval for is a FPD.  The approval for this does not change any laws, nor will it directly.  The approval is supposed to come from “stakeholders.”

    ACAOM is technically only doing what they are required to do by their by-laws—which is to respond the the “stakeholders” of the profession, some of who ARE actually trying to change the entry-level degree for the profession from a master’s to what is called a first-professional doctorate (aka FPD) (aka entry-level doctorate).  

    ACAOM has to take a sort of “neutral” stance, and instead rely on pressures from different stakeholders to make their decisions.  Until recently most of the pressure on ACAOM has been to create standards for a new degree, and then to pilot this new degree.  ACAOM is kind of the front-man.  They aren’t really neutral, or let’s say that they aren’t that invested in seeking out contrary opinions because it will make fulfilling their mission that much harder.  

    Unfortunately those applying pressure on ACAOM to create an FPD are either  poised to gain financially or under the impression that more letters after your name create jobs, acceptance, status, etc. Some of those poison seeds you mention.  Until CAN came along no one really voiced any opposition to an FPD or put pressure on ACAOM to consider all of those who weren’t being considered.

     

    When states make laws about acupuncture, they look to regulatory agencies like ACAOM to tell them what kind of education an acupuncturist “should” have.  If ACAOM says a master’s degree is entry-level, most states will be fine with that.  If ACAOM says and FPD is entry-level, states are going to base their laws on this.  ACAOM doesn’t make laws, but they make policies that lawmakers rely on. 

    All changes to entry-level requirements in AOM are currently at a proposal stage.  ACAOM has written “standards” for an FPD curriculum.  They are trying to see if the profession wants this new degree and if they do, ACAOM will essentially partner with any schools that want to pilot or try these programs out.  Once the trial programs begin, ACAOM can apply to the USDE for what is called in academic terms a “change in scope” which would then make it possible for schools to have federal loan money for such programs.

    THEN, after schools pilot these new programs, have classes graduate, measure graduation rates, evaluate the programs, etc., the entry-level can change.  This doesn’t happen over night, BUT if it does happen it would be very likely that the profession would change entry level to the new FPD—the poison fruit.

    The changes you address above—changes in cost of school, etc. do ultimately boil down to how much people pay for acupuncture, and who gets to go to acupuncture school, and additionally would make chages  in state laws, changes in what licensed practitioners have to do to stay licensed, which also would boil down to a negative impact on the ability of regular people to get acupuncture, which we all so much want.

     

      0 likes
  • November 18 2009 at 7:48 PM
    River Jordan writes:

    acupuncture politics

    Thanks for clarifying Cris…obviously I don’t have my acupuncture political flow charts memorized. 

    An FPD…wow…and I thought M.Ac. L.Ac. was weird!

    FPD  = Funny Police Department.

      0 likes

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