Accreditation Is a Funny Thing

Today the Oregon Department of Education granted POCA Tech a license to operate as a private career school. Getting our license was an 8-step process, but the license itself is only the first step in getting POCA Tech accredited by ACAOM.

Accreditation is a funny thing. As funny as*…

1) …a poke in the eye with a rusty umbrella.
Over the past year I’ve talked to a couple of people who owned small acupuncture schools, and when I said that we’re starting our own school, the first thing that the other owners blurted out was, “If I had it to do over again, I never would have tried to get accredited!” This was followed by variations on the theme of, “Run, run for your life!” At which point I patiently explained that we really don’t have a choice: we need our graduates to get licenses, and in most states that requires sitting for the national exam, and to sit for the national exam you have to graduate from an ACAOM-accredited or ACAOM- candidate school. No way out but through. Bring on the rusty umbrellas.

2) …a screen door on a submarine.
“But do YOU (meaning POCA) *really* need accreditation?” said the other school owners, meaning, you guys seem creative, can’t you come up with an alternative? Which I suppose is a compliment, but even if accreditation is somewhat beside the point in terms of what we ultimately want to achieve (a well-trained workforce), there is still the pesky matter of those licenses.  If the screen door on a submarine makes the submarine legal, I’ll take it.

3) …a candlelight tour of a dynamite factory.
Because accreditation is designed to protect the public from diploma mills pretending to be real schools, you can’t actually get accredited until your school is not only in business, but has actually graduated its first class.  That first class has to be willing to take a risk. If nobody’s willing to sign up for this particular risk, the school can’t get accredited, so it owes a lot to its first class.

We can’t do much about the rusty umbrella, or the screen door on the submarine, but there ARE things we can do to make this process safer for our first class.

First, we can make it transparent — or as transparent as a really long, boring bureaucratic process can be. Soon our member forums on this website will include an entire forum devoted to ACAOM. Even though we can’t submit our Eligibility Report until our school has been open for a full year, supervolunteer Gloria J. is starting work on it NOW. Students and prospective students of POCA Tech will be able to watch the documents being assembled in the Fishbowl (I know, *yawn*) and of course will also be able to participate when we need volunteers (which we will). So stay tuned for that new forum, I’m sure you can’t wait! Bureaucracy is so much sweeter when it’s shared.

Second, we can raise the money to make sure we can afford the entire accreditation process, without having to pass any of the cost on to the students. I know $75,000 sounds like a lot. If you’re wondering how the costs break down, check out this page. Not only does POCA Tech have to pay ACAOM various fees to read thousands of pages of documentation over three years, we have to foot the bill for site visits, which means flying the accrediting team out and putting them up (and no, they don’t want to sleep on our couches).

Getting POCA Tech accredited will be one of POCA’s biggest collective accomplishments. It’s so much bigger than anything any of us could ever do alone. And POCA Tech graduates with licenses to practice will benefit our coop like nothing else. But we really do need everybody to help. As of this moment, Skip and Ashley have documented 740,000 treatments from 152 clinics in 2013 with some 100 more clinics yet to report. There are a LOT of people out there who have benefited from community acupuncture.  $75,000 divided by 200 clinics is $375. In other words, if every clinic got 38 people to donate $10, we would have all our accreditation costs covered. Surely every POCA clinic has 38 people who want to invest in the future of community acupuncture! Even  if what we have to invest in is as funny as accreditation.

Edited: Actually, we have only $73,000 left to go! Join the fun here.

*Thanks to Google for finding all of these similes.

Author: lisafer

Related Articles

Survey of CAN clinics

Skeptics in the acupuncture community say that CA clinics can’t be successful.  A variety of reasons are cited – prices too low, patients want one-on-one attention and wouldn’t like treatments in a room with other people, Dr.