D-O-E means Department of Education, also means DO IT, DO IT NOW!

This is a plea to all my comrades who put so much energy into opposing the FPD. The conversation that we really wanted to have last winter is finally happening now at a national level, and we need to participate. I think I must have said a hundred times during the FPD debate, I don’t care what this new degree is called. What I care about is that acupuncture education gets more expensive every year, while almost nobody makes a living doing acupuncture. Guess what? There is now a place to say exactly that. I think we have 30 days left of a 45-day comment period.

Here’s that place! Look at the upper righthand corner for the little blue “submit comment” link:


Comments are limited to 2000 characters. Here is my comment:

“Thank you for addressing the issue of student loan debt and gainful employment. I am writing to ask you to investigate the area of alternative medicine education in general and acupuncture education in particular.
I graduated from an acupuncture college 16 years ago; my education cost about $25,000. Graduates of acupuncture programs today are commonly carrying debt of over $100K.
Yet it is commonly known that between 50% and 80% of graduates are no longer practicing acupuncture 5 years after graduation. Acupuncture is not even listed as an occupation in the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Occupational Directory. No acupuncture school or accrediting agency has ever done a real survey of acupuncture employment — because no one wants to prove what everyone knows, that acupuncture employment doesn’t exist. What data there is (https://www.nccaom.org/exams/pdfdocs/jta/NCCAOM2008JTA.pdf) paints a grim picture: 91% of acupuncturists are self-employed, having to start their own businesses if they want to work, a process which is more difficult every year due to rising student loan debt. Most cannot support themselves with their practices but must rely on a second job or a spouse’s income.
The cost of acupuncture education relative to what an acupuncturist can earn is insanely skewed. And yet every year about 2,000 students graduate from acupuncture school believing that they have embarked on a fulfilling and lucrative career. The idea of acupuncture as a profession would not even exist if acupuncture schools did not qualify for Title IV funding, because the most stable part of the acupuncture profession is the schools themselves. They exist by exploiting students’ dreams of being healers, but they offer their graduates nothing real except a lifetime of debt. There are for-profit and non-profit acupuncture schools, and I beg you to investigate them both.”

I hit “submit” thinking of all the acupuncturists I met who never practiced at all because they couldn’t even afford to start; all the acupuncturists I know who feel lucky to be practicing but are never going to repay their loans; and all the acupuncturists I’ve known over the years who just quietly gave up. If you know those people too,  if you’ve met them, if you ARE them, please, write a comment. Tell the Department of Education that this insanity has to stop. Acupuncture schools don’t deserve Title IV funding.

Please cut and paste a copy of YOUR comment to the DOE in the comments below.

Author: lisafer


  1. Here’s mine…

    “Please look at the acupuncture schools – both the for-profit and the non-profit.  These schools are extremely expensive, and the rate of us able to make a living solely from acupuncture practice is low (under 30% are doing so 5 years after graduation).  The school I attend gives scant instruction on starting a business, running a business, or marketing a business.  Our tuition has been increased 33% since I started there 3 years ago (18k for the 07-08 academic year, nearly 24k for the upcoming academic year).  Tuition at my school accounts for 80% of operating expenses, and this past fiscal year (fiscal ’10) it was closer to 100% due to the economic crisis and financial mismanagement (the school was on last year’s list of the 114 schools that failed the Dept of Education’s test of financial health, and because of its low score it was required to post a letter of credit to the department totaling 10% of the money it receives in federal financial aid).  My fellow students and I cannot figure out where the money is going – we have not seen improvements at school but have endured serious cutbacks.  
    Please look at the acupuncture schools.  Someone needs to hold them accountable – we are mortgaging our future on the promises they make when we apply, and they are promising things that cannot necessarily be delivered.”


    It is a sad dichotomy to face – feeling like one’s school has so much to offer in terms of philosophy of health and wellbeing while enduring a logistical/administrative debacle of nightmare proportions.   I hope that the inquiry into these issues results in some positive change, I don’t want to see my school pulled under, I just want someone to install some guidelines and rules about how things need to be run so no one else gets gouged.  


    Thanks for the heads up and the link!  I’m gonna pass the word along!

  2. My Comment

    I have been practicing as a licensed acupuncturist for 12 years. I have owned my own business the entire time. I know one acupuncturist who has a salaried staff position that actually pays a living wage. Everyone else I know is self-employed. A few are doing well, the rest are struggling for the most part.

    The prospects for “gainful employment” as an acupuncturist are limited to those graduates who are entrepreneurs and have the business skills necessary to start and maintain a small business.

    I graduated with a master degree in acupuncture and felt well-qualified to treat patients safely and effectively with the training I received. This is similar to a PA or ARNP, except for the lack of salaried employment.

    I graduated with $90,000 in federal student loans. 12 years later I have a balance of $93,000 in federal student loans because of numerous times I have had to defer for economic hardship and forebearance when interest was capitalized into the principle.

    Now my strategy is to seek a job doing anything that will qualify me for public service loan forgiveness because I do not see how I will ever be able to repay these loans with the income I make as an acupuncturist. I love what I do, but I barely support my family, and am chronically behind on estimated self employment tax deposits. My current student loan payment is one quarter of my monthly interest charge.

    At least I have been able to stay in business for 12 years and squeak by doing what i love to do. I feel sorry for the 50%+ of graduates who are no longer even trying to ply their trade as acupuncturists within 5 years of graduating, and the huge student loan balances they incurred for their education.

    Establishing a doctorate-level training requirement for entry-level acupuncturists will only make more profits for the schools, and will generate even larger student loan balances that acupuncturists already struggle to repay.

    I urge you to dismiss the notion of a “first professional doctorate”.

  3. My comment:


    I live where there are two acupuncture schools, both of which have programs where students can get federal student loans for tuition, books and living expenses.  It is common for students to run up 100K in loans for their acupuncture education in recent years. 


    It is also common that few of them will make a living doing acupuncture.  Most have to open up their own solo practices as what job there are (in schools and 2 hospitals locally) are taken by graduates from 2001 and before.  One hospital is reducing the acupuncture staff.


    I kmow of only a few graduates of acupuncture in this area who are making what most would call a livable income.  Recent graduates with student loans are deferring them due to no net profit from their practices.  Most others struggle to make 25K or less per year.


    When people ask me about becoming an acupuncturist, I am very frank with them and tell them that they will have a very hard time supporting themselves and they will have an even harder time paying off their school debt.  


    Students from around the country have told the Communityacupuncturenetwork.org that schools are telling them they can make 80K per year and above.  I think this is at best, deceptive.  The only acupuncturists who are making that kind of money have been in practice for a long time,  bill insurance, are administrators in schools or are on the lecture circuit.


    I think this should be investigated.  Thank you for this comment section.


  4. Better than Dubya – No punk left behind

    I fully support the DOE initiative to hold schools accountable for the results they deliver as beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded Title IV money. Acupuncture schools are among the most egregious offenders.
    On the debt-to-income test, my school would most certainly fail. I graduated one year ago, and opened my own practice 4 months ago. I am in deferment right now. If I am able to start repayment, my student loan bill will be $1,100/month. That’s the debt part.
    For the income part, if I do very well with my practice, I am hoping for a gross annual income of $35K, after business expenses. If I do very, very well, I may even make $45K. I used the calculator at https://www.finaid.org/calculators/scripts/sloanadvisor.cgi to figure out my debt-to-income ratio:
    At $35K, my debt-to-income ratio is 40%.
    At $45K, my debt-to-income ratio is 31%.
    Both are in wild excess of the acceptable 8% in the proposed regulation.
    In fact, at the acceptable 8% debt-to-income ratio, an acupuncturist who expects to make $35K after business expenses could only afford one year out of the four-year Master’s program I attended. The good news is that one packed-solid year is actually enough time to become competent acupuncturist. Acupuncture schools have a bloated curriculum, and could better serve students and their future patients with a streamlined technical degree.
    I believe that my anticipated income and debt load are typical for acupuncture graduates. These results are not due to lack of talent or business acumen – they simply reflect the market.
    Regarding repayment rates, I suspect that acupuncture graduate schools (both for-profit and not-for-profit) would post a student loan default rate even higher than the average 18% in for-profit institution graduates overall. Very, very few graduates of acupuncture schools ever find gainful employment.
    Limiting Title IV funds for acupuncture schools will lead to better, stronger training programs for acupuncturists who want to serve their communities.


    Michelle Faucher

    Chico Community Acupuncture



  5. my submission


    Dear Sirs,


    While some might argue that an education should lead to “gainful employment”, and that there should be some sort of evaluation of a schools graduates in regards to loan default, it is the position of our school that this claim is specious at best.  Our school operates under the logic that it is the purpose of all graduates to create their own gainful employment for themselves through entrepreneurship and hard work, long treasured conservative values.  We believe that if a graduate cannot perform this task then they deserve to default on their loans, live in squalor, and possibly be ground into food a la Soylent Green and served to children in public school lunch programs to control costs for these wasteful and ineffective institutions. Why should a school be punished if lazy liberal types that attend the school expect something as communist as a job to just be waiting in the wings for them when they graduate as if jobs just appear out of the clear blue sky?  We are not in the business of employing(except if you count recent graduates that we pay pennies to babysit students so that they don’t feel like they just wasted 4 years and 80K for a diploma that is toilet paper).  We only train people for the jobs that don’t exist.  Why should we be punished?  Go after the lazy, deadbeat graduates and break their legs.  Maybe make them work off their loans in Afghanistan or something?  It could be part of a new surge effort.  In fact, they could use their skills in the field.  Have you ever heard of “battlefield acupuncture”?  Google it.

    The current socialist administration is ramming through its fascist agenda by brainwashing people into believing that a job is a right. The only thing any American should feel entitled to these days is debt.  The only exception to this rule is if you are an acupuncture school you should feel entitled to title IV funds without review.  This is the way it has always been and to change it now because of the socialists in the White House would be a real shame.  Please keep things just as they are and don’t change a thing.  We are very happy with the current arrangement.


    Your title IV whores,


    Acupuncture School

  6. The acupuncture schools are

    The acupuncture schools are fleecing their students.  According to the NCCAOM 2008 JTA, 70% of diplomats have gross annual incomes under $20K, while only 9% have incomes “from their AOM activities” (such as owning schools or lecturing on the CEU circuit) at $125K. And yet, the CCAOM promises investment returns which it knows full well will not be delivered for the six-figure education these schools offer.  Promoting our profession’s Ponzi scheme among its member institutions, CCAOM states: “Recent estimates have suggested an annual salary range of $30,000 – $60,000.  It is not uncommon for practitioners to earn in excess of this amount, with reported salaries in some instances exceeding well over $100,000.”    https://www.ccaom.org/career_faq.asp#3

    Furthermore, the schools are marginalizing the profession–deliberately obstructing the accessibility of the health care services we offer by increasing the cost of education–for the sake of advancing their own financial interests.  Serving as gatekeepers (self-charged with maintaining acupuncture’s “professional” culture by constantly increasing the educational requirements), the institutions burden students with enormous loans, perpetuating the dismal failure-rate of its graduates.  Acupuncture schools know that 80% of their graduates will fail.   Shying away from a frank discussion of the industry’s bleak employment prospects, and in fact promulgating a rosy picture of self-employment for the sake of capturing additional tuition revenue, is predatory.

    Historically, acupuncture schools have been the only employers of acupuncturists, hiring failed practitioners to work as teachers and supervisors.  Quipped one instructor at the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: “There’s a special place in hell for people like me – training you all in a field that you can’t make a living in.”  NIAOM filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

    Please launch an investigation into acupuncture schools’ abuse of Title IV funds.

  7. the ethics of sharing this information

    I submitted my comment, but forget to cut and paste them as this thread had not been started. I appreciated reading all of your thoughtful comments above.

    3 of my new patients today were 2 parents and their 21 year old daughter who told me she was finishing up her pre-reqs and had been accepted at a local acu-school.

    As Ann mentions above, I think we all have an ethical responsibility to counsel prospective students and recently accepted students to do a little research and look before they leap.

    Makes me almost want to figure out when the local school interview season is and take a few days off work to stand out on the sidewalk with protest signs and leaflets.

    If you are a prospective acu-student still mulling all this over…here’s a link to an excellent piece written by Shauna back in June on this same topic.


  8. Investigate Acupuncture Colleges’ Title IV Funding!

    Dear Program Integrity Committee,

    I urge you to thoroughly investigate all acupuncture colleges in the United States receiving Title IV funds. I have personally incurred over $150,000 worth of student loan debt in completing my degree. I was repeatedly told that acupuncturists earned $100,000 or more per year and led to believe there were plenty of jobs available and multitudes of willing patients. Unfortunately, I only practiced for about a year after getting my degree and license. I tried starting up my own practice with friends and acquaintences as clients at reduced rates and even made home visits for a while. I launched a website, joined three insurance networks, interviewed with several no-fault clinics and even joined a wellness center. The patient base is not there. While there is certainly “interest” in acupuncture, few people are actually motivated to purchase acupuncture treatments. Most people go through all the other western approaches before they even consider acupuncture. It seems my license means very little to the general public. The majority of people I meet will tell me how wonderful their acupuncturist is. It generally just so happens that their acupuncturist also happens to be an M.D. who can bill insurance for coverage and also prescribe meds and order tests. Sure, I could have been blessed with a magnetic personality and enormous confidence, but I was not. I also do not have deep pockets to support my practice and pay for a rental space, malpractice insurance, supplies, etc… My graduating class had 46 people in it. Its only one of 3 acupuncture schools in NYC. Every year they are churning out more graduates with heavy student loan debts and most can NEVER repay plying the acupuncture trade. My school further eliminated employment options by seeking out local medical clinics shortly after I graduated and developing volunteer ‘externships’ at their facility for licensed grads. How is a newly licensed grad expected to eat?

  9. quote:
    “HEA programs are

    “HEA programs are necessary to protect taxpayers against wasteful
    spending on educational programs of little or no value that also lead to high indebtedness for students. ”

    As insurance records will show, acupuncture is one of the safest possible modalities to practice. in fact, it is much less likely to have an adverse affect than having an ear pierced; something that is done all day long by relatively untrained persons for minimum wage all across America. Acupuncture insertion sites are much smaller, and most importantly, do not remain open.

    Further, the present level of education seems quite sufficient, given that the majority of US- educated practitioners have received present standards, or less (those that have been in practice the longest), and yet won respect for the field and its efficacy. Graduates of acupuncture programs today are commonly carrying debt of over $100K. It is commonly known that 5 years after graduating, only 20-50% of graduates are able to repay their loans practicing acupuncture. Acupuncture is not even listed as an occupation in the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Occupational Directory. Acupuncture employment doesn’t exist. What data there is (https://www.nccaom.org/exams/pdfdocs/jta/NCCAOM2008JTA.pdf) paints a grim picture: 91% of acupuncturists are self-employed, a process which is more difficult every year due to rising student loan debt.

    Further educational requirements would be a serious waste of taxpayer subsidies. It will not make the field safer or more effective. It will only serve to undermine the profession and those who love it while creating the veneer of academic fortitude. We have better things to do with that money than guilding lillies.

  10. perhaps regulations should

    perhaps regulations should be trimmed down so that there are no requirements that reduce entrepeneurial activity with only the caveate to do no harm. Perhaps some of the regulations serve to create vested interests that make innovation and exploration more difficult. 

  11. I urge you to please

    I urge you to please investigate acupuncture schools– both for and non-profit which allow students to take out federal student loans. Why?

    The price of an acupuncture education has skyrocketed, when I attended school in 2003 the cost of the program was $32k. It is now over $60k. Part of what allows these costs to grossly increase is that students can simply take out a loan to pay for tuition, books and even some living expenses. Providing tax payer funds to essentially line the pockets of the school administrators is unethical and unfortunately in this country we are brainwashed into thinking “education is expensive, invest in your future” which simply increases costs overall. The solution is to lower the cost of the education, not increase the credit line of the student.

    In most fields racking up a little debt for a skill that pays well is probably a smart investment move. However for the naive acupuncture student there are NO job prospects when they graduate, except for dodging creditors. I have paid off a significant amount of my student loan debt because I quit acupuncture after a few months and got a full time job in a different field. Very few, very very few graduates make a living doing acupuncture. And “make a living” can be defined in different ways, such as never making a single student loan payment because your loans are in a constant state of deferment due to economic hardship.

    Please shine a light on these predatory schools– the only ones making money off acupuncture are the school administrators

  12. here are my comments…

    Thank you for promulgating the concept of making institutions of higher education more responsible to the U.S. taxpayers who finance them.  While I am in favor of a “liberal education” that enables a student to learn to think and process information instead of an education that leads to a specific job, I can see that decreased employment opportunities for students in higher education institutions definitely needs to be revisited.  
    My comment is directed specifically to the field of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.  Since acupuncture schools have been granted access to Title IV monies, they have become particularly abusive of student lending practices.  Ten years ago an education in an acupuncture school would cost something around $30,000 for 3-4 years of schooling, it now costs more like $100,000 for the same education.
    It is extremely unlikely that those student will ever find themselves “employed” as a profession in their chosen field.  Those jobs simply do not, nor have they ever, existed.  Only the most determined few can find jobs and more than likely it would because they started their own acupuncture practices
    and have enough business savvy to make a niche for themselves.
    While it is not entirely the fault of the acupuncture schools -the medical community has failed to see an economic incentive to integrate acupuncturists either into their medical offices and hospitals- they are responsible for misleading students about their future prospects in the field of acupuncture.
    So I am happy to see the federal government is taking steps to make colleges more responsible to taxpayers and to the students themselves by investigating recipients of Title IV funding.  I strongly urge you to look into acupuncture school practices of not providing reliable employment statistics to its current and prospective students.

  13. So glad they are doing this.

    My comment: 

    Thank you for looking into the loan practices of for-profit schools and the ability of graduates to find gainful employment in their field of study. I suggest that you also extend your investigation to include non-profit institutes of higher education.  I graduated from a non-profit acupuncture school in 2006 with approximately $40,000 in student loan debt.  The school I attended offered nothing in the way of loan counseling and very little business or career counseling.  They did not make incoming students aware that the failure rate of acupuncturists can be as high as 50-80%.  They did not tell me that very few practicing acupuncturists earn enough to maintain a favorable debt/income ratio at my loan amounts.  As they are currently structured, acupuncture schools do not lead to a sustainable profession.

  14. my submission

    To Whom It May Concern:
    I believe the DOE initiative to limit schools use of Title IV funds ought to be implemented.  In particular, I ask that you look into the use of Title IV funds by acupuncture schools.  
    As a former student of an acupuncture college (a private, for-profit graduate level education facility), I know too well what it is like to be subjected to the rose-colored “promises” of a career in acupuncture as advertised by the schools, followed by the realities of the cost of acupuncture education and the sad lack of any sort of gainful employment in the field once my classmates and I graduated.
    My acupuncture school cost roughly $17,000 annually to attend – and that is less expensive than many other acupuncture schools.  I had no reference of concrete statistical data on what I might earn once I finished.  Prospective students are routinely told they could make $100,000 or more in the field and that there are more opportunities for employment in hospitals and medical facilities cropping up each year.  There is no substantial data to back up these claims.  The reality is the substantial majority of acupuncture students graduate school in debt with loans to pay off and must start their own businesses in order to practice.  Many of my former classmates never began to practice, instead defaulting to their former professions, due to the financial challenges they faced upon finishing school.  Others practice very part-time and rely on other work or financial assistance from their spouses to make their livings, and some do start their own practices and earn enough on what they make from their work.  Many struggle and it is estimated that 50-80% don’t practice after being out of school for 5 years or more.
    Please investigate acupuncture schools – both for-profit and non-profit – for misleading marketing, false claims about gainful employment and the significant student loan debts incurred by acupuncture students.
    Sent 8/10/10 – comment tracking number 80b2d5ec

  15. another comment…

    Thank you for asking for input regarding title IV loans from schools. I am a licensed acupuncturist in Oregon, USA and completed my acupuncture training in Canada in 2001. From my observations over the past nine years I have found that acupuncture schools all over America, and Canada as well as far as I can see, are encouraging student to borrow government money in a startlingly unrealistic way. Acupuncture as a profession in the US and in Canada is very young, just over forty years or so at this point, and we are just now finding evidence that the average student loan debt to projected acupuncturist income earning potentials are way off. Per surveys conducted, there is evidence to indicate the (failure) rate of acupuncture school graduates who no longer practice acupuncture five years after acupuncture school graduation is up to a whopping 80%! Unfortunately, there are very few statistics generated by acupuncture school period, and so far even fewer that are useful from my perspective. The acupuncture schools in the US have doubled the price of an acupuncture education without providing any evidence of gainful employment in the field of acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine.

    I encourage investigation into why that unsustainable failure rate has become the normal trend in America. I suspect Canada of a similar trend form my observations of the similarities between the acupuncture school training programs, and the similarities of how acupuncture is practiced in the professional world.

  16. An old-timer writes

    I graduated from NESA in 1987 in the last of their 2-year programs. After that the program became 3 years and after that, they started receiving Title IV funding, having instituted a master’s degree program. The total tuition cost of the 2-year program was $8,000, which I paid for in cash. We even had an internship as part of the program. I feel that the 2 years of concentrated study was sufficient to start an acupuncture practice. My practice lasted for 10 years, before I had to give it up (for financial and personal reasons) and return to my previous profession. I personally think that a 2-year, affordable, “no frills” program like the one I was in, concentrating on the basics of acupuncture, would prepare a student to enter the field. After that, they can update their knowledge and improve their skills regularly, by taking additional courses and doing personal study. After all, it’s practice that gives one the skill and confidence to do their work, and the sooner they’re out in the “field”, the better.

    Now that I’ve worked and saved money over the past 13 years, I feel I am ready again to become an acupuncturist, but this time I plan to start a community acupuncture practice. I’ve been taking Dr. Tung’s style acupuncture classes with Susan Johnson. I’ve really been inspired to do so after having read the blogs on the CAN site for the past year. Hooray for CANers!!!

  17. Thank you, comrades!

    For all the great comments. After following some more links through the link that Keith posted (https://www.insidehighered.com/layout/set/dialog/news/2010/07/26/regs), I think that the deadline for submitting comments is September 9. Please submit, copy, and paste your comment here! I’ve been hearing from folks who didn’t save their comment after they submitted it, and so my guess is that we’ve turned in about 25 comments so far. I think we can get at least 100, and maybe 100 would get some action. And please do forward this link on to any no-longer-practicing acupuncturists that you know —  sadly, we all know some.

  18. partly stolen from KimDC -thx, Kim

    “Look at the acupuncture schools – both  for-profit and non-profit.  These schools are extremely expensive, and the rate of graduates making a living solely from acupuncture practice is low (under 30% are doing so 5 years after graduation).  The school I attend gives scant instruction on starting a business, running a business, or marketing a business.  Our tuition has been increased 33% since I started there 3 years ago (18k for the 07-08 academic year, nearly 24k for the upcoming academic year).  The opportunity to ‘transfer’ to other acupuncture schools is limited and, since most credits might not transfer, it is far too expensive an option to consider once you’ve completed more than a trimester or two.
    Tuition at my school accounts for 80% of operating expenses, and this past fiscal year (fiscal ’10) it was closer to 100% due to the economic crisis and financial mismanagement (the school was on last year’s list of the 114 schools that failed the Dept of Education’s test of financial health, & because of its low score it was required to post a letter of credit to the dept totaling 10% of the money it receives in federal financial aid).  My fellow students & I cannot figure out where the money is going – we have not seen improvements at school but have endured serious cutbacks.  The teachers are paid a pittance for their time -and told, “This is how you give back to the community,” when they ask why it pays so little.  The top execs make $80 – $180K while tuition rates rise.
    I have experienced outright lies from the admissions department, and witnessed misleading statements being given at an open house to potential students about earning potential.  Our ‘graduation requirements’ and expectations of how they will be fulfilled change frequently. 
    Please look at the acupuncture schools.  Someone needs to hold them accountable – we are mortgaging our future on the promises they make when we apply, and they are promising things that cannot necessarily be delivered. ”


    comment #80b2eb59



    Thanks for investigating the integrity of professional training programs that rely on federal/tax payer money.  As both an acupuncturist and one of few employers for acupuncturists outside of professional training programs, I have struggled to find employees who can afford to work at the wages I am able to offer while sustaining my business.  I operate an affordable community-based, high volume, acupuncture practice.  So far the greatest limiting factor in expanding this business has that the starting salaries for this type of business are do not allow for a manageable debt to income ration for new grads who are finishing acupuncture school with 60-100K of student loan debt.  The programs are more than sufficient to adequately train practitioners that are safe and effective.  Meanwhile, there is a dearth of affordable acupuncture care, and a large percentage of those practicing with the business model taught in acu-school (high prices, fewer patients) are unable to sustain themselves in business.  We need affordable acupuncture  programs that can provide training for work in the more sustainable, low-cost, high-volume, community based acupuncture clinics, as well as in other community settings.  Thank You.Cris Monteiro

  20. my comment

    Please include acupuncture schools both for- and non-profit in your new regulations around federally funded student loans and post-graduate jobs. I am a licensed acupuncturist in California and I attended a non-profit school, graduating in 2002. My tuition was about $10K / yr, financed entirely by  student loans.The program of study was so rigorous and time-consuming that I was only able to work one day a week and needed to borrow the full amount allowed to cover my living expenses. I wound up with over $60 K in debt at the end of the 3 year program. I currently work part-time as faculty at another non-profit acupuncture college whose tuition is currently about $20K /yr.
    Acupuncture education in USA is poorly designed to prepare students for practice in the real world – it is fluffed with courses that are too narrowly focused on theory. There is little practical information given about effective communication with patients, and minimal instruction time is devoted to business skills. Salaried jobs for acupuncturists do not exist, so most acupuncturists have to start their own business while not knowing much about how to go about this task.
    Acupuncture schools are notoriously cryptic about graduates’ earnings upon program completion, because they rely on tuition money to survive and because they have no access to any real data about this. Unable to build a practice that provides a steady paycheck; many acupuncturists leave acupuncture behind or practice it as a hobby. Some acupuncture school graduates wind up working as instructors or clinical supervisors in the very schools they graduated from, further contributing to the process of producing more job-deficient acupuncturists in debt.
    I believe that acupuncture education needs to be completely overhauled and become leaner, less costly, shorter and more practical. Limiting Title IV funds for acupuncture schools will hopefully cause them to re-examine how their programs are structured and make some changes.

  21. Just submitted my comments.

    Comment tracking no.: 80b2f11b. Most of it similar to what has been written before on this thread.

    Ended with: “Please do away with the 5% cap. Allow all schools that don’t meet the new guidelines to close, with no cap on the number. Many schools exist primarily because of Title IV funds, which is taxpayer money. I do not want my taxes going to prop up schools that churn out new graduates every year who have astronomical debts with little to no job prospects after graduation.”

  22. What about investigating the AAAAAAAAAAACCAOM?

    I was in the last class to graduate from my acupuncture program.  The Atlantic University of Chinese Medicine lasted no more than 7 or 8 years, mostly graduating classes of 3-6 practitioners at time.  The school lasted as long as it did because AUCM  had an affluent board of directors who would  pay out of their own pockets when the schools budget was short and payroll had to be met.  Some of our board members covered tuition for some of the students who lost the access to high interest loans.
    The board and administrators of AUCM found the expectations set by the ACCAOM to be vague and arbitrary.  When we lost our candidacy in 2006, our generous board of directors decided it was time to shut down the school.  
    Schools need to be investigated and so do the organizations that give legitimize our schools.

  23. ’bout time for a sad state of affairs

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment on the new, much needed, proposed regulations.

    Though perhaps a smaller fish in a larger pond, my
    concern with respect to these newer rules will focus on
    schools of Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture.

    It is widely known within the Oriental medical profession, the cost of its US education has swelled to obscene amounts over the last 10 years or so, while
    graduates of these programs are faced with few job
    prospects and certainly modest incomes.

    In fact, the financial prospects for newer graduates is
    currently so dire, despite working against my need as an employer of acupuncturists, I’ve felt no choice but to
    guide several prospective students away from attending school training, so as to avoid the indentured
    servitude that enormous student loans and limited income would cause.

    This system is broken and taking well-meaning people
    down with it.

    Comment Tracking Number: 80b2f686

  24. My comment to the DOE

    Posted it today, to the DOE


    Acupuncture schools need to be investigated and called to
    task about the level of debt their students routinely take on. It is way out of
    line with any reasonable earning expectations, and for most it will create a
    crippling debt albatross that is difficult or impossible to shake.  Because no actual statistics about incomes
    for Lic Acupuncturists exist, the prospective students have no way to research
    whether it does make sense to accrue this level of debt to enter the
    profession.  Meantime, the schools have
    been suggesting for more than 20 years that “insurance coverage for
    acupuncture is just around the corner, and will create plenty of jobs for
    licensed acupuncturists”.  That’s
    what I was told in 1991, when I applied to acupuncture school.  It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true
    now.  Jobs for Lic Acupuncturists are
    virtually non-existent, leaving self employment as the only option.   Starting an acupuncture practice is a
    challenging task, and is one of the reasons that, by some estimates, more than
    half of all new grads are no longer working in the profession five years
    later.   If the D.O.E. didn’t allow
    students to take out guaranteed loans for these schools, the schools would be
    forced to find a way to make the training costs more in line with the earning
    potential.  As it is now, the incentive
    is all in the other direction, leaving us with 3 + year programs that are
    heavily loaded with unnecessary course material.  The schools don’t have any incentive to care
    about what happens to their grads, or how much they borrow  — they’ve gotten all their money, it’s no
    longer a concern to them.  I think D.O.E.
    should not finance loans for any career training unless it is reasonable to
    expect that future income will make those loans re-payable.  Truly, I would not have been able to continue
    to work as  a Lic Acupuncturist for these
    past 15 years, all of it self-employed, if I had a debt load like those that
    new grads now commonly have.

  25. Comment Tracking Number: 80b344ac


    I am co-owner of possibly the largest private Acupuncture clinic in the country: we have a staff of 17 including 7 full-time Acupuncturists and 2 part-time Acupuncturists.  We are 8 years old. We hope to expand from our present 2 locations in the next 10 years.

    That said, our biggest obstacle to growth are the Acupuncturists themselves. Its basic economics: Acupuncture is a new medical field in this country and only about 3% of the population has ever had a treatment. Not surprisingly most people in the country have barely heard of Acupuncture. Thus it is important that the pioneers in the field price themselves as to develop demand.

    But there’s a big obstacle to adjusting prices for the general public: the enormous debt load that Acupuncturists have upon graduating from their schools. At the local Acupuncture college the average debt load from the last graduating class last year was $86K. It’s becoming more normal to see debt loads of $120K or more. These graduates are looking at paying off their student loan debts and earning a decent living wage but again the market cannot sup[port their debt servicing expenses, not when the average income is between $15-35K. Thus my company has a hard time finding Acupuncturists who can work for those wages and that slows our growth. 

    For my business, the problem ultimately lies with the Acupuncture schools. Their fees and tuition have risen more than 10-fold in the last 15 years and they have been able to charge such prices because there has always been (until this recession at least) a pool of potential students willing to pay those prices.  Unfortunately those potential students are mislead with by false advertising from the schools of earnings $100K or more within a few years of graduating. The reality is far different with anywhere between 50-80% of graduates leaving the profession entirely within five years of graduating due to inability to earn a living.  Please regulate the schools to ensure a healthy profession.


    2000 characters are not nearly enough to state my case, but there it is. 


  26. I commented on the site and

    I commented on the site and forgot to copy to paste here. But I am grateful for all of these comments, for the thought put into this process and I agree that we have responsibility to prospective students. This is not a profession to consider without facing the naked truth of debt to income ratio post graduation.

    Thanks, Lisa, for keeping us posted on the DOE’s consideration of this rule. I hope our comments make a difference!

    Christie Kern * Racine Community Acupuncture *

  27. First Professional Doctorate malarkey

    Dear DOE,
    I am a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) in practice in Seattle, Washington, USA. I have been in practice since 1993. I graduated from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in 1992. At that time, my education cost $4000 per year. Student loans were not available until the last quarter of my last year, but I took one out for $3000. It took me three years to pay it back. Title IV funding was helpful, but not necessary, for the completion of my acupuncture education.
    I am certain that is no longer possible. The notion of a First Professional Doctorate is preposterous. More education? More debt? Almost all acupuncturists are self-employed! Your loan default rate (as well as personal bankruptcies) will skyrocket for this field. Please take a long, hard look at Title IV funding for acupuncture colleges. You might be surprised by the difference between the total number of graduates practicing acupuncture full-time after one year and those “still making a go of it” after five.

    Tracking number:80b361ed

  28. 80b3714e

    Thank you for allowing the public to express our views before you make your final decision on this issue.  I would like to call your attention to acupuncture colleges, both nonprofit and for-profit.  I was lucky enough to graduate from a college in 1993 with no student loan debt, although my lifestyle was extremely simple and restricted, due to my lack of funds for anything but tuition and the basic needs of life.  I could not afford to purchase health or dental insurance, and did not have any healthcare except for a few visits to a public clinic for low-income patients.  The cost of my education then was $30,000.  Today it is almost triple this amount as these colleges have added and padded to their curriculum, requiring larger staff and more classes required for graduation.  Despite assurances from our school that our expected income after graduation would be between $50,000 to 100,0000, the only such financial success that I witnessed was with classmates who were either already adept at entrepreneurship and marketing or had ties to the western medical world and could count on a steady flow of Workers Compensation victims from these sources.  The rest of us had to rent out medical office space, hang out our shingles, and try to convince  people to try our strange new medical system. 


    In school we were taught to charge fairly high prices for our services and were given a couple of hours of instruction on insurance billing, then turned loose in the real world.  Watching us trying to survive with our new skills at acupuncture and Chinese herbs was not a pretty sight, especially for those graduates who had student loans to repay.  For some years many graduates focused on Workers Compensation cases even though most of them were interested in specializing in more interesting fields in Chinese medicine.  After this cash cow was removed by state legislation, acupuncture specialists sprung up in the fields of facelifts and fertility, two fields where patients were willing to pay high prices for results.  These were only the graduates determined to continue practicing acupuncture as a career and were willing to prostitute themselves professionally to survive financially.  The rest had to get “real jobs” that gave them a living wage and a way to repay their student loans, while still practicing acupuncture on weekends or evenings, as a hobby.  A large number simply left the profession. 


    It is estimated that 50% to 80% of graduates from these colleges are no longer practicing as acupuncturists five years after graduation.  I think the trouble lies with both the colleges’ dependence on student loan money to keep their doors open (thus motivating them to “sell” prospective students a rosy –hued post-graduate future) and students’ easy access to massive amounts of money for their education that must be repaid after graduation, when they have no job prospects, poor entrepreneurial and business skills, and the high expenses of starting a private practice.  Underneath all this economic malfunctioning  lies a toxic belief perpetrated by the schools that their bread-and-butter acupuncture is to be offered to the upper classes and upper-middle classes, because these are the patients who can afford to pay such high prices for these services.  This is directly contrary to the history of Chinese medicine as practiced in China, where many students go for internship before graduation.  So I submit that not only are the schools giving prospective students false images of what a successful acupuncturist will be earning once he/she graduates, they are also training these students to expect to be the Chinese medical equal of the western physician, with a full practice of grateful upper-class patients who will finance the new practitioner’s upper-middle class lifestyle and student loan payments.  It is heartbreaking for these graduates to discover this is not true.


    Please examine these schools closely.  In their current and past situations, I think they are misusing Title IV funding.


  29. My Comment

    I am pleased to see that the DOE is addressing the issue of gainful employment with respect to student loan debt from Title IV funding. I am writing to request that you specifically investigate acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) education in both for-profit and non-profit schools.

    Upon graduation in September 2009, the average indebtedness of my class of 82 students was $88,545 in FFEL and private loans. Simple math translates that to over $7 million in Title IV funding delivered to my AOM school for one class of graduates. My alma mater does not hold career fairs or on-campus interviews to aid graduates in the search for gainful employment. To my knowledge, it’s Office of Professional Development is yet to place a graduating acupuncture student in a full time salaried job within our professional field outside the educational institutions themselves.

    Professional AOM member organizations promote a favorable, yet misleading picture of gainful employment. The CCAOM states: “A recent estimate, which is based on job postings, reports an annual income range between $30,000-$60,000 and notes that gross annual income can be as much as $105,000” (https://www.ccaom.org/faqs.asp#4). However, the NCCAOM 2008 Job Task Analysis that was finally released on March 25, 2010 (https://www.nccaom.org/exams/pdfdocs/jta/NCCAOM2008JTA.pdf) paints a dire picture of the profession: 91% of acupuncturists are self-employed, 70% have gross annual incomes under $60K. A recent article in Acupuncture Today has revealed previously undisclosed and unfavorable information from the NCCAOM 2008 JTA (https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32263).

    I urge the DOE to protect the interests of prospective AOM students, tax payers funds and patients seeking affordable healthcare options. Please investigate acupuncture schools, both for-profit and non-profit, for misleading claims regarding gainful employment as well as transparent, timely, fully disclosed student loan debt.

    Tracking # 80b378e2

  30. Comment Tracking #80b38366

    I was so excited about hitting “submit” that I forgot to copy my comment.  But they have it. 

    Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  31. Bottom feeders of the health care industry.

    I have been a Licensed Acupuncturist for 15 yrs. I have over 4,000 hrs. of formal training from an Acupuncture college here in the US. I have about 100K $ in Student Loans out because all acupuncture schools are private and non-subsidized with public funding. I have been fortunate as an acupuncturist to find several paid positions, usually part time, at schools, public health clinics, and Non profits organizations. However, these paid positions outside of my private practice have never lasted for more than two years duration, due to lack of funding for such services. The funds usually come from limited source such as a grant. The past ten years have been difficult for acupuncturists to maintain a viable income to live a decent quality of life and to repay their student loans. Patients have more restricted access to acupuncture due to favorable changes for the insurance industry, and therefore there is less treatments for the injured and sick, and ultimately less income for acupuncturist. The changes in the Worker’s Compensation Insurance industry in California have nearly eliminated acupuncture as a treatment that is accessible for injured workers. Complex utilization review, and authorization process, along with a reduction of reimbursement, have made Worker’s Compensation cases almost undesirable to treat due to the inefficient beuracracy. I have experienced many cases where I have full authorization, but it takes hours of phone calls and calling state Insurance regulatory agencies to get paid. Even when the insurance companies don’t respond within the parameters of the law, there is no consequence or rediation for them in any way. It’s pretty obvious their lobbyist have Obmana and every other poliitician feeding out of their hands, so what do they have to worry about? This is America, and there is nothing wrong with making profit! And heath care is a business.
    Why aren’t acupuncturist eligible for loan forgiveness programs like nurses? Give us some help!

  32. here’s my 2cents

    Interesting the issue of “gainful employment” being discussed with regards to acupuncture schools and acupuncturist.  I graduated in 2008 with a degree in Acupuncture and a great deal of student loans.  I have had to take out additional loans to open up a small practice, and haven’t been able to afford paying a receptionist, not even part-time.  My student loans have been deferred and extended to 25 years in order for me to be able to manage to pay housing and living expenses (basics like groceries and gas for my car) on my meager income.  In the past five years since I started acupuncture school, I have watched the tuition and $ per credit hour increase each year to the point it is 5 or 6 times that amount charged at other schools for other avenues of employment like nursing or accounting.  The price acupuncture schools is charging is outrageous!  I have class mates that have upwards of 100K in student loans and are unable to make a living doing acupuncture, several have returned to school for nursing or other careers that can provide them with a much better paying career.  Most of the acupuncturist i know are struggling to make a living, and a modest one at best.  So why is the federal government going to help out these schools when it is the students that deserve and need a break?  Just like the bailout helping out the banks and lending institutions while people are losing their homes to foreclosure, or the bailout of large corporations when they are cutting back and people are losing their jobs…  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

  33. due diligence

    Due Diligence =
    research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction

    Likely failure rate of start-up business = 50% of ALL businesses!! Not just acupuncturists – ALL businesses

    Most undergraduate students graduate with close to $20,000 in student loan debt… Graduate students must borrow even more on credit in order to complete their degrees…end up with close to a whopping $100,000 in student loans!

    Did you not bother to perform due diligence BEFORE you went to school? No “want-ads” for acupuncturists – first major clue that you would need to start a business
    Start a business? 50-50 chance that you will fail within 5 years. Because ALL businesses have this failure rate.

    Tuition costs for an acupuncture or oriental medicine program vary from school to school and from state to state. However, it generally ranges from $30,000 to $40,000 for the entire program of training. ‘
    $100,000?!?!?!?! For what?!?! Were you living on loans? what did you expect would happen? Did somebody hold a gun to your head and force you to borrow 3 TIMES your tuition?

    I can’t tell if you guys are so profoundly incompetent that you did all of this without ANY investigation
    knowingly dishonest?

    geez you guys – grow up!!

  34. gainfull employment

    Having read a numer of the comments i just want to vomit.  Does anyone take responsibilty for their actions?  No one has  ever forced anyone to attend Acupuncture training. No one!  Over  the years i have wittnessed students taking loans, upon loans.  So now it is the fault of the colleges that student take loans of $100,000, for an education that cost $40,000.  Who did you expect would be lable to repay the loan? Your Daddy?

     You guys need to grow up. Stop the complaining and pound the pavement.  Money does not grow on trees, nor does it drop from the sky but when you work it ( whatevet it is) the dividends can be huge.

    Yes i am aware that most acupuncture graduates fail at patient building, so what are going to do about it?  Quit?  Give up and blame the schools.

    Some time  ago i took a course with the Singer Enterprises.  I can assure you the participants of this program by and large are not  complaining about their practice.

    if you want to be successful be  ready to work your butt off and then dance all the way to the bank.

    The Community Acupuncture Network can be a force for either good or for evil. When you get to the level of negativity that i have wittnessed on your web site i can assure you no good can come of your movement.   Keep in mind that when you pray for the demise of your profession, you are practicing black magic.  Not good for anyone.

    I’ll end this with a prayer for peace. 

    In the words of the rabbi:

    “Father forgive them, they know not wahat they do” 

    This rant is being submitted by:

     Richard Browne

    President of the Acupuncture and Massage College



  35. feel threatened much?

    hey richard,

    sounds like you also had to go and seek out someone to help you figure out how to run a practice better and it was not your acupuncture school. and if you received such great advice for building a successful practice through the singer training, why is it that you are working at an acupuncture school? by your account you should be drowning in patients eager to be needled by you, paying you all kinds of money for your services.

    acupuncture schools have misled many people and we are seriously questioning the ethics, structure and practicality of the current acupuncture education for a good reason. we have an opportunity to make our education better and sometimes we have to destroy things to make room for new and better ones. and by this questioning we are obviously shaking up the secure solid ground of your job in an acupuncture school, so naturally you might feel threatened.

    you are too late with your predicitions, because a HUGE amount of good has already come from this movement and more will follow.-tatyana

  36. Hi, Richard

    This is Lisa. Sorry to see that we are ending up on opposite sides of this issue.

    First, to you and the previous Guest, with regards to the cost of an acupuncture education, it’s good to know that some programs cost $40K. The ones that I am most familiar with, however, don’t. I’ll refer you to this page on the website of my alma mater:


    Tuition ALONE for the 3 year program is almost 63.5K. The way the program is set up, most students trying to complete it in 3 years can’t have a part time job. So tack on a frugal 12K per year for living expenses and there you have it, 100K. 

    I have talked to numerous students who have been told by schools, directly and indirectly, that this type of debt would not be onerous, because they could easily earn 100K per year as an acupuncturist.

    I have also talked to several graduates of the Singer program who spent $20K or more on it, and are still failing in practice. 

    It’s hard to succeed in business as an acupuncturist, and a lot of people would never go to acupuncture school if they had any idea how hard. Imagine if the loan counseling they received came from someone who actually earned their living practicing acupuncture, as opposed to someone who earned their living in the business of acupuncture education? The purpose of this discussion is to start getting the facts out in the open.

    It’s interesting that you are interpreting what I’m doing as praying for the demise of the profession. I pray for lots of things, but that isn’t one of them. As I’ve said for a couple of years now, in public, over and over, if it weren’t for the schools, there wouldn’t be even the mirage of an “acupuncture profession”. And given what tuition costs, and what people are making when they get out, it’s a matter of time before the mirage vanishes too. It’s too disproportionate to last anyway; no divine intervention needed. The only reason to write all this now is to try to alert some prospective acupuncture students to the truth before they get suckered into a debt they will never repay. As someone who has  “succeeded” in the business of acupuncture, I feel like that’s my obligation. The structure of “the profession” is deceptive and predatory. I guess that doesn’t bother you, but it bothers me.



  37. thank you to CAN

    Hi and thank you for this opportunity to comment. I have been informed through CAN (community acupuncture network) about being able to submit a comment in regards to acupuncture schools requesting Title IV funding. Many comments have been submitted from CAN members and acupuncturists explaining the difficulty in bringing our careers as acupuncturists to a financially stable return from our investments into our education as we as a majority took out loans to do this.

    There are so many reasons why this has happened that becoming an acupuncturist is a very difficult undertaking financially. I wanted to add simply that it has been very difficult for me and my husband to live this way and to maintain a professional career that I love and am fully dedicated to.

    You could say that the CAN organization saved my career in that I was able to continue practicing under the community model of acupuncture and offer affordable health care to more people which will in the future benefit this profession reaching more people who may lack the money to go to a private practice or have the insurance. The CAN organization takes it a step further and fully supports those working under their model to open more highly successful practices. There is also full support actively on their forums for acupuncturists. CAN is also dedicated to making acupuncture a stronger profession from the ground up and has had to be active in issues such as this.

  38. “before they get suckered

    “before they get suckered into a debt they will never repay…”
    Suckered? Is that what you say about yourself? I am a sucker?
    How about having a plan? Whose life is it?

    you whiners make it sound like the school wouldn’t tell you how much the loans were when you signed a contract?
    Did you have to draw a mystery envelope at the end of school? Was that the first time you knew how much your loans were?
    come on and grow up!
    YOU decided to change careers
    YOU picked the school
    YOU investigated “how am I going to pay for this?”
    YOU incurred the debt
    if you did – you have no complaint
    if you didn’t – YOU created your disaster because you weren’t mature enough to take on such an endeavor – now grow up and own the consequences of your actions

    You know – it’s ok to admit that you made mistakes – you miscalculated. People make mistakes and adults own theirs.

    The school is a business – it operates to make money and stay in business. It probably has survived past the 5 year 50% failure rate that ALL businesses – ALL industries share. You might learn something about perseverance.
    Now you are a business. CAN is not a revolution (there doesn’t need to be one)
    CAN is a business model. It is not new. High volume low profit business model is as old as business itself.
    You are choosing again. FINE. Go for it. Just stop crying and trying to blame others for decisions you made in your life

    Lisa –
    The structure of “the profession” is deceptive and predatory.
    You are obviously way to smart to not have investigated the FACT that ALL businesses fail at a 50% rate in 5 years (perhaps that’s where you got this statistic?)
    Why then do you misrepresent it as if it is a disaster unique to acupuncture? That it is the fault of the schools? Shame on you
    Please stop being deceptive and just say the truth
    Businesses fail – business is hard
    Here is a model that I’ve used to succeed. I will teach you and you might be successful. Don’t be a statistic
    I’d have way more respect if you were honest about this.

  39. Last comment, and then I’m done

    You’d have way more respect for me if I was honest? Like maybe I’d have more respect for you if you weren’t anonymous?

    “just say the truth
    Businesses fail – business is hard
    Here is a model that I’ve used to succeed. I will teach you and you
    might be successful.” THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING. FOR THE LAST 5 YEARS. And guess what happened? I, and some of the other successful people here, now have PATIENTS who are saying to us, I love what you do, I want to do it too, I’m going to acupuncture school! You don’t read very well, Guest, which is why from here on out I’ll just be deleting your comments, but just in case you represent other school administrators (? is that what you are?), I’ll say it one more time for the record: my education cost me $25K. My salary is $35K. That’s fine. I’m fine. I’m not complaining about my life. You know what else I’m not doing? I’m not going to stand by quietly while somebody with good intentions takes on $100K in debt BECAUSE THEY WERE INSPIRED BY ME, when I know full well they probably don’t have what it takes even to make $35K.

    You want to talk about business? THIS is business, what I’m doing right here. I run a business, I’m grateful to have a lot of support and goodwill in my community; I worked hard for that and it matters to me. What I’m doing right now is not allowing the success of my business, all that hard-earned goodwill, to be used by other businesses — like acupuncture schools — as advertising. You think I don’t know that school admissions departments are capitalizing on the idealism of people who love community acupuncture?

    Guest,  when you say I’m misrepresenting the failure rate as a disaster “unique to acupuncturists”, you are also showing that you don’t know very much about businesses, and how they fail or succeed. There’s failure, yeah, and then there’s being set up for failure, and anybody with any real world experience can tell the difference. I live in Portland, Oregon, where it seems like everybody’s self-employed because we have to be; a lot of my non-acupuncture friends are entrepreneurs. There is a big difference between what those folks are dealing with and what a new grad from, say, OCOM, is dealing with. If you decide that your dream is to run a food cart, you go buy a food cart, you get a loan from people who warn you about the failure rate and make sure you have a business plan and some ability to carry it out BEFORE THEY WILL GIVE YOU THE FUCKING LOAN, and if you fail, well, you can sell the food cart to somebody else and recoup some of your losses. Going to acupuncture school is like buying five food carts at once, except you think that they are not food carts, they are flying rainbow-colored unicorns who will make your life wonderful, which is what you were encouraged to think by, oh, the entire edifice that produces food carts packaged as unicorns, and when you find out that they are not really unicorns and will not make your life wonderful, you can’t actually sell them to anyone else. You can’t recoup anything. If you really knew anything about business, Guest, it would be crystal-clear to you that the principal business in the acupuncture world, the only business that anyone takes seriously (because there are lots of jobs and real money in it), is peddling the dream of acupuncture. Deception is part of that business plan, it has to be. For some reason you want to defend that business with “buyer beware”. Nobody who runs a business that they are proud of falls back on “buyer beware”. Nobody who runs a business in a community where people know who they are would ever want to invoke “buyer beware”. I was never so angry at the acupuncture schools until I learned enough about business to see how it works.

  40. the point

    “The structure of “the profession” is deceptive and predatory.”

    somehow when i enetered acupuncture school, nowhere in their promotional literature was this metioned. oh wait, predatory and deceptive means they wouldn’t tell me they were lying to me and cheating me out of lots of money without givng me what they said they would in return. it’s not even so much about what acupuncture schools predict about business success and failure rates (because mostly they don’t mention that stuff at all), it is much more about what they teach and how they structure the education – it is not practical for the real world. it’s one thing to offer statistics on businesses and another one entirely to set up your students for failure from the start, not admit that you are doing it, and not be willing to change your ways.

    the point, guest, is that we do not accept this as status quo and when given a chance will fight for this to be different. that’s not whining, that’s revolutionary thinking.


  41. reply to Lisa

    Hi Lisa: this is my second attemp to reply, admittedly I am not good on the computer.  At 64 I just don’t care to develop my expertie here.

    I wrote a long reply and zip it disappeared.  So now I won’t give up, I’ll try again.  You know I started doing Acupuncture in 1982.  My first year I almost cried daily.  I had a very successful Massage Therapy practice doing about $75,000 a year.  When I changed over to Acupuncture I was lucky if I made $25,000. Did I give up?  No .  Why?  This is what I wanted to do.  Admittedly I didn’t have a $100,000. student loan on my back.

     So tell me why do so many student indept themselves to the tune of $100,000.

    Lisa you are one of the few grads who took the road least traveled and look at you now. You are a successfull leader in the community, teaching others  how to make a buck  while helping many many peolpe to live pain free, drug free lives. God bless you.

    There is an Acupuncturist in Miami who has figured out how to have a successfull practice in which he has six acupuncturist working for him. His name is Steven Chasen.  (I am sorry if I misspelled his name.) There are hundred of such stories, people who wanted to help others in their health need and just won’t give up when the going gets rough.

    In reply to the person who wanted to know why I took the Singer course. Basically we teach Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.  That is what we know. We are aware of the lack of indepth marketing  and practice development in our programs. So I invested $5,000. in the Singer course so as to be able to learn more about practive development, and to be able to pass it on to my students.  To my surprise when I attempted to teach this to my students I found that 80% of them snubbed their nose at what I had to say.  For the most part Acupuncture student arn’t interested in anything beyond their concept of what is Acupuncture.  It’s after they graduate that they become interested in learning about marketing and sales, etc.

    This is not the end of the road, you can cry, you can complain or you can search the universe to find a solution to your problem.  Remember the patients are out there, millions of them who desperately need your help. Your task is to figure out how to get them to your office.

    Blasting your college for your inability to develop a successful practice won’t solve your problem. In Kabbalistic  practice we say life is a destiny, and you have four ways to change your destiny; 1) Change your name. 2) Perform random act of kindness. 3) Be generous  and 4) PRAY.


     Richard Browne

  42. Hey Richard,

    Is your acupuncture college still for sale?  What’s the asking price these days?


    You are full of shit.  Please don’t stink up the air with patronizing religous nostrums when it is obvious that your personal self-interest dictates why you find this thread “evil”.  Fucking ridiculous.  Seriously.    


    “Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey


  43. “before you get suckered” @ GNV whining administrator

    Okay, so I will make my Homage to Bottley’s reference on another CAN blog regarding the “preciousness to the ‘medicine.'” Let’s start with deconstructing the term Traditional Chinese Medicine. As this implies, it is the indigenous medicine of “ancient” China that such sages have passed on via apprentice tradition initially. Some of the philosophical constructs (cultural context here) that have fed into the theory and practice have their roots in Daoism. When discussing the “practice” of Traditional Chinese Medicine, part of the philosophical construct that fed into it has some roots in Kung Fu Tze (or Confucianism)–mainly in the areas of conduct. To be brief, Kung Fu Tze philosphy placed emphasis on personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships (“right” conduct, “right” thought), justice, and sincerity. Essentially, the 5 elements of Humanity, Righteousness, Ritual, Knowledge, and Integrity. Teachings of Kung Fu Tze emphasize self-cultivation, emulatting moral exemplars, and attaining skilled judgment. Self-interest is not necessarily immoral or unethical within the context of Confucian thought, but the righteous path to follow will enhance the greater good.

    As an AOM school administrator, I will make the leap of logic that you are aware of much of the philosophical constructs of Confucian thought.

    The point is this: Given the context of your statement “The structure of “the profession” is deceptive and predator” is not in line within to context of Confucian thought. The righteous act of calling attention to Title IV issues, esp w/regards to AOM education, is concerned with correctness in relationships (between schools, students, practitioners, patients), personal and governmental morality, justice, and integrity. AOM schools are being called to task on integrity and transparency. Yes, we are all responsible for our own due diligence. AOM schools are as well: Federal taxpayer-backed programs such as federal student loans, do require that those borrowing as well as administering them are being called to task (integrity).

    So your statement “The structure of “the profession” is deceptive and predator” can be taken as full admission that “the profession” (of which AOM schools are part and parcel of) are not moral exemplars upon which to emulate. Therefore, the righteousness of those who are acting in the greatest good are calling upon the moral overseer (government) to pay attention to the actions.

    Enjoy your schooling in Kung Fu Tze while you can.

    oh and BTW @ Lisa & Tatayana: You go gurl!!!!!

  44. Gainful Employment

    Hello Richard,
    As an esteemed president of such an esteemed institution such as AMC, it may be in your best interest to utilize a spell-check and proofread before posting. We wouldn’t want any potential students thinking unfavorably of an AOM school administrator’s poor spelling or poor sentence structure: “Yes i am aware that most acupuncture graduates fail at patient building, so what are going to do about it? Quit? Give up and blame the schools” and ” Who did you expect would be lable to repay the loan? Your Daddy?” (it speaks to poor education).

    “…so what are going to do about it? Quit? Give up and blame the schools.” Is that last part a statement or a question? Or is it an answer to your questions? See what I mean about proofreading?

    Moving on, let’s talk about those potential students you may want to attract with your poor spelling and sentence structure and address this statement: “Money does not grow on trees, nor does it drop from the sky but when you work it ( whatevet it is) the dividends can be huge.” (Again with the spelling!). Yes, money does not grow on trees, nor does it drop from the sky. You work hard at attracting students. What did the esteemed AMC do before it was eligible for Title IV financial aid? Now that it is there, the possibilities are limitless: AMC (and other AOM trade schools–that IS what they are, nothing more nothing less) can expand as long as there is a steady stream of students who are eligible to receive financial aid. Ahh, there it is: Get as many students as possible on financial aid to keep the schools operating. Perhaps money DOES grow on trees after all. The only caveat is that it is for the institutions of AOM. Of course, we all know that it DOES take more than that to run a trade school (well, except good spelling/grammar/sentence structure–but hey, it’s only a trade school and not an intellectually driven institution with multiple funded research projects and an alumni endowment).

    What is your admissions process? 60 hours of college credit and the ability to pay for school or attain financial aid? Does the esteemed AMC confer a Master’s degree? If so, than in what? As far as I can gather about real colleges and universities, to apply for a graduate program, a Bachelor’s degree must first be earned along with a respectable GPA (generally about 3.0). Lastly, college entrance examinations must be taken–like the GRE, which is basically similar to the SAT, but on steroids. Specialty programs require other examinations such as MCAT or LSAT. Why no entrance examination for the esteemed AMC?

    So let’s put it all together now. For-profit schools need students to keep them operational because there is no such thing as an alumni endowment or research grants or other types of funding. Graduates are now getting wise to the realities of the cost of education and the business of education. The funny thing about that is now the government is catching up to it. So now this is where your rant is coming from. So what happens when someone borrows 40-60k to attend AMC and completes their program? Do you know how many of your graduates are sustaining a living at what you trained them to do? Do you care? Those are more important questions, because you may now be asked to find out what is happening to those people who have matriculated from your program. It’s kind of like being a practitioner: You have to follow-up with your patients.

    “Father forgive them, they know not wahat they do” (there’s that spelling again!!! Where did you attend school?)

    But to get to the gist of your quote, I couldn’t agree more. Accountability is shared by all.

    Yo Momma!

  45. previous TCM student now focused on sustainability

    Well put! Add ‘”cut the sustainability crap”. I was booted (aka dismissed) from NESA for promoting the affordable accessible delivery system of community acupuncture. Since then I have found a graduate degree in Sustainable Business and Communities (at Goddard College).I’m sure my experience at NESA was a motivator to change programs. With the economic depression the wealth of health has never been truer. The delivery system of TCM must address current realities and public needs.

    I am delighted that this issue is finally ‘hitting the wall’ and have recommended to the DOE that TCM colleges be required to offer an additional, affordable, shorter training (perhaps an expanded detox protocol) for community acupuncturists. Whole law schools have a public interest focus – why shouldn’t TCM colleges.

    The change is going to come from student and practitioner activism – not voluntarily from the classist faculty and school administration. 


  46. Comment from a shiatsu guy

    Here’s what I posted: “I am concerned about the financial motivations of acupuncture schools to require more and more hours of training when most students graduate with a lot of debt and poor job prospects. I think the DOE needs to establish how many hours are needed for acupuncturists to practice safely and with efficacy. As a practitioner and teacher of a related field (shiatsu/acupressure therapy), I believe as few as 1000 hours of acupuncture training are need to deliver quality care, not the several thousand that are under discussion.” Thanks Lisa for galvanizing so many comments, it’s sad to see the acupuncture profession pricing itself out so in terms of tuition, and I hope this helps put on the brakes.

  47. Acupuncture & Massage Blog

    Hello Richard Dear,

    I just happened to come across this statement in a blog on YOUR school’s website: “While student lack of responsibility is a factor, the institutions must assume some of the blame. It seems that getting the students in the doors of the colleges is the most important objective, as oppose to getting them to graduate.” (seen here: https://www.amcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-blog/education-research/college-bound-think-about-it/)

    This there was this juicy tidbit:
    “Before entering college students should have an idea of where they want to go in life. Liberal Arts is an expensive major. Besides the 46% of college students who do not graduate we have another situation to consider, how many people who go to college and graduate actually are employed in a field in which they majored. I studied accounting and philosophy while in college. Today I work as an Acupuncture Physician. My wife studied science (premed) and graduated with a BS, today she is the Executive Director of the Acupuncture and Massage College. I could list hundreds of cases of college graduates who are employed in areas that are far removed from their major in college. So I ask the question what is the real value of a college education?”

    Hmmm…now let’s just play switcheroo now shall we? How about in the last sentence, we swap “college” for “acupuncture?” Is not this just such a soft sell to maintain and possibly increase the enrollment at the esteemed AMC?

    Oh and a couple of other questions:
    What makes AMC the “leading institute of health and Chinese Medicine? What research has the esteemed AMC with its over 20 Years of Excellence produced? (oh and there IS a grammatical error on this web page. The title states: “Over 20 Year of Excellence.” (Hint, 20 is plural and year is singular. What do you need to do to make the word “year” plural?) see this page: https://www.amcollege.edu/excellence.htm

    The there is this: “As a whole we like to think that we provide a safe place for spiritual minded people to developed their skills and knowledge in the art and sciences to become members of this growing health profession.”

    First, I believe, it is proper to say “spiritually minded” as opposed to “spiritual minded.” Spiritual is an adjective, minded is also an adjective. Typically, an adverb is used to modify an adjective. Spiritually is an adverb.

    Second, given the context of your rant, the statement regarding AMC being a “safe place for spiritual minded people” doesn’t seem to make sense, now does it?

    Hmmm….value of a college education indeed. How about the value of primary education? Two glaring grammatical errors on one page. But then again, it seems that AMC, being the “leading institution in Health and Chinese Medicine” without any qualifying data to support such a claim, may not be going for the best and the brightest. Based on the lack of data to support that they are a “leading institution” perhaps AMC isn’t such the esteemed institution it thinks it is.

    I tend to believe that a profession (note, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not recognize acupuncture as a profession) has 3 components: History, Theory, and (Self) Criticism. These are key markers that lead to advancement. I am so very happy that the folks at CAN fully grasp that third component. It is essential for growth. If we do not self-reflect, do we grow personally? No. The same can (and must) be said for an entity such as AOM.

    All the best in peace and harmony.

    Yo Momma

  48. Where can I found out which

    Where can I found out which schools are profit and which are not?

    I agree that there is a lot stacked against us, but what does this actually accomplish?

    This seems like a punitive option for students, but not so much the colleges. Title IV funding gives the degree more status (as supposed to other alternative schools) and should not be taken away.

    What is your alternative solution?

    This doesn’t appear to me to do actually do anything productive. It is alienating CAN from the community and extremely polarizing the profession.

    I am a new student and my husband just graduated. We need our loans. We have a right to our loans just like our predecessors.

    As the song goes, “Oh no, they can’t take that away from me.”

    Thanks in advance.

  49. Hey Yo Mamma: You took your

    Hey Yo Mamma: You took your best shot, it’s called character assination.  Are you happy now. Lay back and light a cigarrette.

    Having read a number of your posts I can safely say it reminds me of mutural mastubation. Try having a dialogue in which you discuss a subject and remain objective.  Yes any idiot can put me down for spelling errors, it dosen’t bother me one bit. My philosopy has been: what you think is none of my business.  With all the spelling errors and gramatically incorrect sentences, you understood exactly what I had to say.  One thing I’ve discovered about so-called new age people is that they lack the ability to think or reason.

    Ask yourself why are so many students are stuck with $1000,000. debt.  They didn’t think it out. When you borrow money, one day you will have to pay it back.  And you are told from the beginning that your loan payment come due six months after graduation.

    If you want  to understand this situation drop your attitude and study the case at hand..  It ‘s all about turf war. The not for profit schools  against the for profit schools.  It really doesn’t matter which profession you are considering. It’s a national issue.

    To answer your question what school did I attend. I attended the school of hard knocks and I graduated with honors.  I am a fighter and a survivor. I struggled against all kind of ism’s, racism, classism and elitism. In battle I’ve been brusied many times,  that is the price I paid for being fearless and for standing up for what I believed.  I will proudly stand up to anyone, especially those who miss the point entirely. In life I have lost a few fights, but all in all I ‘ve won every battle that I was wiling to hold my ground.

    I know this is not the end of the discussion, I have been informed by others that to engage in dialogue on this forum can turn bitter real quick.  Therefore most peole avoid engaging in conversation that is different from the mind set of this group.

    In closing, 40 years ago I read Napolean Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich.”
    Get a copy of this classic.  Read it and see how it can change your life. It will do more for you than puting me down.

    You guys need to discover what working class is all about. ( It has nothing to do with elitist attitudes of spelling or grammar) I know, I AM WORKING CLASS AND I AM PROUD OF IT. I’ve struggled for my class all my life.





  50. Btw, my school REQUIRES an

    Btw, my school REQUIRES an externship at one of 2 local hospitals and it’s rates are similiar to nonprofit schools. Many graduates have stayed in the area and are successful.

  51. Richard, this thread isn’t

    Richard, this thread isn’t about who you are, your ethnic, cultural, and class roots, your courage, and integrity as a human being…that’s ultimately your job to reflect on. I share my basic dignity as a living being even with criminals, and bugs for that matter.

    What this is about is the unethical nature of decisions (made at many acupuncture colleges like yours), that are fraudulent…making promises, abusing a system for personal gain.

    These aren’t about you or any person ultimately, but the actions involved.  A lot of people are angry about being cheated. So far, you haven’t defended the basic wrongness of your actions (which are indefensible really), but only tried to move the conversation away from the specifics of the issue towards a war of personalities. 

  52. Choices

    Are all of these intensely emotional comments reactions to existing acupuncturists’ own insecurities? Are we trying to shut schools down so that we don’t have more competition taking away “our” patients? We forget that folks entering graduate schools are, by definition, adults. Why not let people make up their own minds about their careers? Sure, we don’t make lots of money, but I would much rather be doing this low paying job rather than my high stress consulting job of 10 years ago. It’s a pretty awesome profession, even if I can’t afford an iPad – but that’s not why I got into medicine. If people want to make buttloads of cash, become a CEO of an oil company or sell your children. We all own the choices we make.

  53. Not to be cynical, but…

    Is it possible that the decision to stop funding has already been made, and that the comment period is just a way to make people feel like they had some input into the decision? (Kinda like the FPD) On the one hand the government is broke, but on the other hand, student loans represent a way for them to inject funds into the economy and keep the wheels turning. There is now more student loan debt than credit card debt for the first time. I have a feeling that the bigger University of Phoenix type schools will have the funds to kick down some campaign cash and hire some lobbyists, while they acupuncture schools won’t. My guess is, most acupuncture schools will go the way of my alma mater NIAOM, and be rolled into the naturopathic or chiropractic schools, which are bigger, better organized and funded. Having an abbreviated “acupuncture tech” degree, while a good idea, would require an organized effort to get states to change their licensure, which ironically the chiropractic schools would then be against since it would be against their interest!

  54. It’s not about the ipad

    It’s about not having to charge patients an arm and a leg because we’re so worried about paying back outrageous student loans.

    Institutionalized educational systems are a modern way of teaching this medicine. It was taught for thousands of years through apprenticeship. NCCAOM boards accept apprenticeship, it just depends on whether our state does or not. We can lobby for our individual states to accept apprenticeship route – which costs taxpayers NOTHING, benefits preceptors and students.

  55. I’m glad susanne that you realize that we all make decisions…

    It reminds me of something said to me by a female instructor at my Askew (or maybe Ascrew) school regarding another (male…and a fat pathetic piece of dung, I might add) instructor’s proclivities to make extremely sexually suggestive remarks in class and outside of class to female students. Said male instructor said things like: “The fantasies I have from the things you could do with that ponytail,” “You’ve gotta be the sexiest gal I’ve ever scene,” “will i ever have a chance with you?”

    When info started circulating about this instructor’s numerous remarks (and the FACT that he was actually a walking–well actually rolling b/c he was morbidly obese–lawsuit), said female instructor said “you know, people really need to grow up, Dr. so and so is one of the most honorable men I know. People just need to get thicker skin.”

    My reply to her was this: “well, okay, how about i start calling you bimbo? and then tell you to grow up?” “or what about if your daughter, who upon the age of 21, goes out, gets drunk and a little flirty, then ends up getting raped? What ya gonna tell her? Grow up? Get over it? It was YOUR choice to go out get drunk and act all flirty? So what did you expect?”

    Needless to say, she had no retort.

  56. I agree with Well said — you people bitter babies!

    Well, I have seen about all that I can stand of this website, honestly. In theory — I was totally FOR community acupuncture, but if this is the ethic – I want nothing to do with this community once I graduate.

    We are all adults — well said AGAIN! That is the first piece of common sense I have read on this forum in the day I have gone through the posts of this issue….!

    I went into my program — having ALREADY owned a storefront business, working in high-pressure sales, and had other real jobs before I bit into this apple…..its not my first time at the rodeo, so to speak. Perhaps because of my maturity level and my age, I was smart enough to realize a few things BEFORE I signed on the loan dotted-line.

    That being said — I barely make ends meetnow — thats the choice and sacrifice that I make.. When I graduate — I will have the “full monty” of loans awaiting me. Why don’t I care after reading all these statistics??!!! Because I realize a few things —

    1. Its my responsibility to make my living in the world — -which might mean also working jobs on the side that I don’t like, making sacrifices, etc. I don’t EXPECT to “be an acupuncturist” just because I graduated.

    2. I didn’t drink the koolaid that you all did — . I did my own research before school…. I know what I am getting myself into — so I have ***realistic*** expectations.

    3. Research also entails learning your demographics. If you graduate in an area SATURATED with acupuncturists — you might put moving into your long-term business plan. Or even STUDY business if you want to BE IN business!

    4. I have an atitude of gratitude. I don’t piss, moan, bitch, and blame others for the decisions that I make.

    5. I love the profession and study enough to be broke for it — perhaps if you don’t /or didn’t when you took out the loans, you shoudl have gone to study something else that would be more lucrative – period. ?! Or wait — DON’T TAKE OUT THE LOANS!

    Everyone who supports this removal of the Title IV on this website I see so far — is either not “with it” and deluded into not realizing how expensive education and life ACTUALLY IS — or sooooo obviously bitter and disenchanted with the profession….

    You know what people — bottom line —You took out the loans — stop blaming everyone else for your own decisions, make the best of it and move on —
    — o r file a class-action suit against the sh*theads who you feel deluded you or mislead you — period — done —-

    but don’t PREVENT those of us who NEED the help and WANT to do it —- enough to where we would live in poverty — which is a TRUE love of the profession — from study at good schools.

    I’m sorry — but also —comparing RAPE discussions to this topic, I seriously question your maturity level…Not cool. NOT cool. Get overyourself.

  57. OK

    I draw the line at calling anybody a fat pathetic piece of dung.  Pandora, may I suggest that you go do some reading about body acceptance/fat acceptance issues and how they intersect with human rights, not to mention classism, sexism, ableism, I could go on for a while about this.

     However, I love being called a bitter baby, anonymous commenter, you made my day with that one. I’m closing comments for this thread and going to go work on another bitter post, probably while sucking my thumb.

  58. They passed us all, whether we knew what we were doing or not.
    I was swayed, promised, guaranteed a good job, employment assistance, a family, support (my educators, faculty,etc) an education that could work anywhere in the US. It never turned into anything.
    Lots of road blocks, guffaws. It worked away at you. Initially,
    The support of the instructors and strength of the philosophy provided the fuel to think outside of the employment box.
    We are helpers. It turns out that entrepreneurship should have been symbiotic.
    I didn’t actually graduate from regular college before starting, I had no background in medical, science, anatomy. The education was a real struggle for me. 4 years>2000 hours. I had to study harder, and constantly. I had test anxiety.

    I accumulated Massive college debt.. I found the program enlightening. ultimately I felt like a guinea pig in a giant educational prank.
    20 years later, never officially practiced.

    Close to $500,000.00 in student debt, I refinanced… That loan haunts me. It is my identity, not my worthless medical degree. I couldnt get a job in the medical field , it’s not rercogned.The cost me my sanity, it hinders my life, my ability to get good employment, my credit score, my interest rates.
    I’m haunted by the governments con game to created more debt, and no work or jobs or future for employment.