Inspired by Obama Win, CCAOM Changes Course On Doctorate Plans

In a move that has stunned both the acupuncture and western medical establishment, the CCAOM has announced a bold change in direction for both the Council and the acupuncture profession. The new vision of the Council is to radically overhaul the delivery of acupuncture education in the United States, not by seeking a first professional doctorate as had been previously sought, but by lessening both the time and money spent acquiring entry level status in the profession, with the mission of making acupuncture readily available for every American at an affordable rate, while generating a tremendous number of jobs in the acupuncture field.

Council spokesperson Treya Cassidy said, “The Council has been struggling internally for some time now. When the entry-level doctorate degree was defeated last year, many of us were deeply saddened. We saw the degree as a way to gain respect within the healthcare community and elevate the status of the profession. However, the recent campaign and election of Barack Obama really started to change the way that many of us on the Council were thinking about the state of healthcare in this country and the potential that acupuncturists have in changing the very face of healthcare delivery.”

The Council has partnered with the ACAOM to investigate a new set of standards designed to streamline the training of acupuncturists, with the intent of flooding the population with acupuncture practitioners. This overhaul involves decreasing current acupuncture educational standards from a masters to a certificate level, decreased time in school encompassing 6 months of intense training and fully subsidized tuition. Ultimately, the Council envisions its own dissolution with the creation of a nationalized acupuncture schooling system. Essentially, schools would be owned, operated and funded by the federal government, and key members of both the CCAOM and ACAOM would play key roles in establishing and maintaining this new system of education. And while these changes may seem daunting to a profession that is overburdened with a myriad of established and confusing rules that vary from state to state, the Council is firm in its commitment to being a part of the solutions to America’s healthcare woes, rather than remaining to be a part of them. Said ACAOM spokesperson Donald Farley, “This change cannot involve the profession clinging to a diseased model of healthcare as a flea does to a dog. We needed to envision a new idea of an acupuncture practitioner in this country, complete with new values and new priorities. Listening to Obama’s presidential victory speech in Chicago reawakened a fire in several members of both the Commission and the Council that had been dormant for years. It is now clear to all of us that we must stop seeing increased educational standards and insurance coverage as the way to protect scope of practice and start seeing maximum public access as the way to protect scope of practice. But, really, even that statement is misguided. All this talk of protecting scope of practice is built around the old paradigms of fear and competition. Our new direction is one of cooperation, relationships and mutual respect.”

This new direction has the potential of creating many new jobs, an attractive feature to an already promising plan. Said Cassidy, “This is a radical shift in vision and values for the Council. In the same way that the New Deal created huge numbers of new jobs for ordinary Americans, we envision an enormous number of new jobs for regular, ordinary citizens. For too long this amazing and effective medicine has been a plaything for the over privileged. We are certain that we can create 1 million new jobs for hard working ordinary people from all walks of life. We are committed to this idea and are certain that, if realized, our plan has the potential to be beneficial both current and potential practitioners as well as the public that so desperately needs their services.” To achieve their ends, the Council has plans to reach out to the Obama administration, which is still being formulated. The Council seeks assistance in radically changing laws at a federal level to supercede current state laws.

1 million acupuncture jobs may seem like a lot, but a closer look at the numbers suggests that it is not hard to imagine. In China, a busy acupuncture practitioner may see up to or more than 10 people per hour. In the United States, a busy practitioner may see 10 people a day. The current estimated population of the United States is just over 300 million. If 100 million people received acupuncture one time a week, that would be 100 million treatments. If a practitioner saw five people per hour and needled for 20 hours a week, totaling 100 treatments a week, that would mean that there would be a need for 1 million acupuncturists. 1 million jobs. That would mean that there would be more acupuncturists working in the United States than physicians. Wouldn’t that be something? A federally sponsored information campaign could easily generate that much interest in affordable acupuncture.

However, not everyone in the CCAOM and ACAOM is on board with the proposed changes. A dissenting faction likes the idea of decreased schooling and tuition with increased numbers of acupuncturists and increased access for the public, but disagrees that getting the government to take over the schooling process is the right way to go. Council member Devin Taylor said, “There are more than a few of us that like the idea of change, but think it is naïve to get the government involved in training acupuncturists. Why would the government spend so much money to train a group of people when there is no guarantee that the public will actually use their services? How will acupuncturists set up their practice after their training? Will the government be responsible for that as well? Also, is it not foolish to think that the government would subsidize and nationalize acupuncture education while expecting the public to pay out of pocket for treatment?” These thoughts led Taylor to work with other members of the Council and the ACAOM to devise standards that are nearly identical to the other camp in regards to the entry-level certificate and the 6 months spent to acquire the degree, but has students pay for tuition out of pocket with federal student loan money, as most do now, while colleges retain their independence from the federal government. “Working this way we can still dramatically reduce tuition and create jobs, provide access to acupuncture for the masses and see considerable change without interference from the feds. We can have more diverse educational models and allow the creation of more schools, which would also mean the creation of more jobs. No one thinks that the system works anymore. We definitely agree that it needs to change. It is how that change should occur that needs to be addressed.” said Taylor.

According to Taylor, more students paying less makes a lot more sense than the current system and would be easier to implement than the proposed changes by Cassidy and Farley. Eliminating the government would allow the profession to grow in a more sustainable fashion, while allowing individual schools to teach different styles of acupuncture. In the end, it is the effectiveness of the styles that would lead to effective and successful graduates. Taylor was quick to point out that style is only one, and not the most important ingredient to success. Success in their model depends intimately on implementing what is known as the “Community Acupuncture” (CA) approach, a model that sees a higher volume of people at a lower price per treatment. This would actually be a part of the curriculum and essential to the process of accreditation for a school. Moreover, it is teaching students how to build community and realize the connections that already exist within ones community that would be the essence of practice management training. This may mean the standard $15-35 per treatment sliding scale model used nationally at CA clinics, or finding new, inventive ways to effectively realize oneself as a human being that practices acupuncture within ones community. $5 treatments and specific five point protocols while needling 20 people per hour, anyone? How about treating nursing home residents with four points for $3 each? What is community?

Which ever plan prevails, it is nearly as surreal as seeing Barack Obama address a rainbow-like crowd of teary eyed, ecstatic supporters at Grant Park in Chicago on election night. Just as the presidency of the United States has come to be a plaything of over privileged white people, so too has the acupuncture profession, if not for its practitioners, then certainly for the majority of its patients. The sudden shift in values and intent of both the CCAOM and ACAOM, while not concrete in vision or singular in consensus, represents a sea change for the profession. If recent events indicate anything, it can be realized. Then we will be able to look ourselves in the mirror, smile and be proud to call ourselves acupuncturists, just as we can now be proud to call ourselves Americans.

The Zang Fool
Author: The Zang Fool

<p> This is a satirical blog post by a practitioner that is serious in his attempts to both increase acupunctures accessibility to the public and challenge practitioners preconceived notions of what acupuncture is and how it functions in society. It may make you laugh, but that is just a means to an end. That end is thought and ultimately positive change. This is what all good satire does: prick, prod and provoke thought and positive change within a community. </p> <p> Satire has long been a part of muckraking and this profession is teeming with muck.  So, in the wake of the nonsense spewed from the foul anus of the Acupuncture-Industrial Complex come my musings on life, love and the proposed doctoral program. </p>

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  1. It takes a wise person to play the fool

    Thanks as always for your inspiring commentary ZF. I like your out of the box thinking. In terms of job creation though…I could easily see another 500k jobs on top of the 1M, if you include support staff.


    All true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which is not ego-bound.</

  2. More Jobs in a sustainable economy

    This is considerably off topic, so I will keep it short….but there is a connection: When the Fool suggested that our country undertake a complete overhaul of the health care system, making acupuncture available to everyone – or else face the inevitable crash of the system (already happening)….the parallels with the crisis in national food policy are strikingly similar. When our nation switches over from a dysfunctional mono-culture, fossil fuel based system, to a food policy based on organic crops in a poly-culture environment, stripped of corporate subsidies which favor travesties like CAFO’s (confined animal feeding operations)…this too will demand millions of Americans to return to our healthy agrarian roots, employed on organic farms. The following article in the Organic Consumers Association bulletin bears considerable reflection. 



    All true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which is not ego-bound.</

  3. thank you for this invaluable information

    The article/link you sent is probably one of the most if not the most important pieces of information necessary for the continuation of life on earth that I have read in a long time.

    One of the ways I was the heretic in the past, was in belonging to the Washington Toxics Coalition and writing articles about pesticide use and the agro-chemical business/farming practices. It was at a time when most folks did not want to pay attention to this information and when it seemed that the extravagant bounty produced from the current way of farming would never end.

    Here we are-at the time when it is not sustainable. Let us pray that the new presidents message of ‘yes we can’ is heard by all of us and we all stay more involved. 

    thanks again 

  4. do you really have this much time on your hands?

    I am wondering if you, zang fool, have a practice or even a life of your own, since you are so prolifically blogging worthless and self-satisfied crap… I am wondering what time you spend actually doing some good in the world that isn’t ego driven… And I find it so interesting how brave and proud people become online without the threat of being personally identified.

  5. The Bastardization of the Board Certified Acupuncture Physician.

    I say we make chiropractics and the medical doctorates a 6 month course also. Then everybody can get certified as a practitioner, and give the crappy quality of care that the 4 year master degree, Board Certified Acupuncture Physician will be reduced to.
    This is not a benificial approach, but rather an underminding and bastardization of the academic corriculum study, clinical internships, time, training and efforts of those who have taken the field of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture to heart enough to earn a Masters degree in this unique field of medicine.
    If Acupuncture is looked at as a simple course that can be achieved in 6 months, then you are not knowledgable in the true field of this medicine. It takes longer than that to become a massage therapist, and it looks like you would only make 1/4 of what a massage therapist would make while you performed a full medical history; and did a full medical intake; and did a medical diagnosis; and performed a treatment that you are liable for in a malpractice suite.
    Is there a six month course for your job sport?