Published as a feature story in today’s Frederick News Post:

Jessica Feltz-Wolfson has built her Frederick acupuncture practice on one principle: make acupuncture available and affordable for all.

At The Turning Point: A Community Acupuncture Center on West Patrick Street, Feltz-Wolfson offers acupuncture on a sliding scale. Patients pay what they can afford, some as little as $15 a session.

Future acupuncturists may not be able to establish such community clinics if a new First Professional Doctorate requirement for acupuncture and oriental medicine takes effect, she said.

The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the national accrediting agency for master’s-level acupuncture and oriental medicine programs, is considering requiring acupuncturists to obtain a doctorate degree before becoming licensed.

This First Professional Doctorate is similar to the degree requirements for physical and occupational therapists, according to the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Entry-level acupuncturists must currently hold a master’s degree from an accredited school, Feltz-Wolfson said. Specific licensing requirements vary from state to state, she said.

The requirement would add a year to the required course work for acupuncturists, which would increase the cost of an acupuncture education with no change in the scope of acupuncture practice, she said. The requirement would limit the number of students who are able to obtain a license, and the increased cost to students would be passed on to future patients, reducing the number of affordable acupuncture clinics, she said.

The Community Acupuncture Network, a 1,000-member international organization, is leading the fight against the FPD requirement. Feltz-Wolfson is the (newest member) of the organization’s board of directors.

“We place a high value on our patients’ access to care, which would stand to suffer given higher debt loads and smaller graduating classes,” she said.

Feltz-Wolfson said the FPD requirement would also subject students to “information overload.”

“There are some academic types who would do well in a doctorate program, such as the optional Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which is currently available,” she said. “But there are many more patients in our communities who would be better served by a shorter more cost-effective, simpler, educational path. All they need to be a good needler is meridian theory, point combinations and clean needle technique.”

Feltz-Wolfson holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and social welfare, and a master’s in oriental medicine.

According to an article in the December issue of Acupuncture Today, a majority of respondents to a survey conducted by the accreditation commission support the offering of a first professional doctorate in both acupuncture and oriental medicine. Respondents included both students and practitioners.

Adoption of an FPD requirement for acupuncturists will not affect those who already have a license, according to the commission.

The accrediting commission has put the doctorate process on hold while it accepts comments from those within the profession. After the Jan. 15 deadline, the commission will decide whether to continue formulating guidelines for the FPD.

Patients are interested in the debate as well. 

Amy Morrow of Frederick has been receiving acupuncture occasionally at The Turning Point for almost a year. She said she couldn’t afford treatment at many centers, but the sliding scale approach at The Turning Point made treatment accessible, she said.

Morrow broke her ankle three months ago, and after surgery to insert screws and a plate, she began receiving acupuncture three times a week for a month. She said she thinks the treatment drastically reduced her healing time, as she was back to work four weeks after her surgery.

“Based on this experience, yes, I most certainly believe that practitioners who do not have a (doctorate) can certainly provide successful and skillful treatment,” she said.

Morrow said she thinks the doctorate requirement will reduce health care options for all patients.

“It is my opinion that this would be taking options away from individuals seeking to explore all possible methods of treatment for the betterment of their health (or) condition,” she said.

Jessica Feltz
Author: Jessica Feltz

<p> I learned about Community Acupuncture while studying at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine (MCOM) in the Spring of 2006 when Lisa Rohleder's first article about her clinic appeared in Acupuncture Today. Coming from a middle-class background myself, I was the only student in my acupuncture class to have not experienced the healing benefits of this medicine prior to beginning studies at MCOM. I couldn't afford it. And my family couldn't understand what I was doing by investing in an education that they didn't perceive to be financially sustainable. </p> <p> The Community Acupuncture model is a perfect fit for me, balancing social justice and taoist simplicity with the patient's innate ability to heal him/herself (with a few gentle nudges from strategically placed needles). I am grateful every day to have found CAN and the love it brings into my life. I want to share that joy by spreading the message about how we can create a new health care experience in our communities through each of our very small efforts...and how those very small efforts can in turn change the world. </p> I enjoy my two sons, my 4 cats, and big stacks of books.  I own and operate...

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  1. FPD

    I’ve been reading up from a variety of sources and I sure do wish that CAN would report on a variety of views on this subject and while taking a position, do so in a way that respects rather than degrades those who feel otherwise.

  2. Guest…

    you mean like the following excerpt from a particularly nasty email campaign going around right now?…
    “”This low standard advocated by C.A.N. is damaging to the profession…
    This (CAN) low level practitioner couldn’t work on the poorest of the poor in China,Korea, or any other country…
    Why are we tolerating these clinics and their Revolution that puts the reputation of the medicine and the patient/consumer at risk…?
    This is an insult to our teachers…
    C.A.N. is treating people of poverty with these low standards…. it is horrible.””
    I don’t think having a certain point of view on the issues surround the FPD, while making sure to clearly state them is a problem. It’s really our responsibility, as an organization and as individuals.
    Obviously, there are colleagues among us who are troubled by our doing so….and are also troubled in general.

  3. can’t stay neutral on a moving train

    We’re not journalists.  We’re acupuncturists who are passionate about making acupuncture accessible to the communities we love.  The writing here is shamlessly opinionated from that standpoint, and I for one see no reason to try to “report” positions that would ultimately harm our patients.

    Since you’ve been reading from a variety of sources, I trust you can go elsewhere for other opinions.

  4. do you have the originators of the e-mail???

    GNV: it would be very interesting to see who is it that is putting out such verbiage, and what the context of the e-mail is.


  5. Future Acupuncturist recommendations…


    As a TCM practitioner and FNP candidate, I have recommendations for those who would like to pursue acupuncture as a career…feel free to post at will.

    1: Graduate from a regionally accredited 4 year college/university

    2: Start working in your profession

    3: research colleges of TCM–DO NOT EVER under any circumstances enter a school of TCM with their basic 60hrs of credit requirement–you will only be viewed by regionally accredited institutions as having only an AA–NOT as masters (see below)

    4: understand that most colleges (all except 3) are nationally accredited and your “Master’s” degree means absolutely nothing, unless you graduated from a regionally accredited institution.

    5: If healthcare is your passion, look at other professions that have actual job prospects such as Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Nursing–then enter into either of those programs–and walk into a field with a salary of at least 50k–you should be over 80k in a couple of years

    6: THEN and only then start researching colleges of TCM and pay for school out of pocket–DO NOT BORROW to go to any TCM program. Again, if you’re a Physical Therapist, RN, nurse practitioner, Physician Assistant, you will have the income to be able to pay out of pocket–find a program that will allow you to continue working while learning TCM (they do exist). Keep in mind that all of your biomedical coursework from your PT, PA, RN/NP programs are taught at a much higher level than any TCM program ever could aspire to–you will also have direct experience with lab and film interpretation, so your coursework will (or should) only be TCM. If the program will not accept your biomedicine credits, you do have recourse (up to reporting the program to the CCAOM and the state and federal DOE–especially if you have the biomedical status of being a mid level practitioner–NP, PA, PT–these are all MS or higher [DPT]. If you have a BSN, you should also not have to take the biomed coursework–saving you $$$–keep in mind, all but 3 TCM programs are FOR-PROFIT).

    7: Realize that, unless you are in the state of California, there are very few staff positions (try little to none) where practitioners are able to self-sustain.

    9: build your practice slowly and with integrity–if there is a community acupuncture practice in your area, ask if you can observe the practice

    10: AVOID Practice Management Consultants (ESPECIALLY PMCs that are/cater to chiropractors)–they are expensive and have very questionable ethical tactics for “patient acquisition” and “patient retention.”


    12: Practice part-time–there is something called the ability to afford to practice. If you have no income, you cannot afford to practice–in other words, keep your job (remember, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or physician assistant pays bigger dividends in more ways than one–401k or pension, insurance, stable income with paid time off). If you’re an RN, you might work 3 12 hr shifts a week (and make anywhere between 50k-95k depending on location, seniority, and shift differentials/overtime)–this leaves 4 days a week to do other things–LIKE build your part-time practice. I know of many people who gave up their 6 figure salary positions in non-medical fields to start their practices and have failed–now have little to no income, and have been out of their field for so long that it is very challenging to re-enter their former professions. The converse to that, I do know of a couple of law enforcement officers who did study TCM, kept their jobs, practiced on the side, then retired and are collecting their pensions while transitioning to practicing full-time–how awesome is that!!!

    13. If you do become an RN, Nurse Practitioner, Physical Therapist, Physician Assistant and then pursue TCM training, your opportunities in mainstream healthcare (ie. hospital staff positions, integrative medical settings, etc) are far greater than any single-line TCM practitioner would ever be.

  6. ok…

    so it was one of the “holy trinity” of the rabid FPDonistas.

    I think Bob Flaws’ stance on the FPD carries so much more authority than any of the podunk holy trinity

  7. “Low-standard” indeed

    That “rooster” should be reminded of the institutional Low-Standard set by the profession in the first place–such as only requiring 60 hrs (equivalent to an AA) for entry, and that all but 3 colleges of TCM are nationally accredited–which means absolutely nothing to any regionally accredited institution (like your typical everyday run of the mill junior colleges, state and private colleges and universities).

    So in essence, that “masters” degree that the vast majority of TCM colleges are conferring do not amount to anything–those credits/degrees are NOT ACKNOWLEDGED by any regionally accredited institution.

    Please feel free to remind him of this.

  8. Interesting perspective

    Jessica (and everyone),
    Not sure if anyone has heard of Steven Stumpf, but he provided a very interesting assessment on the FPD. I think this post is about a year old, but still very relevant.

    His credentials are quite interesting to name a few:
    Doctorate in Education Research Methods and Evaluation
    Former provost and Director Doctorate program @ ECTOM
    Director of Research, Evaluation & Education USC School of Medicine, Dept. of Family Medicine
    complete CV here: