(from Elizabeth Bruckner, future punk at Bluegreen Community Acupuncture)
On August 7th of this year, hundreds of acupuncture graduates entered a massive exam room to take their state board’s licensing exam. I was one of those graduates. After years of study, 5 months of review courses and intense memorization, I felt prepared for the 200 question exam that, upon passing, would grant me the right to practice acupuncture in California.
I received a score of 74%. For many exams in the history of the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam (CALE), the passing score hovered between 68-70%. This exam, however, the passing score was set at an all -time high of 76%. My dreams of opening a community acupuncture clinic in my neighbor came to dead halt.
I did what any graduate student would do. I took a few days to grieve and began to study again for the next exam which is set for February 2013 while figuring out a way to make my very little savings last through 6 more months of unemployment. A few days later, one of my teachers called me to say that something might have been wrong with the exam. Colleges throughout California were noticing that the number of students who failed this exam was much higher than past exams. Things didn’t add up.
Graduates and college representatives asked the California Acupuncture Board (CAB) for explanation. We called and left messages but our calls were not returned. We sent hundreds of letters but received only one response via mail. It read, “There were no errors in the exam results, so the score that you received in the first exam letter is correct.”
Concerned patients, graduates, students and college representatives sent more letters to the Department of Consumer Affairs only to be told that our letters were merely forwarded to CAB for review. Once again, we received no response. We loaded our worn out, unemployed selves into cars and delivered our message directly to the CAB at their quarterly meeting in November. “We are hungry. We are tired. We are angry and we are not going to take it anymore.”
The board agreed to investigate the exam. No deadline was set except one; the February exam fees are due on December 21st. The day after the meeting, we emailed and called CAB asking them to set a deadline for the investigation. They told one staff member from the Senate Committee that they hope to have an answer for us at the February board meeting. WHAT?!?
CAB has had over four months to investigate their mistakes; mistakes which cost 61% of the people who took the exam to fail and be forced into 6 more months of unemployment. Hundreds of graduates are unable to work because CAB set the passing score higher than ever before. Yes, you read that correctly. Due to the all-time high passing score, 61% of the people who took the exam failed!
What exactly are the colleges and graduates asking for? It’s simple. We want the passing score to be changed to a customary 70% before the next exam’s fees are due on December 21st. We want to be able to work in the field for which we were trained. We want what is rightly ours – a passing score of 70% and the right to practice medicine like all those that went before us.
Our patients are waiting for us. They deserve to be offered affordable acupuncture in their neighborhood. This increased passing score doesn’t protect patients. It merely lowers the number of new acupuncturists entering the workforce.
We need your help. Just a few hundred unemployed graduates sounds like a buzzing mosquito in the ears of the CAB. We need your voices to rise up with ours. We need people who care about getting a fair exam for all to speak up for those of us who are being ignored. This is not just for this exam. We need the insanity of a select few deciding who gets to practice acupuncture to stop!
Do you want to be part of the solution? Here are 2 things you can do RIGHT NOW.
1. SIGN and CIRCULATE our petition link by emailing it to friends and posting it on friend's Facebook pages. A sentence as simple as “Please help me and other displaced graduates” usually does the trick.
Here's the link;
2. MAKE THREE CALLS & CIRCULATE our telephone campaign information (copy/paste info below) via Facebook and email. The telephone calls are continuing to flow throughout next week. If you haven't made a call yet, please do so. It's easy, it's supporting displaced graduates and let's be honest, it's fun to kick up a little dust in Sacramento.
Here’s what you can share about the telephone campaign.
Friends, we need your help. While the CAB has agreed to investigate the acupuncture exam many of us took in August, they are dragging their feet. We want to be sure they stay focused on the task of fixing their mistakes BEFORE exam fees are due on 12/21/12 for the next exam.
So, we are asking you to make 3 calls this week to help us get a fair exam for everyone.
Please use the script below or speak your mind freely while calling these three people;
1. James Westbrooks # (213)745-6656 at Senator Price's office
2. Bob Holmgren # (916) 575-7273 at Office of Professional Examination Services
3. Governor Jerry Brown # (916) 445-2841 at his office
“Hello, my name is _____. I am calling to request California Acupuncture Board (CAB) finish their investigation on the August California Acupuncture Licensing exam (CALE), and re-score it to a fair and reasonable passing score of 70% by December 7th. Please reference the letter and petition emailed to you on Tuesday, 11/27/12 from CALE Takers United Front. Thank you!” [end of script]