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.