Should Acupuncture Schools Be Regulated By the Federal Government?

A couple of interesting comments have popped up in Lisa Rohleder’s blog post, “D-O-E means Department of Education, also means DO IT, DO IT NOW!” which is five blog posts below mine here. Check it out.

I want to address a major point of contention from the comments.

The main comment is from Richard Browne, President of the Acupuncture and Massage College in Miami. He states: 

“Having read a number 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?”

Besides the fact that I am not nor ever will be interested in Richard Browne’s vomit, he brings up the point that since acupuncture students are not forced to attend acupuncture school or take out loans then he and his school do not have responsibility for what happens to these students after they graduate. He goes on to say,

” Yes i am aware that most acupuncture graduates fail at patient building, so what are going to do about it?  Quit?” 

To me Browne is stating basic principles of capitalism. He has a product to sell and it’s up to the buyer to use it well or fail.  Simple. Direct. Thanks Richard for telling us your position. 

Now the thing is, it’s not that simple. Browne’s school, like all the others, is largely, probably mostly, financed by students who take out Federal student loans to pay for their education.  Basically the acupuncture schools are dependent on the Feds to keep them afloat, at least with the numbers of students they have. True, there were Acupuncture schools before the ability to dole out student loans were given to schools by the Feds, but after they got that loan giving ability the number of schools greatly increased and those early schools also grew in size. Today the Acupuncture Education profession itself is mostly dependent on the continued access to those loans — because, due to sky-high practitioner failure rates, the profession essentially IS the schools.

But as Lisa points out in that blog post, the US Department of Education is looking at making stiffer requirements for those for-profit institutions to get those student loans. The DOE is looking to see if those loans are going to good use; that the graduates of such programs that have student loans are getting jobs so they can pay them back. The DOE is saying that for the country as a whole and the country’s economic well being, those student loans need to be paid back and if the students of a college program are not able to get a better job so they can pay them back then perhaps we should withdraw the ability of said college from giving those loans in the first place. 

To be fair, the DOE is especially looking at big for profit colleges like the University of Phoenix. But minnows like the acupuncture colleges are caught up in this action too. In fact Richard Browne’s college is or could be eventually in the DOE’s sights. It’s very possible that many for-profit acupuncture colleges might have to prove that their graduates are getting jobs or are being successful in their private practices, something that I am not aware that any acupuncture college is tracking. So these points that Browne brings up and I quote are not just idle questions of economic philosophy. He and his school are directly affected. 

It’s my contention that if the federal government makes available money for private companies to use for their profit by lending it out to individuals, the federal government has a responsibility to ensure that those individuals are using it for the public good. I understand that the private companies don’t want to look at it that way; their interests lie in how their company does. 

But those private companies  are not using THEIR money. They are using taxpayers’ money. Public money. For their private profit.  That’s okay–as long as those private companies can show that the individuals who are using the money are using it for their benefit as well, not just the companies’ benefit. The Feds want everyone to win. To know if that is happening they need transparency in what is happening with the money. Hence the proposed regulations around that money. 

To the Feds it doesn’t make any difference if the individuals (students) are whiners or stupid or anything else that makes Richard Browne want to vomit. The Feds are interested in the outcome of what happens with the money. The Feds know that it does the country no good if the private acupuncture schools, like Browne’s, make a profit while their grads routinely fail — regardless of the intentions of the schools. 

The Feds want results. Can Richard Browne and other school owners deliver? By his marginally comprehensible comment (it gets more incomprehensible towards the end)  the answer looks clear: no. 

 So restating what he wrote one more time,

” Yes i am aware that most acupuncture graduates fail at patient building, so what are going to do about it?  Quit?”

 My answer is, yes, Richard, if you run your school without any regard for what happens to your students after they graduate, then, yes, I wish that you would quit. And all the other schools that are doing the same. Because the schools are so much more economically viable than their graduates, due to the generous assistance of the taxpayers, the schools have been the de facto leaders of the profession. But this kind of leadership is not what the profession needs, it’s dead wood and the Feds are waving the pruning shears.  

An addendum.

In another part of Browne’s comment, and in his second comment that he just put up, he mentions the David Singer course. Let me get his first comment:

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.”

My answer to this is twofold:

1) The Singer course is a totally private thing. No student loans are available to it. That is entirely different then Browne’s Acu-school. 

2) As such we-none of us-have ANY idea of how successful grads of Singer’s program is. You can see here that Browne thinks highly of the Singer program and he looks to assure us that it’s good. Myself I have heard a bunch of people who didn’t like the program at all and called it a waste of money — a LOT of money. Who’s right-me or Browne? Who knows? There are no verifiable stats on how successful people are who do that program. It’s a total let-the-buyer-beware naked capitalism thing. 

3) But most directly to the point, that Browne brings up the Singer program is an admission that his school does not prepare its grads for the real world. How damning is that? Way. He goes on in his next comment:

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.”

OK, let’s talk business again. Like you, Richard, I provide a product to the community. If I became aware that a whole bunch of people — some of them people I claimed to respect — were upset with my product, how I presented it, how I marketed it, how it turned out for them, I would think that I had a problem. Me, not them. Any business owner knows you can’t make everybody happy, you can’t be perfect all the time, you’re human and you are going to make mistakes but that is different from a whole bunch of people complaining that they used your product in good faith and now they wish they hadn’t. That means there is either a problem with the product itself, or a problem with the way the product is delivered, or you are attracting the wrong people to use your product. Any one of those is your responsibility to fix, not your customers’. As a small business owner who is NOT getting subsidized by the taxpayers, I can’t afford the luxury of blaming my customers. I have to make sure that my customers know what they are paying for, get what they are paying for, and are happy they paid for it, happy enough to encourage other people to do the same. That’s one reason so many CANners are so mad at the schools: we run small businesses, we know the rules we have to live by, and they’re not the same rules you live by. When you talk about business to acupuncturists, what you and the schools are saying is, do as I say not as I do. No wonder they don’t listen to you.

Skip Van Meter
Author: Skip Van Meter

Skip is Lead Acupuncturist and Co-Founder of <a href="" target="_blank">Working Class Acupuncture</a> in Portland, Oregon. With the earlier part of his life spent acquiring knowledge about geology, urban planning and teaching high school, he has now been an acupuncturist for 19 years, using about a 1,750,000 needles poking his patients. He likes all things soccer, has three fabulous sons, the best wife in the world, and a great dog and two cool cats.

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  1. What would happen

    if CAN set up their/our own school?

    It’s true that we do put out a fair amount of vitriol towards certain groups, but this is the internet – we’re supposed to be semi-anonymous haters. But what if we took that energy and put it towards creating positive change?

    As an organisation, CAN certainly looks more at the practice of the profession better than your American governing organisations, and our Canadian governing colleges. CAN could be the guiding light for education reform as well as health care reform.

    The folks behind CAN, and of course WCA, found and promote a different way to practice acupuncture from what we grew used to here. I’m sure that we could find a different way to teach acupuncture.

    It’s not the first time I’ve put this thought out there, but we could start small with a CAN conference – work on educating practicing acupuncturists through continuing education first.

    Look at one story from Vancouver:

    Acubalance: a specialty clinic (now a franchise of sorts) founded by a guy from my school who started as a “holistic accountant” (his words).

    ProD Seminars: a CE sales point, live seminars and also distance learning often from those live ones. an online forum for the discussion of specialty practices, politics of health care, etc. Like CAN, but without the heart.

    You can certainly see that a guy with an accounting background has his bases covered to make some good cash off his patients as well as his colleagues. But you can’t deny his passion and energy for it. So, why can’t CAN do better? We’ve got the passion and the energy, plus a few more minds.

    We have the clinics, just as decentralised individuals working with a common goal. We have the forum, you’re reading it right now. The education component is still a bit small; an occasional seminar, some awesome books and a cool DVD – but this can change. The kernel is there in the materials already, right in the middle of Noodles.

    The details are obviously an issue; setting up an entire school is more work than anyone can take away from what we already do. Distance learning combined with in person check-ins would be nice, but may not satisfy licensing requirements for education. Maybe an existing school, sympathetic our overall goals, and forward looking to see that the current way of teaching won’t work forever, is an option for a partnership.

    Just my two bits, not that I’ve ever seen a bit. Maybe I’m just talking out of my arse, but I’d be in.


    This is your world; these are your people. You can live for yourself today, or help build tomorrow for everyone.

  2. So – you eliminate Title IV

    So – you eliminate Title IV funding. OK – now there are private student loans. These private loans come from the same companies that own credit cards. Without Title IV at acupuncture colleges, the private – for obscene profit – lenders don’t have to keep reasonable rates. Right now, Fed loans are about 3% – some less. Do you think that AES and Sallie Mae and the others will keep low rates when Acu students can’t get Title IV? I don’t get it – the situation will be worse!!!

    Schools depend mostly (if not entirely) on tuition for funding. Some schools will close. Now there is less competition. THAT will make the cost go down? When has less competition led to better things for the average person? It sounds like monopoly capitalism.

    What am I missing? Obviously, there are many, many problems with the system. How does this solve anything?

  3. The schools have hung themselves on their own petard.

    Licencing requirements in the  US, and now in some Canadian provinces (and growing) require an idiotically unnecessary number of hours of training and useless courses. These requirements are LEGISLATED and the legislation was lobbied for by the schools and acupuncturists whose arrogant egos were swayed by the schools to believe that they would be more “professional” with all those hours of useless training. The schools can’t suddenly change their curricula to something more sensible and useful because it would require a change in legislation for licencing. Given the number of years it took to get the licencing in place in the first place, not to mention the turf battles involved, the likelihood of changing licencing requirements is quite small. Which leaves the option of schools closing, or creating new licencing options like “acupuncture assisstant”or some such silly thing that requires fewer hours and less money for training.

    In Ontario, one of the major spearheads for licencing has been Cedric Cheung,a man with an ego bigger than God, who started the Canadian Medical Acupuncture Association of Canada. And Cheung owns a what? an acupuncture school in London Ontario with a 4-year progam. The likelihood of these private schools in Canada ever being able to get student loan miney is nil. But the other option here is money from the unemployment insurance folks. Massage therapy students are eligible for unemployment funds for career retraining for students who do not have another post-secondary degree. The acupuncture schools are drooling over this money and excited as hell to see licencing come into force so their students will be eligible for those funds.

    The other thing that’s happening is the “be very afraid” campaign schools are foisting on past graduates, telling them that when the licencing regs come into force, they won’t be able to get licenced unless they come back and take a bunch more stupid unnecessary courses like bio-med stuff, when the regs state quite clearly we can only diagnose in TCM terms. All this in spite of the fact that the new regs will grandfather in anyone with a diploma, and even those who don’t have one who can prove they’ve been practicing for some time.

    ‘Nuff said. I’m starting to get pissed off.


  4. Pauline makes a good reply to your concerns below

    I’l just add a few things. 

    In the US the Acu-schools are dependent on Title IV money to stay open. Most would close if they lost that funding and the rest would be much smaller. That would mean that many people who now think about going to acu-school and accruing $100K+ in debt before they graduate only to fail as an Acupuncturist would no longer do so. 

    That would be a very, very good thing.  

    The Acupuncture Education Industry needs wholesale reform of its practices because as Richard Browne basically says, they are not competent at providing a useful education fro their students. If they refuse to reform themselves, then yeah, they should shut their doors. They shouldn’t be allowed to continue to use taxpayers’ money for the purpose of getting hundreds (thousands?) of people a year in massive debt that they can’t pay back via their chosen profession. That’s a waste of taxpayer money and it benefits no one but school owners like Browne. 

  5. Obviously there are huge

    Obviously there are huge problems in the education process. But….if so many schools close and very few can go to school? How does the industry grow and develop when only rich people who can afford school get to go? IS your proposal to move the education into the university system? That might be better than “mom & pop” shops.

    It seems that this approach either sets up monopoly capitalism for a few elite schools using private lenders or almost nobody joining the industry. Unless CM becomes a part of public universities at normal university costs (perhaps better standards?)

  6. I don’t know where to put this.

    Thought it was interesting though: Hundreds of Colleges Fail to Make the Grade on Financial Responsibility Here are some of the names that I recognized:

    Tai Sophia

    Traditional Chinese Medical College of Hawaii

    American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

    New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine

    AIM – Berkeley

    Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupuncture

    Arizona School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

    Southwest Acupuncture College

    Colorado School of Traditional Medicine

    Emperor’s College of Traditional Medicine

    East West College of Natural Medicine

    Florida College of Integrative Medicine

  7. A couple of answers

    – If only rich people can go to school then the profession will die out here. On the other hand the status quo may well also see the profession die out. I mean the NCCAOM is putting as good a spin on their survey numbers as they can but those numbers are awful. The longer they stay that dismal the more likely people will avoid the schools. Something has to change for the profession to survive.

    – Moving the education profession into the university system, or better yet the community college system, would save a ton of money. Yeah, that would be a good way to go. The trick is to get in the door.  And to get in that door there needs to be more transparency probably. Like how does Oriental medicine relate to western medicine anyway? At any rate these are questions that various people in the profession are thinking about, but don’t yet have the answers yet.

  8. Job placement

    Just curious… how many of us where placed in jobs out of college or university anyway?

    What can we really expect from a school?

    And even if there was a ‘Community Acupuncture School’ how many people would be successful in practice?

    Say an acupuncturist needed $100,000 per year to support their 4 child family, plan for retirement, and live their life in the way they see fit… could a CAN school or any school insure this outcome? 

    Maybe its not clear what future acupuncturists are getting into… but who’s fault is that?  The schools alone?


    The People’s Acupuncture Clinic

    “health for the people… by the people.”

  9. Accountablility

    I don’t feel as though this debate is placing unfair blame on the acupuncture schools – certainly one is responsible for looking at their own skill set and deciding if they can run their own business, but we all have our own experiences of what we were told when we applied to school.  I feel as though the scant information I was given when I applied definitely glossed over what the truth of the situation is, at best.  And, it definitely seems to me that they did (and continue to) not provide honest information to their applicants, which I would fully expect from a profit-driven corporation, but not from a non-profit organization that promotes health and wellness.  I know for a fact that my school braggs about how much more successful their graduates are because of the “business” classes we’re given, and I found out while in school that they collect almost no usable data – all the information they have is anecdotal and volunteered by graduates.  It is these sort of practices I would like to see done away with.  Tuition at my school has increased 30% while I have been a student there, with no new opportunities for us as students, no expansion of curriculum, and my school once again failed the US Dept of Ed’s test of financial health this year, for the 3rd year in a row.  Something doesn’t add up. 


    I certainly expect from a school that they would be pro-student.  From the stories I hear about how many acu school are run, they seem instead to be pro-themselves.  

  10. FFEL Loan Interest Rates

    Effective July 1, 2006 federal student loan (subsidized and unsubsidized) interest rates became fixed (yes, fixed) at 6.8%. No longer variable and no longer at 2-3% as in years past.

  11. When I went to school I did not expect really anything from them

    Fortunately I had seen some of the scandalous things like school presidents “taking the money and running” as experienced by acupuncturists I knew long before I became one myself.  This was long before Title IV funding became available.

    Acupuncture training has long been a “DIY” proposition with a twist of risk that the money you gave to the schools would not turn into an actual degree that you could take to a licensing board to legitimately practice.  At some point in the state of California, you could simply bypass education and just buy your way into a license.  Eventually that landed a few people in the Hooskow (sp?) and it did alot to curb outright corruption within the schools.  So we can be grateful that there are laws in place to develop standards by which our profession can kind of agree to educate its students.

    It seems true that acupuncture schools themselves are openly saying that they have no responsibility in job placement.  According to the gentleman extensively quoted by Skip, it seems that training is their only burden.  Getting yourself employed is the responsibility of you the student cum acupuncturist.

    Well let’s take the middle road.  Let’s suppose that the burden of the future belongs to both student and school.

    It is hard to argue against the fact that some students are completely unrealistic about how they to translate their educations into a job.  They seem baffled by the fact that nothing is available to them when the ink is dry on the National exam.  How could they not know that to make it work it is highly necessary to hustle?  I never saw a job board filled with employment opportunities at any acupuncture school I ever visited.

    On the other hand, schools seem to realize but do nothing to help out with the fact that students can be overwhelmed with the burdens of academics and acu-training and do not seem interested in what comes after.  For some, the future is too overwhelming that they will worry about what to do after they pass their boards. IMHO it is not really smart, but I can see the logic.

    So instead of touting the merits of Singer and making them pay exhorbitant amounts of money to go through an unproven program of financial success, why not try to figure out how to offer affordable post training programming, networking and job placement support that is offered in other institutions of higher learning outside of our esteemed profession?

    Granted, some students in the end will have decided they made an expensive and time consuming mistake.  Analogous to the many attorneys I have met who decided way too late into school that they really did not like the law profession.  I have met my share of physicians who decided the same.

    However, in those professions, there are many other ways to parlay education into an ancillary job.  Corporate jobs, research jobs etc. Not so true with acupuncture.  Well you could write a book or hope a school will hire you to teach or maybe you can get temporary research assistant jobs, but that is about it for a just a handful of graduates.

    The other answer is not not open a community acupuncture school, but for schools to actively develop relationships with their successful graduates and offer incentives for them to work with or somehow mentor students.  

    No, none of this will guarantee anyone a job.  However, the schools have an obligation to we the taxpayers to practice due diligence in the area of job placement.  

    They have more of a responsiblity to us the taxpayer than to the students themselves.  They are loaning our money to someone who supposedly will use it wisely.  Using it wisely translates to lots of people receiving acupuncture from students who are graduating from TItle IV funded schools.

    It is clear this is not happening.  If it doesn’t happen soon, it is the federal government’s responsiblity to the taxpayer to take away Title IV funding.  And you can’t tell me that acupuncture schools are too big to fail.  Don’t make me grind my teeth anymore than I do already. 



  12. Radical idea

    I agree that the main factor that needs to change
    is for the schools to make the effort to learn how their graduates fare in the
    marketplace and then share that information with new, prospective graduates. Here
    is a radical idea: Wouldn’t be something to see schools that so emphasize educating
    their students to be successful in practice that they lend their graduates the
    money needed to start-up their practices. If they really screened their prospective
    students and then taught them right, they would make money both in tuition and
    in the interest on the practice start-up loans. Such a school would get far
    more interest from prospective students as they would be proving their ability
    to train their graduates in such a way that they can be successful in the real
    world and that would allow them to pick and choose the best students.

  13. whoa.

    sounds like a lot of schools are already on the ED radar.

    this financial health ratio is a complicated calculation, unless you understand accounting, and you have access to all of an organization’s financial audits, which schools are required to provide to ED.

    for those who wish to know more, here’s a link to the FA guidelines and chapter 11.

    Chapter 11: Financial Standards in PDF Format, 145KB, 11 pages

    for any school, it means that the school has to put aside a large amount of cash in the form of a “letter of credit” as a backup for the possibility of closure.  this can run into a large dollar figure for a bigger school.  what’s unsettling is that some of the schools are running in the negative numbers on the ratio.


  14. mine is over 10 years old –

    mine is over 10 years old – it is still adjustable and only 3.25% – wherever you got this, it doesn’t seem accurate. Mine adjusted just 2 months ago and went down

  15. Apprenticeship

    It seems to me that acupuncture doesn’t need to be taught in an institutionalized educational system at all (though if that’s the only way we can have it, I certainly agree that a public university is a much better place for it to be).

    For thousands of years, this medicine has been taught through an apprenticeship. It could continue to be done so today. NCCAOM allows students with over 4000 hours of time with a preceptor, over the course of 3-6 years, to sit for boars. It’s up to the state licensing whether or not they will accept that board exam. Oregon will not right now, but with a campaign that illustrates the intelligence of the idea, I don’t see why it can’t be done.

    Apprenticeship costs taxpayers NOTHING. It benefits practicing acupuncturist preceptors, who are able to trade their skills and knowledge for labor in their clinics. It benefits students, who can begin apprenticeship in a clinic that they already like, get to learn the filing and business end of it as they go (thus deciding within a short amount of time if it’s even for them), etc.

    Institutionalized educational institutions are made for physics, mathematics and other subject matter that needs theoretical spaces drawn out on chalkboards. They are not made for hands-on, reality-based subject matter like ours.

  16. the apprenticeship route

    the apprenticeship route must have been recently reinstated, which is a complete turnaround from NCCAOM previously saying in a 2009 candidate handbook that the apprenticeship route was to be abolished by december, 2010.

  17. What I heard

    What I have been reading was that it was to be abolished by February 2010…and that it was then reinstated. I could be wrong, as so much in this profession is ambiguous, but I’ve been trying to follow it as best I can.

  18. I’m curious.

    How much is annual tuition in the US at an acupuncture school? Here in Canada, it is about $8500 per year. Contrast that with Ontario universities, where tuition in an undergraduate program is $5800-$6500. Ryerson Polytechnical University in Toronto has been bandying about the idea of a 4-year acu program after regs come in. Universities in Canada are less expensive as you go west, where there is more government subsidy money to the schools, and more expensive as you go east, where the provinces are poorer.

    Personally I think the university is a good place for acu training and can keep costs of education down. However, I don’t think what we get as training has anything to do with Masters level training. You can be sure if Ryerson brings it in it will result in a bachelor’s degree. In Edmonton there’s a three year program in a community college. That’s probably an even better place than a university, as they are kind of trade schools. Of course, there’s no snob factor. And the universities are cheaper.

    We have a cap here on student loans. You get about $10,000 a year as a single student, adn close to $15,000 if married. After $8500 in tuition, there’s not much to live on. (My two younger daughers were $40,000 in debt after 5 years undergraduate studies (they changed programs) and two years Masters degrees. One of them just got a $96,000 job. She’s making more than her dad and I put together.)

    So, we’re still looking at a profession that attracts the children of the rich, cuz they’re the only ones who can afford it. And they’re the very people who will insist and fight for the BA model. Stupid, stupid stupid. (Sorry, did I write that out loud?)


  19. the root issue

    “The schools can’t suddenly change their curricula to something more sensible and useful because it would require a change in legislation for licencing.”

    Thank you, Pauline.  I mentioned this in another discussion and I still think that it is a *key* issue that we are ignoring.  Why don’t we cut out the middleman (schools) and start working on influencing acupuncture legislation?  

    Yes, it would be very difficult in some states where the issue is highly politicized.  But there are still a handful of states that have no or ambiguous acupuncture regulations.  If we could make headway in those places, and show that acupuncture can be safe and effective without the bloated curriculum, we then might be able to influence the other states.

    The DOE has already shown that it might be more sensible than for-profit schools (though, of course, the government is acting in its own best interest as well).  Maybe there is a glimmer of hope for the state legislatures too.  The schools obviously are going to fight tooth and nail to survive; the legislature has less of a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo.


  20. This will cause more problems than it will fix!

    So, you wan to eliminate Title IV funding? STUPID! It will make things worse not better. Let’s eliminate funding for all medical schools– MD, DO, DC, etc and go back to the days when they were apprenticed also. If you eliminate Title IV funding there will not be any acupuncturists to see– it will be eliminated as a profession in the US just as other forms of more natural medicine was eliminated in the early 1900s by the AMA. Are you sure you are for this profession because you sound like a group set up by the pharmaceutical industry and the AMA to eliminate the competition.

  21. 6.8% FFEL interest rate is accurate

    ….for loans dispersed on or after July 1, 2006.  Lots of legislation passed during the 2005 calendar year to put these rates into effect.  Between this change and the increases in tuition, there’s hundreds of recent AOM graduates out there with huge student loan debt.

  22. Fear mongering will get you

    Fear mongering will get you nowhere.  Many of us here believe it is highly inappropriate for schools to just raise, raise, raise their tuition without expanding curriculum for their students.  I do no believe anyone here wants to eliminate Title IV funding per se, but many of us do want to see more regulations in place as to how the organizations that benefit from this funding  are run.  We, as students, are mortgaging our future, and someone needs to reign in the skyrocketing tuition rates of these schools, because they either can’t or won’t do it themselves. 

  23. In the US there is a wide

    In the US there is a wide range – also some are 3 year programs and some are 4 years.
    Low end is about 10,000 per year for 3 years – high end is 22,000 per year for 3 years. Quite a difference, huh?

  24. Changing legislation…

    would be extremely difficult.  Every state has a different set of laws.  The states with no acupuncture laws typically face huge opposition to acupuncture from the medical associations.  Mississippi got their acupuncture law last year thanks to the diligence of a few tenacious acupuncturists, a couple of influential legislators, and one hell of a lobbyist.  The medical association fought hard every step of the way, even after the bill was passed.  Many other states faced similar battles, and proposed changes to the laws requiring less education could be a contentious issue, seen as a sign of weakness by the medical associations and reason enough for another fight.  Not to mention that there are plenty of acupuncturists who would fight this – they wouldn’t want someone with less education being licensed.

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

  25. In California they are

    In California they are looking to discontinue Tutorials as the passing rate is usually in the low 20%. Tutorial may train someone to treat like their tutor, but not pass tests. If we move to this model, how do we protect the public and insure that each new practitioner has some minimal level of competency?

  26. Maybe the schools should be judged on their “product” quality

    When I went to interview at TCM school six+ years ago, I was told endlessly about the quality of the teachers, their expertise, the rich experiences I would have in class and clinic, the depth of the education I would receive.

    The reality was rather different:

    -Classes consisting solely of a teacher reading a Power Point aloud as we read along in our handouts.

    -Classes in which the the tests were repeated yearly and thus had been copied and handed out ahead of time among the student body for years.

     -Clinic shifts where the supervisor never left the faculty lounge, would not discuss cases or herbs, and simply signed their names to charts and went back to surfing the internet.

     -An inexplicably extensive administrative staff, most of whom were friends with each other and the professors with the most classes and clinic shifts.

     -A *very* small handful of hardworking and extremely frustrated teacher/acupuncturists who were utterly excluded from the majority culture of the school, which existed clearly to keep a select group of people employed and salaried without requiring them to do any more work than the most basic necessary.

    -A status quo that was “Do not question the wisdom or efficacy of this education- have respect for your teachers, keep your mouth shut, get along or get out.” 

    In other words, the “product” was a lemon.

    I graduated with a 3.96 GPA, was the first person to finish the CA board exam in August 2009, and passed it with a very high score- and all I did was memorize possible test questions and regurgitate information (and take an expensive and apparently effective board test prep class). I learned almost nothing about practicing this medicine in the real world, and I rarely saw real results in the school clinic.

    Since studying community acupuncture through Noodles and various other texts, reading this forum, interning at Circle CA, going to a TAN conference and studying the Tan/Tung/Miriam Lee books and related notes so generously shared here on CAN, I have become a confident and effective practitioner, who has now treated hundreds of people with excellent results in just a few short months. Everything I do I could have learned in about 12 months of solid work with dedicated supervision. And after the hundreds of hours (and tens of thousands of dollars) spent studying Chinese herbs, I find that I mostly prescribe (and have excellent results with) the western herbs I learned in a 10-month apprenticeship, with a community herbalist 10 years ago, that cost me $2000.

    My lemon of a TCM education set me back $80,000 in student loans. I was explicitly told that tuition would not increase while I was a student; it increased dramatically despite student protests. I was explicitly told the average income of practitioners was $60-100K yearly; this has not borne out in the reality of anyone I know.

    I did not go to acupuncture school to make money; I figured business school was the place to do that, and anyway, I wasn’t interested in making money, but I did assume- based on what I was told repeatedly- that I could expect to make a living for myself. Luckily I found CAN and am on the way to a sustainable practice.

    I believe that schools should be in the business of providing a quality education. It is my experience that some are failing miserably at it. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal consumer law- basically a lemon law. I think as long as schools see themselves in the “business” of selling an education, then they should be subject to regulation just like other sellers. Because we are, in fact, being cheated. 

  27. um

    yeah.  we are a front organization for the the pharmaceutical companies and AMA and have been trembling from the waves that “the profession” is making.  getting to your title IV funds is how we’ll stop you.  we even initiated the DOE to start the process itself, all to stop the steady stream of successful and well-prepared acupuncture graduates. 

    You wouldn’t believe how deep the rabbit hole goes.



    “Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey


  28. This year’s tuition at Tai

    This year’s tuition at Tai Sophia is $24,798.   That’s a huge difference from when I began school there 3 years ago – when it was $18,000. They do now require all “bioscience” classes be taken through the school, adding another half day to program, which amounts to about one class taught during that half day.

  29. Guest – The tenor of your

    Guest – The tenor of your post is a little aggressive…we DO need to think these things through and look to where these actions will lead. Maybe what is needed is clearer statements about the debt as per the credit card reform. ——— Most Nursing programs require students to attend a course on how to pay for the program and how to manage time for full-time studying. This might be a good idea – it’s done at community colleges

  30. ?

    Do you always talk to yourself, Guest?

    So, the debt load is ok, is not a barrier to study for many individuals and communities and doesn’t point directly to the uncomfortable fact that “the profession” is a complete failure if it is measured by its overall useage nationwide? What is needed is another/better class? Well that always seems to be the answer, now doesn’t it?


    “Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey


  31. So true on many points –

    So true on many points – most TCM teachers aren’t good lecturers (are any?) – Powerpoint sucks! They prepare a lecture and put all of it on powerpoint and then hand out the material so what is the “point”? (sorry, couldn’t resist) This is why a company I worked for told people to stop using it for presentations. There is no way to learn medicine from a book or a lecture, studying should set the stage for clinic, but when clinic is a let down, then what? Many, many students cheat their way through school like passing tests around, then wonder why they aren’t any good! Acupuncture is 100 times easier to learn than herbal medicine. That’s why bare foot doctors used acu. Good reason to make them separate tracts of study. Few acupuncturists are good with herbs, few good herbal doctors are good with needles. People shouldn’t be forced into either program like in California. Most teachers are paid very, very little. They’re not compensated for developing lectures, study materials, new tests or grading them. No surprise that they have to use time outside school to make money instead of working for free. BUT laziness of clinic supervisors is hard to explain as they are on the clock and should be treating and teaching – so sad – that’s where we’re supposed to see it work

  32. I’m studying part-time in

    I’m studying part-time in Edmonton. Grant MacEwan recently became a university, and they’re trying to turn the acupuncture course into a degree program. At this point there are separate courses being offered for herbal studies, available to 2nd year students and up, but it’s not mandatory. I’m hoping that they won’t attempt to make the degree the entry-level for acu-practice in the province.It’s not that I wouldn’t want the extra training, but I don’t want to wait any longer than I have to in order to begin practice.

    Right now the yearly tuition is about $11,000.

  33. How do I spell

    the sound of a drink spraying from my mouth in shock? 


    $25,000 USD for one year, no wonder you guys south of the border are up in arms! My school started around $5500 for each of my four years. They kept the price the same per year for our year, but subsequent years got more expensive per year, reaching over $8,000 for what became a 5 year program.

    I remember in our first year, my favourite teacher telling us that after school less than half of us would be practicing. I never expected that it would be because of poor job market.

    One thing I wonder though, is so many acupuncture/TCM practices fail, but how does our profession compare with other small businesses? I know that the stats for small businesses run at more than 50% fail rate, so maybe, just maybe, one of the larger issues at hand is that it’s hard to run a small business.

  34. no pseudonym

    Well “Larry G” anyone who wants to post without a pseudonym is put as “guest”. The different grammar easily shows that 2 different people posted. I’ll assume that the first part of your rant is aimed at the previous “guest” posting – your tone is also unnecessary. As for the extra course; if you had done even a cursory investigation you’d have found that many Nursing programs require a one evening 2 hour course on the realities they face in getting their degree. Generally one can’t be accepted into the program until they’ve completed a plan for payment and study. Are you suggesting that it’s not worth a prospective student’s time to go over the costs and methods of financing in a formal setting like this? These courses lay out the full cost of education and the realities of the level of study that is required.

    Do you always shoot from the hip like that?

  35. How do they get away with it?

    For the class starting in January 2011 they have no idea what tuition costs will be beyond the first eight months of the program. How exactly does one plan with such uncertainty? 

  36. It would be pretty difficult

    It would be pretty difficult to plan – I don’t know if it is even possible for anyone new to the school to find out about tuition increases unless they ask outright – as far as I know the only tuition info available is that link, it isn’t even published on paper because it changes so fast.  And for those of us who pay for school entirely with loans, that figure means one has to take out a small PLUS loan because Staffords alone won’t cover it. 

  37. hi, guest

    you survived this far with a healthy sense of humor.  congrats!  they say a good sense of humor and levity prolongs life.  good for you!

    so, you think that the current system can remain the same, just add a 2-hour class, similar to an entrance interview that all schools already do?  have students make some sort of plan for payment and study.  wow, visionary.  why do i get the impression that every student is going to say, “i will pay off these loans with my busy practice” and that every school is going to accept that answer?  they have a vested interest to do so, no? 

    however, this doesn’t escape the fact that the school system is extremely exclusionary to begin with, and that was my point. if you don’t see that, you are blinded by privilege.  simple.  so a 2-hour class is equal to horsecrap, imo.  same system attracting the same type of people making zero impact on the health of the vast majority of people and communities. 

    And shooting from the hip is fun.  Gets shit done.

    Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey


  38. Isn’t lack of risk the root problem?

    I think relying on schools to clean up their act and start putting out a good product is not realistic. As long as there is government money available, people will line up for it. As I see it, the real problem is that student loans are not at all risky for banks.

    In a normal loan, the bank takes a risk. If I can’t pay my house payment, the bank loses money (although they get to keep the house). A major problem with student loans is the lack of collateral. I believe this led to some of the strict rules surrounding student loans (such as not being erased by bankruptcy). However, for a bank to be able to provide a loan for a $100,000 acupuncture education (or a history degree or art degree for that matter) with no risk is crazy. In a real-world situation, a banker would never give that kind of loan for an acu degree. Engineers, doctors, any day. Maybe a banker would be willing to put out $30,000 toward an acu degree, maybe not even that much.

    If banks have to start facing up to the reality that all degrees are not created equal, funding for not-so-lucrative career paths will dry up quick. Will that shrink the field? Probably, but it will ensure only the truly dedicated pursue an acu career. And after a while, when there isn’t such a glut of acu grads, the profession will become known as a reliable route to a reasonable living. Smaller? Yes, but much healthier.

  39. glut?

    there is no glut of acu-grads. if anything, we need more acupuncturists, but they need to be trained differently and provide affordable care, which is why the schools should be forced to take more responsibillity for graduating practitioners able to earn a living doing acupuncutre. the glut is just of the practtitioners who want to treat the ever-shrinking upper-middle class for a lot of money.


  40. don’t count on it

    Well, there may or may not be a glut. I would agree that there is much more room for CA businesses to grow.

    Nonetheless, my point is the same. If student loans continue to be risk-free (for lenders) they’ll keep pushing them on anyone who will take them. If you take that false support away, the schools will be forced to provide a better product. As long as the money keeps flowing from the government how it is, I wouldn’t count on the schools all of a sudden deciding to become more ‘responsible’ and changing the way they do things.

  41. Fixed is great! 6.8% IS

    Fixed is great! 6.8% IS really high. Instead of the rant against f-ng Bush & right wingers trying to put college out of reach – – probably the best thing that CAN could achieve is lobbying to change this to 3% and fixed. This should be possible in the relatively short term and provide instant improvement.

  42. “Larry G” I’m sure that

    “Larry G” I’m sure that once in your life someone told you that you were witty – unfortunately, their sarcasm wasn’t as blatant as you seem to need and you believed them. “shooting from the hip” is pathological. Forming opinions and espousing them in public without investigating is boorish. If you investigate you’ll find that many aspiring nursing students drop out or postpone school when they are forced to look at all of the details before school. How much does school cost? How are you going to pay for it? How much will it REALLY cost if you finance it? What will the monthly payments be? How long will it take to pay off? How are you going to earn a living while in school? Is it practical given how many hours of studying it requires? Acupuncture schools could add – what is your plan for employment? Will you start your own practice like 90% of acupuncturists? Do you have business training? If not, where will you get this training? How will you fund your start up business? Etc, etc. It would be 2 hours well spent as the most common message on this group is that people felt misled and surprised by the realities of employment and cost.

  43. thank you

    i think we are speaking two different languages here.  you seem to be unable to grasp or disinterested in my point.  i seem to be unimpressed by yours.  i’m fine with that.

    and another thing.  acupuncture schools would never talk this way to students seeing as there are NO JOBS for grads and they have to paint a rosy picture to attract students while a nursing grad will be able to find one MUCH more easily and schools can furnish empoyment projections on demand.  so stop comparing the two institutions as if the playing field is the same.  it’s silly.
    “Educated criminals work within the law.”- Morrissey


  44. DOE response Comment Tracking Number: 80b470f4

    Thank you for launching an investigation into academic integrity and gainful employment. I am a graduate from an Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine school in the Chicago area and have borrowed about 75k in student loans to attend school at a Nationally Accredited institution that confirms a BS in Nutrition and an MS in Oriental Medicine. Unfortunately, credits do not transfer to regionally accredited colleges, therefore, degrees are not conferred. This information was not disclosed. The Nutrition degree does not allow the graduates to sit for the State Board exam in nutrition to become a registered dietician. This particular school also held the refund checks in a supposedly non-interest bearing escrow account and the students had to request the refund. It was only when this was pointed out by a student that this was illegal, that they changed their policy. It remains to be seen if the escrow accounts were, in-fact, non-interest bearing. Since Acupuncture is not in the BLS guidebook and salary data is questionable at best, as evidenced by what was not revealed by the NCCAOM job task analysis report, I feel much stronger regulations are in more than appropriate for all for-profit institutions. I realize that Acupuncture schools are a minor fraction of the for-profit education industry, however, the fact that Acupuncture is not in the BLS guidebook and employment and income/debt data has been poorly tracked (if tracked at all) should put the acupuncture education industry on watch at the very least. Lastly, default rates are grossly misleading as they only track data 3 years post-graduation and do not include consolidated loans. Perhaps a more responsible course of action would be to no longer have Title IV aid eligible to small cottage industries, such as acupuncture, to circumvent high debt loads and the very real possibility of loan default.

  45. The risk is…

    …wholly placed on the student-graduate and the taxpayers. If there is a failure to pay the loans and it goes into default, the acu license (or any profession requiring a license, HOWEVER, since acupuncture is NOT IN THE BLS GUIDEBOOK, it is not a profession) can and will be revoked, thereby removing the ability to earn a living. Additionally, social security/retirement/disability payments can and will be garnished.

  46. .ppt

    it is really unfortunate that a robust presentation application such as MS PowerPoint is so poorly used by many. The whole “point” (ha ha) of PPT is that it provides a snapshot of a much larger discussion and that it is up to the recipients to use the time in lectures to take notes. I’m in an MSN program and this is actually what occurs: The slides highlight bullet points, but the professors (tenured) use their vast knowledge to fill in the highlights. This is how it should really work. What many of us did was record the lectures while taking notes. After class, we listened to the recordings and filled in additional notes that may have been missed. then supported that with readings. I showed my patho-phys/pharm syllabus/lecture/reading schedule to one of my former acu instructors who told me that his students were complaining about how much reading they were supposed to do and said make a copy of this to show your class and tell them not to complain. (he thought that was funny).

    I recall that I taught in a massage therapy program. They didn’t use PowerPoint, but I was required to prepare course outlines…which is what they were. They were highlights and I added more information to fill in the outline. When it came time for tests, I used material that was both from the outline and class discussion. The students complained that some of the information “wasn’t in the notes.” I told them that it was discussed in class and the important info was emphasized numerous times with teachbacks to support the info (that was not “in the notes”). I let them know that it was their responsibility to review the material. (for the record, I made a “student” outline and a “teacher’s” outline–this had additional info–kind of a test to see if students actually pay attention–which, unfortunately, some didn’t).

  47. seriously???

    …tai sophia requires that all students take bioscience classes at Tai sophia? They won’t accept transfer credit from any college/university provided it was taken within 3-5 yrs? I can understand some of the coursework needing to be taken at said university if one is in a PA, RN/BSN, MD, DO, PT program if it is germane to the program core–such as Pharmacology, etc…but A&P is A&P, pathophys is pathophys, neuroanatomy is neuroanatomy. What a racket. But then again, i just looked at their course catalogue and it seems to be peppered with what could quite possibly be deemed as indoctrination, for lack of a better word. I didn’t see anyone with a PhD in medical anthropology, or any such related credential, to be teaching the “new science/new thinking” course–which could quite possibly be an engaging symposium of sorts, but who’s really teaching it? An LAc?

  48. well that’s novel…

    tess wrote: “but for schools to actively develop relationships with their successful graduates and offer incentives for them to work with or somehow mentor students. ”

    Now doesn’t that sound so incredibly logical? Also, if the alphabet orgs and the schools are “projecting” that acu will be in hospitals, why aren’t they actively pursuing relationships with said hospitals, community/safety net/public health clinics in have that as clinical requirement–perhaps more hours dedicated to actual public health/safety net clinics than in the school clinic. That could serve as a model for other pub health clinics to replicate and incorporate into their delivery systems and push for funding to actually employ graduates.

    But I digress, it’s all about the moolah and there ain’t no moolah (or custom made alligator shoes from Hong Kong) in developing such alliances for the aom schools now is there?

  49. hmm…interesting

    Tai sophia is regionally accredited. Therefore, they must be a non-profit institution. From what I understand, that is one of the criteria for an institution to be regionally accredited. There is a section on “ways to give” to the institute (hmm, anyone of those 70.1% making under 60k able/willing to give? it may be a tax deduction). They do have some postings on “completed research” one that was done at Tai sophia and another that was completed @ Georgetown. Hmm…was this in conjunction with Tai Sophia? it is not clear, all they have are abstracts and no specifics on research design. Nothing has been published–or at least updated as published on their site, and there are no current research projects occurring.

  50. license revoked?

    So, a state will revoke a license if a student defaults on a federal loan?  I’ve never, ever heard of this and can’t find anything about it in my state’s regulations.  Can you provide a source for this statement?

  51. regional accreditation

    A school does not have to be a non-profit to be regionally accredited: AOMA (in Austin) is regionally accredited and for-profit.

  52. Actually…default rates are only tracked for 2 years…

    ….post grad.  Starting next year, the DOE will start to track the default rates for 3 years:

    So back in 2004, when I asked the financial aid administrator at my soon to be AOM college if any alumni have ever been unable to pay back their loans and was told that ‘OCOM has a zero percent default rate’, I now know what data they were using. Which doesn’t mean their alumni haven’t defaulted, but they just didn’t default in the 2 year trackable window. If 10 years is the standard repayment plan….why wouldn’t the data be tracked for a minimum of 10 years (which is a DOE question)?

    Thanks to everyone who has the courage and energy to start speaking up.

  53. Hi Cranky,

    Here’s another TS racket for you, as told to me by current and former TS students. While most school clinics charge around $20 for a student treatment, TS sets its rates at $80 for a first visit and $70 for follow-up appointments. TS will not graduate its students unless they treat the requisite number of patients at TS’s exorbitant student-clinic fees. Students are each responsible for attracting and retaining their own paying patients, which means that students use their Title IV funds for marketing/promoting the school’s clinic. Students then use their Title IV funds to subsidize their pts’ treatments (paying the difference between what the pt can afford and what the school demands). Additionally, students are required to receive quarterly acupuncture care, and they must *pay* for it themselves with — you guessed it — Title IV funds. (I don’t know about your school Cranky, but at mine student treatments were free…one of the few perks.) And of course, students must pay for their own internship rotations in the student clinic. Let’s see: clinic marketing, patient subsidies, student treatments, and internship fees all funded by Uncle Sam. That’s quite a racket, eh?

  54. Richard Browne’s school

    A think you make a lot of good points Skip.

    However, at this point in time anyway, Richard and his school are not directly affected because his school is showing an estimated repayment rate of 47% of graduates who graduated within the last four years paying something towards their principle.

    The DOE data was made public not long ago, and about half of the 50 acupuncture schools fall below the 35% threshold.

    The DOE does state that “Extreme caution should
    be exercised in instances where small numbers of borrowers entering repayment
    are observed.” I’m not sure what that means. They also say that while the data is posted by institution, determination of eligibility will be by program….Again, I don’t know what this means and I leave it up to those who deal with such things (the schools) to figure out.

    It appears there may be some geographic correlations – for instance none of the Texas schools meet the 35% threshold. It seems schools in the central southern US have a lower number than the more cosmopolitan coasts…

    I also think that the situation is inifinitely more complex than some at CAN realize. For one, what if half the acupuncture schools went away – what are the ramifications of our little fledgling non-profession then?

    Also, at least in Texas, the requirement for licensure is graduation from an accredited acupuncture school with x number of hours of training in specific areas and successful completion of the NCCAOM boards. I don’t see how standards that have been developed over years are just going to be dismantled because school is expensive or even because there are no jobs in the field. I know how hard it is to pass even the simplest piece of legislation here in Texas, and coming in and stripping back standards of licensure for acupuncturists would require a major piece of legislation. It just ain’t gonna happen, even the acupuncturists wanted it – which I can guarantee most of them would not. Acupuncture has been a licensed profession in Texas only since 1992, and we have had to scratch and claw to get and maintain the crappy practice act we’ve got. 

    Maybe lower cost acupuncture training programs could be created, but me personally I wouldn’t want to learn the medicine without studying herbs – just as I wouldn’t want to practice it without using herbs. But that’s just me. In Texas herbal training is a requirement.

    I would suspect too that most state professional associations would oppose training programs with lower criteria because they would percieve that as flying in the face of their members best interests.

    I wholeheartedly concur the cost of education is a big problem, and the lack of jobs bigger still – and I don’t know what the solution is. I just know this is all very complex.

    I agree the schools must share in the responsibility for all this, and apparently they will be made to. I also think people really do need to take responsibility for their actions at the same time. Nobody misled me. I borrowed all the money willingly with no real expection of what life post-school was supposed to look like.

    Maybe that’s not everyone’s experience.

    I would expect however that many of the people who now are spewing venom at their schools really didn’t think about it a whole lot at the time – because that’s how we operate in this country. Borrow now, face the consequences later.

    I personally think the people operating AOMA have a high degree of integrity, and work hard to meet the needs of the students. I would hate to see AOMA go away as a result of this.









  55. Default Rates

    The 2 year default rate tracking is interesting. Presumably, anyone with significant loans chose a financial hardship forbearance post-graduation (before the advent of IBR). So if grads with high debt loads weren’t even paying anything for 2 years under forbearance rules, and the schools only tracked for 2 years, it’s no wonder the schools could so easily say “no one’s ever defaulted.” Really misleading, isn’t it?

  56. Just within the last month

    Just within the last month or so they reduced the fees slightly – we had been allowed to charge “up to” $80 for the first visit (no needles just intake), for which the school charged us $70. Subsequent needle treatments had been allowed to go up to $70, the school charged us $55.  Then they came to Jesus about the fact that we’re not allowed to accept payment for something we’re not licensed for (up until this change we’d been taking payment from our patients and then paying the schools through our personal checking accounts).  We had been allowed to keep the difference, but now the patients pay the school directly.  Many of us are subsidizing dramatically. 

  57. holy maholy!!!

    Jessica, we went to the same school, just different campuses. The campus I was at offered treatments at no cost to all patients (students, community, family, etc.) for however much I have pooh pooh-ed the school, at least that part they got right and the clinic was always busy. I have heard that many Chiro schools have the same racket as TS: Students have to beg, borrow, plead, pay for patients to come in to get their numbers. That really should be up to the school to promote their clinical to the surrounding community. Do MDs or DOs have to do this for their clinical rotations? Absolutely not, but apparently, the (possibly, but hopefully not) “Drs” of acupuncture must?

    Hmm…now let’s wrap this all into that “buyer beware” and capitalism discourse on another thread. Under capitalism, market drives demand. In order for “demand” to occur, a “need” must be created. Under the current acu education industry system, how much of a “need” is there that has been created? Sure enrollments may be “up” (whatever that means–I’ve heard that AOM is one of the “fastest growing education programs” yadda yadda).

    It’s really unfortunate that the industry (edu institutions, alphabet orgs) don’t know how to “handle” the growth in terms of growing the profession (but they sure know how to grow, or at least maintain, the acu ed industry). When I taught at a massage therapy school, the director of the school said they weren’t in the business of massage, but rather, the business of education. In many ways, that does ring true, however, massage schools (or at least the one I taught at and attended) do try everything they can to track their grads and provide them with info regarding jobs. Funny, there’s a greater need for massage, which is considered a “luxury” item, than there is for AOM. How do we know this? Because there are jobs, albeit, not always lucrative b/c one only is generating revenue when one is in a client session.

    Sorry for the sidetrack…but 80?????? for a student treatment????? WTF!!!!!

  58. Yes, Tai Sophia is a 501(c)3

    Yes, Tai Sophia is a 501(c)3 non-profit.  Very little research happens here, although I did hear about someone doing something research-y sometime last year.  The philosophy espoused by many higher-ups at the school is that acupuncture isn’t the reason people come to see a practitioner, that “wellness coaching” is going to be the most necessary thing in healthcare as it grows as an industry. 

  59. Student treatment requirements…

    How interesting that TS requires their students to receive treatments quarterly in the student clinic.

    Now wouldn’t it be funny is surgical students were required to have their gall bladders, spleen, tonsils, appendix, vasectomies, hysterectomies? Ya know, routine surgical procedures removing organs that ya really don’t need. just because the surgical students need the practice as well as the experience with having surgery that they had to pay for.

  60. To be clear:

    They have to receive quarterly acupuncture, but it does not have to be in the TS clinic.  Some of them wisely come in to the local *ahem* community acupuncture clinic in Frederick.  They then request that I write a letter attesting to their compliance with the school’s required treatment plan. 

    I can’t believe that: 1) the school tells them how often they have to be poked; 2) the school won’t let them get free treatments in the student clinic. 

  61. Training

    If we used an apprenticeship model, obviously people would still be expected to pass the tests in order to ensure a minimal level of competency. There are a variety of ways that can be accomplished – some of which is the responsibility of the teacher, though the easiest solution would be through the creation of online modules (not required or subsidized by the federal government) that can provide training to students in this way, at a very affordable rate, that does not require them to move across the country.
    Jungtao school currently requires it’s students to be present for classes only 5 days of the month – ensuring that they can go to school and work without having to take out loans to do it. A midwifery school in the NW does something similar like this, with students doing satellite apprenticeships in their hometowns and then flying to the school two times a year for intensive weekend trainings to pass their exams.
    My school is a “classical” acupuncture school that doesn’t prepare students well for the board exams in the first place, so much of it is self-study – which seems like a pretty viable method to me, if you are working with a teacher who can help with your questions, you have online modules/forum boards to help with some of your questions, or you have these intensive classes that don’t happen very often, allowing people time to work.

  62. I just gotta say that this is one of the more interesting

    threads I’ve ever tried to read.  It’s the most like being at a party with everyone talking at once kind of online experience I’ve ever had.  Party on!

  63. hmmm…

    The “compliance” issue with documentation provided by your clinic sounds awfully close to violating HIPAA. While I think it is extremely important for students to receive treatments, and be encouraged to do so. However, making it a requirement that they must comply with and provide documentation sounds like it violates confidentiality issues. University students and hospital workers are more than encouraged to be immunized (MMR, DPT, HBV, Flu, H1N1), one can provide documentation stating that they knowingly decline immunizations–often for religious purposes.

    There really is no justification for the requirement and documentation of such to be submitted to the school (again, HIPAA issues??? ). It is one thing if treatment is necessary for illness injury and documentation is required to “return to work” (ie. occupational health, etc), but certainly another if no treatment is necessary. It is also incomprehensible that they cannot receive treatments in the clinic free of charge.

    Sounds like many of the practices; students subsidizing patient treatment with their own (most likely borrowed) money, building the school clinic practice with their own (borrowed?) money, and requiring quarterly treatments in their expensive clinic (or provide documentation that they’ve received tx outside of the clinic), are possibly a gross misallocation of Title IV money.

    For a program that hopes to develop caring, compassionate, and ethical practitioners, it sounds like the intentions are in oppositions their own operational practices.

  64. super nice!

    They can control a HUGE chunk of how much they HAVE to borrow to pay for tuition!  And they can certainly focus their curriculum on useful classes for the real world of practice, which would at least turn out graduates who could make a choice about how much they want to practice.

     Of course, it’s probably easier to dodge responsibility and keep getting paid.

  65. They didn’t…

    …Call him “Dollar Bill” for nuthin’. Also the adage when going to MCOM was “always bring your checkbook.”

  66. Sound familiar?

    Thanks, Guest.  This paragraph sums it up:

    “Were it not for Sallie Mae, aspiring college graduates could never have borrowed far more money than they could ever hope to repay; universities could never have begun to believe that they are worth what they charge; professors could never have obtained their coddled lifestyles and the cost of a college education could never have appreciated well beyond any connection to its true economic value.”

  67. That’s triple the rate in

    That’s triple the rate in 1998! And they’ve raised their clinic fees, too. I used to think that $40 was outrageous for a student practitioner. The current students are paying as much each year as I payed for the whole program 10 years ago.

  68. Just wanted to alert

    those of you not here in the DC area that the full-fledged lobbying against the DOE proposal is well underway.  Huge ads in the Post — several a day — referring people to  Also, ads pointing out how many people would be added to the unemployment roles if for-profit schools closed.  Also, a full page ad today by the National Black Chamber of Commerce — that begins “In 1965, America made a promise to millions of people seeking an advanced degree but lacking the resources to pay for it…..”  You get the idea.  The Washington Post owns Kaplan Education (it’s been the most profitable part of their portfolio for the past few years).  You get the idea.

  69. I’m definitely not surprised

    I’m definitely not surprised to see AIMC Berkeley on that list- but how did the bullies that run the Academy of Chinese Culture & Health Sciences in Oakland, CA not make it on this list….?

  70. I hopped around from three different acupuncture schools 2013-2015 my first year student classes and felt it was just not clicking in my understanding, but now I have 100k in debt even with no degree, what do you think about that? And is there anything I can do to dismiss this debt?