Seriously Though: The Empire Strikes Back

You can’t keep a bunch of single minded, greedy mothafuc@#$a’s down. 

Although CAN practitioners and patients skillfully used the Force and Luke Skywalkered their asses this past year by successfully providing a large dose of “strongly opposed” opinion regarding the first professional entry-level doctorate, the Empire has recently announced that it is in the process of “consensus building” in the hopes of implementing the doctorate within the next five to ten years.  Given that in the Analysis of ACAOM Doctoral Survey Data practitioners make up the largest group polled and showed opposition to the doctoral degree by a margin of 59.1% to 38.2% you can bet your Wookiee that when the Empire talks about consensus building, they are looking directly at YOU.

Empire Ministries, including the CCAOM and ACAOM have both recently released public statements announcing their plans to restart the doctorate “discussion”.  Here are the two propaganda pieces recently put out by both groups, CCAOM and ACAOM.  You will have to download the ACAOM summer 2008 newsletter to read their statement in full, but this is the best part.  

“While the Commission has received significant evidence of consensus for moving forward
in this area from the AOM educational community, we have yet to receive adequate
input from practitioners of AOM.  On behalf of the Commission, I urge the practitioner
community to engage with the American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medi-
cine (AAAOM) to make similar efforts towards reaching consensus on this important issue.”

There are two aspects of this statement that are particularly striking.  For one, there is NOT evidence of consensus within the educational community.  Consider the previously mentioned Analysis of ACAOM Doctoral Survey Data, which indicates that the third largest group to be polled behind practitioners and patients, the faculty, opposes the doctoral degree by a whopping 61.7% to 35.5%, more than even the practitioners group!  It makes clear whom the ACAOM considers the AOM educational community, and it sure ain’t the teachers.  Of course, it’s the upper administration and owners of the cash-cow colleges themselves.  Reading who sits as the commissioners, committee members, chairpersons and advisors for both the CCAOM and the ACAOM reads like a who’s who of acupuncture colleges across the country.  It is here that you will find your consensus, not amongst the rank and file practitioner-faculty members teaching point and channel location and theory.  But, what else is there for a debt strapped disillusioned graduate to do but try to catch on however possible from the school they graduated from as staff or faculty.  Huang di knows that a new graduate has as good a chance at long-term career success as Han Solo did getting off Cloud City free from harm.  But, I digress.

The second part of this statement that reeks of doublespeak is this doozy: “…we have yet to receive adequate input from practitioners of AOM.”  Bullshit.  Looking at their own statistics, we see that 243 of 411 practitioners already said “Thanks, but no thanks.” to the doctoral degree to nowhere.  The input was adequate, if not desireable.  Translated, what the ACAOM really means to say is this:

“While the Commission has received significant evidence of consensus for moving forward
in this area from the small but influential power broking sector of the AOM educational community who stand to reap even greater financial dividends in the event of its implementation, we have yet to receive satisfactory capitulation from practitioners of AOM.  On behalf of the Commission, I urge the practitioner community to blindly follow the American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) to make similar efforts towards reaching consensus on this important issue.”

That both are acting in concert should be of no surprise to members of the Rebellion, however one should admire their synchronicity in Public Relations moves.  Putting out press releases nearly simultaneously on this rightfully divisive issue sends out a very clear message.  They’re in bed with each other as per usual when it stands to their financial advantage and if you are going to fight this push you better recognize just whom you’re dealing with.     

Given that the AAAOM lists the doctoral degree as one of its values, we can expect this years AAAOM Expo being held in Chicago from October 16-19 to sing the praises of the doctorate.  The 2008 expo is loaded with presenters who represent the CCAOM, ACAOM, NCCAOM, AAC and various state organizations, all beneficiaries of advancing the doctoral degree. The CCAOM just so happens to be holding its Fall Meeting Schedule in Chicago from October 14-18.  Take a look at that line-up.  Remember, the CCAOM’s news release to the integrator blog stated this:

“The Entry-Level Standards Committee and the Core Curriculum Committee will take the lead on this, with support from the Faculty Development Committee, the Research Information Committee, and the Libraries Committee.  The Council will initiate a dialogue toward building consensus with members of the profession regarding issues of the first-professional doctorate and its implications for the profession of AOM.”

If this isn’t a group of people organizing direct action strategies to start building consensus, there isn’t fog on Dagobah.  I’d say the October 15th 9-5 Core Curriculum Committee/Entry-Level Standards Committee (Joint Meeting) and the entire October 16 itinerary would be the best days to sit in on this collection of Siths and get an idea of how they plan to move forward on swinging practitioner opinion toward their agenda.  Is anyone going to be in Chi-town at that time?  Are these meetings open to the public?  Will there be minutes taken that will be available to the public?  All good questions that we need answers to if we are going to stand and fight them in round two.

Take note that the ACAOM’s Resolution on the First Professional Doctorate issued this past February, stated this:

“The U.S. Secretary of Education’s criteria for the recognition of accrediting agencies set forth in 34 CFR 602.13 provides that to be granted an expansion of scope for new programs or degree levels, an accrediting agency must demonstrate that ‘…its standards, policies, procedures and decisions to grant or deny accreditation are widely accepted by educators and educational institutions, licensing bodies, practitioners and employers in the professional… fields for which the educational institutions or programs within the agency’s jurisdiction prepare their students’”.  

“Widely accepted”.  Take heed, young Jedi.  The Empire doesn’t suffer defeat lightly.  The Death Star is being retooled and You are in its sights.  Is it true that CAN exists to bring acupuncture to as many people as possible? Is CAN truly an instrument of social justice? I would say that there is definitely a disturbance in the Force.  We’d better get the Rebels organized.  The Empire is planning to strike back.  They are extremely organized, well financed and dead set in their intention.  

Are we?

The Zang Fool
Author: The Zang Fool

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

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  1. follow the money and you’ll get your answer

    chop off one demon head, another head tries to eat you.  it’s like a bad sci-fi movie.  seriously, folks, we need to get the word out to our colleagues, CA and non CA punks alike.  the entry-level doctorate is not only unnecessary at this time,  this is not the way to grow our profession (which, BTW, is not doing so well, uh, hello, $50,000+ educational pricetags with almost no acupunk employers upon graduation).  this is not the way to deliver this wonderful medicine to the masses.  this entry level doc is a way for a select few to make some more cash from others who aspire to a shiny new pair of shoes (er, letters) so they can be in the shiny new pair of shoes group.  if you look at it, really look at it, it’s pure consumerism.  create a new degree, and hopefully create a demand.  look at ABORM, for crying out loud, an unnecessary attempt to “elitize” a certain subset of acu-practitioners by paying money to a self appointed group of specialists, passing written exams (huh?  how about experience people?)  and getting more letters after your name.  another pair of shiny new shoes.

    folks, you don’t need more letters after your name to legitimize your acupuncture practice.  You, me, we need to treat more clients!  that’s where the rubber meets the road, people, experience.  not in solving paper cases in the hypothetical entry level PhD classroom.  and we need more acupuncturists, period.  not just PhD acupuncturists.

    One would think that if the powers-that-be in our professional organizations had any foresight they would be looking for ways to lower the barriers to getting more acupuncturists educated period, not fewer acupuncturists educated to a “higher” level.  Is this bass-ackwards, or is  just me ranting on a sunday night.

    I don’t care if you love CA or hate CA, this entry level doctorate is bad medicine for the future of acupuncture. 

    Look it up for yourself.  Follow the money, follow the links of the major players involved in pushing this stupid thing forward again.  Then ask yourself, who stands to gain the most from this new degree and you’ll have your answer.  Another new shiny pair of shoes sitting in the closet gathering dust.

  2. fundamentals

    The thing is — the folks who are behind this madness are NOT interested in educating more acupuncturists.  Fundamentally they believe that the market for acupuncture is very small, very elite, and will never be otherwise, and so the practitioner population should be the same. This is about restricting access to acupuncture, not expanding it. Like us, the Empire realizes that only a tiny percentage of people will seek out conventional acupuncture because only a tiny percentage can afford it. What to do about that? Reduce the number of acupuncturists competing for that minuscule slice of pie. In some ways the first professional doctoral degree is the absolutely logical outcome of the conventional (boutique) acupuncture model.

    I think that this is also essentially a war of attrition. We brought the first doctoral process to a screeching halt earlier this year, and I think that they think if they keep resurrecting it, that eventually we will get tired and go away, as spacey, flakey, conflict averse acupuncturists generally do. They don’t see themselves as the Empire; they see themselves as the responsible grownups in the room, trying to take care of all of us clueless practitioners who don’t know any better. They’re doing this for our own good, in their minds. And they do not understand the Rebellion AT ALL. They understand us so little that they are hoping that we are not really here, that what happened earlier this year was just an aberration, and that they can go back to pushing the acupuncture world around in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

  3. Good thing

    we feel the force.  We will not tire.  We will not go away.  We will not shut up.  We get it that what we do is for the people we serve so we will persist because we must.  🙂

  4. Chicago

    Wasn’t there a song about going to Chicago to change the world? So, any CAN folks in Chicago or elsewhere going to be at the meeting? Should they bring gas masks?

    Otherwise, I guess we just keep our agents in the field, listening for chatter in the official rags, preparing to mobilize our mighty army of AmeriCAN (yes we can) citizen activists.

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

  5. OCOM recently became a

    OCOM recently became a candidate for regional accreditation. Does anyone know what the school’s motivation is for pursuing regional accreditation? Is it due to the school’s doctoral program? In other words, is it the school’s way of bypassing the ACAOM to get its doctoral program accredited?

  6. i don’t know their motivation, but…

    here are some links to basic regional vs. national accreditation



    seems like some logical reasons involve institutional prestige,  and also transfer of credits and degrees.  i have heard in my travels that it is actually much more difficult to get a program accredited thru a regional accreditor than thru a specific national accreditor like ACAOM.  The Regionals oversee all kinds of schools, and aren’t specific like ACAOM is to acupuncture. 

    So check out this flip side, without ACAOM to provide accreditation to the schools currently, it would have been a much longer and harder process for many acu schools to gain regional accreditation.  National or regional  accreditation is one of the keys to unlock  the door to Title IV federal financial aid loans for a school’s students.  No accred, no loans, far fewer acu students and surviving schools. A long time ago it would have been good bye to many startup  schools, especially mom and pops, because they never would have passed the Regional mustard.

  7. Hi Lumiel,

    It’s my

    Hi Lumiel,

    It’s my understanding that OCOM’s doctoral program is not accredited. The ACAOM has not received authority to accredit doctoral programs. As a result, students attending OCOM’s doctoral program (or any other DAOM program) are not eligible for FFA.

    Am I wrong?

  8. What I remember is

    that as we were going through the program, the doc admins excitedly told us that we were up for a site visit by the ACAOM committee.  We were interviewed by them during one of the early modules.  Later it was announced that OCOM had received candidate status.  Then just before our graduation, we were told that by the time we graduate, there was a good chance that our program would have passed accreditation criteria, and we would be the first doc grads to exit an accredited doc program.  That experience is the basis for my statement above. 

    Why are you under the impression that the program is not accredited?  Not that I’m challenging you, but it might be interesting to find out if someone is feeding you inaccurate rumors, or if you are receiving these third-hand, for unknown purposes?

  9. from ACAOM

    “ACAOM is conducting reviews of post-graduate doctoral
    programs as a pilot process.
    Since ACAOM’s doctoral program
    reviews are not currently within
    ACAOM scope of recognition with
    the U.S. Secretary of Education,
    institutions may not use ACAOM’s
    candidacy status to establish
    eligibility for Title IV
    financial aid for students in
    these programs.”   from ACAOM website.

    Bastyr University

    Oregon College of Oriental Medicine

    College Oriental Medicine – San Diego

    These are the accredited programs.  This does not mean that they are eligible for funds, as stated above. 

  10. Hi Lumiel,

    I called ACAOM

    Hi Lumiel,

    I called ACAOM and I was told that OCOM’s doctoral program is ACAOM accredited. However, I was also told that ACAOM’s accreditation of doctoral programs is not recognized by the Department of Education. Thus, these programs aren’t eligible for FFA via ACAOM accreditation.

    With that said, now that OCOM is a candidate for regional accreditation, it’s doctoral students are now eligible for FFA.

  11. Shudda guessed, huh?

    It always leads back to the money.  This probably means that the other 3 accredited institutions (PCOM, for sure!) are in the same race for regional accreditation.

    But back to the original topic: the doctoral degree as aimed to be required for all new LAcs.  I guess we need to work on ( give opinions and ideas) strong and simple (easy to understand) reasons for not needing this development in our profession. 

    Here’s one: if the NCCAOM project of getting us on the Board of Labor map succeeds, we’ll soon be able to harvest real estimates of how much the average punk makes.  Stand that up next to the cost of getting to that license to practice, and there’s going to be a big discrepancy.  To anyone, it will be obvious that the cost of getting your license will be so much larger than expected income, any prospective students would be discouraged from enrolling.  they may choose to become chiropractors, insteadSurprised.

  12. Oh, I’m sorry. I thought

    Oh, I’m sorry. I thought that I was on topic by trying to point out that if schools like OCOM, PCOM, etc. aren’t able to get their post-graduate doctoral programs (including possible entry level doctoral programs) accredited by the ACAOM, then they’ll simply bypass ACAOM accreditation with regional accreditation.

    The necessary requirement for any of these schools to be able to push for an entry level doctorate is FFA, which only comes with accreditation.

  13. Probably never would have happened

    I looked into all the requirements for both types of accreditation way back when I thought we could easily open a CA based school.  The fact of the matter is that while ACAOM has all sorts of specific and assinine requirements, probably in order to try and appear “legit”, they do not ammount to what it takes to open a REAL school.  Regional accreditation requires many many difficult things, that are none the less USEFUL, for instance it requires a certain level of financial solvency (ya’ know so your school doesn’t close in the middle of your training).  

    If you got a valid undergraduate degree, it was from a regionally accredited school.  Usually, it is a department within a larger school–due to economies of scale.  The idea is that a insitution of learning wants to offer a degree in a particular field.  Acupunks had to make this ugly mess we’re in from whole cloth, why?  Because nobody would have seen it as anything but woo-woo at the time. 

    As acupuncture has gotten (very slightly) more mainstream, the organizations have done what they can to try and gloss over the fact that none of us have real degrees.  Case in point:  Get in touch with any nearby school that offers a BS in nursing or a MS in physician assisting and see how much of your hard earned acu-school credits will tranfer in the real world–absolutely none.  No regional accreditation, no transfer to REAL institutions, no transfer of courses to other fields no matter how closely related.  

    I’m not sure of how the ACAOM got around the FFA stuff, but I do know that OCOM probably has realized, along with the money stuff that you need to give people actual doctorates that won’t get laughed out of mainstream schools, especialy if you expect for people to pony-up for your tuition–once bitten, twice shy.  

     An entry-level doctorate would allow them to work the scam on fresh marks.  That’s my two cents.  

  14. thanks for pointing this out

    “Consider the previously mentioned Analysis of ACAOM Doctoral Survey
    Data, which indicates that the third largest group to be polled behind
    practitioners and patients, the faculty, opposes the doctoral degree by
    a whopping 61.7% to 35.5%, more than even the practitioners group!  It
    makes clear whom the ACAOM considers the AOM educational community, and
    it sure ain’t the teachers. ”

    Thanks for pointing this out. I’m not only a teacher but the guy who writes most of the OM curriculum and assessments at our school and i think the doctoral program is a bad idea.  Even the administration here has been opposed to it for years but admits that the writing is on the wall and to stay open they’re pretty sure they will need to convert to the doctorate eventually.

  15. So… say if this is true or not:

    For the schools (OCOM, etc.)  they could develop an entry level doctorate and get it accredited regionally without going through the CCAOM/Dept. of Education approval process.

    If true that’s what I would do (go for regional accreditation) (RA), if I saw that they would be blocked by going the CCAOM route. Going RA makes all the more sense if the school already is regionally accredited for their Master’s program- as OCOM and a couple other schools are. For those schools going the CCAOM route only makes sense if the CCAOM can easily deliver. We’ve already stopped them once so if I headed a school like OCOM I would still be supporting the CCAOM entry-level doctorate route, but I wouldn’t be putting all my eggs in that basket. I’d be working the regional accreditation route as well.


    The thing is though al this entry level doctorate stuff makes sense only if ultimately the licensing laws are changed to require said doctorate, probably with a grandfather clause for us folks. That will undoubtedly splinter the profession even more as state laws already vary three ways:

    – The California requirements

    – The states that just need the NCCAOM acupuncture test (and schooling)

    – The states that require an herbal proficiency.  

    What a mess our profession is in. 



  16. i believe that the Regionals

    i believe that the Regionals are still accountable to Dept of education and the need for overall consensus of the profession would have an impact on the potential decision made by an RA on a decision for an entry level doctorate, even if it is case by case (or regional) for the “EL Doc”(funny how acronyms work) that doesn’t involve ACAOM. 

  17. 5th & 6th Splinters

    WI doesn’t require NCCAOM and you don’t even have to graduate to become an acupunk…I only had to pass 3 of the NCCAOM exams to receive my license, and that was one year before I completed my schooling.

    In MD, you can get an L.Ac. just by graduating from an accredited college…no NCCAOM required. 

  18. OCOM’s Master’s program

    OCOM’s Master’s program isn’t regionally accredited. Bastyr’s programs are regionally accredited along with a few other acu schools.