This past November, the American Association of Oriental Medicine's annual meeting was held at the picturesque Hilton Alexandria Old Town Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.
The theme of the conference, "Preserving the Integrity of Oriental Medicine," served to highlight the need for associations and practitioners to come together for the common goal of maintaining the quality of acupuncture and Oriental medicine delivered in the United States.
The meeting consisted of a five-tract conference, with four educational tracts delivered concurrently in English and one tract exclusively in Chinese. Among the topics covered:
Dan Lobash, a licensed acupuncturist with a doctoral degree in integral health science, spoke on Korean hand acupuncture.
He Hon Lao, a doctor of Oriental medicine and former vice chair of the New York State Board for Acupuncture, delivered a talk on wrist and hand acupuncture.
Alon Marcus, a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Oriental medicine, spoke on the orthopedic diagnosis and treatment of the shoulder.
Misha Cohen, an Oriental medicine doctor and licensed acupuncturist, talked about acupuncture for the treatment of hepatitis C.
Sam Liang, a certified acupuncturist, offered a two-part discussion on tongue diagnosis.
Felice Dunas, a licensed acupuncturist and best-selling author, spoke on a condition known as "teenage behavior syndrome."
The highlight of the program was a keynote speech delivered by Dr. William Prensky, a doctor of Oriental medicine and academic dean of the Oriental medicine program at New York's Mercy College, on the use and development of research in Oriental medicine. Dr. Prensky also delivered the keynote address at the AAOM's 1999 meeting.
In addition to the educational programs offered, several national organizations held their annual meetings in conjunction with the AAOM conference to update the profession on their accomplishments and discuss plans and goals for the coming year. Participating organizations included the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; the Accreditation Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine; the Federation of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Regulatory Agencies; and the National Korean Acupuncture Association. The following is a brief synopsis of some of the profession's accomplishments for the past year:
Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)
The Commission is in the process of finding new office space, preferably in the Maryland/Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. They are in the process of leasing space large enough to accommodate extra staff and offices.
The Commission has submitted a petition for renewal of recognition with the U.S. Department of Education. ACAOM is currently recognized by the Department of Education as the sole agency that accredits professional programs in the field of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
A new tracking process has been implemented by the Commission, which better tracks all programs in ACAOM's accreditation process.
The Commission has been performing an increasing number of site visits over the past few years. Given this increase, the Commission is seeking volunteer practitioners willing to serve as site visitors. For those who are interested in applying as site visitors, please submit your resume with a cover letter describing the credentials and experience you believe you can bring to ACAOM's site visit process. Resumes should be sent to the Commission's West Coast office (ATTN: Penelope Ward, 1401 Bonnell Drive, Topanga, CA 90290).
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance (Acupuncture Alliance)
Membership in the Alliance has increased over the past year to approximately 1,200 members. The Alliance's website (www.acuall.org) has also received increased attention and is beginning to appear prominently on the Web's major search engines and portal sites, particularly the Microsoft Network.
The Alliance has worked to increase awareness and improve the public's image of acupuncture and Oriental medicine by working with popular magazines and other publications to deliver information about acupuncture and Oriental medicine practices and standards.
Two members of the Alliance's board of directors, Barbara Mitchell and Carla Wilson, have spoken before the newly-formed White House Commission of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Ms. Mitchell delivered testimony to the commission regarding acupuncture and Oriental medicine legislation, as well as the need to have licensed AOM professionals on all task forces regarding the use of herbal medicines. Ms. Wilson provided information on acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the treatment of HIV and AIDS and to underserved populations.
The Alliance has been an active participant in the status of acupuncture legislation in several states, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio.
The Alliance is in the process of adding new staff members to better serve the needs of the acupuncture and Oriental medicine professions.
American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM)
AAOM executives have played a crucial role in the development of Oriental medicine in Europe. In June, AAOM executive director David Molony attended a meeting of the European Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which represents more than 20 nations. At the meeting, he participated in a panel discussion on the future of Oriental medicine in Europe and helped create guidelines for the safe and effective delivery of acupuncture.
In July, the AAOM made its presence known at the National Conference of State Legislators in Chicago by having a display booth and providing free acupuncture treatments for the sixth consecutive year. More than 250 legislators and staff were treated at the conference.
The AAOM's Herb Committee has been actively working on behalf of Oriental herbal medicine practitioners for the continuation of access to the profession's herbal pharmacopoeia. The committee has worked to derail false or misleading media announcements concerning herbal medicines and has worked with other national herbal associations and representatives on issues of toxicity, availability and quality control.
In addition, the Herb Committee wrote a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the controversy surrounding aristochlia. The AAOM is also working with officials who represent the Chinese government within the FDA.
On a similar front, the AAOM provided the only testimony on the use of ephedra by fully trained Oriental medicine professionals at an FDA sponsored panel examining the use of this herb. In addition, AAOM members have provided testimony to the newly-formed White House Commission of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy on the practice, scope and educational standards of Oriental medicine.
Members of AAOM were on hand at the Republican national convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic national convention in Los Angeles to ensure that the interests of acupuncture and Oriental medicine were presented to both political parties.
Representatives from AAOM worked in conjunction with the Acupuncture Society of New York in defeating Assembly Bill 5183, which would have allowed podiatrists and doctors of chiropractic to practice acupuncture after only 300 hours of training.
A new council, the AAOM Chinese Advisory Council (AAOMCAC), has been established. Originally brought together as a working panel to provide input and insight from senior Chinese members and representatives of joint member Chinese organizations, the AAOM's board of directors voted to make the panel a permanent advisory council. AAOMCAC is in the process of establishing guidelines for leadership and entry into the council for future members and organizations. Through communication and interdependence, the council will help bridge the gap with state, federal and international government and regulatory agencies.
The association has developed a new media brochure to increase awareness of the benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine while raising the level of interest in alternative care in the U.S. The AAOM is becoming increasingly well-represented in both print and news media, and is rapidly becoming the source of information for stories concerning acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
In the last six months, more than 100 new acupuncture students have joined AAOM through the association's Student Outreach Program.
The association currently has more than 1,500 members, making it one of the largest acupuncture associations in the country. It has four full-time staff members so that all calls and inquiries are answered immediately, as well as a website (www.aaom.org) that receives over 500 hits a day.
American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA)
The AOBTA underwent a name change earlier this year. The organization was originally known as the American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association, but its membership voted overwhelmingly to change to the current name in August.
AOBTA currently has more than 1,400 active members in the U.S. and abroad. All forms of bodywork therapy recognized by AOBTA originally evolved from Chinese medicine. Over the centuries, China, Japan, Thailand and Korea (and more recently, North American and Europe) have modified these forms into separate and distinct modalities. The modalities that members practice include six forms of shiatsu; acupressure; amma therapy; chi nei tsang; jin shin do; Thai massage (nuad boran); and tuina.
The organization is in the process of promoting the Oriental bodywork therapy national certification program and examination. They have been developing it with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) for six years. The program reached a level of fruition on October 28, 2000, when the exam was administered for the first time.
National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)
Representatives from the Commission were present at the meeting of the First International Legislative and Academic Forum on Acupuncture this summer.
Elections are currently being held for two seats on the NCCAOM's board of commissioners.
The Commission has switched from computerized testing to pencil-and-paper testing for candidates. In addition, the dates for taking diplomate examinations have been switched to three times per year (March, July and November for 2001).
More than 5,400 examinations were administered nationally in the areas of acupuncture, point location, Chinese herbology and Oriental bodywork therapy in 2000. A breakdown of candidates taking each test is as follows:
Oriental Bodywork Therapy
Currently, candidates are forced to take each exam on the same day. NCCAOM is exploring the possibility of having exams over a two-day period, with acupuncture and point location exams being held the first day, and Chinese herbology and Oriental bodywork therapy the second day.
The Commission is in the process of compiling and publishing a job analysis of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the United States, which will give a more accurate description of how those therapies are practiced in the U.S.
Debra Duncan has been named the NCCAOM's school liaison for "senior" administrators at acupuncture schools and colleges.
2001 Meeting in Hawaii
The AAOM's next annual meeting is scheduled to take place in Hawaii this November. For more information, contact the association at:
American Association of Oriental Medicine 433 Front Street Catasauqua, PA 18032 Tel: (610) 266-1433 Fax: (610) 264-2768 www.aaom.org