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May, 2003, Vol. 04, Issue 05
By Editorial Staff
The Acupuncture Poll's question for January/February 2003 was:
What is the most important issue facing the acupuncture/Oriental medicine profession in 2003?
Results are as follows:
These results are based upon 1,196 responses. As this is a voluntary, non-scientific survey, caution should be used in generalizing the results. Here is a sample of the comments made by those who took the survey and how they voted:
Published research that validates acupuncture's safety and effectiveness: I do believe that having published research on acupuncture's effectiveness and safety will begin to address all of the other issues being faced with today in our organizations and legislation. Otherwise, acupuncture gets regulated into the "folk medicine" and testimonial genre of alternative medicine practices. The "because it feels good" approach is just not in sync with the public and private sectors of today.
Improved educational standards for acupuncture students: I support continued efforts to upgrade our profession to doctorate level, which would increase skills of entry-level practitioners, standardize educational requirements, and elevate our profession's credibility in the overall health care system. Lack of cooperation in the national organizations has greatly hindered this process. There is no unified vision for our profession. The bottom line for me as a practitioner is to belong to a respected field, where the majority of my fellow practitioners are highly skilled, and we all can offer quality care to the public. It is our duty to offer the very best care possible to patients seeking our medicine. We need to do all we can to continue to develop the highest level of education, competent credentialing, and interaction within the profession and with other medical professions. It's not about personal interests. It's about offering quality care.
Better cooperation between national organizations: Better cooperation and relationships between the national organizations is critical for the profession. The previous in-fighting, conflict and disagreements among the national organizations has wasted limited resources necessary to challenge the bigger external threats to the profession.
Until the national organizations can cooperate better and reach a common ground, we will not be able to adequately unite as a profession and accomplish the real goal of serving the best interests of the field.
Other: The most important issue facing the acupuncture/Oriental medicine profession today is the movement to Westernize the profession and to put emphasis on Western educational credentials, rather than on the skills of the profession itself. Historically, this profession has flourished as an apprenticeship profession. It is known from research in other professions that overemphasis on academics reduces the sensitivity of the practitioner. This does not serve the client. I do not believe the headlong rush to make the doctoral level the entry level will serve anyone well. Those who wish to be doctors can apply to medical school. We are practitioners of Oriental medicine. We should be proud of that and of the lineage of that medicine, and we should resist the attempts of those in our profession who wish to make us into something else because of their own agenda.
Better cooperation between national organizations: In my opinion, the most important issue facing the Oriental medical community is the threat to the continued existence of the independent care provision established in many states. The biomedical establishment and the chiropractic organizations are very strong and organized. Our political in-fighting keeps our profession weak and distracted from these large pictures. We must begin to cooperate regardless of our training, styles and beliefs. Remember: our license to practice can be taken away just as easily as it was given to us.
Inclusion in the Medicare program: All of the items are important. It is hard to decide; however, I think bringing acupuncture to a greater number of people is important. I will add that I think a national advertising program would be very important, as would greater corporation between acupuncture organizations.
Better cooperation between national organizations: All of these points are important, but in order to achieve them we need to start to work together. For those of us who are practicing outside of California, we need to work with our colleagues in California, and in turn, we need their help and the benefit of their resources. The only way we can proceed forward is together. Again, there is no "I" in "team." Our profession is at a very important area in its development. Other practitioners are using this lack of solidarity to undermine our professional education levels and seek to limit our scope of practice. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.
Having acupuncture legislation passed in all 50 states: In some states such as Washington, many insurance companies do offer acupuncture as a covered benefit. However,in my state of Idaho, I am aware of no insurance companies that cover acupuncture when performed by a licensed acupuncturist. I believe that acupuncture would be more accessible to more people if it was a covered benefit in all insurance policies.