Before beginning this month's column, I'd like to thank David Razo, who writes the "Student Scene" column for Acupuncture Today and recently graduated from the Southern California University of Health Sciences, for extending an invitation to me to attend the school's first annual acupuncture and Oriental medicine symposium in April.
The event was coordinated by David and Mylinh Nguyen, another student at the school; considering this was the school's first-ever acupuncture symposium, I think they did a tremendous job.
While I wasn't present for the entire meeting, I did enjoy the time I was there, getting a brief tour of the campus and meeting some of the profession's current (and upcoming) leaders. The symposium featured several lectures on topics such as using acupuncture and herbs for cancer patients; workers' compensation and insurance billing; and treating HIV and AIDS with Oriental medicine, which were well-attended. The meeting also included an "herbal essence" dinner and traditional dragon dance at the school's herbal garden, both of which were excellent. Again, congratulations to David and everyone else at SCUHS for putting the symposium together; they've created an excellent foundation for future events at the university.
Now, on to this month's topic. In the past few weeks, we've received a number of comments from people who are of the opinion that Acupuncture Today isn't the same publication that it once was - that it's not so much of an "open forum" for the profession as it is something resembling a "mouthpiece" for certain organizations to push their agendas along to our readers. I'll respond to those comments with the following.
As I've said before, in this column and elsewhere, Acupuncture Today is not affiliated with any state or national acupuncture association, school, or regulatory agency. It is an independent trade publication designed to serve the interests of the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession. Period.
One of the goals I've had as Acupuncture Today's managing editor is to try and strike a balance for our readers in each issue. For instance, I know that our readers want to know about what types of acupuncture trials are being conducted here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and what types of conditions are being studied; we receive more e-mails and questions from people about those subjects than anything else. As a result, I try to make sure that each month, we publish at least one article on acupuncture research, and one or two articles that cover practice tips or techniques. I think these items provide a valuable service that a) continues to validate the profession; b) demonstrates the wide range of conditions that acupuncture, herbal remedies and other forms of Oriental medicine can treat; and c) provides acupuncturists with new, interesting methods they can use on patients in their own practice.
As a trade publication, however, it is also our responsibility - to a degree, at least - to keep the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession apprised of what the profession's leaders are doing, whether it's in the form of a membership association, an educational institution, an accrediting body, a licensing board, or any other agency. Conversely, it is also the responsibility - to a degree - of all AOM organizations to make us aware of what they are doing to help the profession achieve its goals. Reporting the news is a two-way street, and our side of the street is wide open. If there is an organization that we don't get information from, or that doesn't respond to an inquiry, it's not because of a lack of effort on our part.
I'm not saying that Acupuncture Today is perfect; we have issued corrections about articles in the past, and will continue to do so when necessary. On the other hand, we don't subscribe to the Jayson Blair/Barbara Stewart school of journalism, either. We don't make things up just to sell copies of the publication - and we're certainly not someone else's mouthpiece. What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that we (Marilyn Allen, myself, and the rest of the editorial staff) do the best we can to serve the profession's interests, given the constraints of time and space that work against us each month. I think that's fair, and that that's all anyone can ask for.