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Acupuncture Today
November, 2005, Vol. 06, Issue 11
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ACAOM Doctoral Task Force Issues Final Report, Seeks Public Comment

By Editorial Staff

The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is seeking public input on the final report of the commission's Doctoral Task Force. The report is designed to create the basis for the development of accreditation standards for such programs.

The Doctoral Task Force was commissioned by ACAOM, and was charged with developing a list of the professional competencies expected of graduates of entry-level, first-professional doctoral programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. It is comprised of representatives of organizations that reflect a wide cross-section of the commission's communities of interest, and included representatives of the American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM), the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance, the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), the Federation of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Regulatory Agencies (FAOMRA), the National Federation of TCM Associations (NFTCMA), and the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), along with officials from ACAOM.

The Doctoral Task Force conducted meetings in March 2004, November 2004 and June 2005. These meetings culminated in the development of a comprehensive list of the professional competencies expected of program graduates. It is assumed that these competencies will be in addition to the competencies gained in current Master's-level degree programs.

Consistent with the accreditation standards for other U.S. Department of Education recognized doctoral-level health care professions, rather than specifying in detail the core curriculum course and clinic training requirements for doctoral program, the task force articulated the professional competencies or outcomes expected of program graduates. Doctoral programs would be required to demonstrate that their students are achieving the required competencies and their stated educational objectives to meet the standards for accreditation.

The Doctoral Task Force's final report includes a total of 11 core competencies for graduates of doctoral programs, categorized into four domains.

Recommended Core Competencies for the First
Professional Doctorate

Domain: Patient Care

  • ability to apply critical thinking (assessment of options)
  • ability to exercise clinical judgment
  • ability to support the patients, their families and communities in the context of compassionate patient care

Domain: Professional Development and Currency

  • ability to formulate and implement a plan for individual professional development
  • ability to understand and apply scholarship in the field, including incorporating evidence-based medicine as a part of practice (emphasis in original report)
  • ability to participate in collaborative quantitative and qualitative research

Domain: Professionalism

  • ability to understand the importance of participating in activities for the good of the greater society
  • ability to understand the importance of participating in and supporting professional and educational organizations and activities

Domain: Systems-Based Practice

  • ability to demonstrate knowledge of common and relevant patient care systems
  • ability to demonstrate competency to practice in team and multidisciplinary practice settings (e.g., case management teams, hospital-based practice, managed care)
  • ability to educate other health professionals regarding the appropriate use of acupuncture and Oriental medicine

To show mastery of a particular core competency, students must also demonstrate certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to that competency. To show competency in the ability to exercise clinical judgment, for example, a student must demonstrate the ability to:

  • assess and evaluate the appropriateness of Oriental medical care for each presenting patient;
  • assess, evaluate and execute the need for urgent, acute or alternative care in each patient presentation;
  • assess and evaluate the patient's medical record as it pertains to the care of their patients; and
  • maintain currency in relevant areas in the expansion of medical knowledge as it pertains to the care of their patients.

While developing proposed accreditation standards for the first-professional doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, ACAOM has established a doctoral committee, consisting of the commission's executive director and several commissioners, to consider public comment on the Doctoral Task Force report. While ACAOM will draft the proposed accreditation standards for such programs based on public comment from all of its communities of interest, it will ultimately be the responsibility of state legislators and regulators to determine the educational requirements for entry-level practice.

The full task force report can be accessed online at by clicking the "ACAOM Seeks Public Comment on Final Doctoral Task Force Report" link. The commission is also inviting interested parties to submit their written comments to ACAOM's Maryland office at the address below:

7501 Greenway Center Drive #820
Greenbelt , MD 20770


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