Corinne Axelrod is the vice president of the AAAOM and the chairperson of the media and publications committee. She can be reached at
The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM) is pleased to start this regular column in Acupuncture Today to bring you news from your professional association.
Each column will highlight current issues and activities the association is addressing, as well as some of the people working on behalf of the profession. We want you to know as much about the activities of the association as possible so you can be sure your voice is heard and your views are well-represented.
As a result of the re-unification last year, the AAAOM is now the national association representing professional providers of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Our work is guided by our mission, which is "to promote excellence and integrity in the professional practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, in order to enhance public health and well-being." On our Web site, you will find a list of AAAOM purposes, which includes specific goals to advance the professional welfare of our members, preserve and develop the body of AOM knowledge, educate various groups such as legislators and consumers about AOM and ensure that the public has access to high-quality AOM services. We will be looking at some of these in more detail in future AT columns.
One of the issues of great concern to the AAAOM is the trend by other medical professionals to use acupuncture as part of their health care practice, without adequate training. We consider this a "double standard" that affects public safety and quality of care. To address this problem, we formed a task force to develop recommendations of inter-professional standards (IPS). The task force reviewed published recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pew Charitable Trust, states' scope-of-practice laws, and ACAOM and NCCAOM standards. It recommended that the minimal benchmark standard for all medical professionals who practice acupuncture is NCCAOM certification in acupuncture or its equivalent, including didactic/clinical training and examination.
This would eliminate the double standard that exists in many states and would be in the best interest of public safety and accountability. The AAAOM will work with state associations to provide information to state legislatures and state medical regulatory agencies on the minimum training needed by other medical professionals to be competent in the practice of acupuncture. The complete report is available at www.aaaomonline.org.
Physical Therapists and "Dry Needling"
The AAAOM is working to protect the rights of acupuncturists to provide safe and effective treatment. It opposes state laws that allow non-licensed practitioners or inadequately trained people to practice acupuncture. In some states, physical therapists have sought to expand their scope of practice by adding what they call "dry needling." While many states prohibit physical therapists from using any technique that penetrates the skin, a few states have considered allowing this technique. The AAAOM has worked closely with several state acupuncture associations to show legislators that allowing physical therapists and others to add "dry needling" to their scope of practice is the unlicensed practice of acupuncture and constitutes a public health hazard. We will continue to work with any state association that requests our assistance in monitoring and responding to these legislative initiatives.
As you will see elsewhere in this issue of AT, the AAAOM had two representatives at the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), which is the largest international organization of Chinese medicine professionals. This is a mutually beneficial relationship that will enhance our efforts to improve clinical standards, research and standardization of terminology.
Also on the international front, AAAOM board member Jeannie Kang has been working with the WHO to produce ICD-11, which is an updated coding system of symptoms and diseases. Incorporating traditional medicine into the ICD coding system for medical records and billing is an essential prerequisite for the advancement of traditional medicine into the mainstream medical system. Representatives from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the U.S. are working together to reach consensus on terminology. More information on this important initiative will be forthcoming.
New Board Members and Directors
Among the exciting events that took place at the 2007 AAAOM Annual Conference and Expo in Portland, Ore., were the annual elections to the AAAOM Board of Directors. Bonnie Povolny, MS, LAc (Vt.), and Phranque Wright, DAOM, LAc, Dipl Ac (Fla.), each were elected to serve a three-year term as a board director. Farolyn McSweeney, OMD, LAc (Nev.), and Lloyd G. Wright, DNBAO, LAc (Ariz.), each were elected to serve a one-year term as an alternate board director. They join other board members Corinne Axelrod, MPH, LAc, Dipl Ac (Md.); Travis Buckmaster, LAc, PC (Ore.); P. Shane Burras, LAc, DNBAO (Calif.); Christine Chang, DAOM, LAc, Dipl OM (Calif.); Doreen Guo-Fong Chen, LAc, OMD (NY); Scott Cormier, MTOM, Dipl OM, LAc (NH); Martin Herbkersman, MTOM, DAc (SC); Jeannie Kang, LAc (Calif.); Deborah Lincoln, RN, MSN, RAc, NCCAOM (Mich.); Bill Reddy, LAc (Va.); Jeanette Rockers, LAc (Colo.); and Rachel Toomim, LAc, RT (Fla.).
The AAAOM board elected Martin Herbkersman as the new president, Corinne Axelrod as the new vice president and Bill Reddy as the new secretary. Shane Burras was re-elected as treasurer and Deborah Lincoln was reappointed as VP for corporate events. Leslie McGee and Will Morris were appointed as board advisors. The board will be selecting a new public member and alternate to complete the team.
As we start the new year, we can look back at the past year with a sense of great accomplishment. Bringing together the two national organizations was a huge achievement that will enable the AOM profession to move forward in ways that were not possible when the profession was divided. We can now speak with one voice to state and national legislators, other professional organizations, the media and the public. This is a pivotal time in the history of our profession, and your membership is vital to ensure that acupuncture and Oriental medicine are available to people throughout the U.S. from qualified practitioners. If you are not already a member, please consider joining to support your profession and those who benefit from these services. To join, please go to the Web site or call toll free: (866) 455-7999.