By Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, CEO and Mina Larson, Deputy Director, NCCAOM
The idea to market and promote NCCAOM certification started several years ago when the staff designed a course to enable diplomates to utilize their certification to promote their practice. The course provided practitioners with tips and methods to bring more awareness to the medicine. Frustrated with the little amount of news coverage NCCAOM diplomates received, the course was a first step in empowering diplomates to work with the media in promoting their practice. It also covered using brochures and press releases and how to lobby to state legislators. This innovative course was immediately a hit with the small group that attended the first workshop at a national AOM conference.
As more and more practitioners signed up for the course, it became evident from the participant feedback that many of the services provided by the NCCAOM were being under-utilized. Testimony from practitioners who took the course revealed that the course filled a gap for practitioners who needed information and tools on how to market their practice by promotion their national board certification; however, only a fraction of diplomates were benefiting from the course, as it was only available at professional membership conferences.
NCCAOM Goes Online
Online courses have become one of the most popular venues for continuing education courses. What better way to reach all practitioners than to offer the marketing and lobbying course via the Internet? "Effective Marketing and Lobbying Through Your National Certification" is the online version of the course that was taught throughout the country at national conferences.
As shown by those who have already taken the course, the workshop will help practitioners learn how to be a more informed and involved diplomates while at the same time providing the tools that practitioners need to promote their practice. This four-hour course was filmed at the TAI Sophia Institute. This is the first course for NCCAOM in which instructors interacted with participants (faculty and staff at TAI Sophia) on camera to bring the participant the virtual experience of being in the course itself. Those who have already taken the course have stated that they became enlightened about the many methods that can be used to reach out to members of the media, state legislature, and their state's regulatory board. Highlights of the course include: how to write a press release; how to be interviewed by a reporter; how to pitch to the media; and how to become involved in legislative change. Participants will have a chance to take part in several, very interesting case studies on legislative, media and ethics issues.
"Effective Marketing and Lobbying Through NCCAOM Certification" is accessible through the NCCAOM Web site. Four professional development activity (PDA) points towards NCCAOM recertification will be awarded for completion of the course. This four-hour course is offered for only $100. Practitioners can complete this course at their own pace and on their schedule. There is a very brief assessment at the end of the course that, when completed, will allow practitioners to receive CEU/PDAs. The course is available to everyone. All that is needed is a credit card and a Diplomate ID # (optional if you are a non-diplomate). To sign up, please go to the NCCAOM Web site.
Making Marketing Matter
In 2005-2008, the NCCAOM surveyed diplomates to help identify the services they were requesting from their certification organization. Overwhelmingly, marketing materials such as brochures, was the top request. The results of the 2008 NCCAOM Diplomate Satisfaction Survey revealed that a majority of NCCAOM diplomates (more than 65 percent) requested additional marketing materials to help promote their practice.
As a direct outcome of these surveys, the NCCAOM unveiled the NCCAOM Consumer Guide brochure and the NCCAOM State brochure, now available on the NCCAOM Web site, free of charge. These brochures help practitioners educate patients, media, state leaders and other members of the community about NCCAOM certification standards. These specific brochures were created for readers or recipients who are unfamiliar with acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Together, these brochures serve practitioners in a multitude of situations from use in the patient waiting room to distribution in a Senate committee room. This brochure can be either download and printed by the practitioner or the print order form can be sent to the NCCAOM office and we will ship your printed brochures in the quantities desired.
In addition, the NCCAOM has information and materials for state regulation and legislative activities available on its Web site. Please go to www.nccaom.org for the state licensure table and accompanying maps that present the most up-to-date information for practitioners who need to stay current with state licensure requirements.
For those who prefer something more sophisticated and comprehensive, the NCCAOM will be launching the official NCCAOM Diplomate Certification brochures for each of its certifications: Diplomate of Acupuncture, Diplomate of Chinese Herbology, Diplomate of Asian Bodywork and Diplomate of Oriental Medicine. Each of the four brochures will include historical information, up-to-date industry statistics, and facts supporting the benefits and growth of acupuncture, Chinese herbology, Oriental medicine and Asian bodywork therapy. Later in the year, the brochures will also be available via the Web in the form of a PowerPoint for presentations or electronic communication. The NCCAOM will provide practitioners with the materials they need to make a memorable first impression during meetings with patients, potential employers, media and members of the health care community.
New Resource Center
The keystone for connecting all the current and future marketing tools will be the launch of the new Diplomate Resource Center. This resource center will be devoted to empowering active diplomates with information for promoting their practice through their NCCAOM certification. To educate consumers, the Diplomate Resource Center will also provide useful and current data on the benefits of acupuncture and Oriental medicine such as sample press releases to announce a new practice or location; news articles that extol the benefits of national certification to the public; and marketing tips that will help diplomates stand out from the rest. This will all be done through the NCCAOM's newly redesigned Web site. Please look for future announcement of the launch date.
The NCCAOM is always looking for feedback from its diplomate population, and we welcome any suggestions that you would like to share with us. Please contact us at
, if you have any questions. Let the NCCAOM put you on the path to successful media relations and effective marketing.
Kory Ward-Cook is CEO of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Mina Larson is deputy director of communications and marketing for the NCCAOM. She may be reached at