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From the Editor's Desk

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

About the Columnist
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A Question of Ethics

Recently, after I had finished teaching a class on ethics, I read a blog post on the AAAOM website regarding "gainful employment." The published information made me reflect on what I had just discussed with the students — the acupuncturists' ethical responsibility to the patient, the profession and the public.

Perhaps we should keep the Rotary motto in mind ... Rotary is an international service club that stresses the need to ask four questions of oneself before making comments, and in my opinion also in the case of writing a blog post.

The "Four-Way Test" is used worldwide as a moral code for personal and business relationships. It can be applied to almost any aspect of life. It was written by an American activist, Herbert J. Taylor from Chicago.

Here are the four questions to ask yourself before speaking (or writing):

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
  5. Failing Grade

Based on the tenor of the blog post, it would seem that the answers to these questions might not help the schools, the profession or the public. As we know, social media is a very powerful tool and is used by millions around the world. So, as the acupuncture profession continues to grow it's the responsibility of each of us (within the profession) to build it up, not tear it down.

Honestly, I was surprised that it was printed on the AAAOM website. Maybe it should have been approve by the board, however there is a disclaimer in the fine print. "The statements and opinions contained in the articles on the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine's (AAAOM) Blog are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the AAAOM."

Help Not Hinder

This association/group of people (who are volunteers) is supposed be helping the profession. Now, I realize that people have differing opinions, oftentimes on the same subject, but we're all in the same profession. And people are working very hard to establish acupuncture into the national health care system, as well as internationally. Therefore, our goals should be the same.

The blog post should have shown support for the schools, instead of criticism and inconsistences. This profession is small in comparison to medical doctors, so it's imperative that we work together — not in opposition.

It is sad when you read an article about the profession that contains negativity coming from inside the profession. Essentially, this is giving the other professions (those looking to treat acupuncture patients) the ammunition they need to diminish acupuncture and attain their own goals.

Are you familiar with the old fashioned game of "Gossip," where every time a sentence gets repeated it gets distorted? It seems that when the information from this blog post was passed along ... it got distorted. And when it's placed on social media it spreads more rapidly. Who knows where it will go, or who is reading.

Gossip & Social Media

Social media can be very useful, as well as destructive. It can help to find a missing child, but also destroy by exciting riots. How we use it depends on each individual. As an acupuncturist it is our ethical responsibility to use social media to help, not hinder.

By employing the "4-Way Test" and looking at each action we take we can create a change for good. We can be a positive influence in our quest to help millions of potential acupuncture patients; ones that we have not yet reached.

While looking into this blog post I spoke with Catherine Niemiec, JD, LAc, President/CEO, Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine & Acupunture College & Clinic. Her response was this:

"It is so critical that statements are accurate and not misleading, otherwise they can lead to defamation. The Department of Education has never even hinted that any of the AOM institutions have failed to follow Gainful Employment (GE) process requirements. Moreover, the Department of Education has specifically acknowledged data deficiencies with regard to their GE rules, including failed beta testing, an inability to calculate mean debt figures, and that the loan repayment rates it had reported were flawed. College appeals of these rates are still underway and a there are multiple legal challenges of the GE Rule now in court because the GE regulations do not account for fields where graduates are self-employed, and therefore the data is flawed."

In my estimation acupuncture is where hope and healing meet, let's not muddle that up.

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