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Acupuncture Today – January, 2002, Vol. 03, Issue 01

Goals for the New Year

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

This a special time for those of us at Acupuncture Today. Not only do we celebrate the New Year; we also get to say Happy Birthday, for it was in January 2000 that the first issue of AT was published.

The first two years have been wonderful. We've grown in circulation and reputation, touching Oriental medicine providers across the country with news and views about the profession and its place in the changing landscape of health care. No longer are we the new kid on the block; we're here to stay, and we're looking forward to great things in the coming year.

The new year always brings two views to mind. One is of introspection and remembrance of things past; the other is of looking ahead. The events of this past year have stamped an indelible mark on the future. The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, and the resultant actions against Afghanistan, have forever changed the world as we know it. These changes have had a marked impact on acupuncture practices nationwide, and that impact has made us think about what's really important in our lives.

Being the first of the year, it's what we call "goal time" - and I'm not talking about the hockey season. As soon as we sent the December issue of AT to press, we began discussing our goals for 2002. It may sound a little funny - a newspaper setting goals? - but it's true. Our primary goal remains the same as it was the first day we started assembling the publication. We want to continue providing our readers with timely news, important research and clinical findings, legislative updates and other information that affects the way Oriental medicine is practiced. And we are committed to being the best and most respected monthly publication in the acupuncture and Oriental medicine arena.

We also want to make sure that our columnists and contributing authors pique your interest. We try to make sure that they always write something that will aid you in the treatment of patients; bring an important issue to light; alert you to a new technique or method of care; or otherwise make you think about the way you practice. If there's something you'd like to see discussed, or if there's an issue you feel would be of interest to our readers, let us know; we'll do our best to put in the paper for the rest of the profession to see.

Those are some of our goals for this year. Now it's time to talk about some of yours.

Oriental medicine is an established, professional medical system, and it must be dealt with in a professional manner. Recently, a practitioner asked me what was being done to spread the word about this profession. In my opinion, patients and the public - and in some ways, the media -- are doing a good job of informing people about the benefits we have to offer. On the whole, though, it seems the profession -- particularly those who are in the best position to do so -- does a less than adequate job of providing that information.

Case in point: One of the columns that appears in each issue of Acupuncture Today is titled "News in Brief." The column consists of bits of information gathered from news organizations, as well as press releases from the Internet and other sources. While writing this column, I asked the managing editor how many acupuncture schools and associations supply us with information for News in Brief.

Honestly? About a dozen," he responded. "Most of the schools from California, and a couple of schools in New York. And the associations send something every once in a while."

I wasn't sure I'd heard him correctly. "A dozen? From everybody? That's it?" I said.

"That's it," he replied, and then added, "It's like this every year. I contact the schools and associations that we don't hear from. I'll get in touch with someone, and they'll take down our contact information and promise to send something in. Then a couple of months will go by, and I won't get anything. So I'll call them back, and they'll apologize and promise to get a story out to me, and it starts all over again. It's a little frustrating sometimes."

Frustrating to say the least. So, to the dozen or so organizations that provide us with news on a consistent basis, thank you. You've made our job of informing people considerably easier.

To the dozens more who do not, however, I challenge you to make this one of your goals for the New Year: From now on, you will provide us with regular press releases and news items about what's going on in your part of the country. Acupuncture Today is a newspaper. It is delivered for free to every licensed acupuncturist and acupuncture student in the country. Its job is to inform people. But if you don't take that first step and let us know about what's happening, how are we going to take the next step and tell the rest of the profession? But I digress.

The profession is now in its early 20s, and it's about time we take it upon ourselves to educate the insurance industry. Despite what some insurers may think, we have a lot more to offer than just pain relief. So here's your second goal for the New Year: talk about the benefits of Oriental medicine with an insurance adjuster, supervisor or administrator at least once each month. Look for these opportunities and be ready when they come.

More patients seem to be visiting the offices of acupuncturists since the events of September 11. Patients are thinking that about living for the moment and taking care of themselves now, instead of holding off for the future. Let this be a goal for you as well. Take care of yourself. A healthy practitioner has a healthy practice. Make your health a priority, and in turn you can help others to achieve their health goals in 2002.

One of the best ways to grow and hone your skills is to share and teach others. Do you know any newly licensed acupuncturists in your area? If so, make it a goal to mentor them and help them with any issues they may have. It's quite rewarding, and it helps improve the overall competency and level of education in our profession.

I have met hundreds of acupuncturists across the country this past year. Many of you have talked about how the information in AT has helped in your practices. I would encourage you to make it one of your goals to contribute your ideas and information to be used and discussed in future issues of Acupuncture Today. You can send us your ideas by fax, regular mail or e-mail. How you send your ideas isn't important. The fact that you send us your ideas is.

Just recently I returned from the AAOM's annual conference in Hawaii. What a wonderful venue for a conference. It was great to see so many familiar faces, meet new friends, and talk with representatives from the schools to learn about their students and programs. I would encourage setting a goal of attending one or more major conferences this coming year. It is a great way to see old friends, improve the cohesiveness of the profession and get those continuing education units at the same time.

Last but not least, I was speaking with Honora Wolfe, one of AT's columnists, recently. She was also talking about goals for the new year and said something I think is worth repeating: "When a goal is written down it is much more realistic that you will manifest it than if it is not written." Do you write your goals down? If not, make it a goal for 2002 to actually write down your goals. Then, in the middle of the year, take a look at what you've written down to see whether you've achieved those goals or what steps you need to take to make those goals a reality.

What goals have you set for this year? We'd like to hear what you are planning to do and how you intend to improve your practice and the profession at large. I encourage you to share your ideas with me by fax or e-mail. If we receive enough responses, we'll make sure to publish them in an upcoming issue of AT.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.

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