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Acupuncture Today – March, 2006, Vol. 07, Issue 03

The Power of One

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

I recently returned from an excursion to Toronto, Canada. Now that I'm safely back in the states, I am of the opinion that with the possible exception of China, Toronto may have more acupuncture and Oriental medicine regulations than anywhere else in the world.

It is always interesting to see how acupuncture and Oriental medicine are progressing outside the United States.

Providers in other countries are realizing that they must unite to achieve their purpose of furthering the progress of Oriental medicine. By uniting, this could mean the passage of new legislation, increasing public education, or guaranteeing the rights of patients to be treated by providers who are licensed according to basic standards of care. Yet as a profession, it seems we are becoming more divided.

Daniel Lee, a licensed acupuncturist in Laguna Hills, reminded me of an ancient proverb: "A single chopstick can be broken easily by the wind, but by binding the chopsticks together into a bundle, they cannot be broken." This reminded me of a movie I'd seen recently, March of the Penguins, in which the penguins bundle together regularly to avoid freezing to death.

Together, these examples serve as a reminder that it is time once again to talk about the need for unity and greater participation. This is one of only a few professions that continues to be divided by language barriers and cultural diversity. Now is the time to work together as a united profession by combining ideas, ideals, membership and monetary support to create a strong, unbreakable profession - a profession that will strive to promote legal licensure throughout the U.S., that will strive to create standards of care, and that will strive to promote information to insurers and other organizations about this profession and its educational standards.

While on the subject of educational standards, congratulations to the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and its capable executive director, Dort Bigg, for being reconfirmed by the Department of Education. ACAOM has set a standard for acupuncture and Oriental medicine education, and works with schools to create educational programs throughout the U.S. and Canada with an array of educational standards and requirements. This is a significant accomplishment for the commission, and speaks well about the status of AOM education in the United States.

We tend to overlook the importance of educational standards and the role it has played in the growth of our profession. AOM has a strong foundation in this country, which is due in no small part to the strength of the educational process. Now, it is time to build on that educational foundation by pushing for advances in AOM legislation, both in individual states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada, and on the national level.

The second Tuesday of November of just eight short months away. On that day, various elections will be held on the local, state and national levels. As an individual provider in your own private practice, you may be asking yourself, "I am just one person. What can I do?" The truth is that one person can make a difference. Here is what you need to do.

First, you must register to vote. By doing so, you become a constituent. This gives you a voice that all politicians will hear.

Second, go through the process of due diligence. Simply put, this means finding out who currently holds office in your state and county, and which people are running as elected officials.

Third, make an effort. Make an appointment to meet your elected officials who are currently in office, and find out whether they are running for another term. Depending on the answer, make an appointment with the persons who have declared to run. If there are multiple candidates for each party, contact all of them. The important issue is how these people feel about acupuncture and Oriental medicine (or in California, Asian medicine).

Fourth, begin to build professional relationships with the candidates or elected officials. Educate them about our educational process. Send them a copy of the ACAOM article that appeared in the February issue of Acupuncture Today, along with other information about our profession, on a timely basis. Send this information to both the legislator and their staff. You want to become the AOM resource for the legislator in your community, and the best way to do that is with information.

An example of the effect this relationship can have was demonstrated by the OM providers in Toronto, who are working on having acupuncture regulations passed in the province of Ontario. While I was visiting, they held a Chinese new year dinner and party attended by the Deputy Minister of Health. Two days later, they arranged a meeting with officials from the Department of Health. Would they have been able to meet with these officials had they not unified into one voice? I doubt it.

Let's take the actions of our neighbors to the north as an example and take it a step further. There is strength in numbers, and that strength starts with the number one.

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

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