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Acupuncture Today – October, 2007, Vol. 08, Issue 10

Grow and Contribute to This Medicine

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

This month of October is filled with many special events. October brings a change of season as we wrap up the memories of summer and welcome the annual Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day, celebrated on the 24th.

Congratulations to the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), the Accreditation Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), the Council of College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) and the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), which all celebrate their formation 25 years ago this month. All four groups are going to celebrate at the AAAOM International Conference and Exposition, convening Oct. 18-22 in Portland, Ore.

Anthony Robbins, mentor, motivational speaker and life coach has suggested there are two basic responsibilities in life. One is to grow continually and the other is to contribute. When you decide to attend the AAAOM annual convention, you will be achieving both of your life responsibilities - personal growth by attending the plethora of sessions and learning new information to help your patients and your practice. The contributing comes with the mini-fundraisers and by sharing and networking with others in attendance.

Many special and unusual features and events will be taking place. I just re-read the program and realized the upcoming event certainly is exciting. The beginning event is the Nomenclature Panel, which will celebrate terminology. Special guests joining the group this year include Dr. Shim Bum-Sang from Korea, a temporary advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the discussion of terminology; Miki Shima, a well- known teacher, writer and the recipient of the 2004 AAOM Lifetime Achievement Award; and Dr. Nigel Wiseman, an expert in the field of Chinese medical terminology and lexicography. Dr. Xie Zhu-Fan has done the majority of his work in terminology in China. These experts, along with others, will be discussing these vitally important issues.

The WHO deserves recognition for its tremendous achievements in promoting traditional medicine. Its recent publication of international English terminology standards in the field of East Asian medicine represents one of the most significant developments in the field since Chinese medicine was "discovered" by the West. By tackling the challenging issue of terminology, along with simultaneously solidifying standards in acupuncture point location and Chinese medicinal nomenclature, the WHO has set the stage for a vast proliferation of medical knowledge and integration. In recognition of this historic achievement, the AAAOM is hosting an English terminology panel to provide the WHO with feedback and encouragement from our community.

Terminology is an important issue for the exchange of information in the field of East Asian medicine and the WHO Western Pacific meetings have identified more than 4,000 commonly used terms worthy of inclusion into an international standard. By standardizing the English terminology of traditional medicine, the WHO will be able to create international diagnostic codes based on traditional medicine, in addition to providing the field with a universal language that can be traced to authentic traditional medical concepts. All around us, we see that medical information is flourishing in an increasingly global and digital society and breaking the language barrier is a necessary step for the storage, retrieval and utilization of medical information by researchers, institutions and clinicians. By pioneering standards in language use, the WHO aims to improve the transmission of traditional concepts, preventing any undue dilution or simplification of important clinical elements during the process of globalization. Representing the culmination of efforts that began in 2004, the recent publication of the WHO standards is arguably the greatest single contribution to the preservation of traditional medical knowledge the world has ever known.

Few practitioners realize the potential impact of these new developments. Systematizing terminology will improve access to the tens of thousands of digital articles that exist in Asian languages, allowing these vast databases of classical works and modern journal articles to be digitally searched in English. Comprehensive terminology lists will allow translators to more efficiently produce texts for classroom use, which will allow student and reference works to proliferate dramatically. They provide a solution for the lack of term standards in previous generations, which has caused Western literature to be relatively limited in scope. This promises to reduce the rampant complaints of poor translation or inappropriate simplification in textbooks, along with a general lack of cohesion in the community on even the most basic terminology. Finally, the lack of a professional terminology system has prevented traditional medicine from gaining access to the coding system used in mainstream medical diagnostics and billing. All of these factors have limited the development and penetration of traditional medicine in Western society. Along with the panel, we look forward to a comparative database contributed by Eric Brand, a student of Wiseman's, who has painstakingly assembled a comparative list of all the terms used in all of the various major publications.

Friday and Saturday will be full of meetings and seminars, helping us to chart the future of acupuncture and Oriental medicine into the 21st century. Saturday night will be a time of celebration and unification through sound and entertainment. Prior to the gala, Dr. Ellen Franklin will present "The Music of the Spheres: Harmonic Attunement." This opening ceremony will consist of Tibetan bowls and bells, planetary gongs, original poetry and a blessing for unification, harmony and being at one with ourselves, our communities and our practice. This celebratory presentation will set the tone for a delightful, joy-filled and fun evening. The remainder of the evening's festivities includes plenty of entertainment by a comedian, a band and a troupe of dancers. Dress your best and be ready to celebrate and honor our achievements and leadership with our national association. Sunday and Monday continue to offer various workshops with the conference adjourning Monday afternoon.

Come and rejuvenate yourselves, network with your professional peers and just have some fun.

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

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