Corinne Axelrod is the vice president of the AAAOM. She is licensed in Maryland and Washington, D.C. and has a part-time practice in Kensington, Md. She can be reached at .
Welcome to our column to keep you up-to-date on the activities of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM).We are your professional association and want to keep you informed of ongoing and emerging issues and what we are doing to help the profession grow and flourish. Here are some highlights of our recent activities:
2008 AAAOM Conference
Those of you who have been involved in putting on a conference know the planning begins long before the actual conference. As we get closer to Oct. 16, the pace really picks up and we start getting excited!
The 2008 AAAOM Conference and Expo will be held in Chicago at the Westin North Shore, a short distance from O'Hare airport. Executive Director Bekah Christensen and the AAAOM Conference Committee have been working hard to ensure we have dynamic presenters, first-class accommodations, a room full of vendors and plenty of fun activities to foster connections among all the attendees.
This year, we are particularly excited that Josephine Briggs, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, will be our keynote speaker. This will be an amazing opportunity to hear from and talk to the person who arguably has more influence on the direction of acupuncture research than probably any other person in the country today.
If that hasn't gotten you to start searching for a cheap flight to Chicago, then look at the rest of the conference lineup and you'll see a stellar assortment of AOM trailblazers - Judy Becker Worsley, Miki Shima, Sherman Cohen and many others, including a special Korean delegation to provide in-depth information on Saam acupuncture. If you haven't already received your conference brochure in the mail, please go to www.aaaomonline.org for more conference and registration information.
Practitioner Data-Gathering System
Have you ever read an article in a newspaper or magazine that seemed to focus on the risks of acupuncture? What about an article cautioning about the dangers of herbal medicines? Unfortunately, these are common occurrences in the media. And it's only through wide-scale, accurate data gathering that we can effectively rebut this misinformation. To this end, AAAOM President Martin Herbkersman has created the Adverse Events Reporting (AER) Task Force, chaired by Claudette Baker. The task force presently is exploring the feasibility of establishing a voluntary practitioner data-gathering system whereby AOM practitioners would agree to self-report treatment outcomes and adverse events for herbs, acupuncture and other associated modalities.
The practitioner and public benefits of a voluntary AOM data-gathering system are numerous and significant. It instantly will generate solid evidence in support of our state and federal herbal legislative proposals. By monitoring AOM safety data, we will strengthen and ensure consumer protection, eliminate unfounded arguments and press, and thereby conclusively justify to state and federal regulators and legislators our access to herbs.
Further, the AER database could provide an academic research platform from which to launch efficacy studies. We also anticipate the establishment of the AER database will spark a positive public relations boon for the AOM profession from scholarly and general media.
If you would like to participate in developing such a system, please let us know by using the feedback form at www.aaaomonline.org. We will keep you posted about this exciting new proposal.
To make our elections more efficient, the AAAOM Election Committee, headed by board members Jeanette Rockers and Jeannie Kang, is working to put in place a system for electronic voting. Along with this, the board has been exploring bylaw changes that will revise the House of Delegates system that relied heavily on proxy votes through the state AOM organizations.
There still will be an open nominating process from the membership at-large, followed by electronic online voting. Members without computer access will be provided a mail-in ballot. A survey conducted earlier this year indicated strong support among AAAOM for this process. Voting begins in Sept., so be sure to look at our announcements for specific voting procedures. Candidates elected to the board will be announced at the Annual General Meeting in Chicago on Saturday, Oct. 18.
The AAAOM is recognized by health care leaders and organizations in other countries as the spokesgroup for AOM practitioners and activities in the U.S. We value the relationships we have with other countries and international organizations and believe the synergy created in our dialogues benefits all of us in both tangible and intangible ways.
In our February column, we described our representation at the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies (WFCMS), the largest international organization of Chinese medicine professionals worldwide, and our work with the World Health Organization (WHO) on updating and standardizing the coding system of symptoms and diseases. These activities will help our efforts to make AOM widely accessible here in the U.S.
Some of you may have heard that the British Columbia Ministry of Health decided to extend acupuncture insurance to low-income people through their Medical Services Plan (see July 2008 Acupuncture Today for more information). This historic action might help pave the way for other Canadian provinces and some of our states to do the same. One of the first interviews granted by George Abbott, British Columbia's Minister of Health, was with the AAAOM's Doug Newton, associate editor of The American Acupuncturist (AA). The interview was published in the June issue of AA, and is reprinted at www.aaaomonline.org.
The AAAOM - Who is Martin Herbkersman?
The AAAOM is run by a small and dedicated staff in Sacramento, Calif., and is governed by a member-elected volunteer board of directors. Elections for board positions are held each year, and the newly elected board then selects a president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary. But who are these people? We thought you might be interested to know a little more about our current president, Martin Herbkersman.
Martin and his brothers owned and operated two brewpub restaurants in South Carolina before he embarked on his dream of becoming an acupuncturist. He and his wife packed up their family and headed to Santa Monica, Calif., where he attended Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine. He graduated at the end of 2002 and returned to his South Carolina home to open an acupuncture practice specializing in fertility. He is NCCAOM-certified in Oriental medicine, a Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine and a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. He also serves as the chairman of the Acupuncture Advisory Committee to the Board of Medical Examiners of South Carolina and holds acupuncture licenses in South Carolina, California and Rhode Island.
In 2005, Martin and his brother, State Representative Bill Herbkersman, helped to get landmark legislation passed in South Carolina that prohibits anyone from practicing acupuncture without an acupuncture license and NCCAOM certification. Prior to this, physicians and dentists could practice acupuncture in South Carolina with no additional training. It also eliminated the requirement that licensed acupuncturists practice under the supervision of a physician or dentist. This legislation is a model for other states that want to assure only people appropriately trained in AOM can practice acupuncture.
Martin and his wife Scarlet have five children. When asked how he balances a busy practice, a large family and the duties of being the president of a national association, he laughed and said, "I grew up in a family of seven boys with parents who did much volunteer work. My natural tendencies are to be involved. It may be just a matter of upbringing, but I want to contribute as much as I can to a profession that helps so many people."
Look for the smiling guy with the bow tie at the next AAAOM meeting because that probably will be AAAOM President Martin Herbkersman.
Since so many of us have come to acupuncture as a second career, our profession is full of people like Martin Herbkersman who have some years of experience and success in other fields before pursuing their dream of becoming an acupuncturist. Whether your background is business, law, marketing or anything else, the skills you bring from your "previous life" are an asset to the profession. We need people like you to help us make AOM available and assessable to people throughout the U.S. If you're not already a member, please go to our Web site, www.aaaomonline.org and join. And if you are a member, please let us know what skills you have and how you'd like to be more involved. We welcome your time, commitment and talent.
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