I have just returned from the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance's annual meeting, which took place this May in Safety Harbor, Florida. (For those wondering why I'm talking about the meeting in the July issue, remember that Acupuncture Today is sent to the printers about a month before it gets put in print. It's actually the end of May as I'm writing this.) If you were not in attendance, you missed some valuable information. The weather was beautiful, and it was great to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. Conference attendees were able to share and participate in a wide variety of sessions, ranging from Korean hand acupuncture and French emergencies to five element acupuncture and Chinese herbs. I'd like to share some of my experiences and highlights of the conference to give you an idea of what happened.
On the first night of the conference, there was a panel presentation that provided information from the Food and Drug Administration on the controversy surrounding aristolochic acid. Audience members were made aware of the problems with regard to aristolochic acid and certain herbal products, and a number of solutions were discussed. The general consensus of the panel was that individual practitioners must first become educated about the situation, then remain educated by learning more about the issue.
Also on Friday, Matt Callison, LAc, delivered a full day workshop on neck and shoulder injuries. The workshop helped explain why and how specific injuries occur, with particular care given to needle techniques for motor, trigger and acupuncture points; tui na; rehabilitation exercises; and herbal remedies. Matt has written previously for Acupuncture Today, and although he is extremely busy lecturing for the National Sports Acupuncture Association and supervising a sports medicine clinic at UC San Diego, still has time to teach students at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. We appreciate all the work he is doing.
The following afternoon, I participated in a presentation, "Ethics in Daily Practice," headed by Ann Bailey, a registered nurse and licensed acupuncturist. There were six panelists in all; in addition to Ann and myself, the panel included Shirley Bigley, Esq., past chair of the Maryland State Board of Acupuncture; Mary Brandenburg, LAc, academic dean at the Traditional Acupuncture Institute; Sherman Cohn, a professor of law and ethics at Georgetown University; and Michael Gaeta, a licensed acupuncturist from New York.
Each of the panelists discussed their experiences and provided information about ethics in Oriental medicine. The session focused on whether the Alliance should develop a model code of ethics to propose to state boards and associations. Three questions were then proposed: 1. Should there be a code of ethics? 2. Who should enforce the code? 3. Where do we go from here?
The audience then divided into two groups (with three panelists per group) and discussed those questions. Both groups agreed that there should be a model code of ethics; however, there was much discussion about enforcement. Many participants felt it should be up to state regulatory bodies to enforce any ethical code. As to the final question - where do we go from here? - nearly the entire audience volunteered to join an Alliance committee to begin formulating a code of ethics. It was amazing to see members of the profession join together to get involved in these types of issues. I know I speak for the rest of the panel when I say we appreciate the audience's enthusiasm and willingness to help develop this project.
Another issue that drew a lot of attention at the meeting concerned scope of practice. This issue was first discussed about six years ago, but it generated very little interest then. Now, it's become one of the most important topics in the profession.
The scope of practice presentation was delivered by Barbara Mitchell, LAc, JD, the Alliance's executive director (and perhaps the foremost expert on acupuncture and Oriental medicine laws in the country) and was extremely well attended. Many of the practitioners who were in attendance shared their own experiences as well. It was found that in some states, the scope of practice language is too limiting and can hamper a profession's growth; in others, the language is far too broad. If the language is not well written, it can cause problems when presenting bills to legislators and regulatory agencies. There are also liability issues that must be considered when wording is being drafted to either create or revise new laws and regulations. The discussion led to the conclusion that when drafting legislation related to the profession and the practitioner in the field, it takes both a practitioner and an attorney to create the proper wording for a bill.
Other presentations and workshops included:
- Herbal Alternatives to Drugs for Pain Management, by John Chen, PhD, PharmD, LAc
- Oriental Medicine Treatment of HIV AIDS, by Misha Cohen, LAc, Dipl.Ac., CH
- Five Gifts Essential for a Successful Practice, by Bob Duggan, MAc, LAc
- Taoism and Nature: Understanding Acupuncture from Natural Phenomena, by David Ford, LAc
- Building and Sustaining a Successful Practice, by Michael Gaeta, LAc, LMT
- Quality in Traditional Medicines, by Jean Giblette
- Qi as Emotion: Engaging the Emotional Body, by Jane Grissmer, LAc and Peter Marinakis, PhD, LAc
- Yang-Style Short Form, by Floyd Herdrich, MAc, Bac, Dipl.Ac.
- Acupuncture in Rural America: Opportunities and Challenges, by Linda Leef, LAc
- Koryo Hand Therapy - Healing from Form to Formless, by Dan Lobash, PhD, LAc
- The Eight Curious Vessels and the Six Circulations in OB/GYN, by Sean Marshall, DAc, Dipl.Ac.
- Lingering Pathogenic Factors, by Cindy Micleu, LAc, MTCM
- Taoist Tui Na, by Jeff Nagel, LAc
- Auricular Acupuncture, by Terry Oleson, PhD
- If You Build it, They Will Come: Acupuncture in a Public Health Model, by Kristen Porter, LAc
- Animal Acupuncture, by Sandy River, LAc
- The Yellow Emperor's Classic, by Ki Suni, OMD, PhD
- Introduction to Application of the Eight Extra Meridians According to the Balance Method, by Richard Tan, LAc
- Safely and Properly Using Chinese Herbs, by Haihe Tian, AP, PhD
- NADA Training, by Rachel Toomim, AP
- The Distinct Channels: Trajectories, Functions and Clinical Usage, by Viet Dzung Tran, MD
- Managing Asthma with Chinese Medicine, by Carla Wilson, LAc
- The Origin of Cancer and Phlegm, by Ruan Jin Zhao, AP, PhD
- Three Needle Protocol: A New Acupuncture Treatment Approach and Observational Studies in HIV/AIDS Research, by Shuren Xu, LAc and Elizabeth Sommers, MPH, LAc
The Alliance did its usual excellent job of helping to inform and educate the Oriental medicine profession. My sincere thanks to the Alliance, and to the presenters who took the time to share their talents with the rest of us. You all make the profession proud.
Click here for more information about Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large.