Getting in Gear for Next Year

By Marilyn Allen, Editor-at-Large

The past 365 days have been a tremendous roller coaster ride. Each year, the pace of life seems to get faster, and there doesn't seem to be as much time to sit back and enjoy things as there used to. When I was younger, I thought there would be more time to relax and reflect on my accomplishments. Now, I find the opposite is happening. Every week, there's a new seminar to teach; a conference to go to; or a workshop to attend. I wonder sometimes whether I've started to slow down, but then I realize I'm not slowing down; everything else is just going faster!

The progress of our profession also accelerated in 2002. Just look at some of the things we were able to accomplish:

  • There were major legislative victories in California and Colorado, and significant changes to the laws in Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.
  • Doctoral programs were approved at Bastyr University and the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine.
  • Acupuncturists and doctors of Oriental medicine testified before the White House CAM Commission and the Food and Drug Administration. Their knowledge provided valuable input on the use of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, and the ability of acupuncture patients to donate blood, respectively.
  • The STRICTA Recommendations were published, providing important standards for future acupuncture trials.
  • Scientific studies were published on the effectiveness of acupuncture for stress, low back pain, in vitro fertilization, frozen shoulder syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a host of other conditions. Dozens of positive studies were published on herbal remedies, qigong, acupressure, tai chi and other components of Asian healing. Many of these studies were published in highly respected, peer-reviewed publications.

Even in the past few months, important new developments have come to light:

  • The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine's (NCCAOM) programs in acupuncture, Chinese herbology and Asian bodywork therapy received full, five-year accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
  • The National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance and the American Association of Oriental Medicine set aside some of their differences to reach a good faith "Memorandum of Understanding," which you can read about in more detail on page 20. AAOM and the Alliance and are also working on a Model Code of Ethics for the profession, which I'll discuss in an upcoming issue.
  • NCCAOM, AAOM, the Alliance, the Accreditation Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) and the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) established the Vision Search Task Force to strengthen collaboration among organizations, reduce conflict, and strengthen the profession. Like the Code of Ethics, I'll discuss the importance of the Task Force in an upcoming issue.

These are all positive steps forward. I'm glad to see it, and frankly, I think it's about time our leaders started working together to try and get our profession moving in the right direction. With the holidays drawing near, we all tend to think about giving and thanking those around us. We would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge and thank all of Acupuncture Today's columnists and contributing authors. You play a vital role this publication, and you make my job as editor that much easier.

Thanks also to the vendors who advertise their products and services in AT. By advertising, you show that you trust us to carry your message to the profession. Last but not least, thanks to our readers, who provide important feedback and make sure Acupuncture Today remains focused on what's really important.

Collectively, these four groups - the advertisers, columnists, contributing writers and readers - are the lifeblood of Acupuncture Today. You are all responsible for Acupuncture Today's success, so whenever you stop by an exhibit booth to say "Hello" or write a letter of thanks, give yourself a pat on the back as well. As I've said before, without you, there wouldn't be an Acupuncture Today.

And now, on to next year. I wish I had a crystal ball that would tell me about all the wonderful things we're going to accomplish in 2003. Unfortunately, I don't have a crystal ball, but here are some things I hope to see happen:

  • I'd like to see laws that allow for the practice of acupuncture by licensed acupuncturists passed in every state. We've only got a handful of states to go, and there's no reason why this task can't be accomplished by the end of the year. If your state does not have an acupuncture law in effect, put your membership dollars to work and contact your national organization for assistance. National organizations exist to serve the needs of every practitioner, not just the ones that live in states that already have acupuncture laws on the books.
  • I'd like to see a set of national care standards put into effect. Acupuncturists are going to have to decide whether they want to be considered primary care practitioners (as they are in California and a few other states) or simply technicians. Neal Miller, an acupuncturist in California, recently testified to the state legislature regarding standards of care and pointed out that in China, the standards of care are much higher than in the U.S.
  • I'd like to see what becomes of the Code of Ethics the Alliance and AAOM are formulating. The Alliance has been working on this for the past two years, and it's nice to see AAOM joining with them in the process.
  • I'd like to see the formation of a scholarship program for acupuncture students, along with a residency program and/or a mentoring program for newly licensed practitioners to help them get started after graduation. Maybe the Vision Search Task Force can discuss it at one of their meetings.

This profession has just scratched the surface of what it can do personally and politically. I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do now that its leaders appear to be on the same page.

What do you envision for the profession in 2003? Will we move forward? Let us know your thoughts and feelings. We'll print them in Acupuncture Today, and we'll pass them along to the Task Force for their review.

May your holidays be happy and safe, and pray for peace everywhere. See you in 2003!

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

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