Although acupuncture is growing in popularity it continues to be underutilized due to misunderstandings about its true potential. Only a fraction of those who could be helped by acupuncture know enough to seek it out. The roots of these misunderstandings run deep and addressing this problem will take a committed, comprehensive effort. Considering what is at stake, I am excited to announce the formation of a new non-profit organization, The Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF), whose mission will be to identify and break-down the barriers of misunderstanding preventing acupuncture from meeting its potential.
The Acupuncture Now Foundation is working to pull together those with both the passion and knowledge to educate the public, policymakers, and healthcare professionals about the practice of acupuncture. We will craft a series of campaigns specifically tailored to those three unique demographics. One of our top goals is to hire a public relations firm with the right expertise to help us develop and carry-out these campaigns. We believe the time is ripe for this effort and that the return on this investment will be tremendous.
There has been a steady increase in positive press regarding acupuncture over the last few years that has piqued the interest about acupuncture within the general public and policy/healthcare decision-makers. But up to this point, this press has been random, unorganized, and with no calls to action. The ANF's campaign will work at coordinating the messaging regarding acupuncture's potential along with clear calls to action – how those interested in learning more or pursuing acupuncture can do so. The strategy is for the ANF to establish itself as an independent organization with the sole mission of public education while working with other groups such as professional membership organizations whose missions may include, but are not limited to public education.
Some of you know me from my book Making Acupuncture Pay, including many articles I have written for Acupuncture Today. In these works I have often stressed the need for acupuncturists to undertake a public education campaign and for our professional associations to take-up this task. I have been proposing such a campaign for 25 years and have had three occasions when leadership of one of those organizations told me they were willing to do so. But just as the recent articles in Acupuncture Today on the troubles of the AAAOM documented, each time I tried to work with these organization, I found them in such disarray no campaign was possible.
I hope the AOM profession can solve the problems it has had in putting together a strong and effective national professional membership organization as our profession badly needs this. But after much reflection and discussions with others, I am convinced that the work that needs to be done to educate the public, policymakers, and healthcare professionals about acupuncture can only be accomplished by an independent organization that works with AOM organizations as well as other groups involved with acupuncture. The vision is for the ANF to grow into an international organization. The dual problem of the need for a comprehensive public education campaign and the lack of a strong, organized voice advocating for acupuncture is not unique to the U.S. but is happening in several countries. The ANF will devote itself to the one mission of becoming the leading advocate for the practice of acupuncture.
If there was ever a need for a healthcare system to have a devoted advocate working to explain its potential that healthcare system is acupuncture. No one knows exactly how or when acupuncture started, its theories are based on ancient Eastern concepts that seem completely out of sorts with modern understandings about the body, and acupuncture relies a process –multiple needle punctures- that conjures images of torture rather than a helpful therapy. Those of us who have dedicated themselves to learning, teaching, and practicing acupuncture know there are answers to every question and ways to address every misgiving people may have. What is needed, though, is a place for those of us with this knowledge and the desire to share that knowledge to put our heads together and correct the misunderstandings too many people have. This needs to be an inclusive organization open to all those who support the growth of acupuncture. By inviting the many different proponents of acupuncture to join this effort we not only gain strength in numbers, we highlight the fact that acupuncture is being successfully used in ways the public and decision-makers are unaware of.
In the first two years, the ANF plans to focus its campaign mostly in the U.S. as conditions here for seeing successful outcomes are the greatest. Our goal is to raise $250,000 to $300,000 a year for the first two years and then hopefully increase the budget after that. We will, of course, gratefully accept donations from practitioners, businesses and suppliers servicing the AOM profession, as well as patients or other members of the public. Our main initial focus is on offering valuable goods and services to acupuncturists and then applying all of the profits to fund our campaigns.
Every year, just in the U.S. alone, acupuncturists spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing goods and services needed to carry-out their healing work. For example, we estimate that at least $6 million to $10 million is spent every year by the nearly 30,000 U.S. licensed acupuncturists on continuing education-type courses needed to maintain licensing/certification. Our primary initial fund-drive will be to offer online CEU/PDA courses with all of the proceeds beyond direct costs going to fund our public education campaign. The goal here is to offer the sorts of things practitioners already spend their money on, but to take all of the profits from those sales and put it right back into our mission of public education that will directly benefit acupuncturists as well as the public. All we need is for a small portion of the profession to see the value of supporting this campaign by patronizing our offerings. We will start our initial fund drive by offering a minimum of five-hour online CEU/PDA courses approved by the NCCAOM and California Acupuncture Board. If just one out of 30 U.S.
Acupuncturists were to purchase these courses, that would raise $250,000, enough to fund our campaign for the first year. All of the ANF officers and advisors will be donating their time with no compensation. We will open our books to prove no one is profiting from this. The only costs will be direct expenses and necessary administrative support.
To get things started, I will be donating those five courses as well as all of the profits from the sale of my Making Acupuncture Pay book to this campaign. We hope other CEU providers, authors, or suppliers will see fit to donate some of their goods and services to this cause as well. If enough acupuncturists purchase these courses or otherwise show their support for this campaign, I am certain others will begin to step-up and support this cause. We need your help to make this work, so I urge those of you who want to support the ANF or learn more about our mission to visit our website at www.AcupunctureNowFoundation.org or www.Facebook.com/AcupunctureNowFoundation. We are just getting started but with your help we hope to accomplish great things for acupuncturists, the public, and the practice of acupuncture.
Click here for previous articles by Matthew Bauer, LAc.