My last article "Do Chiropractors have the right to practice Acupuncture?" which appeared in the July 12, 1999 issue of "Dynamic Chiropractic", spawned as much favorable commentary and response as any article I have written in 11 years. Obviously the message conveyed, struck a note throughout the Chiropractic profession. If you didn't read it, you can find it on www.chiroweb.com
Now we find some of our Chiropractic Colleges currently adding full programs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) style of acupuncture which basis itself largely on myth, folklore and esoteric rationale in order to teach Doctors of Chiropractic to become acupuncturists. Even though D.C.'s are allowed to practice acupuncture in approximately 35 States, I feel the effort of the profession should be to secure the right to practice in the additional 15. Instead, schools of acupuncture are being developed which undermine the very nature of our profession in order for Doctors to become acupuncture technicians. Is this the beginning of the end of the Chiropractic profession, when our own schools begin to focus on another healing art. Of course acupuncture is complimentary to chiropractic, but so is physical therapy and for that matter in many instances pharmacology. Should we expect our Chiropractic Colleges to establish schools of Physical Therapy so Doctors of Chiropractic can become P.T's? Or how about adding a Pharmacology school so that we can become pharmacists instead.
How many Medical Schools do you think are going to rush out and begin teaching Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so that the M.D. can become an acupuncturist? The Medical profession has automatically lain claim to acupuncture as the Chiropractic profession should be doing especially since we are the original pioneers of acupuncture in North America. Please bare in mind, acupuncturists are actually regulated by the medical and chiropractic professions in a number of States. Why would a Doctor want to become an acupuncturist?
The question is posed "Why would a Doctor of Chiropractic want to become an acupuncturist"? The answer is simple, only in States that do not allow for the practice of acupuncture by a D.C., do you see the Doctor going to acupuncture school. This is in an effort to compete in the health care field. As it has been so aptly said, "If you are going to compete in the health care industry, you better have something to compete with". California, New York and New Jersey are prime examples.
The Medical physician does not seek their acupuncture education through acupuncture school nor does the Chiropractic physician, who may practice with additional approved hours of education. Both seek to learn the art and science of Contemporary Asian Medicine and Medical Acupuncture through programs specifically designed for professionals that focus on "Meridian style Acupuncture". All States with the exception of Kansas which includes acupuncture into its scope of practice, requires a post graduate program in the academics and clinical applications through a Council on Chiropractic Education College. Numerous Medical physicians attend these Chiropractic programs, as well as ones that are sponsored by the medical community whose credits are through the American Medical Association.
Remember that acupuncturists do not want anyone performing acupuncture other than someone who attended one of their TCM schools. As a result, some states, New York, New Jersey, California, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon and a few others, are literally forcing Doctors of Chiropractic to actually attend acupuncture school in order for them to practice Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a result, these D.C.'s who are now acupuncturists only because they were forced to attend an acupuncture school in order to practice, express sour grapes for those D.C.'s and M.D.'s who are allowed to practice acupuncture as a part of their scope of practice. They become critical, vehement and vocal. Just because they had no choice but to be sucked into the politics of the American acupuncture school system, they feel everyone should. Had their State allowed them to practice acupuncture as 35 States do already, how many of these D.C.'s turned acupuncturist do you think would exist?
The Alliance has taken the position that it best serves our patients and our practitioners to be proactive, work with other health care providers and discuss standards of competency to practice acupuncture. This is based on the Founding Principles in our Bylaws that mandate that we respect diversity and encourage discussion among practitioners, network within the community of acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioners, support consumer access to and freedom of choice in health care, support appropriate educational and competency standards and work cooperatively with other health care providers for the wellness of our clients".
Barbara Mitchell is without question one of the most respected and admired people in acupuncture in North America and perhaps the world. As the history of acupuncture is continually being written, as it has been for literally thousands of years, Barbara Mitchell will no doubt have an entire chapter devoted to her and her accomplishments. Most of us would hope for a footnote.
It is with this, that I call upon my Chiropractic and Medical colleagues and suggest we as healers, likewise adopt the position of the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance. Realize we are all here for a common goal and that is to help the sick and suffering regain their health.
Thus far, it appears to me, most of the fighting has clearly been one sided with the acupuncturist throwing stones at the Chiropractic and Medical profession. We have been accused of having inferior acupuncture educations because we have adopted a different form of acupuncture other than TCM. Hopefully with the awareness that Barbara Mitchell can and is generating amongst the acupuncture profession, we can practice in peace and harmony and refer to acupuncturist as peers and colleagues in the future.
One of my friends in Delaware just last week faxed me a note saying how he had tried to establish a relationship with a couple of acupuncturist who moved to his neighborhood. He stated the acupuncturist would have nothing to do with him. Would not return calls and refused to speak to him on a personal visit. I urge you to clip this article and keep it for future reference. I would then suggest presenting the position of the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance regarding its relationship to "other health care providers". It will take a while for this position to become reality amongst the acupuncture profession in the meantime continue practicing acupuncture and helping people regain their health.
Just recently Idaho, Maine and Indiana have gained the right to practice acupuncture with State Certification. Tennessee is close to adopting regulations. Don't be surprised to see Georgia joining the list. If we can just get California, Oregon and Washington to wake up I bet New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will be close behind. Every year more States are allowing for the practice of Acupuncture by Doctors of Chiropractic. Most recently, the State of Nebraska Office of the Attorney General has deemed that Acupuncture is within the scope of practice of Chiropractic Physicians. The decision was partly based on a 1979 Supreme Court case of the Acupuncture Society of Kansas v. the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts. I was the president of the Acupuncture Society of Kansas during those tumulus years. What an experience that was!
Should anyone who practices in one of the holdout states which do not allow for the practice of acupuncture for D.C.'s wish a copy of the Nebraska Attorney General Opinion, contact me with your request. If you do not have a law that allows you to practice, then change it. You and your family's future is definitely at risk. I urge all Chiropractic Boards of Examiners who do not have acupuncture into your scope, to look around and realize you are definitely in the minority. For those practitioners who reside and practice in one of those States, you have no choice but to do what it takes to get acupuncture as part of your scope. As acupuncture gains more practitioners and more awareness by the average American, you cannot continue to have a limited practice act.
Remember, "If you are going to compete in the health care industry, you better have something to compete with"!
John A. Amaro D.C.,
FIAMA, Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM)