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Implementation Concerns

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

The increase in minimum educational standards - as well as the Acupuncture Board's implementation of those standards - raises a number of concerns that the board, officials with the Department of Consumer Affairs, or lawmakers may need to address.

  • Schools might not have expertise. Most accredited colleges have not been required to teach human physiology and other courses grounded in Western science. Expanding into this area will present challenges to those schools and particular efforts need to be taken to ensure that quality teaching takes place.
  • Too much focus on Western medicine. In its proposed regulatory package, the board states: "All primary health care providers, medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic, doctors of chiropractic, doctors of podiatry, and naturopathic doctors have a core medical curriculum leading to basic medical understanding. All medical practitioners should have an overview of the strength and weaknesses of other modalities in order to know when to refer and how best to communicate to those other providers."80 The basis for emphasizing Western science appears to be the 1980 intent language describing the need to regulate acupuncture as a primary care profession. But some stakeholders are concerned that too much of the expanded training is in Western medicine. They believe practitioners who want to remain faithful to traditional Oriental practices should not be required to adopt the modern Western paradigm.
  • Transferability of credits. Because acupuncture schools do not provide degree programs in Western medicine, courses in those subjects taken at acupuncture schools may not be accepted at colleges that do grant degrees in those subjects. This is an important factor if acupuncturists are interested in becoming dually trained and if the public is to benefit from complementary treatments that are coordinated with the biomedical health system.
  • Implementation may be uneven. The UCSF analysis indicates that the method for counting credit hours is not standardized among the schools. As a result, counting hours is a crude measure that needs refinement.
  • Availability of skilled and learned professors. A shortage of master teachers outside of Asia may impact the quality of education in acupuncture and traditional Oriental medical in California. This shortage also bears negatively on the consideration of some schools and professionals in their desire to develop doctorate programs.

In addition to the above concerns, UCSF's analysis states that the time frame for schools to implement the increase in specific required course work "is extremely ambitious."81



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