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Implementation Opportunities

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

While there are fervent efforts to increase the hours associated with preparation, there are other avenues for increasing preparation that may better serve students, patients and the public interest.

Require prerequisite degrees. California could do as other states and adopt prerequisite standards to ensure that students have a grounding in Western health sciences. New Hampshire, for example, requires applicants for licensure to have either a bachelor's degree, nursing degree, or physician's assistant's license, in addition to completion of their acupuncture coursework.

Similarly, officials at San Francisco State University have recommended that acupuncture students be required to have a bachelor's degree in certain sciences.82 SFSU has developed a health sciences pre­professional curriculum to prepare students to enter osteopathy, naturopathy, physical therapy, and other health professional training programs. Requiring scientific prerequisites for everyone entering the health professions could ensure that practitioners understand and can discuss human physiology, biology and chemistry.

Acupuncture schools accredited by ACAOM already require incoming students to have an associate of arts degree. And since 28 of the 31 acupuncture schools accredited by the Acupuncture Board are also accredited by ACAOM, that standard is in place for most students who will take the California licensing exam. However, the ACAOM requirement is not based on California's recent emphasis on increasing the Western medical training of future acupuncturists.

Encourage dual degrees. The study of multiple healing arts would be facilitated by requiring that basic science classes be taken as prerequisites at institutions that are accredited to grant degrees in those topics.83 This could serve both the practitioner and the patient by enabling professionals to seek additional training as new technologies emerge and consumer preferences change.

Rely on standardized entrance exams. Some concerns have been raised about the ability of students to learn the curriculum required at acupuncture schools. If regulators develop evidence supporting this concern, they could explore using examinations relied upon by other master degree programs. Such examinations include the Graduate Record Examination for the study of scientific topics, or an exam similar to the Medical School Aptitude Test.



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