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Legalization, Licensure and Education in California

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

1972 AB 1500 (Duffy) authorized "an unlicensed practitioner to practice acupuncture under the direct supervision of a licensed physician if conducted in an approved medical school for the sole purpose of scientific investigation."24
1975 SB 86 (Moscone-Song) authorized certification of acupuncturists. The measure also required a prior diagnosis and referral from a licensed physician and surgeon, dentist, podiatrist or chiropractor and required that at the completion of treatment, the acupuncturist was to report to the referring provider "the nature and effect of treatment." Certifications were authorized to be granted to applicants without taking an examination if they could demonstrate they had five years of experience (three if at an approved medical school program). Alternatively, candidates could qualify if they passed a Board of Medical Examiners-approved examination and either completed an approved course or had two years of experience.25 SB 86 created the governor-appointed Acupuncture Advisory Committee under the jurisdiction of the Board of Medical Examiner's Allied Health Division, comprised of seven acupuncturists, two of whom also were physicians. And it defined acupuncture as "the stimulation of a certain point or points near the surface of the body by the insertion of needles to prevent or modify the perception of pain or to normalize physiological functions, including pain control, for the treatment of certain diseases or dysfunctions of the body."
1976 California became the eighth state to authorize the practice of acupuncture when it began issuing certificates to practice.26
1978 SB 1106 (Song) added four public members to the acupuncture advisory committee, required development of a tutorial or apprenticeship program for persons seeking certification as an acupuncturist, and established that the board could develop continuing education requirements. From 1976 to 1978 it is estimated that 900 acupuncturists were "grandfathered" into the system without taking an examination.27
1979 AB 1391 (Torres) removed the Business and Professions Code section that required diagnosis by, and referral from, a physician, dentist, or chiropractor. It also deleted the report to the referring provider stating the patient's progress and outcome of acupuncture treatment.28
1980 AB 3040 (Knox) replaced the Acupuncture Advisory Committee with Acupuncture Examining Committee, added a seven-year acupuncture experience requirement for teachers supervising apprentices, and expanded the scope of practice to include electroacupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, Oriental massage, breathing techniques, exercise, nutrition, and drugless substances and herbs as dietary supplements.29 AB 3040 also stated in intent language that "There is a necessity that individuals practicing acupuncture be subject to regulation and control as a primary care profession," but the measure did not define the term or include it in the code section that defines what an acupuncturist can do. In 1980 the UCLA School of Medicine also started teaching acupuncture in its continuing education program.
1993 The UCLA Center for East-West Medicine was founded as part of the medical school's Collaborative Center for Integrative Medicine. Acupuncture was among the complementary, alternative, and integrative therapies included in the program.
1998 SB 1980 and SB 1981 (Greene) removed the Acupuncture Committee from Medical Board jurisdiction, renamed it the California Acupuncture Board, and reduced membership of the board from 11 to nine members.
1999 The World Health Organization recommended a 2,500-hour training program for acupuncturists and the Acupuncture Board convened a Competency Task Force "to develop the details and rationale for the increase" in education hours.30 The board implemented "life-scan" fingerprinted-background checks for licensees and the clinical portion of the board's examination was eliminated through trailer bill language.31
2001 The Department of Consumer Affairs, Office of Exam Resources, completed the most recent occupational analysis, documenting the treatment and practices of California acupuncturists.
2002 AB 1943 (Chu) implemented the Acupuncture Board's Competency Task Force recommendation to raise the entry level education requirement from 2,348 to 3,000 hours. SB 1951 (Figueroa) and AB 1943 (Chu) requested that the Little Hoover Commission review the scope of practice, as well as specific issues regarding education, accreditation and examination policy.



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