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Refinement Approaches

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

While both examinations meet professional standards, policy-makers may wish to consider the following opportunities for improvement:

Require essential safety knowledge. It is possible to establish must-pass components of the examination to ensure that applicants for licensure demonstrate proficiency in each of the areas that are deemed to be essential for public safety. The box below provides further details on the consultant's conclusions regarding a modular approach for testing critical knowledge.

Ensure balance. Acupuncture has evolved differently in different regions where it is practiced. As the NIH points out, comparative studies have thus far not proven that one style of practice, or one region's approach, is superior to another. It is important that the exam tests the underlying knowledge, skills and abilities required to safely practice acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine without discriminating against one country's style as opposed to another.

Prove physical skill. The State has not replaced the discontinued component of the examination that required applicants to demonstrate needling practices. While it is essential for licensees to master the fine dexterity required in needling, agreement about how to prove that skill has been one of the most controversial elements of the examination.

Develop internships. An alternative approach to proving physical skill would be to require a post-graduation, pre-examination clinical internship. 104 The board's efforts to do so have failed, but should be pursued by developing a strategy with complementary medical clinics, drug treatment programs, Kaiser and other large health care systems.105 Experts recommend the following requirements for such internships:

  • Pre-requisite for taking the licensure examination.
  • Conducted in practical and hands-on clinical settings away from school.
  • Supervised by licensed practitioners with specific hours of supervised practice that follow careful bookkeeping.
  • Designed with rotations that may include pain, addiction, and complementary therapy clinics of academic medical centers, as well as jails and prisons.
  • Modeled after other successful professional internship programs, for instance, the Board of Behavioral Sciences internship for marriage and family therapists.



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