« Study shows efficacy of Acupuncture for treating Dry Mouth | Main | Second study questions 'real' Acupuncture »

June 29, 2005

OCOM to graduate it's first Doctoral class July 10th!

Oregon College of Oriental Medicine will graduate its first class in July and produce the first true clinical Doctors of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. First of all, I think this is great news. It is most certainly a step in the right direction.

My point of contention, is why isn't this the entry level for every school in the country? Acupuncturist's have the longest program of study, equivalent to the hours of a medical doctor, and all they end up with is a Master's degree. Why is it only enough for a masters and not enough for a DAOM all on its own? Should we have to have an extra year, making most programs 5 years? or should we work to change the current standards, keeping it a 4 year program, and completing the DAOM?

What say all of you?

Posted by Admin at June 29, 2005 12:51 PM


Being someone who researched both options (med school and acu school), I honestly can't understand how the regulatory boards/AMA get away with it. From a course work point of view, if you include assistanships that most Acu schools make you do, there is little difference between the number of hours of each program. Granted the exams taken post 2nd year of med school, and then again at the end of internships are more grueling than anything we acupuncturists need take.

Needless to say, why we'd even consider adding more work to get the same degree blows my mind. Typical of dealing with MD's, completely unfair.

Posted by: Ray Molvi at June 29, 2005 06:13 PM

You might be surprised but a couple of programs on the west coast are now offering entry level doctoral degrees that are five years in length (NOMAA accredited).

The issue over length of program was decided long before we got started and something of a blunder even back then.

It should be noted that our program lengths do vary but tend to fall quite a bit short of the hours for MD/DO, ND or DC if taken as they are. These are all 4000 hours plus the internship/residency for MD/DO. If one adds in the hours for the DAOM then I think we can safely argue from this standpoint.

Anyway, congrats to all the newly graduating DAOM for taking this monumentous step and best of luck to all of them in their professional lives.

Posted by: naturaldoc at June 29, 2005 11:51 PM

Naturaldoc is right in this particular case Ray. Doctors and Chiro's all go through an average of 4400 hours to get their doctoral degrees whereas even the more hardcore states like CA and FL only require about 2500 hours for Acupuncturists. It does make you wonder though, how is it that both Med school, Chiro school, and Acu school are all "four year" colleges and we do some much less in four years.

I easily think that the amount extra that qualifies for the DAOM should be included in the four years and then we'd have ourselves a real degree for what we do.

Posted by: Steve at July 3, 2005 09:38 PM

Addendum: Most good Acupuncture schools are actually much longer than the requirements. For example, my NESA education for my Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine was 3157 hours. Yet other students graduated with the regular Masters of Acupuncture degree with 2625 hours.

Posted by: Steve at July 3, 2005 09:42 PM

Except in NJ where 2300 hours gets one the equivalent of a beauty school diploma. Not a masters means no "real" funding.

Posted by: DG at July 13, 2005 12:06 PM

First, I think its great that schools are pursuing ways to offer this level of training and degree recognition to students of alternative healing modalities. I think it will not only enhance the professional lives of acupuncturists and the like, but also have a positive impact on the health and wellness of the population in general.

I think there are two main obstacles faced by acupuncturists, public recognition and state licensing. Having a doctoral level degree obviously helps big time with recognizing the training and skill acupuncturist acquire, and I agree with Steve, that should be offered nation-wide.

The other problem is state licensing. Four, five, or ten years of school doesn't matter if the state doesn't allow you to practice what you've learned. Medical school length varies in different countries from on avg 4-6 years from what I've heard speaking with docs and medical students, but everyone has to pass the medical licensing exam to practice in any state in the US. Maybe it would be helpful for alternative practitioners to create standard licensing exams that are recognized by states, if they don't already exist, to standardize the knowledge and assure public safety? This might be more effective/persuassive than "number of hours". Just thought I'd throw it out there.

Posted by: Mike at July 15, 2005 11:06 PM

Mike brings up good points. Most states now have legislation that allows for varioius levels of practice but many severely limit techiniques or open the practice up to other providers with limited training. Several national acu groups continue to work to make legal practice a reality.

As for the issue of under-educated providers wanting access to this trade, a lawsuit would probably be the best way to solve this. The problem in these states is that more than one board has set different levels of entry level practice, which is not legit and violates the purpose of having a board.

The state of FL has filed a lawsuit on this issue with the Chiro board, which offers a certification for acu as an add-on. It should be noted that the acu professional in FL is the AP/L Ac and not the chiro.

To set up two completely different levels of entry level training for independent practice shows that one group may be way over educated or the other way under. Then there is the public safety. What can one learn in a 200 hour or less program that demonstrates safety and competent practice? I have not heard any good arguments for why this issue should continue and heard many a story about possible injury due to inadequate education.

As for the concept of a national exam, we sort of have one but the NCCAOM seems to have its hands into so many things that I find it hard to say they serve their function well.

The other issue here is that a couple of states, CA being the big one has set a level of educational standard that is most likely not going to lessen. This means that the rest of the country would need to increase level of education in various subjects. So we have stand off over this issue. I find it less of a CA vs the rest of the country argument but more of a longer program vs a short one. There are several of the most well kinown programs with CA recognition that are scattered throughout the US. Additionally, there are other programs that have a substantial amount of educational hours out there as well. I think the profession is not really understanding how close they might be to a compromise and simply focuses on status quo. This is simply not a good position to be in nor can one remain here for long as all things change (nature of tao).

Posted by: Naturaldoc at July 23, 2005 11:53 AM

I would not be oppsed to an entry-level doctorate degree. It does help the public perception. However, having a Master's degree already (as an advanced-practice nurse) and now going for my second in OM has led taught me that sometimes, wanting a doctorate is more about ego than about necessity to be respected.

I have a Master's degree and practice as a Nurse Practitioner in Oregon. I have full prescriptive privelages, provide full primary care for 85% of the patient population, can do minor surgeries, and admit patients to hospitals (all independently, without working under a physician), yet I do not have the "doctorate" degree that Chiropractors have. A chiropractor would never be allowed to have such a scope of practice--in any state. Yet I still get upset that THEY have a doctorate degree and I don't. Clearly my level of training with a Master's degree is respected enough to give me this scope of practice!

I think most Chiros have too many "extra" classes they have to take to fulfill Doctorate level requirements, yet they aren't working in settings where they actually use this info, so its a lot of wasted time. I have several friends in Chiro school who strongly agree.

Alas, having a Doctorate is important, and while we may strive for it, we should not forget that its the practitioner, and the quality of the work they do, that demands respect...not their degree. The example of my scope of practice with a Master's degree is an example of this, as is the respect my patient's have learned to have for NPs. At first they thought they were getting second-rate clinicians because we weren't doctors, but now most patients prefer NPs for primary care, and studies show we provide the same quality medical care. Ture, the studies published in JAMA showing NPs provided same-quality care were pivotal, yet NPs were respected by their patients long before that.

If we go the entry-level Doctorate path, I think it should be strongly based in adding more study of the classics, and increasing clinical experience and laerning to critique research. THIS would be useful, rather than adding additional useless classes. The DAOM programs seem to be approaching it this way, and if that is what would be added to the Master's level program to make it a doctorate, I would be all for it. I also think there should be a way for Master's students to "upgrade" without having to go to school for 2 more years if it isn't actually 2 more years worth of additional study for the entry-level path.

Also, if we could put out studies proving that OM works for certain conditions, rather than wasting time on figuring out WHY it works from a western perspective, we may get more bang for our buck.

Posted by: Ana at August 16, 2005 11:20 AM

I had a post up here that was up for 1/2 a day, and now it is removed. Any reason why? Can I be notified if a post is removed? There was no controversial content, so I don't understand why it was pulled. Did someone not like the comparison between Nurse Practitioners with Master's Degrees and Chiropractor's with Doctorates? That's the only thing I can think of...Please let me know, and also it would be nice to allow the forum to be a forum without undue censorship. If it simply got deleted by mistake, please say so and I'll repost it. Thank you!

Posted by: ana at August 16, 2005 07:43 PM

And lets not forget - MD's can call themselves "Acupuncturist" without even attending a sigle class or cracking open a book. Having the title of MD allows them this so called right.

Posted by: Avaria at August 26, 2005 02:33 PM

I can't believe it, my co-worker just bought a car for $66561. Isn't that crazy!

Posted by: Betsy Markum at June 1, 2006 09:28 PM