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Home > Newsletters > March 2003

ACAOM Request For Comments

The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ("ACAOM") is currently recognized by the US Department of Education ("USDE") to accredit first professional Masters degree and Masters-level programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Very recently, ACAOM developed accreditation standards for accrediting post-graduate, clinical doctoral programs that require graduation from a current entry-level, first professional Masters Degree or Masters-level acupuncture or Oriental medicine program. To fully understand the basis for the Commission's current scope of accreditation activities, one must first consider the history of the profession, Oriental medicine education in the United States and how these influenced the ultimate accreditation functions of the Commission.

The Oriental medicine profession developed in the United States over the past few decades. In its early stages, the profession established certification, accreditation and licensure structures to move the profession forward. ACAOM was founded in 1982 to foster excellence in acupuncture and Oriental medicine education in the U.S., to provide a proper foundation for licensure/entry-level practice in the field and to advance the interests and credibility of the profession as it evolved nationally. This goal has been largely achieved as reflected in the adoption of licensure laws in virtually all states, the recognition of the field as a viable health care modality in the U.S., the growing number of third-party payers that offer insurance coverage for Oriental medicine treatments, etc...

The professional and educational community in the field defined the scope of ACAOM's accreditation activities and entry-level into the profession based on Master's degree and Masters-level education in 1985 during a national conference held in Elk Grove, Illinois. At the time, it was decided that educational institutions in the field, and the profession itself, were not sufficiently developed to support doctoral-level education as the entry-level standard for practice and licensure in the United States. When the decision was made to define Master's degree and Master's-level education as "entry" for the profession, ACAOM applied for, and was granted, recognition by the USDE as a reliable authority for quality education and training in the field of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. USDE recognition enabled students in ACAOM-accredited programs to be eligible for federal financial aid to cover the costs of their education. The Commission now has more than 50 accredited and candidate Masters Degree and Masters-level acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs located throughout the country in its accreditation process. Newly established programs seeking ACAOM candidacy and accreditation have expanded exponentially.

Recently, there has been substantial and continued debate within the profession on whether the entry-level standard for licensure and practice in the United States should be upgraded to the doctoral level. The Commission believes that the time is right to seek feedback on whether there is adequate support within the profession for a transition to doctoral education as the professional entry-level standard for licensure and practice in the field, and how the ACAOM accreditation process might achieve or facilitate that goal.


The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ("ACAOM"), at its November 2002 meeting, discussed the doctoral program issue and developed a prospective proposal and initiative for which the Commission requests comments from members of the profession, state and national Oriental medicine organizations, state regulatory boards, educators and all other stakeholders in the field.

Under the proposal, the Commission would embrace the change to fully integrated, first-professional doctoral degree programs for licensure and entry into the profession, and new accreditation standard would be established for fully integrated, 4000-hour, entry-level doctoral programs of Acupuncture and/or Oriental medicine. Such programs would be professional "stand-alone," entry-level clinical doctoral programs where students would enter the program without prior education in the field of Oriental medicine, and with the expectation of being trained at this level for licensure and professional practice in the field upon graduation. The Commission would establish a transition period (e.g., 10 years) in which all ACAOM accredited and candidate acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs must restructure their programs to meet appropriate accreditation standards for doctoral training. During the transition period, the Commission would establish a national task force comprised of practitioners, educators and others to develop accreditation standards for fully integrated, free-standing, entry-level, 4000-hour doctoral programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. At the end of the transition period, all ACAOM-accredited programs would be at the doctoral level and the Commission would cease accrediting Masters Degree and Masters-level programs in the field.

The Commission has not taken a position on this issue, but is requesting comment on this proposal from all stakeholders in the field. To this end, the Commission requests that anyone who wishes to comment, complete and return the attached survey with relevant commentary (if applicable) to the ACAOM Maryland office. Surveys must be received by April 1, 2003 at the following address.

ACAOM Maryland Trade Center #3
7501 Greenway Center Drive, Suite 820
Greenbelt, MD 20770

We thank all of you in advance for your attention and prompt response.

Click here to view survey: TOP

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March 2003
Volume 1, Number 3

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