From a Meager Beginning to a Powerful, Professional Presence
Upon graduating from SAMRA University of Oriental Medicine in Los Angeles CA in 1982, I took the California State Board examination and came to the stark realization that my chosen profession was in great disarray. The dismal 11 % pass rate for that examination was an indicator of a major problem of the time. Different factions within the profession and the state board held widely divergent opinions of what acupuncture programs should emphasize and, consequently, the exam questions did not reflect what most of us had been taught. At the time, there was no statewide association representing acupuncture; rather, the profession consisted of many small, fragmented organizations that had little or no communication with each other or with practicing acupuncturists. We had a great deal of work ahead of us to create a sense of professionalism among ourselves as acupuncturists and in the public eye as well.
Something had to be done.
The fatal exam still fresh in our consciousness, ten of us gathered in my living room in Santa Monica CA and drafted bylaws for the first proposed statewide acupuncture association. Motivated by a desire to prevent others from suffering through the dreaded exam, I put to use my political knowledge from previous experience working in the California State Legislature. Together we formed APAC, the Acupuncture Political Action Committee, now known as the CAA, the California Acupuncture Association. I was honored to be elected the first APAC president and determined to do justice to the hundreds of hours of exhausting work of all the founding members. Little was I aware of the daunting task that lay ahead.
At our own expense, four APAC representatives traveled around the state soliciting membership and educating future acupuncturists about what might lie ahead if something wasn’t done. We talked to legislators, the few schools and the small acupuncture organizations that existed at the time. We asked that the examining process itself be examined and that qualifications for the Acupuncture Examining Committee members (AEC) be reviewed. Carol Perrin, the AEC committee chairperson, was sensitive to our problem and worked diligently with us. Most important, we presented the need for unity in our profession.
We quickly increased our membership to several hundred and worked tirelessly to change the state of our profession. We collaborated with the AEC over many months to change the examination structure to more closely reflect what acupuncture schools were teaching. In 1982 with assistance from the AEC we achieved passage of legislation that strengthened our profession by recognizing acupuncture as primary health care. A few years later, additional legislation was passed that gave us the right to be reimbursed by insurance companies for our services. Other states began to follow California’s lead and today there are very few states that don’t certify acupuncturists. But one of the most powerful and meaningful accomplishments for APAC was our success uniting acupuncturists throughout California to promote our profession.
The new era:
We are now in a different era. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are gaining wide recognition as primary health care as we slowly break through the invisible wall of “mainstream” medicine in California and the country. The California Department of Consumer Affairs considers acupuncture an accepted form of treatment for many specific medical conditions. Many hospitals and clinics across the country now offer acupuncture as an option for treating certain conditions. HMO’s are soliciting acupuncturists to participate as members. Many schools such as Emperors College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and SAMRA University of Traditional Oriental Medicine in CA are affiliated with hospitals and their acupuncture students treat patients for certain conditions in those hospitals. As a result, acupuncturists today are joining the ranks of our general medical community, working more closely with physicians of all specialties. However in my opinion we are doing so without the kind of professional recognition, respect and monetary compensation we deserve from both western medicine and the general community at large. A patient visiting a medical doctor would be hard pressed to ask for a lower fee for service. However that same patient would be much more inclined to ask for a lowered fee in an acupuncturist’s office even if he or she could easily afford the standard fee.
Read the rest article over on Acupuncture Today here: http://bit.ly/1GUlSz5
About The Author
Dr. Paul Campbell has practiced alternative/complementary medicine for more than 30 years. He has a PhD in Oriental Medical Philosophy and a doctoral degree in Oriental medicine. He is a licensed acupuncturist in California has a degree in homeopathy and is a certified clinical hypnotherapist.
Dr. Campbell is founder of Bodymind Systems Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA. He has taught at California Acupuncture College and Emperor’s College and currently teaches seminars around the country on acupuncture techniques, NLP, clinical hypnotherapy, developing successful professional practices, and functional medicine for licensed health care professionals.